Beginner Exercise Program: Month 4

author : acbadger
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We have used the past three months to build endurance and strength on the bike and have added the swimming component to the program. Now, we’ll start building on your swimming endurance.

Introduction:

This program is a continuation of the Beginner Exercise Program: Month 3 designed for the beginner exerciser/triathlete for the month of May. We have used the past three months to build endurance and strength on the bike and have added the swimming component to the program. Now, we’ll start building on your swimming endurance.


This program is meant to aid in weight loss by incorporating low to no impact exercises that will be gentle on your joints while strengthening muscles, bones and cardiovascular systems. All new athletes/exercisers should do what they are capable of doing. If you find that one week is difficult, DO NOT move onto the next week until you feel comfortable with the week you are on currently! There is no time limit to this program. Work at your own fitness level. Feel good! Feel invigorated! Feel like you are accomplishing your goals…and at the end of a session, feel like you WANT to do these workouts!!

 

Also, please keep in mind that any of these workouts (aside from the programmable ones on the stationary bikes) can be done outside if you prefer to start on your own road bike. However, if you are like me and do not live around any hills, you may have no choice but to take the “hills” inside to a stationary bike in the gym or to an indoor cycling class where the instructor cues you to add resistance when simulating a climb.
 

At the end of this months program is strength exercises (unchanged from month 2), swimming definitions and also two new nutrition tips.

  

Please read the Medical Clearance article and the Restrictions and Terms of Use so that you are aware of certain medical conditions which could negatively affect you if not checked-out by a physician beforehand.

 

Day

Week 1
Goals: Increase speed on the bikes and increase swimming endurance.

1

Lift: Legs (include abductors and adductors)*, Back and Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Bike: 35 to 45 minutes indoors. Use an Upright Bike as opposed to a Recumbent Bike**. Work on keeping feet flexed (like scraping gum off the bottom of your shoes) and upper body relaxed. Keep your resistance moderate to simulate a flat road. Perform fast flat ride. Maintain the same cadence on the bike for the entire workout time like you are riding long, flat and fast. You should feel like you could ride forever!  5 minute cool down!
Stretch: 10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching!  Stretching reduces DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

2

Lift: Shoulders, Chest, Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.

Swim: 50 yard warm up (25 kick, 25 swim any stroke). 50 yard finger drag drill, 50 yard kick, 50 yard bilateral breathing drill (may use kickboard for this), 50 yard pull, 200 yard freestyle, 100 yard cool down (any stroke). 100 yard cool down. TAKE 20 TO 60 SECONDS BETWEEN STROKE/DRILL CHANGES TO RECOVER.
Stretch: 10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

Lift:  Biceps, Triceps, Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Bike:  Longer ride 60 to 75 minutes. There will be one longer ride each week; this is the first for this month. Try to pedal at a high cadence for 2 minutes, recover for 4 minutes, come out of the saddle in a HIGH gear and climb for 2 minutes, drop back in the saddle, take the resistance off and recover for 4 minutes. Do this 10 to 12 times. Keep your pedal stroke fluid when you are in a high gear out of the saddle. If strokes are choppy (like you are almost stopping between strokes) you have too much resistance on the bike.  5 minute cool down.
Stretch:  15 to 20 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.  Aids in injury prevention as well.

 

Day 

Week 2
Goals: Work on swimming form. Work on endurance in the pool and on the bike.

1

Lift: Back, Biceps and Legs. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Bike: 45 to 60. Use an Upright Bike as opposed to a Recumbent Bike**. Work on keeping feet flexed (like scraping gum off the bottom of your shoes) and upper body relaxed. Endurance ride here with pick ups. Check your RPM’s on a regular basis. Keep the pedal strokes at NO LESS than 70 RPM’s for the endurance part. On pick ups, get your RPMs up to 85 to 95 RPM’s per minute. Ride at 70 RPM’s for 5 minutes, add pick ups (85 to 95 RPM’s) for 2 minutes. Repeat 8 to 20 times. Keep the resistance moderate and keep the RPM’s as consistent as you can for the entire ride. 5 minute cool down.
Stretch: 10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

