A3 Performance athlete Michael Weiss didn’t get to be 16th in the world in the 400-meter IM by luck. The 400 IM is no easy feat and dominated by some of the most talented swimmers in the world, but Weiss knows exactly what it takes. Take a look at this Big Ten Champion, NCAA runner up, and National Team member’s top five tips for a better 400 IM!
1. Stroke Specific Days
While all IM’ers have their strengths (as we all do) they also have their weaknesses. In order to develop a stronger IM, it is important to train not only the IM, but each of the four strokes individually. Devoting entire workouts to one stroke at a time and cycling through all four strokes is a great complement to the IM work you are probably already doing. On each stroke’s focus day, every set dedicated to choice or best stroke should be the focus stroke. This ensures that you get the work you need in each stroke, especially in your weakest stroke where you have the most room for improvement.
2. Race “Off Events” in Season
Unlike stroke-specific swimmers, IM’ers do not have off events. Rather every event, especially 200s of stroke, is considered IM training. Racing a variety of events throughout the season allows swimmers to find their weaknesses and areas of improvement. The old saying about a chain only being as strong as its weakest link really applies to the IM. Training and competing in all four strokes, especially 200s, will set you up to have a successful 200 and 400IM at the end of the season.
3. Dynamic Dryland
A dynamic dryland series combined with efforts in the pool trains your body to give a continuous effort while switching the muscle groups being used. Your dryland series should consist of a variety of exercises like pull-ups, pushups, squats, throw downs, or jump ropes. This dryland routine requires you to give your max effort at several minute increments, simultaneously training different muscle groups and building endurance which is what the 400 IM is all about!
4. Tempo, Tempo, Tempo
These are the words I hear most during a hard IM set in practice and at meets. While tempo varies by person, by race (200 or 400), and by pool (SCY, SCM, LCM), it is important to build each 50 while increasing your stroke tempo into each turn. This sets you up for the following lap.
A race can be won or lost in and out of the walls, so focus on carrying your momentum through each turn. Whether it’s fly to back, back to breast, or breast to free, being able to switch strokes quickly and seamlessly is crucial and takes practice. Just as building each 50 is great for maintaining momentum, transitions allow IM’ers to hold that momentum as they switch strokes. Keeping your turns at the end of a 400IM just as sharp as they were in the beginning will carry your speed through each transition and home to the finish!
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