Strengthen us with Your Power

3 Ways to Become a More Powerful Swimmer

Strengthen us with Your Power

Power. The very word conjures up an overwhelming sense of speed, of inevitability, of conquering the competition and the pool. Here is how to become a more powerful swimmer in the water.

When we watch the top swimmers in our sport we see an almost effortless technique.

But we also see a chlorinated ton of torque and power, from their kicking motion off the walls, the distance they explode off the blocks, the white torrent closing speed they finish their races with.

While they exude a measure of technical proficiency, make no mistake, the swimmers we seek to emulate have a massive deal of power in the water.

There are a ton of training aids out there that are designed to help you specifically with becoming a more powerful swimmer.

From hand paddles, to stretch chords, to drag suits, to swimmer’s fins, and so on and so forth, there is no shortage of different forms of swimming equipment to play with that is designed to help you level up your brute strength in the pool.

Below I outlined three ways that you can achieve your goal of becoming a more powerful swimmer.

This little list is by no means comprehensive, and I limited it to the pieces of swimming gear that a swimmer can use completely on their own as well as within a team or group setting (not all solo swimmers are going to have access to a Power Tower, for instance).

Why Swimmers Should Train for Power in the Water

There are two main reasons that I adding resistance in these specific ways:

First, the weak spots in your stroke will become apparently pretty quickly. What happens when we add load to our swimming is that it magnifies what we are doing in the water.

Left hand not catching as much in the water? You’ll quickly notice the hiccup in the elasticity of the stretch chord. Not swimming with a balanced stroke? Same thing.

Your breaststroke kick not contributing propulsion? You’ll notice in a hurry.

And secondly, you can maintain proper range of motion and technique. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, especially when technique starts to falter.

In a recent article I wrote on the benefits of training with a drag suit researchers found that training with them for extended bouts of time changed technique and reduced distance per stroke, which is not what we are going for.

We want perfect technique, first, and then to load it up to the point of failure.

3 Ways to Improve Your Power in the Water

Here are three different ways that you can incorporate resistance training in your next practice, and how to make the most of your time spent developing brute strength swimming power:

1. Swimming with a band

For straight, sheer upper body strength this cannot be beat.

While most swimmers lean on their pull buoy to build upper body endurance and strength, it does come with it’s share of drawbacks.

While it can help build general upper body endurance (without your legs sucking up precious oxygen you can also pull longer than you would be able to swim), it’s not great for power.

After all, you can only really get your tempo up so high. On the other hand, the band around your ankles forces you to come to grips with developing a stronger, more powerful pulling motion.

The moment you strap on a band around your ankles your stroke rate has to go up—otherwise you are gonna stink, err, sink, buckaroo.

Swimming with a band will also have your stroke become more balanced, your high elbow catch improves, and your stroke tempo increases.

All three things are absolutely essential for developing a faster freestyle, especially you sprinters.

Training tips:

  • If you’ve never used an ankle band before, start off using a pull buoy and graduate to dropping the pull buoy.
  • Do short distances with lots of rest to start out with. If you aren’t doing it with proper technique stop and rest.
  • If you are currently on the DL with a brutal case of swimmer’s shoulder, do not try swimming with just a band around your ankle until you heal up and/or fix the technical issues that led to injury in the first place. Swimming with a band around your ankles is brutal on your shoulders.

2. Swimming or kicking with DragSox

I kick. A lot. I often spend half of my workouts on my kickboard.

There are lots of reasons why I doing heaps and heaps of kick sets, not the least of which is that I hate having my stroke fall apart towards the end of my races (as short as they may be), and to be honest, having a fast dolphin or freestyle kick is simply kind of awesome.

While I love using my swim fins to the point that I get gnarly blisters on my feet, I prefer using DragSox in order to build up the power in my legs.

They are my favorite for building crushing leg power. I have talked about why both in a post I did covering gifts for competitive swimmers, as well as in this essential swimming gear guide.

