Pull Buoy

TRTR ✭✭✭

I'm not the greatest swimmer, I usually get out the water just after 1/2 way in the Tri's I do, and typically do sessions like 15 to 20 x 100 with10 sec rest in the low 1:40s, or 400s around 7:00 with 15sec rest. 

When I first started out I did some swimming with a Pull Buoy and was lots quicker with it. recently I've been reading a lot that folks do pull bouy and paddle work. Today I did some 200s alternating PB and non PB and was ~5sec quicker on average without it. So I must now swim with a better body position or kick than I used to.

Why do folks train with a PB ? is it to recreate a wettie swim position/style ? and should I be doing some PB swimming ? When I first used it when I was a novice, it made me loads better but I stopped using it as I was worried it would become a crutch and I'd be carp without it,

I think that using paddles is no go as I only swim during public swimming times and then arn't allowed then.



  • I am no expert and for me using a pull bouy seems to bring on back pain. Probably because I have plenty of buoyancy already in my thighs and @rse and it ruins by position.

    The good thing about them is doing drills and mixing training up a bit. My OH is loads quicker with one and I put this down to poor technique

  • I tried using one once and my legs sank! Not quite sure why but I cant quite seen to get the hang of them. Not tried again. I do all my drills with no aids.

    TR - video!


  • Pull buoy hurts my back too. Bends it the wrong way, so does a wetsuit.

    Think about what it is supposed to do TR, raise your legs up. If you are doing 7 min 400s, you ain't slow. I can manage a 1.45 100 at best and maybe a 7.40 OW 400 on a good day.

    I woudl guess that if your core is strong, you don't need it. But despite what some may say on here (lots of opinions) a strong kick in the swim is essential for a swimmer. It's just about how many beans you use up there and don't save it for bike/run.

  • i thought the pullbuoy was so that you could concentrate on your arm technique.........

    I have cap buoyancy so always swim with a pullbuoy...............it has never given me a problem with my lower back which is tempremental ...............so confirms that my core and buoyancy without it is totally cocked up...

    disadvantage of using one all the time is that i can not enter the majority of eurpoean IM races as there is always the outside chance of non wetsuit swim.....and i would then be totally fucked

  • Seren uses one in case she drowns   image

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    sweetfeet - good idea, I had a couple of lessons instead of that video a couple of years ago when you had yours.

    interesting re the back ache, cos I did feel my back ache a bit using it and I do get backache on the bike in Tri's - probably cos I rarely swim in my wettie. So I guess I should swim in my wettie more, it sounds like I can replicate the position a bit by swimming with a pull buoy sometimes. It makes a change of routine at the least.

  • or you could get a wetsuit with little buoyancy so that it replicates your normal swimming position

  • TR - you might want to have a look at these - will give you extra bouyancy in a pool. Never tried them, so no odea how good they are. If they work let me know image


  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    Ha ha, Pull bouys are free to use at my pool so I'll take that option over buying a new wettie or shorts. I'm a cheapskate when it comes to triathlon.

  • I swim with it to work on arm technique and make my arms work harder. I kick quite hard so when i stop kicking completely my arms have a lot more work to do. Without the pull bouy if i didn't kick my legs would sink. I don't really see an advantage to trying to replicate a wetsuit position but maybe there's something there.. I've started using the pull buoy with paddles as well, again just to work the arms a bit more.

  • 1:40 for 100m is pretty good.

    I cruise at 2:00 for 100m in the pool, 1:50 when i moving it.....

    And I am stuck at 1:10-1:12 for an IM swim

    I find i am faster with a pull boy as well but it takes me a few sessions to get the hang of it.

    I use paddles at my local pool but it depends on how busy it is. i prefer smaller ones. again they take time ti get used ti. they build shoulder strenghth
  • I hadn't read that Sutto missive before but as someone who always uses a pullbuoy in the pool because I do all my tri events in open water in a wetsuit, then he's onto something I guess...  

    Sutto talks sense; writes like shit.....image

  • He's never going to be a best seller image

    But I never question the SSS, I just follow.

