Next up in our favorite training tools series: the tempo trainer! The Tempo Trainer is basically just a teeny, tiny metronome that can easily fit inside your cap that helps you play around with cadence, timing of rotation, speed work, speed sets, making sure you’re singing on beat in your head, etc. This nifty little waterproof tool helps in more ways than I could ever write about - well, I could write about them, but the more I write the less content there is and the more prevalent that bad food jokes become. So for today I want to touch on the most common uses we have for the tempo trainer that we use with our clients that can easily be done by yourself when you head to the pool for a swim workout. First up, let’s talk about the love affair that is the tempo trainer and your cadence.
Cadence of your stroke, otherwise explained in swimming terms as the pace at which you are taking your strokes, is what determines the speed of your swim. Meaning the faster your cadence, the faster your stroke should be, and the faster your times should be as a result. One of the hardest things to learn - unless you grew up as a competitive swimmer - is how to change your cadence to help you speed up/slow down in the water. Enter, the tempo trainer. Using the tempo trainer you can set it to beep a certain number of times per minute. For typical open water/distance swimming you want to be taking 60-70 strokes per minute, so this is what you would set the tempo trainer to to help you find that cadence. Every time you hear it beep you want your hand to be entering the water. Hear it as: beep, right hand enters, beep, left hand enters, etc. Another way to think of it is to have the tempo trainer cue the downward rotation of your hip. Hear it as: beep, right hip down, beep, left hip down, etc.
Keep in mind 60-70 strokes per minute might not apply to everyone. The number of strokes you want to take per minute is based off of your skill/comfort level in the water, as well as what you’re training for. If you’re looking to work on speed work during your races, you’ll want to use the tempo trainer for cadence work in practices that forces you to work harder than you’re used to. If you want to learn to slow down and keep a steady pace for a longer period of time, you want to use the tempo trainer to help you find a slower cadence.
Playing around with strokes per minute allows you to find your speed as well as train for your specific goal in mind. The great thing about the tempo trainer is that you can play around with it as much as need be to find what works best for you. Keeping it tucked just inside your cap means that you’re the only one who can hear the beep, so it’s perfect for individual workouts geared towards you and you alone.