I’ll save you a click by reiterating why here again.

  • They give you full range of motion. Power comes from loading the movement you want to improve. With a proper pair of DragSox (they come with various degrees of difficulty) the range of motion and even the tempo should match up to your regular swimming. It’ll be harder, but that is the point!
  • Improves feel for the water. The moment you take off the DragSox and perform a high intensity swim you will feel as though you were fired a cannon. I guess it’s something to do with an improved feel for the water, but it’s a feeling that you will want to experience for yourself.
  • Endlessly versatile. I lean on my DragSox for vertical kick work, particularly when the local lap swim is too crowded. Or I will combo them with fins to really get the lactate churning in my legs. I will do sprint swim and sprint kick work with them on. Options are endless!

3. Resistance tubing

In this case we aren’t talking about the type of stretch chords that you lasso around the flag pole, slip your hands into, bend over at the waist, and then wail away on. (Even though these do have their purpose.)

Nope, I am talking about the much funner kind—the type which you knot up one end to the starting block, and then buckle the other around your waist and swim out against it.

Research that we detailed in another post that talked about whether resistance training improved 50m sprinting performance. In that particular study, elite swimmers trained with resistance tubing twice a week, for 12-weeks.

The athletes swam against the chord, which was tied up to a starting block, and also getting speed-assist training by being pulled back by the tubing.

At the end of the 12-weeks the swimmers improved speed over a 50m versus the poor control group swimmers, who performed the regular workouts without the tube work.

There is one thing you will really notice when swimming against a stretch chord, and it’s something that is very hard to replicate otherwise…

The moment the chord goes taut and progress slows to a snail’s pace your body will naturally adjust into the most efficient position possible.  As it turns out, your body is smart—it will seek the most efficient means to get through the water when faced with maximum resistance.

Training with the tubing for short bursts followed by high rest ends up serving a powerhouse double-whammy; you get high value power work in while ingraining efficient body position into your swimming.

Final Note: Contrast Your Power Work with Speed for Max Effect

The research mentioned earlier in the stretch chord section found that resistance training works best when you alternate it with speed boost sets.

In other words, don’t just pound out rep after rep of loaded sprinting—add some full swim sprinting, or swimming with fins, or with the resistance tubing—to get even more from your resistance training.

The speed-boost work will teach your body how to swim fastest with less effort more efficiently, which, when we think about it, is precisely the point of all of this!

More Stuff This:

36 Ultimate Swimming Workouts for Competitive Swimmers. Need some inspiration for your next workout? We got all you can handle and more with workouts from Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky and much, much more.

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10 Simple Exercises That Will Strengthen Your Willpower!

Strengthen us with Your Power

When testing if willpower could be strengthened, researchers asked a group of participants to work on their posture for a 2-week period. Every time they caught themselves slouching, they were to correct themselves by sitting up straight. This simple practice vastly improved their perseverance on various willpower tests this one. [2]

To get started, simply correct your posture every time you catch yourself slouching at work or at home. It sounds extremely simple, but it takes willpower to sit up straight. Every time you do, you’re essentially doing “one rep” with your willpower muscle.

3. Keep a Food Diary

The same study also found that those who kept a food diary improved their willpower. Most of us don’t log all of the food we eat, so it takes willpower to keep track of it all. Any similar logging of information will also work, but I recommend a food diary because of all of its benefits listed here. [2]

To get started, I recommend downloading the MyFitnessPal App. It’s a simple food diary app that has a huge database of foods and nutrition information. Just keep the diary for 2 weeks, and it will increase your ability to resist temptations!

4. Use Your Opposite Hand

Using the same methodology as with posture, researchers conducted further studies that tested other corrective actions. One that worked particularly well was to use your opposite hand. Your brain is wired to use your dominant hand, so it takes willpower to use the opposite. [3]

To get started, select a chunk of the day to use your opposite hand. It doesn’t need to be any more than an hour in order to get results. And from personal experience, if you aim for more than an hour, you will unnecessarily tire out your willpower muscle.