2

Lift: Chest, Triceps, Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Swim: 100 yard warm up (50 yards freestyle, 50 breast stroke). This workout focuses on you keeping your body relaxed and rolling when you breathe. 100 yards taking LONG strokes. After one stroke, roll on your side, breath and kick for 10, stroke again, roll on your opposite side, breathe and kick for 10, repeat for 100 yards. This helps keep strokes long and teaches you to be aerodynamic in the water. The less surface area you create while breathing the less effort your swim will be and you can conserve energy. Try to take as few strokes as possible to get from one end of the pool to the other. Stay relaxed and focused. This is the key when you take this drill to open water. 100 yards kick, 100 pull, 200 yards freestyle.100 yard cool down. TAKE 20 TO 60 SECONDS BETWEEN EACH DRILL TO RECOVER.
Stretch:  10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

3

Lift: Shoulders, Back, Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Bike:  Longer ride 65 to 85 minutes. This is a FUN but CHALLENGING endurance ride. Recharge the I Pod and buy new batteries for the walkman. Put your favorite songs in the music source of your choice. Pedal at tempo (on the down beat of the song you are listening to) during the verses of the songs, on the chorus, crank up the gears and CLIMB. Don’t stop climbing until the chorus is completely over. Return to tempo when the new verse comes on. Keep that bottom in the saddle for the entire climb. 5 minute cool down.
Stretch:  15 to 20 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

 

Day  

Week 3
Goals: Hills. We’re getting some strength in this month despite the fact that our MAIN focus is speed and endurance. Swimming is all about endurance this week. Prepare to swim long.

1

Lift: Chest, Triceps, Legs. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.

Bike: 40 to 45 minutes indoors or out. Use an Upright Bike as opposed to a Recumbent Bike**. Work on keeping feet flexed (like scraping gum off the bottom of your shoes) and upper body relaxed. Here comes the continuous hill ride. We are going to work on endurance for those tough hill courses. Start with your resistance low and begin to increase your resistance every 3 to 5 minutes. You should finish your ride on a BIG hill (with HEAVY resistance). Remember, keep the pedal strokes fluid but always finish strong. 5 minute cool down.

Stretch: 10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

2

Lift: Back, Shoulders, Abdominals. 2 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Swim: 150 yard warm up (50 kick, 50 pull, 50 swim). We are going to refer back to our slow, controlled, strong strokes, remembering on the strokes your arm, at full extension, should not go over the midline of the body (cross over the head). The bottom half of the stroke should cross the midline a little before pulling back allowing your thumb to graze your thigh. This is another GREAT drill for stroke improvement. 250 yards with this stroke. 100 yards finger drag, 100 yards bilateral breathing with flutter board, 100 kick. 100 yard cool down. REMEMBER 20 TO 60 SECONDS RECOVERY TIME BETWEEN DRILL CHANGES.
Stretch:  10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

3

Lift:  Biceps, Chest, Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Bike:  Longer ride 75 to 90 minutes. This is a race simulation. You have to use your imagination…but I want you to focus on pacing. Work on pick ups during the race. Picture someone you’re DYING to overtake in front of you and turn it on until you pass. This will be an important skill to have because of the drafting rule.  5 minute cool down.
Stretch:  15 to 20 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

 

Day 

Week 4
Goals: Increasing time and endurance in the pool! Relax in the water and have fun!

1

Lift: Back, Biceps and Legs. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Bike: 60 minutes indoors. Use an Upright Bike as opposed to a Recumbent Bike**. Work on keeping feet flexed (like scraping gum off the bottom of your shoes) and upper body relaxed. OK, its all about heart rate monitoring today. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, I HIGHLY recommend you get one. You can, however, use the upright bikes at the gym that have the heart rate sensors on them. For the entire workout, I want you to keep your heart rate in your fat burning heart rate zone. How do you figure out what your zone is?? A very easy equation. 220-age. That will give your your MAX heart rate. Take that number and multiply it by .65. That is the low end of your fat burning zone. Take your max number again and multiply it by .75. That is the high end of your zone. Keep your HR between those numbers for the ENTIRE 60 minute ride.  Remember that 5 minute cool down!!
Stretch: 10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

2

Lift: Chest, Triceps, Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Swim: 200 yard warm up (50 kick, 50 pull, 50 kick, 50 pull), 200 yard catch up stroke with flutter board, 200 swim, 200 pull, 100 thumb scrape, 100 finger drag. 100 yard cool down. AGAIN, REMEMBER YOUR RECOVERY TIME BETWEEN DRILL CHANGES!
Stretch:  10 to 15 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

3

Lift: Shoulders, Back, Abdominals. 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions for 2 exercises each body part.
Bike:  Longer ride 75 to 80 minutes. This is an endurance ride. Set the bike for a manual workout. Keep your resistance moderate and keep your cadence at about 75 to 80 RPM’s per minute. Now, don’t change your cadence (keep it at 75 to 80 RPM’s) but increase your resistance, just enough so you feel a difference in the pedals only every 10 minutes. Small increments of resistance is plenty!! Endurance is what will get you through the race. Here’s where you’ll get it!   5 minute cool down.
Stretch:  15 to 20 minutes of FULL BODY stretching.

