Routine Questions

Don't expect to see fitness improvements if you train at the same level, doing the same routine, week in, week out. If you want to become fitter and stronger, follow these tips in the weeks and months ahead


Posted: 23 November 2009
by Selene Yeager

Go easy more often

The physiological adaptations that increase your speed happen during recovery, not training. Leg-searing rides and runs put your body under great physical stress. To cope with that kind of pressure your body strengthens itself by building more muscle fibres and boosting its aerobic engine. Push yourself to your limits twice or three times a week but ease off between hard sessions. 

Go back to basics

Like a golfer's swing or a runner's stride, a cyclist's pedal stroke, bike-handling skills and cadence (revolutions per minute) become more efficient with practice. Do this cadence drill to get a jump-start: warm up for 10 minutes on a turbo trainer. Spin using only the right leg for 30 seconds, gradually increasing cadence. Repeat with the left leg for 30 seconds. Then put both legs into action at a cadence of 90 to 100 revolutions per minute. Repeat, this time with 60 seconds of single-leg spinning per side. Perform the sequence three times. 

Escape the rut

Many fitness gains are made through neuromuscular adaptations. When you're really challenging yourself, your muscles are sending messages to your brain, which takes note of the new experience, realises that something extra is needed and recruits more muscle fibres for the job. Focus on your speed if you always climb; hit the hills if you're more at home on the flat. 

Jump to it

Plyometrics - explosive jumping and hopping exercises - help your muscles to reach maximum strength quickly. Researchers found that just one month of plyometric training twice a week can increase power endurance by 17 per cent. After a few weeks of general training, do star jumps twice a week. Stand straight, then bend your legs and form a crouch position. Swiftly jump up and open your arms and legs in midair to create a star shape. As you land, bend your knees until your hands can touch the floor on either side of your feet. Do one or two sets of eight to 12 reps. 

Track your progress

Keep a training log and you'll almost certainly become a better triathlete. Write down the usual statistics, such as drills performed, distance swum, your run routes and mileages, time spent cycling, terrain covered and average speed, as well as how you felt during a session. When you notice your statistics or mood dipping, take a day off to allow your body and mind a breather. 

Smart training

"Train lots" is good advice, but "have structure" is better. Spend three weeks building your training load and intensity, extending your long runs, rides and hard efforts each week until you feel spent. Then scale back during week four. Your body will compensate for the hard effort and you'll start the next four-week cycle much stronger. 


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