5. Correct Your Speech

Another test that the researchers conducted was to change subjects’ natural speech. This includes resisting the urge to use swear words, or to say “hello” instead of “hey”. Again, it takes willpower to consciously go against your instincts. It doesn’t matter how you correct your speech, as long as you change your natural speech habits. [3]

To get started, select a chunk of the day to practice and choose the words you will change. Personally, I tried not using contractions (using “do not” instead of “don’t”, etc.) during work hours and it worked very well. all exercises listed above, doing this for just 2 weeks can vastly improve your willpower!

6. Create and Meet Self-imposed Deadlines

Anyone who remembers their college days, remembers what it was cramming for a test or doing a last minute paper. Your willpower gets taxed as you try to tune out distractions and become hyper-productive. Using this same principle, researchers found that by creating self-imposed deadlines you can work your willpower in the same way.

To get started, simply pick a task on your to-do list that you may have been putting off. Set a deadline for accomplishing it, and make sure you adhere to it. The participants who followed this process for 2 weeks not only got their old to-dos done, but also improved their diets, exercised more, and cut back on cigarettes and alcohol. [3] 

7. Keep Track of Your Spending

In the same way most of us don’t track the food that we eat, many of us don’t track our spending either. Even if you don’t cut back on spending – which would also be a willpower workout – researchers found that simply keeping track of where your money went will improve your willpower. [4] 

To get stated, check out this budgeting 101 guide which will help you get on top of your finances. You can also try using a budgeting app Mint. Mint can connect to your bank account, credit cards, etc. and automatically track your purchases. By simply reviewing this on a regular basis, you will see increases in your focus and ability to resist unrelated temptations sweets.

8. Squeeze a Handgrip

For the truly determined who want to increase their perseverance, you can squeeze a handgrip until exhaustion. If you’ve ever squeezed one before, you know that it gives you a deep forearm burn. So it takes willpower to keep squeezing. [5]

To get started, simply get a handgrip this one, and squeeze it with each hand until you’re exhausted. Willing yourself to continue squeezing even when it hurts will increase your perseverance on other challenging tasks.

9. Carry Around Something Tempting

Again, for the truly determined out there, you can increase your ability to say “no” by carrying around something tempting with you all day.

Researchers tried this with participants by teaching them how to resist cravings, then giving them a Hershey’s Kiss to carry around with them.

Those who resisted the Kiss were much more capable of resisting other temptations in their lives as well! [6]

To get started, first learn how to resist a craving. This will be hard, so your will want to know how to deal with the craving. Then carry something small but tempting with you. It doesn’t need to be for an entire day, but for long enough that you will be truly tempted. By consistently saying “no”, you will increase your ability to resist other temptations and ignore distractions!

10. Be More Mindful of Your Automatic Decisions

A final exercise is to simply be more mindful of your decisions throughout the day. We are often so lost in thought, that our actions become automatic. Taking time to think about why you are making your daily decisions will increase your ability to focus and resist temptations. [3]

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How to Master Training with Power in 6 Easy Steps

Strengthen us with Your Power

For cyclists and triathletes, training with power is ly the most effective way to maximize results. Why? Power meters and the data they provide remove a lot of the guesswork from training by supplying precise, accurate information for accurate measurement of training intensity and load, un heart rate training or rate of perceived exertion (RPE) training.

Even when athletes recognize that power training offers significant benefits, many of them are apprehensive about jumping into the power-training game because they’ve heard it’s complex and they aren’t sure they have the knowledge or technical skills to get the most it.

I’d to make it easier. Here are a few simple steps to get started with power training and how to better understand the entire power training process.

Step 1: Ride with power

The first thing your should do after you buy a new power meter is set up your head unit with some key metrics to track. I suggest setting power, heart rate, and speed to display on the screen.

And then just ride, observe and record. That’s all you should do for two to four weeks. Don’t change anything about your riding or training yet. Simply observe and begin to quantify your efforts.

Be sure to record all your workouts, no matter how small. It’s pretty simple to automate the recording and uploading process, and these records will become your data diary and will be highly useful in the future.

This first step gives you time to get a feeling for the relationship between power and effort, along with a basic understanding of the quantification of training. If you went up a short hill, did it feel hard? Your power meter now gives a number for “hard.” Hard for you might be 450 watts or 600 watts. Soft pedal down the other side of the hill and watch how many watts that generates.

Step 2: Test your Power

Once you’ve ridden with your power meter for a few weeks, the next step is testing. Power training focuses a lot on FTP testing, but it’s also important (especially when starting out) to test a range of targets that align with different areas of your physiology.

I recommend the following four tests:

  1. five-second max: This test gives us an idea of your Neuromuscular (sprint) Power.
  2. one-minute test: This tests your Anaerobic Capacity (AC), which is how hard and how long you can go over threshold without resting.
  3. five-minute test: This test gives insight into your VO2max, which is the maximal amount of oxygen your body can transport and absorb (your “maximal aerobic capacity”).
  4. 20-minute test: This provides an estimate of your Functional threshold Power (FTP), which is the highest power you can maintain in a quasi-steady state without fatiguing. To estimate your FTP, use 95 percent of your average power for the 20-minute test. As you become more familiar with power training in the future, I suggest you complete a full 40km race-pace test.

When getting started, keep the testing protocol simple. I recommend a two-day testing format this:

Day 1: Complete a good warm-up of 15 to 30 minutes, with a few one-minute, fast pedaling efforts to wake everything up. Once you’re warm, complete two x 10-second maximal sprints (we will use the peak five seconds from the sprint).

This is best done in the small chainring and mid-cassette gear, so maybe 39-16 or 36-14. Rest for a full five to seven minutes between sprint efforts. Once you complete these efforts, ride casually for 10 to 15 minutes, then find a slight hill with no interruption and complete a maximum effort one-minute test.

Go as hard as you can from the start and push all the way to one full minute. Finish up with a cool-down period of 10 to 15 minutes of easy riding.

Day 2: Complete a good warm-up of 15 to 30 minutes with a few one-minute fast pedaling efforts to wake everything up. Once you’re fully warmed up, find a slight hill with no interruption and do a maximal five-minute test, starting hard, but not too hard.

Once this effort is done, recover by riding 15 minutes of easy pedaling, then start your 20-minute maximal test. Terrain is a challenge for most of us, but try to find a road (preferably a climb) that allows you to go hard for 20 minutes with minimal interruptions. Don’t start too hard, and pace yourself. Cool down for 10 to 15 minutes when done.

Once both days of testing are done, load all your data into your TrainingPeaks account for analysis.

Step 3: Build a Power Profile

Each athlete is unique and therefore generates a unique power profile. Your personal power profile gives insight into your training needs by identifying your comparative strengths and limiters.

Take a look at the Power Profile Chart in your TrainingPeaks account to see areas where you compare better or worse against the database of riders.

This comparison gives insight into your strengths and limiters, revealing potential areas of training focus. The old adage “Train your weakness, race your strengths” is a pretty good place to start as you begin to think about training to improve your performance.

For an even more detailed power profile, use TrainingPeaks’ WKO4 software to review your entire power-duration curve.

Step 4: Set your Training Zones

Once you’ve estimated your FTP as 95 percent of your 20-minute maximal test, you can set your training levels in TrainingPeaks. Log into your account, click on your name, select Settings, click “Zones” at the left, and scroll down to Power.

In the auto calculation section, choose Threshold Power in the first dropdown and Andy Coggan (6) in the second, and then click “Calculate.” Your new training zones are set up and targeted. Make sure you save the changes before you close the window.