  • out of interest - have you tried neoprene shorts for extra flotation??  been toying with getting a pair but not sure if they offer any more than a decent pullbuoy does although perhaps adding the 2 together might get the arse even higher in the water!  

  • Nope not been suggested. Only time I've seen Sutto use them was for Chrissie's hamstring strain.

    Apparently a bicycle pump up the arse and some vaseline is what the East Germans did!

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    excellent, thanks. So it is indeed important to replicate the position, which seeing as I rarely don my wettie must be something I need to include.

  • Gary Fegan wrote (see)

    Apparently a bicycle pump up the arse and some vaseline is what the East Germans did!


    that and a few buckets of assorted pills from the age of 8

  • TR - the other important thing is that you lower the HR whilst using the PB.

    This is a big factor in the mix of the full triathlon training. It allows you to put in harder swim sets into recovery days.

    Don't confuse this with resting your legs - if anything, you want to add some kick before and after the main set to loosen off your legs after a hard run or bike (reduces the likelihood of cramping if you add the kick)

  • I loved that article.makes me feel so much better imageimage

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    Gary - thanks. CRAB already told me your recommendation of doing some 50m reps the day after a hard or long run. I have achy legs today from big gear (I'm listening to your 5hr 1/2 IM posts too) on the bike Saturday, and a 10M race y'day, so just did the 50 reps (with a mix of with and without pull buoy).

    FB - with a mix of learning to swim in a wettie (via some pull buoy) and then learning to ride my MTB of road, that XTERRA trophy is in the bag ! ha ha  - I managed to put myself into a ditch in the bike leg of the Swashbuckler and thats pretty much pancake !

  • Good article, thanks for posting. May try 2 normal size PB's and see what happens.

  • Gary Fegan wrote (see)

    Rather than regurgitate....


    First time Ive read that, guess I better find a bigger pool boy and get down to 55 min IM swim image

  • Pixie, even with a PB I flutter kick, it is important to keep the toes pointing back otherwise you are creating unwanted drag

  • EP - relax the heels and try to just let the feet and toes trail behind you - which is often easier said than done!..   there's a tendency when using a PB to straighten the feet tightly like a ballet dancer on points as you try to get a tight grip on the PB - that often leads to cramping as it's unnatural (unless you're a ballet dancer...image).  if you keep the legs relaxed you don't need much pressure to keep the PB in place

  • I never kick with a pullbuoy.incold water i often cross my feet to keep them a tad warmer

  • Put a band around your ankles - I don't kick with a PB either, sometimes I've had some cramping, its usually because I've got a hard run in some time.

    Start the set with 6X 50 kick - should sort you out.

  • Just to throw another angle into this and yet confuse even more, I asked a question to Dan from Swim For Tri on Facebok about pull buoys and the TBB post about using them a lot...

    "HI David, conflicting advice usually suggests difference of opinion. In the world of swimming I think it moreso relates to the difference of client you are working with. Bretts group of elites are probably swimming 30km a week. The strongest swimmers I work with probably 30km a month. To accelerate and fast track a good duathlete into a Triathlete with unlimited resources and time his approach probably works. My approach helped another 6 people get to Kona this year. Two different methods for two very different groups. Also age comes into this, a younger body is more adaptable, perhaps with fewer bad habits to unlearn. Here are my views - people do not appreciate how much they kick in a wetsuit. 99% say they don't. I describe this as the pendulum effect. A tiny movement at the hip still creates vast movements at the foot. Hence why using a pull buoy is no substitute. Swimming with a PB for kilometres will not help you learn to kick properly.

    When I describe a good legkick ie kicking properly it is not for propulsion, this is a really ambitious project. For me a good kick is one that creates zero drag (stays hidden behind the trunk) does not sink and helps create rotation.

    Pull buoys have a place in fitness training but I question their use as a learn to swim faster aid if the legs are causing issues."

    For what it's worth, I've never used a pull buoy, band, central snorkel, drag shorts, whatever.  I think with a combination of one or more and some actual swim sets rather than just swimming up and down the pool then I may get quicker...

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