How can you mix up your cardio? Train for a triathlon!

March 21, 2014

One of the best ways to stick to a fitness plan and witness successful results – whether you’re new to cardio or an avid runner or biker – is to sign up for a race.

The usual first step when starting races is to do a 5K, but once you’ve gotten a couple of those under your belt, you may be ready for a bigger challenge. If you have a hard time deciding whether you enjoy running on your home treadmill or riding your stationary bike, there’s a solution that won’t make you choose: a triathlon.

What’s a triathlon?
To put it simply, a triathlon is a race consisting of swimming, biking and running in that order. A long-distance triathlon is known as as Ironman that includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon run at 26.2 miles, a half Ironman includes 1. 2 miles of swimming, , 56 miles of biking and 13.1 miles of running and a sprint involves half a mile of swimming, 12 to 14 miles on the bike and 3.1 miles of running, so you can see how this multi-cardio sport tests your endurance and really pushes you to become faster and stronger.

The great part about this type of race is that it involves a variety of training methods. This means your workouts will be varied, saving your from a fitness plateau. Additionally, you won’t get bored during exercise because it will change on a frequent basis. You’ll need to incorporate running schedules on the fitness treadmill, biking sessions at various resistance levels on the home exercise bike and swimming for the water portion of the race. You’ll also want to include some strength training using basic bodyweight exercises such as lunges, squats, push-ups, crunches and burpees to ensure you’re using correct posture during each cardio segment.

Active.com suggests starting your training 12 weeks out to allow ample time to build up to triathlon levels. In just three months, you’ll certainly see results in how your clothes fit, muscle definition, endurance and stamina as well as a boost in self-confidence.

Training for a triathlon
Triathlon training doesn’t have to take over your whole life, but it is a commitment. Sticking to this fitness plan will ensure that you see the results you’ve been looking for. Once you cross the finish line, you’ll feel not only proud of yourself for completing the race, but happy that you’re in better shape physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

A five-day training program will allow you to tackle everything you’ll need to accomplish on your home gym equipment, though you’ll need to find a pool if you don’t have one at home to build up your swimming endurance. For the biking and running sessions, it’s best to work in increments and intervals to make the most out of each workout. You can combine biking and running into one bout, or separate them by day. Here are some sample workout plans from Shape magazine:


  • Jog at a moderate speed to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • For the bulk of your workout (30-40 minutes) alternate between a light run and sprinting. Jogging intervals should be between 2 and 5 minutes, while the sprints should be shorter – between 30 seconds and 1 minute.


  • Pedal slowly and easily to warm up for 5 minutes.
  • For the majority of your session, alternate between resistance levels.
  • On higher resistance, pedal slower. On lower resistance, pedal faster.
  • Incorporate 30-second sprints.

If you prefer to incorporate both cardio workouts into one round, try this:

  • For 10 minutes, alternate running and walking. Then, hop on a bike and ride for 30 minutes, alternating between moderate and high intensity levels.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes riding the bike at a low-to-moderate intensity, then alternate running and sprinting on the treadmill for 30 minutes.

After each session, don’t forget to cool down and stretch to avoid excessive muscle pain and injuries.