Coach’s Note By Lance Watson: Break Through Your Fitness Plateau

  • By Lance Watson
  • Published Apr 4, 2014
  • Updated May 2, 2014 at 4:11 PM UTC
Photo: Maxisport /

Hard-earned cardiovascular adaptations and muscle memory developed over the course of several seasons can make it easier to regain fitness after a period of downtime, but breaking new ground can be difficult. And during the season, racing week in and week out can also cause fitness to stagnate or even decline.

Physiologically there are three ways to break through a fitness plateau: increase the frequency (how often you train), volume (how much mileage you do) or intensity (how hard you go) of your workouts. It is not about how much you train but, rather, what you do within these sessions that is of greatest significance. Below are three plans, one each for swim, bike and run, to help you boost your form for 2014 and hopefully set a few PRs in the process.


Because swimming depends so much on technique and skill acquisition, as opposed to brute force, many athletes find that they can easily plateau in the water¾regardless of how much yardage they swim or how hard they work. To tweak your stroke and build swim fitness and speed, consider integrating the below steps into your training plan.

1. Increase your total weekly volume by 10-20 percent over previous seasons. Do so primarily by going to the pool more frequently, but also consider including a few longer sessions.

2. Temporarily cut back on bike and run volume until your body is able to absorb the increased swim yardage.

3. Increase the volume of your drill sets by 20-30 percent over last season, particularly early in the year. Don’t do drills just for the sake of doing them. Perform drills that isolate and develop aspects of your stroke: body rotation, kick, hand entry, recovery, finish.

4. Have a friend or coach tape you while you are swimming. Compare what you see on film to the internal image of what you think you look like¾or how you should look.

5. Join a Masters swim group and have the coach give you stroke feedback, then persevere the right way.

RELATED: Conquer Your Swim Weakness

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