Dr. Andrew Coggan designed a set of training zones (or levels) to identify different areas of an athlete’s physiology, allowing us to plan specific time and intensity into workouts to gain the improvements we want in those specific physiological demands. These zones are now referred to as the Coggan Classic Zones.

Take a look the diagram below and notice the relationship between intensity and time. For most people starting out with power, it takes a bit of trial and error to figure this out, but efficient training is all about the right intensity for the right length of time.

Step 5: Plan your Training

Not having a plan is a plan to fail! Now that you’ve got the basics down, you need to build a plan. All good training plans have this equation at their core: “Ability of the rider vs. demands of the event.”

Now that you have power data and a power profile, you already have a good idea of your ability as a rider and how you compare to the world, so you can move on to consider the demands of your event. Each event has unique demands, as you can imagine; there’s a dramatically different demand for a road race compared to an IRONMAN, and each one needs a specific training plan for success.

Hiring a good coach or investing in a quality training plan are great ways to jump start this process, but you can also try to plan your own training using one of these two parameters:

Ability of the rider: A simple starting point is to use your power profile and focus on your limiters. At the core off all good training is the development of your aerobic engine, but adding two to four days of limiter focus in each training microcycle (typically 21 to 28 days) can really help you improve.

Demands of the event: This is easier than you think! Do your research first and know the details of the event. How long is it? What’s the terrain ? Are there any big climbs? What are the technical demands?

The answers to these questions and any additional data you can find will help you plan your training.

If your big event features a steady climb that typically takes about 15 minutes, you need to make sure you’re doing workouts to improve your steady-state climbing for that time range.

Similarly, if your event includes a series of rolling power climbs, build your training to prepare you to power over those climbs. has an excellent Annual Training Plan feature that is a great tool to use if you chose to create your own plan.

Step 6: Track and Test

Track all your data and review it at least once per week. Look for insights such as improving numbers, better performance and/or decline. Learn to cross reference your data in areas of training load and performance; this will add deeper insight into how your training is affecting your performance.

Testing is one of the most important things for an athlete new to power. I recommend that you repeat the test protocol every four to six weeks and track your results. If you’re training correctly, you should see improvements, specifically in the targeted areas.

These steps are a simple outline of the process and should be a great roadmap for any beginner. I recommend that you read Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Dr. Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen, as well as Joe Friel’s The Power Meter Handbook.

If you’re interested in digging even deeper into power training knowledge, TrainingPeaks offers a full online education and certification program that teaches both the fundamentals and some advanced techniques of power training.

Interested in learning more about WKO4 software? Download your free 14-day trial here.

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A Symphony of Strength: Discover Your Power to Come Back Stronger

Strengthen us with Your Power

Inner strength is a powerful and intelligent force of calmness, emotional composure, and focus. It is not a harsh or abrasive energy that hits out at life’s cuts and curveballs, but runs gently a river of resilience through our veins.

Our inner strength is sculpted from the ashes of every struggle and painful arrow to our hearts.

We augment our inner strength by trusting in everything that we have stored within: a karmic bind to the strength of our soul which rises ever beautiful from the flames of failure and the darkness of despair.

Inner strength says, I do not fear the fall, for I know I shall rise, I do not deny the failure, for I know I can overcome, I do not pray for an easy tide of life, for I know I have been built to rise above each tumultuous wave. Inner strength speaks an eloquence that burns through the fire with a deeper vision that sees far beyond the flames.

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.

– Albert Camus

We are all uniquely carved with every inner tool and measure of fortitude we will need to accelerate past challenges and become stronger. We all have our own internal symphony of strength — a great rhapsody of hope and endurance.

The mountains before us are meant to be climbed, and our winters of woe inspire the wellsprings of renewal that allow us to surmount the arduous hills.

What resides within is our inner power to advance with resolve, embracing our strength of patience and adaptability to charge a way forward when all may seem lost.

