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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

2 Posts tagged with the training_principles tag

As I continue the blog series on training principles, today’s post is on workout duration. So far, I’ve covered overload, volume, duration and specificity.


“Depending on each individual's current fitness, race goals, the sport and training time available, the frequency of workouts scheduled will vary. Some athletes will workout only once per day while others workout twice or more times per day.”


As athletes get more competitive and gain more fitness, they move from doing workouts three times per week to six or seven times per week. Beyond that, athletes move to multiple workouts per day.


A few tips for workout frequency:


  • It is typical for competitive triathletes to do two workouts per day, several days per week. Some will answer an early morning alarm and complete one workout on an indoor trainer or treadmill to optimize time.
  • Cyclists will often commute to and/or from work to add additional workout frequency to their training.
  • Sometimes a short workout at an easy intensity can aid recovery. Don’t overlook steady walking as an option. A lunch time walk is perfect.
  • As you eagerly increase workout frequency, pay close attention to your overall training volume and be aware of overload.



These training plans have helped thousands of people succeed, they can help you too.

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Yesterday I began a blog series on training principles. I covered the principle of overload in the first blog. Before moving to the topic of training volume, I want to add a comment about overload.You can overload training intensity, as well as training volume. In my experience, sudden and abrupt overloads in training intensity come with more risk than increases in volume. If you decide to overload intensity, carefully monitor your response during the workouts and in the days following an intensity overload block. Be ready to reduce intensity to stay healthy.


Now on to the topic of volume. From the book:

“Training volume can be defined as the combination of frequency and duration. When assembling your training plan, annual training volume is one piece of the puzzle. Broken down, the monthly, weekly and daily training volumes are as important as annual volume.”

In the last blog I mentioned annual and weekly training volume. Today I want to include comment about daily training volume. If you plan to do an endurance event that is some 30 minutes to 17 hours (perhaps the time it take to complete 5k run to the time it takes to complete an Ironman triathlon) long, what does the volume (or duration) of your longest training day (in hours and minutes) need to be?

The shorter the event, I tend to have athletes complete 100-percent of the expected event duration in a single training day. In other words, if your event is expected to take you between 30 minutes to 3 hours to complete, more than likely I’ll have you do a single training day that is between 30 minutes to 3 hours long.

For events expected to take less than an hour, I may have you complete double the expected event completion time in a single training day. Whether or not I double the time depends on your current fitness, the amount of time you have to train for the event, and your race goals. Experienced and highly fit racers with plenty of time to train for an event will complete double the expected event duration in training. Beginning athletes with little time to prepare will not.

I can’t think of a time that I’ve scheduled a training day in excess of about six to seven hours, or the time it takes to complete a century bike ride – whichever is longer. For situations where a training day will not mimic the event duration, my rule of thumb is to have the athlete complete 50- to 100-percent of the expected event duration over the course of two or three days (frequency). Most of the time these training sessions are on consecutive days, but there are exceptions.

Training volume can be manipulated over the course of days, weeks, months or years. Annual training volume may remain steady, while weekly training volume changes dramatically. Weekly training volume can remain steady, while daily training volume changes. How you tweek training volume depends on your current fitness, lifestyle, time available to prepare for the event and the expected event duration – your athlete profile.



These training plans have helped thousands of people succeed, they can help you too.

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