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15 of the best triathlon workouts that you aren't doing (Part 1)

Posted Dec 19 2009 6:40am
Triathlon1 Bored of the same old triathlon workouts? Are you ready for some routines that are going to absolutely blow your mind and put some fresh intensity into your training program. In no particular order of importance, here are 15 of the best triathlon workouts that you aren't doing.

1. Treadmill Hiking Sprints

You'll never think of a treadmill the same way after this massive leg strength building triathlon workout. Hop onto the belt, and after a brief warm-up, immediately crank yourself up to a brisk walking pace. Here's the kicker: now bring the incline up to somewhere between 9.0 and 12.0 percent.

Try to stay on that belt for 5 minutes. Your recovery from this hike is going to be a run. Bring the incline down to 1.0, and pick up a light jogging base, about 55-65% intensity. After 5 minutes, crank yourself back up to your uphill hike. Go back and forth for the time length of your workout, preferably 30-60 minutes.

2. Hulu Movie Endurance

Have you discovered all the free movies yet, over at the Hulu website? If you haven't, surf over to the website, find your favorite movie, then set-up your computer in front of your indoor trainer for this longer bike endurance triathlon workout. Ride at your regular aerobic pace while the movie is playing (you may need headphones), but for every 30 second commercial that pops up on Hulu, stand and sprint as hard as possible at 100%. When the movie comes back on, go back into your aerobic pace. You'll squeeze in your favorite flick, and a great workout.

3. Open Water Pool Power Workout

This crazy pool based workout will instantly make you more powerful and mentally tougher in the open water. Get out your notepad, preferably the waterproof one. You ready? 500m warm-up. Progress to 1x Death Sprint, in which you go as hard as possible for as long as possible. No rules, but you should be able to last 200-300 yards. Recover 2 minutes, then complete 15 pool-side pushups to a 50m all-out sprint. Recover 45 seconds after each repeat, and do 5 of these. Recover 1 minute.

Then do a 50m all-out sprint that you take directly into a 250m "cruise" at about 70% intensity. Do two of these "sprints-to-cruises", and recover 1 minute between each. Then progress to 3x100 "no-stop" intervals, in which you swim a 100m all-out pace, but your recovery is a 50m very easy swim, rather than resting poolside.

Next, swim 3x75m with NO turning at the walls - instead, turn at the "T" and use the power of your legs to reverse direction. Recovery on these is a very easy breaststroke or backstroke back to your starting wall. Finally, finish with 10x25 "hypoxic" breathing or as little breathing as possible. 20 second rest after each 25. Whew! That's it!

4. Swim/Spin Brick

Another great pool and indoor-based session. This works very well for a time trial swim in which you're going to swim at maximum sustainable pace for 20-30 minutes. Schedule your swim to end just 5 minutes before the spin class at a gym. Hop in the water and go. After a quick 5 minute transition, race to the spin class and take whatever the instructor happens to throw at you. This is a great "fun" early or winter season triathlon workout for you cold birds.

5. Cartlek Run

That's right, I didn't mis-spell Fartlek, that term that refers to random speed training. Cartlek is your trafficked road version. Here's how it works: Settle into an aerobic pace, at about 55-65% intensity. Every time a car passes you *from behind*, you must pick up the pace to a comfortable but fast run at about 85% for 100 steps.

If a "string" of cars passes, then you begin your 85% stride after the last car goes by. If a car passes you during those 100 steps, you pick up the pace to maximum 100% for however many steps you have left. Once you're done with the 100 step stride, you can settle in until the next car approaches. This triathlon workout is basically Fartlek training with an unpredictable twist, and is good when you don't have a group to run with to do the pace-changing. Have fun (it works best on roads that aren't *too* heavily trafficked).

6. Standing Flats

Here's a fun and simple triathlon workout that builds hip flexor strength and low back endurance. Go on a bike ride, but at one point during that bike ride (that's right, it only takes once), stand for as long as possible on the longest stretch of flat road you can find. If you can make it 2 minutes, you're pretty good. 5 minutes is tough. 10 minutes would qualify you as a rock star triathlete!

7. Indoor TV-Watching Fartleks

Back to another fartlek workout, this time on the treadmill and indoors. Hop onto the belt and turn on your favorite sports game, movie, or TV show. Folks, this is a pretty simple one: easy aerobic run while your program is playing, following by an all-out sprint during the commercials. During the average Super Bowl style football game, you'll find yourself completely exhausted if you can make it 30 minutes in this triathlon workout.

Ready for a bit of a change-up from your normal triathlon workouts? Put this article into your workout folder or gym bag and pull it out when you need a quick and creative triathlon workout idea. If you like these type of workouts, then you should surf over to the Rock Star Triathlete Academy at, where there are even more free triathlon workouts to make you rock. 

Editor's Note: Please comeback tomorrow for part two.

Whoisben Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.

He's a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more more.

We recommend that you surf on over to, for more great training advice.

Follow on twitter @everymantri or view latest videos on YouTube.

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