Inner strength writes the story of our strategy, with pages of courage that outweigh the force, depth or gravity of anything extrinsic.

When we dig deep to the threshold of our inner strength we begin to unravel the might of our mental, emotional, and spiritual dynamism, valor and nerve.

Our hero within says that no matter what goes on around us, what we have inside is far more rugged, cognizant and impermeable. A hero knows how to hold on a little while longer to come back that much stronger.

Acceptance and accountability

Acceptance looks a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.

– Eckhart Tolle

Acceptance of any situation places the power to change it in our own hands. When we act, we do so from a place of acceptance and accountability, with a door opened wide to engage in new perspectives and purpose. The humility to accept rests on the bed of our deeper intelligence.

It takes great bravery and grit to embrace and yield to a tough circumstance in order to shape a way through it. Acceptance surveys and quantifies a situation with emotional insight and mental clarity.

It releases us from the grip of an external hold, to bring us back in touch with our inner sensitivity and strength.

Through acceptance we can seek the conscious calm away from the storm. We arm ourselves with the potential to stretch out our thoughts and feelings and to be supremely guided by the power and persuasion of our intuition and higher thinking. Understanding our propensity to adapt initiates us to make good and gain from impactful trials and challenges.

When we wrestle with life’s hits, greater obstacles are erected on our path and we make poor decisions as we fight from fear rather than from faith. Yet when we accept our struggles, we claim back our innate capacity to surpass them.

In doing so, we navigate to a place of humility; we expand our heart-space as we implicitly trust our infinite resources to see us through.

A symphony of strength

The successful warrior is the average man, with laser- focus.

– Bruce Lee

Obstacles and challenges allow us to feed into our visceral strength. We often get stuck in the rigidity of circumstance and lose sight of our lionhearted poise and the sound of our inner voice. Yet when we move away from our perceived limits and fears, we can transcend them.

Nothing is ever fixed or set in stone; failures and dark times are garnered by the same tokens of nature’s impermanence. Just as we transition from the cold nights of winter to welcome in the warmer hues of spring, we are gifted to trace a new trajectory to evolve through tough times.


We can remember that a self-assured warrior sits within us all — we hear the wise echoes that resound in the vitality of our strong and stubborn hearts.

When we focus on that energy that we have forged within, we materialize a higher vision of hope and steady self-belief. We can use every circumstance to inspire an inner engine of perseverance and passion.

We should not allow the voice of fear to breed mistrust — trust compels our hearts to kindle so we become our own worthy heroes.

Coming back stronger

If you’re an underdog, if you don’t fit in, if you’re not as pretty as the others, you can still be a hero.

– Steve Guttenberg

Stories of underdogs that win against all odds nourish our hearts with hope.

These are the people that no one believed in; the ones who were betrayed and bruised yet never gave in to naysayers or dark intentions.

Underdogs teach us that the comeback is far greater than the setback, and that what hits us can also bless us with an electric artillery of muscle and stamina that allows us to go the distance.

The push of anything external cannot contend with the weight of what lives within. The shape of the underdog, the dark horse, or the total long-shot is conjured by their own design of persistence and endurance.

a pane of unbreakable glass they withstand life’s biggest knocks, utilizing every bet against them as a chance to reinforce their steel- will.

We can learn so much from the beauty of the underdog, but most of all we can learn to trust ourselves to come back stronger — no matter what.

Believe in your symphony of strength

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

– Christopher Reeve

Life is never meant to break us. For much of the time we only scratch the surface of our inner resources. There is so much more to delve into. We can indulge in rather than deny our challenges, knowing that we always have the amplitude to gather our greatness through them. The symphony of our strength is as loud as a lion’s roar, yet as subtle as the purr of a pussycat.

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Transformation doesn’t just happen. It takes a plan and a support system. This how-to guide is full of the top wisdom, tips, exercises, and success stories to inspire an old dream or create a new one.

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