© 2010-2020 by Tri-Valley Triathlon Club - TVTC

Our Partners

SportsPlus Bay Area
Rudy Project
SCICON Bags
Generation UCan
Roka Sports
Power Meter City
USA Triathon

Dublin, California, 94568

  • TVTC

Workouts - How to Read and Understand them

Have you seen workouts online and didn't understand them? Have you received workouts from TVTC and was a little confused? Let's stop the confusion.


This article describes the different parts of a workout and the language used in different types of workouts. After reading you'll be ready to complete any workout like a pro.


The first step in understanding a workout is knowing that there are different parts to it. Let's dive in and see what they are.


Phases of the Workout


Warm Up - This is the first phase of every workout. You should never start working out hard before you slowly go from a resting heart rate to a moderate heart rate of at least 120 bpm. It's imperative to get your blood pumping and your muscles loose especially for the 40+ age group. During this phase you will start off slow and then get faster over a 10-15 min period. This will be true for any of the swim/bike/run sports. It's also a good idea to do shorter pickups. This can be something like running/biking harder for 10-30 secs.


Drills - This is typically not called out as it's own phase in most coach prescribed workouts. However, in many TVTC workouts, this will be called out. Normally, this is included in the warm up phase. For the swim, it's also included most of the time in the main set. So, what is it? For the run, this can include active stretching or running form exercises. For the bike, this can include balance, or 1 leg, or cycling form exercises. For the swim, this will include all swim form exercises.


Main Set - This is where the meat and potatoes of the workout are. It's where the major work is done. This will include speed or strength intervals mixed with different recovery intervals. Usually, this part is very specific on what should be done and how. Look at the example workouts below.


Cool Down - This is one of the most important phases of a workout, but often the most ignored. Many people feel that once they did the hard main set section, they are done. However, if you don't properly cool down you will have a greater chance at injuring yourself. Why? Your heart is still pumping quite fast and your blood vessels are still dilated. If you stop quickly you could feel sick or pass out. Additionally, by reducing your effort slowly over a 10 min period allows you to flush some of the lactic acid out of your muscles. The lactic acid is what leads to cramping and stiffness.


Goal - Many times this part is not included in coach prescribed workouts. But, it should be. If you see any TVTC workouts, this will be included a high majority of the time. It's important to understand why you are doing what you're doing. The more the athlete understands the importance of the workout, the more likely they are to complete the workout as prescribed.


Example Workouts


Let's take a look at some workouts so you know how to read whatever workout you will see when you see a TVTC training plan.


Swim


Example

Here is what you will see as the title for a workout.

Section 1 - This highlights the type of swimmer this workout is targeted to - competitive in this case. TVTC has 3 types: developing, fitness and competitive. This could also say "benchmark" which would indicate that it's testing the athlete's ability and is for all types of swimmers.

Section 2 - This highlights the target distance and/or time for the workout. This workout is supposed to be done by distance. From swim workouts, it will always be listed in total yards. The 1:15 hours is the estimate how long the total workout should take if you follow the workout as prescribed.

Section 3 - This highlights the main set.

Icon - you can see this is a swim workout.

TSS - this is a measure of total effort or training stress for the workout. This is unique to Training Peaks and is calculated for you if you have input certain information. Check out TSS on the Training Peaks site.


Here is the detail for the workout.

As you can see, all sections listed in the "Phases of a Workout" are included in this workout. The cool down and goal phases are self explanatory. The warm up section has 2 sets to complete. One is 400 yards, and the other is 900 yards. The 3 x (3 x 100) means that you have 3 sets of 3 intervals each where each interval is 100 yards. This means you stop after the 100 yards. This also mentions a 20 second rest interval in between each interval/set. The main set one main set with 3 intervals of 400 yards. The first two are negative split with a 30 second rest in between. The last one doesn't specify an intensity. To understand more of the terminology used in this workout check out our post on the language of swimming.


Bike


Example

Here is what you will see as the title for a workout.

Section 1 - This highlights the focus for the workout - improving endurance and working on some tempo work in this case.

Section 2 - This highlights the target distance and/or time for the workout. This workout is supposed to be done by time. The 48 miles listed shows an average of 16 mph.

Section 3 - This highlights the main set.

Icon - you can see this is a bike workout.

TSS - this is a measure of total effort or training stress for the workout. This is unique to Training Peaks and is calculated for you if you have input certain information. Check out TSS on the Training Peaks site.


Here is the detail for the workout.

As you can see, all sections listed in the "Phases of a Workout" are included in this workout. The warm up, cool down, and goal phases are self explanatory. Unfortunately, the main set can't be boiled down to some simple shorthand. But, the explanation is pretty easy to understand. You are increasing your hard effort 5 min every hour while reducing your recovery 5 min. Throughout this workout there are mentions of RPE/Z/L. You can read more information about those in our Heart Rate Zone and Rate of Perceived Exertion posts.


Run


Example

Here is what you will see as the title for a workout.

Section 1 - This highlights the focus for the workout - running hills in this case.

Section 2 - This highlights the target distance and/or time for the workout. This can be done by time or by distance in this case.

Section 3 - This highlights the main set.

Icon - you can see this is a run workout.

TSS - this is a measure of total effort or training stress for the workout. This is unique to Training Peaks and is calculated for you if you have input certain information. Check out TSS on the Training Peaks site.


Here is the detail for the workout.


As you can see, all sections listed in the "Phases of a Workout" are included in this workout. The warm up, cool down, and goal phases are self explanatory. The drills phase references drills that are not listed. When you join a TVTC workout, you will see the 5-7 exercises that we do. Look for a blog post soon to see some of them. The main set says 5 x (30" uphill L6-7 or Z3, easy downhill). This is the shorthand for how to complete the main set. It says 5 sets with 2 intervals for each set. The first is 30 seconds and the second is not timed exactly. It just says to run easy. You will then do those 2 intervals 5 times without stopping between them. When you read the paragraph you will see more detail so you won't be confused. Throughout this workout there are mentions of RPE/Z/L. You can read more information about those in our Heart Rate Zone and Rate of Perceived Exertion posts.


If you've read this far, hopefully, you're now an expert in reading and understanding a workout. If not, tell us below what workouts you've seen and don't understand. Or, ask us questions.

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle