Triathletes are lazy! What? Yes, we tend to get in the grind of long, slow distance workouts, and tend not to get into our phosphagen energy (i.e.: anaerobic) system, which is engaged when doing maximum intensity for 3-30 seconds.
Why should triathletes get into the phosphagen energy system if we are running in the aerobic system? Triathletes need to get in that system occasionally. We want YOU to have a better kick at the end of your race, or surging past someone during the run at an Ironman, or applying more force to the pedals on a hill in a race. Especially as an Ironman triathlete, we want you to tap into the phosphagen energy system.
How do we train the phosphagen energy system? By applying high intensity efforts, either during the swim, bike, and run, or in the gym. Remember, these efforts don’t have to be long because then you are tapping into the oxidative system (your aerobic system), which you do on a 30 minute run or a 6 hour bike.
Best HIT Workouts for Triathletes
1. EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)
- Purpose of an EMOM is interval work. No more than 12 minutes for this workout.
- You would do a “couple” of exercises all within a minute. If you get done with your exercises in 40 seconds, you have a 20 second rest. If you get done with your exercises in 50 seconds you have 10 seconds rest. I would like to see at least a 10-20 second rest within that minute. You push yourself within that minute, knowing that you will have a little bit of rest.
- At Home Workout: 8 Burpees/10 Air Squats for 10:00 minutes
- At Gym Workout: Beginner: 5 Front Squats/5 Burpees for 10:00 minutes. Advanced: 5 Power Cleans/5 Box Jumps for 10:00 minutes
2. Helen (CrossFit workout)
- It is FANTASTIC, and you should keep this under 12 minutes. You have cardio, bodyweight, strength, and power.
- 3 Rounds for Time: 400 meter Run/21 KBS (Kettle Bell Swings) (24 kg for men/16 kg for women)/12 Push-Ups
- I use this workout as a Benchmark or a “test” to see where I am throughout the year.
- What if I can’t do pull-ups? Quite all right; do ring rows or pull-ups with a band. Remember to adjust for YOU!
3. Tabata Intervals
- Tabata intervals can work with swimming, cycling, running, and body weight exercises (burpees, sit-ups, air squats, push-ups, etc.)
- 8 minutes of work: :20 seconds on/:10 seconds rest
- The purpose of Tabata is to go max effort for 20 seconds and rest the 10. You should NOT be able to do numerous Tabata intervals in your workout. One and done.
- Check out this article from Active.com.
4. Bodyweight Workouts
- You can do these at home. I have gathered a variety of workouts, and put them together for triathletes.
- 150 Sit-Ups for Time (Under 10 minutes): Every 1 minute, including the first minute, you have to do 3 Burpees
- 5-8 Rounds for Time (RFT): 10-15 Sit-Ups/10-15 Air Squats/10-15 Burpees or Push-Ups
- 3 RFT: 7 Burpees/ 14 Sit-Ups/28 Walking Lunges (EACH LEG)
5. At Gym Workouts (Global Gym/Home Gym or CrossFit Gym)
- Some of these exercises are a little advanced BUT through proper instruction and understanding the movements, it can be done
- 3 RFT: 400 meter Row/ 10 Push Press (85 lb men/65 lb women) (Adjust as needed)/10 Box Jumps
- 21/15/9 (You do 21 back squats, 21 push press, then 15, 15, etc). Back Squats and Push Press (Same bar, so weight has to be what you can do for push press).
- 8-10 Rounds for Time: 3 Power Cleans/6 Box Jumps/9 Burpees
There are so many combinations for triathletes for bodyweight workouts and gym workouts as well. I try to think about what is needed for triathletes, which would be posterior chain movements, a push and pull movement, and something that spikes their heart rate in the phosphagen energy system. There is a method to my madness with my Strength Training Classes for Endurance Athletes, aka The Strongest Mile.
Start adding these to your workouts and you will see a HUGE difference in your training. If you are a science geek like me, check out this PDF about high intensity training for endurance athletes. Fantastic article!
Figure out how to implement strength training in your schedule. It is critical for your life today, AND for your future. Looking for a way to add strength training to your program? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a program or a specific consult how to organize and plan your strength program.