Thursday, May 4, 2017

Six-Week Brick Workout Progression

Jon originally published this on USA Triathlon's Multisport lab... 
Brick workouts are a tool in your workout arsenal to help you become a better duathlete or triathlete. At a basic level, a brick is a workout where you ride your bike and follow it up with a run. It gets its name from the feeling you get in your legs as the muscles transition from one discipline to the next. Ideally, your legs feel awesome coming off the bike, but more often than not your legs will feel like bricks!
Example: A good starting point for a brick workout would be a short aerobic run off an aerobic bike. You can make it more challenging by upping the intensity or adding in a run prior to the ride and finishing off with another run.
Basic Brick Sample: 45-minute aerobic ride + 15-minute aerobic run
Advanced Brick Sample: 5-minute run at 10k race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 40k effort TT effort + 5-minute run at 10k race pace effort

What does it do?

Brick workouts have a variety of benefits. From a physiological perspective, you will benefit from the aerobic or anaerobic exercise that you do as you bike and run. This will increase your overall fitness. You also build sport specific muscular strength from running off the bike on tired legs. From a skill point of view, you can practice your mount, dismount, transition and pacing at the beginning of each discipline or close to race pace intensity. From a mental point of view, you can build your confidence in both your transition skills and your ability to transition and run well off the bike without stopping.

Who’s it for?

Brick workouts are somewhat controversial in the elite world. Some professional athletes do bricks often while others don’t do them at all. If you have never done a brick, it’s a good idea to do one before your first triathlon/duathlon to prepare for the “brick” feeling and practice for race day. If you have been doing triathlons/duathlons for a while and have had trouble with transitions or running well off the bike, it’s a good idea to do them in order to build more sport-specific preparation for race day. If you need a muscular endurance workout alternative to running hills, it’s also a good way to build muscular endurance. If you don’t have trouble with these things, you may choose to work on something else instead.

Key Points for Brick Workouts

1. Warm up well — you can always extend the warm up if needed.
2. If possible, do this workout on the week day and time that your duathlon or triathlon will be held. This will allow for enough recovery time in between weeks. This will also help your confidence going into the race since you’ve done a number of dress rehearsals on same day of the week.
3. Follow the same nutrition and hydration plan in training that you will follow on race day. That way you will know if your fueling plan works well. It will also give you time to change something if the fueling plan needs tweaked in the first couple of weeks.
4. It’s better to be conservative in the first round. You want to see a steady improvement in power or speed as the workout progresses. If you find yourself failing at the end of the workout, you may have gone too hard.
5. Run and ride at or slower than the power/pace that you plan to run/ride on race day; you don’t need to go faster. Leave the true speed work for another day.

Turning the Brick Workout into a Six-Week Progression

Warm up (25 minutes total)
5-minute walk
5-minute jog5-minute build to race pace effort by the final minuteJump on bike for 5-minute easy spin5-minute build to 105 percent of race pace by the final minute5 minutes easy back to “transition” area
Main Set
See week progression below.
Cooldown
5-10 minutes of easy walking, jogging or spinning
Main Set Week 1: Get the Process (25 minutes)
  • 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 85 percent of race pace effort + 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
Main Set Week 2: Build the Effort (50 minutes)
  • 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 85 percent of race pace effort + 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
  • 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 95 percent of goal race pace effort + 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
Main Set Week 3: Build the Effort and Volume (75 minutes)
  • 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 85 percent of race pace effort + 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
  • 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 95 percent of goal race pace effort + 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
  • 5-minute run at goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at goal race effort + 5-minute run at seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
Main Set Week 4: Build the Effort and Volume (75 minutes)
  • 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 95 percent of goal race pace effort + 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
  • 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 95 percent of goal race pace effort + 5-minute run at 15 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
  • 5-minute run at goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at goal race effort + 5-minute run at seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
Main Set Week 5: Back Off, Maintain Confidence (50 minutes)
  • 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 10-minute ride at 85 percent of race pace effort + 5-minute run at 30 seconds slower than goal race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
  • 5-minute run at 10 seconds slower than race pace effort + 10-minute ride at goal race pace effort + 5-minute run at race pace effort + 5-minute easy walk or jog
Week 6: Race Week

This brick progression is one great way to prepare both mentally and physically for race day. You can always modify the progression to meet your specific ability level and goals. Good luck and enjoy the process.

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