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Winter Training: Indoor Brick Workouts 

By Lee Gardner

While winter training keeps the majority of athletes indoors, this does not mean that workouts have to be dull. One great way to keep motivation high and increase the variety of workouts you do is to add indoor brick workouts to the mix. A brick workout is, on a basic level, the combination of two or more of the sports we are training for as triathletes. For example, the most common type of brick workout is a bike-run brick. Other combos include swim-bike, swim-run, run-bike-run, or swim-bike-run.

Because the majority of your winter training is usually going to be focused on building your aerobic base, I have put together a few fun brick workouts to add to your schedule that keep this in mind. In other words, the intensity that you want to achieve with all of these workouts is primarily a steady effort, with a heart rate rarely greater than 90 percent of your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR). Aside from focusing on building your aerobic base, these workouts also promote adaptation to the physical transition from one sport to another. By the time spring rolls around, quick transitions will be your middle name!

1. Little Ring/Big Ring Brick -- This is a bike-run brick.

Warm Up: Begin on the bike trainer by warming up with 15 to 20 minutes, starting with easy spinning, and building to a comfortable, steady effort.
Bike Set: Choose a gearing using your small chain ring that increases your heart rate to about 85-90% LTHR and puts your cadence at 90-95rpm. Additionally, choose a gearing using your large chain ring that keeps your heart rate the same, however your cadence will change to 75-80 rpm. Do 3x(5 minutes Little Ring/5 minutes Big Ring) on 2 minutes of recovery spinning in between the 10 minute intervals.
Run Set: Run on a treadmill for 20 minutes at a easy pace (~80-85% of LTHR). Keep your cadence quick and your form proud.

2. Duathlon Brick -- This is a run-bike-run brick.

Warm-up: Begin with some very easy jogging for about 10 minutes. Just enough to get you moving.
Run Set: 1 mile easy (only slightly faster than your warm up), 1 mile steady (~85-90% of LTHR).
Bike Set: Because you are already warmed up, once on your bike, get right to business: 3x(8 minutes at 85-90% of LTHR/2 minutes of recovery spinning). Keep your cycling cadence high at all times, about 90-95rpm.
Run Set: Run 1 mile, steady (hr @ 90% of LTHR); 1 mile easy, as a long cool down.

3. Hill Climb Brick -- This is a bike-run brick

Warm Up: Begin on the bike trainer by warming up with 15 to 20 minutes, starting with easy spinning, and building to a comfortable, steady effort.
Before moving on to the bike set of this workout, set up your bike so that the front wheel is elevated, as if you're biking uphill. I use a big thick phone book, but anything that will raise your front wheel higher than normal and is stable will do.
Bike Set: Divide the bike into three parts: 1. seated, pedaling with a cadence at about 80rpm for 10 minutes. 2. 5x(1 minute standing @ 70rpm and 1 minute seated @ 80rpm). 3. all seated, pedaling with a cadence at about 80rpm for 10 minutes.
Run Set: Run on a treadmill for 20 minutes at an easy pace (~80-85% of LTHR). Keep your cadence quick and your form proud.
*For an added challenge, put the treadmill at an incline greater than 2% for the first 10 minutes of the run. Remember, keep your heart rate in check (<90% of LTHR)

4. Aqua Run -- This is a swim-run brick.

The trick is getting on a treadmill as fast as possible. This will definitely take some time in transition, so be sure to be organized ahead of time. Of course, it's always an attention getter to see a dude in a Speedo running on a treadmill... For the swim set, you can use any swim workout or master's session that you prefer, followed by a run. For example, here is a swim workout I like:
Swim Set: Warm up - 200 freestyle swim, 100 kick with kickboard, 200 freestyle swim with pool buoy. Main set - 8x100 on 10 seconds rest, 2x400 on 20 seconds rest.
Run Set: 3x(1 mile, start easy and build to your LTHR). Finish with some easy jogging and walking.

5. The InsaneMan Brick -- This is a bike-run brick with extra insanity during the run.

Warm Up: Begin on the bike trainer by warming up with 15 to 20 minutes, starting with easy spinning, and building to a comfortable, steady effort.
Bike Set: 1x10 minutes of steady effort (85-90% LTHR) @ a cadence of 90-95rpm, 1x10 minutes of steady effort (85-90% LTHR) @ a cadence of 70-75rpm, 1x5 minutes of recovery effort, 1x10 minutes as: Four minutes at 90 rpm, Three minutes at 100 rpm, Two minutes at 110 rpm, One minute at 120+ rpm.
Run Set: Run 1 mile easy (get your legs under you), jump off of the treadmill and do 5-15 push-ups, run 1 mile easy (the trick now is to recover your heart rate while still running), jump off of the treadmill again and do 5-15 pull-ups, run 1 mile easy (again, heart rate control!)

There you have it. Five short, aerobic base-building brick workouts for your early season training.


trismarterLee Gardner is a 
USA Triathlon Certified Level 1 Triathlon Coach with http://www.trismarter.com. Lee lives and trains in Colorado Springs, Colo., and occasionally takes time off from his training to recharge for next season! Visit http://www.trismarter.com to learn more about their personalized coaching options such as Tri4Life and Tri2Lose as well as innovative Eat2Win sports nutrition services. Contact info@trismarter.com or call 917.825.1451 for more information.

Trismarter.com strives to provide the highest quality internet-based triathlon coaching and sports nutrition services for the everyday triathlete and novice. These services are based on an understanding of the sport and tailored to the expectations and needs of each and every client. Our services address every aspect of triathlon preparation: Tri4Life personalized coaching, Tri2Lose weight loss and Eat2Win sports nutrition. At Trismarter.com, we celebrate the journey along with our clients from start to finish.

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