If you're swimming for fitness, or training to be at your best for competitions then you'll surely already be using training fins, right? Well if you're not, or you're not sure why they're particularly beneficial then sit tight, we'll examine some of the benefits of training fins right here, right now!
There's a host of swim training aids and training equipment available to swimmers. You can kit yourself out head to foot in specialised equipment but it will do you no good if you're not using it correctly!
Training fins are a fantastic piece of swim kit. They're shorter than a traditional “flipper” style fin and this helps the swimmer to gain the benefits of the fins like additional speed and power, but also retain a kicking motion that resembles their normal swim stroke. With a longer fin, the action or motion of the kick becomes vastly different to the motion of natural kicking without fins. So you can see how these longer fins aren't particularly beneficial for stroke development. The idea is to learn from your training equipment, to have these lessons cross over and benefit your normal swim stroke making you faster, better and stronger.
There are several varieties of fins on the market. Each product has subtle differences in their design and this translates as having a different effect on the swimmers body and which muscles are being worked during training. There are Tech Fins, Power Fins, Fitness Fins, Positive Drive Fins and much more!
Let's take a look at the Speedo Biofuse Training Fin. These fins are the most common type of training fins you're likely to see at your local pool. Constructed from soft thermoplastic rubber with a short to medium length “blade”. These swim fins fit the swimmers foot like a regular shoe, which many find preferable to fins that require an ankle strap, for me they've always felt more secure whilst kicking (as long as you get the right fit). The rubber is firm enough to respond quickly during the kick but soft enough to have a little give when it's needed.This kind of fin is a great all rounder for working on various elements of your swim stroke. You can tailor your swim workout to focus on building stamina, power or speed. And you can even work on all three factors at once, increasing your ability to swim longer distances without fatigue thus increasing the amount of time focused on perfecting correct arm technique.
Check out this video from Speedo explaining a little more about the BioFuse Training Fins:
Moving on to something a little different...The Arena Tech Fins are a relatively new addition to Arena's swim training range. These fins are like no other, their 100% EVA foam construction makes them some of the most lightweight training fins around. The set of two fins weighs less than 500 grams, which is amazing when compared to silicone swim fins like the Speedo BioFuse which weigh in at over 1.2kg! Very travel-friendly. These fins feature a heel strap design rather than the full closed-heel design we looked at previously. The open heel, lightweight construction, and flex of the fin allow for a more natural kick motion that mimics a true in water feeling. The buoyancy of these fins helps to keep the swimmer in the correct body position.
Their design is absolutely unique and features a curved blade with moulded side ribs designed to provide optimum power and stability. Because of their unique design, these fins can be used for working on any of the four swim strokes, including breaststroke which isn't normally possible with standard training fins.
So there you have it, some information on training fins. You can find dozens of swim training fins in stock over at ProSwimwear. I feel we've only just begun to scrape the surface of this matter and could go much further in depth but then this article would turn in to an essay. So for today, that's all you get! Apart from this lovely video explaining the benefits of yet another form of fins, the FINIS Positive Drive Fins:
Oh ok, I lied. Its not quite the end. Here's a Training Fin Swim Drill for you to practice in your own time:
Warm Up: 200-meter freestyle.
Pop on your training fins and start swimming at your natural pace, increasing your power as you go. Take deep breaths and get the blood streaming to your muscles.
Muscle Power: Six 50 metre sprints.
Increase the speed and power that you're exerting with every sprint. Start at half power in the first sprint, then build up to 75% in the second and third, 80% in the fourth sprint, 90% in the fifth and a complete 100% in the sixth sprint. Take 20-60 second breaks between sprints. Note: It may require some time to learn your personal limits and difficulty levels. Using a mental percentage rate of effort exerted will help you to gauge this, 10% being, easy and 100% being incredibly hard.
Cardio: 300-metre freestyle, immediately followed by 200-meter backstroke.
Keep up a consistent steady kick and pace. Just stop in between changing strokes if completely necessary. This is about regulating your own efforts and driving yourself to the end.
Cool Down: 200-meter freestyle.
Take it at your own particular pace, reducing power as you go. Take deep, alleviating breaths and unwind. You made it through your swim fin workout!