Jumping In: Obeying The Hard-Easy Rule

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Over the next week Triathlete Magazine Senior Editor Matt Fitzgerald will provide six tips on jumping in to the sport of triathlon. In the fifth article, Fitzgerald explains how to balance the tough workouts with the easier ones.

Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

Your hardest workouts provide the strongest stimulus for improved fitness, but you can’t train hard all the time. This is true in part because the physiological adaptations triggered by your hardest workouts don’t occur during those workouts but between them. If you do a second hard workout too soon after completing an initial hard workout, your body will not have the chance to fully respond to the stimulus of that first session. You will improve most consistently if you alternate hard workouts with moderate and easy workouts. Use this guideline regardless of your training frequency. If you train six times per week, do one hard swim, ride and run each week and one moderate or easy swim, ride and run. If you train 12 times per week, do two hard swims, rides and runs each week and two moderate or easy swims, rides and runs.

It’s also advisable to modulate your training workload from week to week. Some weeks should be hard, so that your body is carrying a fairly high level of accumulated fatigue by the end of it. Some weeks should administer a moderate workload and others a fairly light one. The right mix varies from athlete to athlete. A good place to start is with the following four-week cycle:

Week 1: Hard

Week 2: Moderate

Week 3: Very Hard

Week 4: Easy

Click here to see the complete series.

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