Pick up a new habit before the year is done!
So it’s almost the festive season and unless you are racing abroad soon you are probably not 100% ready to race a triathlon. This is fine, healthy and encouraged at this time of year. Without exhausting yourself there is still plenty you can be doing to keep you active and give you a solid platform to kick on next year. Why not use the rest of the year to experiment with a few new habits or routines and start working out what might stick and benefit you. Knowing the athletes I work with you likely already swim, bike & run as much as you can given your free time. I’d like to address the things nearly all of us are guilty of not finding enough time for; strength & conditioning, flexibility & mobility. Now is a great time to play around with a few workouts or routines. The variety will be great for your general fitness and once you feel the benefits you will be more likely to find time to continue them through next year.
Strength & Conditioning
If adding a gym session is new to your routine then it’s likely you won’t have masses of time to dedicate to it. Two 20-30 minute sessions per week can be enough to see improvements. Keep it simple, don’t try and isolate every muscle with tiny movements. Instead cover all the major movers with big compound moves. To save time try and do your whole workout in a small area of the gym with minimal equipment, this will be really key in January when the gym is packed with newcomers. Also try pairing exercises and performing them back to back in a ‘super set’ e.g. with a core exercise or upper body then lower body to save more time.
Here’s a suggestion of 12 exercises for a quick routine. Try 3 rounds of each pair of exercises with short rest and aim to build up to the reps/time I have suggested. Focus on control of each movement, try to maintain good balance and posture whilst keeping your breathing under control. If you are new to gym work ask a gym instructor to show you the moves and how to adapt any of them to make use of the equipment available.
|Warm Up – Rowing Machine 3-5 minutes.
Squats (Body Weight or Kettle Bell Goblet Style) x 15
Glute Bridge (45-60”)
Press Ups x 15
Legs Raises x 15
Alternating Lunges (Body Weight or holding weight) x 15 each leg
Shoulder Press (Dumbbells, Bar Bell or Kettle Bells) x 15
Calf Raises x 15 each leg
Pull Ups or Lat Pull Down x 15
Back Extensions x 15
Tricep Dips x 15
Russian Twists x 15 each side (Body weight or holding weight)
Remember if you haven’t done this recently you will feel sore afterwards. Start with light resistance and lower repetitions. Once you start to feel fine the next day begin increasing the resistance or reps.
Flexibility and Mobility
Now this is the area 99% of us really don’t pay enough attention to. Again, keep it simple! To get the benefits frequency is the key here. Just 5 minutes a day or 10-15 minutes 4 times / week could really help you keep injury at bay, improve your hydrodynamics for the swim, make you more aerodynamic on the bike and increase your running stride length and efficiency. Focus on these eight areas:
The difficulty of the stretch or movement really depends on your range of motion through each area. Start with holding stretches for 2-3 rounds of 20-30 seconds. You can back up this routine with a foam roller. Foam rolling will improve blood flow to an area and help recovery but it won’t improve flexibility as well as stretching can so try to include a mix of both.
Experiment with some new habits before the year is done. Perhaps head straight into the gym after your swim session or make your bike and run cool down include a proper stretching protocol instead of heading straight for the shower. You could even include stretches throughout the day e.g. by spending two minutes away from your desk stretching every hour or while waiting for the kettle to boil. The more seamlessly you can integrate them into your routine the more chance they have of becoming a habit. By turning your body into a more robust frame it will be better able to cope with the stresses of swim, bike and run. Improved recovery will lead to more consistency in your training which is the key to improving. Less injuries will also allow you to continue with sport and exercise further in later life so think of it as a bit of insurance for the future to.