Interval training does not necessarily mean high intensity interval training (HIIT). It can be, but not all intervals need to be “high intensity”. I encourage those training for triathlons to get out of their comfort zone and kick it up a notch. Many athletes go too easy during their hard days and too hard on their easy days. You need to start changing things up and adding intervals – periods of time within each workout where you go a little harder, but not necessarily all out!
Pushing yourself a little harder with intervals could increase your race performance by 3 percent in just four weeks. Three percent doesn’t sound like much, but think about that for a moment; some studies put the research as high as six percent. So, you might be able to double the gains, and this is doing the intervals only one time per week.
Intervals are the key to success – if you do them correctly. Committing to four interval workouts a month to become at least three times faster is worth it, isn’t it? Most triathletes could improve their race time by building in interval training into each sport weekly twelve weeks before a priority race.
Most triathletes tell me they already do interval training. However, most of them do intervals incorrectly. They push themselves too hard, too fast with no idea as to what the pace should be, how long they should go or how much recovery there should be in between.
There are also those triathletes who don’t do intervals at all. They don’t like the physical suffering and will swim, bike and run harder instead. This type of training has little benefit once you leave the base period of your season and is not hard enough to produce the benefits necessary to race faster.
What Are Intervals?
Interval training are workouts in which you alternate periods of high intensity exercise with low intensity recovery periods. Intervals increase fitness and burn more calories over a shorter period of time rather than doing workouts at the same speed all the time.
What Kind of Intervals Should I Do?
How you weave these intervals into your workout is up to you. There are many ways to organizing your workouts. Obviously having a specific purpose to each of your workouts is key. Interval training is a great way to help you achieve specific improvements as you work to reach your goals.
Here is a great example of an interval progression with the premise that can it be applied to biking, swimming or running: it has two goals – increasing anaerobic threshold and increasing leg speed – which are key to increasing your capacity when you train and race. By improving both of these goals, you will increase your endurance for longer distances.
The workout involves short, intense intervals followed by a period of rest, and takes into account the work-to-rest ratio. Over time, you will decrease the rest needed between intervals and the intense intervals will get longer.
After a ten minute warm-up, begin the workout with a one-to-one-rest ratio. For example, one minute hard followed by one minute off. Repeat these intervals three or four times, and then take a two-minute break. Repeat the set two or three times for a total of ten minutes of hard effort.
You will know you are getting the maximum benefit if you have to work hard to finish each interval and have to give it all you’ve got by the end of the set.
Do this workout once a week and every time try to decrease your work-to-rest ratio. In order to maintain a high level of intensity, the maximum interval in this progression should be four minutes of work. If one minute intervals are too difficult, you can always decrease that to be thirty second increments.
By adding interval training into your triathlon training, you will definitely boost speed and endurance. Your body will be able to evolve and adapt from the added stress, otherwise your fitness will plateau.
If you need help incorporating interval workouts into your triathlon training, contact me today. I would love to help you boost your race speed today.