The Most Effective Brick Workouts

Brick workouts are training sessions that involve combining two different disciplines, usually cycling and running, back-to-back without a significant rest period in between. These workouts are particularly beneficial for triathletes who need to transition quickly from the bike to the run.

Here are some benefits of incorporating brick workouts into your training routine:

  1. Muscular Adaptation: Brick workouts help your muscles adapt to the transition from one discipline to another. Going from cycling to running or vice versa places different demands on the leg muscles, and brick workouts train your muscles to efficiently switch between activities.
  2. Cardiovascular Conditioning: Brick workouts provide a significant cardiovascular challenge. By pushing your heart and lungs to adapt to the rapid change in activities, you can improve your overall cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
  3. Neurological Adaptation: Brick workouts train your nervous system to adjust quickly from one movement pattern to another. Switching between cycling and running requires different neuromuscular coordination, and practicing these transitions helps improve your efficiency and reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Mental Preparation: One of the primary benefits of brick workouts is mental preparation. They simulate race day conditions and help you become familiar with the physical and mental stress of transitioning between disciplines. This prepares you to maintain focus, adjust your pace, and push through fatigue during an actual race.
  5. Pace and Strategy Development: Brick workouts allow you to experiment with different pacing and strategy approaches. By practicing how to transition smoothly between activities and managing your effort levels, you can refine your race plan and optimize your performance.
  6. Confidence Building: Completing challenging brick workouts successfully enhances your confidence. It demonstrates that you can handle the physical and mental demands of race day, which can boost your overall self-belief and help you perform better in actual competitions.
  7. Time Efficiency: Brick workouts allow you to train multiple disciplines in a single session, saving time and allowing you to fit in more training within a limited schedule.
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As part of your training plan, you can incorporate a brick workout in one of your weekday cycle sessions, and one long brick at least one weekend on a month.

Here are the most effective brick workouts you can incorporate into your training routine:

  1. Transition Bike-to-Run Brick:
    • Start by cycling at a moderate intensity for 45-60 minutes. Focus on maintaining a consistent pace and good cycling form.
    • Transition immediately to the run portion without taking a significant rest period. Start with a comfortable pace for 15-20 minutes.
    • During the run, focus on adapting to the change in movement and stride from cycling to running. Pay attention to your form and gradually find your rhythm.
  2. Short Intervals Brick:
    • Start with a warm-up consisting of 10-15 minutes of easy cycling and running.
    • Perform a series of high-intensity cycling intervals, such as 30 seconds to 2 minutes of intense effort, followed by an equal recovery period of easy cycling.
    • Immediately transition to a fast-paced run for a duration similar to the cycling interval (e.g., if the interval was 1 minute, run at a fast pace for 1 minute).
    • Repeat the cycle of intervals and runs for a total of 4-6 sets. Allow for a short recovery period (2-3 minutes) between each set.
  3. Long Endurance Brick:
    • Begin with a long and steady bike ride at a comfortable pace for 60-120 minutes. This ride should be at a moderate intensity, where you can maintain a conversation.
    • Transition smoothly to a slower-paced, longer duration run. Aim for a duration of 30-60 minutes at an easy, conversational pace.
    • Focus on maintaining good form, endurance, and mental stamina during both the bike and run portions. Hydration and fueling strategies become more important during this type of brick workout.
  4. Race Simulation Brick:
    • Warm up with 10-15 minutes of easy cycling and running.
    • Perform a shorter, high-intensity bike ride that simulates the cycling leg of a race.
    • Quickly transition to a run at race pace immediately after the bike ride. This simulates the running leg of the race.
    • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of the workout as you approach your race day.
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General tip:  If you haven’t done much brick training, you will feel the legs will be sluggish and heavy after the bike work-out.   Start with shorter strides than normal, and from there, you will feel your legs will open up to the stride than you are used to.   The more you do the brick work-out, the lesser time your running legs will come back to you after the bike leg.

Remember to listen to your body, maintain proper nutrition and hydration, and gradually progress the duration and intensity of your brick workouts. These sessions will help you improve your transition skills, adapt to the demands of multi-sport events, and enhance your overall race performance.

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