Red Bull Neptune Steps Training

Blog - How to train for Red Bull Neptune Steps - Ross Edgley

How to train for Red Bull Neptune Steps - Ross Edgley

6 minute read

For the fifth year in a row, we’re proud to be supporting Red Bull Neptune Steps in Glasgow. This brutal event sees competitors swim 400 metres in freezing cold, open water whilst hoisting themselves over seven canal lock gates using a combination of ropes, climbing walls, and ladders. There’s no event out there quite like it, which means that it can be very difficult to train for.

Ross Edgley Red Bull Neptune Steps Training. Photo courtesy of Olaf Pignataro/ Red Bull Content Pool

(Photo courtesy of Olaf Pignataro/ Red Bull Content Pool)

Fortunately for a small group of this year's competitors, they got a hands-on training session with former Red Bull Neptune Steps competitor, strongman swimmer and dryrobe ambassador Ross Edgley at Parliament Hill Lido, in North London.

Ross is no stranger to taking on extreme challenges and events. Having not only competed at last year’s event he has also run a marathon whilst pulling a mini, completed a triathlon whilst carrying a tree and last year he became the first person to ever swim around the coast of Great Britain, smashing world records as he went. Who better to prepare you for an event as brutal as Red Bull Neptune Steps?!

Red Bull Neptune Training Session Parliament Hill Lido
The first training session of the day saw the competitors pair up, with one partner getting in the deceptively cold pool and the other watching them from the water's edge. After acclimatising to the cool water temperature by treading water for 2 mins, they swam a length of the pool and back (approx 120 metres).

dryrobe being used at Parliament Hill Lido, London

Once they got back to the edge, they pulled themselves up and down the edge of the pool whilst their partners threw buckets of ice water over them! This was to recreate the feeling of climbing up the lock gates in Glasgow with freezing cold water pouring down on you. After repeating this brutal task three times they got out of the water and straight into a dryrobe to get their body temperature up.
Red Bull Neptune Steps Ice Bucket Training
After everyone finished Ross spoke about the importance of getting warm as soon as you’re out of the water, which would be essential for any competitors who qualified out of their heats at Red Bull Neptune Steps in order to be fully prepared for the semis and final.

Red Bull Neptune Steps Ice bucket Training

Once everyone had warmed up, Ross took everyone into the gym for a session aimed at working the areas that would help them at the event.

Ross Edgely Gym Session at Parliament Hill Lido

This included and was finished off with (harder than they look) duck walks by the edge of the pool!
Training at Parliament Hill Lido

We spoke to Ross after his session to get his take on Red Bull Neptunes Steps:

What do you think makes Red Bull Neptune Steps different from any other swimming event out there?

There’s just nothing like it really, you get surfers, kite surfers, swimmers and rock climbers all competing. So the sports scientist in me just loves it because when I’m watching the start line as I can’t pick who’s going to win, I literally have no idea! And that’s why it’s so good, because there is no blueprint for a great competitor, because it’s not been around that long, it’s still evolving and training for it is still evolving.

When it started there were good swimmers with a little bit of upper body strength that would smash it. Now you’re getting international swimmers turning up and there are very competent climbers as well and I find it fascinating. It’s evolving each year that’s why I think it’s an amazing, unique event.

Ross Edgley talking about cold management
What advice would you give to someone taking on Red Bull Neptune Steps for the very first time?

I think so many people when they take it on will continue swimming, they’ll look at swimming techniques and biomechanics… just no! You need to start drilling cold water shock, it’s going to be in Glasgow, it’s not going to be warm! It’s like being waterboarded whilst climbing, so a lot of people you can see they actually start going into a panic when they start climbing up the rope and they’re taking on water, it’s like a swim then rock climbing with someone just pouring gallons of water on their heads! It’s very hard to train for something like that.

If you’re going there and your competing and you really want to win, it’s all about cold management. I’ve spoken about it so much, but you can almost tell immediately those who know what they’re doing: surfers, kite surfers, people like that who spend a lot of time in the sea. They’re immediately out of the water and into their dryrobe getting dry. Even if they’ve only got an hour, they’re quickly out of their wetsuit (they might even have another one spare to use) and they’re in their dryrobe getting warm, eating soup so the thermic effect of food is getting them warm from the inside out, with their game face on - ready for the next round.

Whereas other people, myself included the first time I did it, are still in wetsuits mingling with everyone. I was walking around taking pictures being “This is amazing!” and then they're going “Ross, you’re going back in again now” and I’m still in my cold damp wetsuit!

One of the most valuable pieces of kit if your going to win Red Bull Neptune Steps is a dryrobe, or certainly what you do in the hour between heats, will have a profound impact on how you perform in the semis or the final. I think too many people rock up with a wetsuit, thinking that's it, but it’s a whole day event.

Ross Edgely throwing an ice bucket in training for Red Bull Neptune Steps

(Photo courtesy of Olaf Pignataro/ Red Bull Content Pool)

We’ll be at Red Bull Neptune Steps in Glasgow on March 29th to cover the event, make sure you keep an eye our social channels for updates.

Find out more: Red Bull Neptune Steps 2019

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