 

*Abductors: Outer Thighs and

 Adductors: Inner Thighs

** Upright Bike: Looks like a regular stationary bike at the gym. A Recumbent Bike has a chair on it with a back. Aids in lower back support. Some beginning bikers may need to start on a Recumbent Bike and graduate to an upright bike.

 

***Cadence: Check cadence by placing one hand above one knee. Every time the knee comes up on the upstroke of your pedal it should hit your hand. Hold your hand above your knee and count the number of times your knee hits your hand for 15 seconds. Take that number and multiply it by 4 to get your cadence.


RPM: Revolutions per minute. The number of times you pedal stroke in a minute.


STRENGTH TRAINING

When you are choosing weights, you need to choose weights that will allow you to complete the set, but not so little weight that you are not feeling the work by the 8th or 10th repetition. It is smart to start with lower weights, complete a full workout and then make the adjustments as you go or during the next workout.


Sets: The number of times you perform a series of repetitions.
Repetitions: The number of times you perform a particular exercises in a row.


Examples of exercises:

 

Legs

Lunges: Place one foot in front of the other, like you are taking a giant step forward. Your foot in the back should be positioned on the ball of the foot, heel up off of the floor. The front foot should be flat out in front of your body. Before you begin your lunge, tuck your hips under your body and lower the back knee STRAIGHT down to the floor. The front knee should be over your ankle, NOT over your toes. If your knee goes over your toes, you are lunging forward and not down. Practice one set of lunges without weight. Take light weights (after you have confirmed your positioning is correct) and let your arms hang to your sides holding the weights. Lunge down and up 12 to 15 times each side for 2 sets.


Chest

Dumbbell chest flies: Lie in a supine position (back on bench) on a flat bench. Take two light to moderate weight dumbbells and hold them up over your eyes, palms facing each other. Slowly lower the weight down to your sides, elbows should not go below the bench. Slowly bring the weights back up to starting position. Do not clink the dumbbells together when they reach starting position. Be sure that you have a slight bend in the elbows…NEVER lock a joint.


Back

Good mornings: Placing a straight body bar (bars that are covered in rubber, usually come in 9, 12 and 15 pound weights) across your shoulder blades. Legs should be shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent. Hinge at your hips (push your bottom back) and lower your upper body down, keeping your back straight, shoulders back and chest out. “Bow” half way over and slowly return to starting position. Do not use fast movements with this exercise. Slower is better on these. Be sure to use muscle NOT momentum. You also don’t want to throw your back out by moving too quickly.


Shoulders

Front dumbbell shoulder raise: Standing, take 2 dumbbells and have them hang down in front of you at your thighs. Lift both arms up together at the same time ONLY to shoulder height. Once the weight is at the top of the movement, slowly lower the weights back down. Keep your arms as straight as possible keeping the elbows soft (NEVER lock out a joint). If this movement is too difficult for you, a modification would be to lift one arm at a time (alternating lifts). As you start gaining strength…perform the exercise with both arms together.


Triceps

Tricep kickback: Taking a single dumbbell in each hand, bend slightly forward at the waist. Keep shoulders and elbows back. Keeping your shoulders stationary (no swinging/movement) and elbows back, lift the weights up behind your back and then slowly lower them back to a 90 degree angle. “Kick” the weights back, controlling the movement, do not swing the weights. You can do either arms together or one arm at a time. A variation of this would be to add a twist to the kickback (turn the palms up to the ceiling after ‘kicking’ them back.


Abdominals

Bikes: Lying on the floor, place one leg up, knee bent at a 90 degree angle. The opposite leg should be out straight. If your lower back is coming off of the floor with your leg out straight, your leg is too low to the floor, bring it up a bit to relieve some of the tension in your lower back. With your hands behind your ears (DO NOT lock fingers behind the head), take the opposite shoulder over to the hip on the side where the knee is bent. Alternate sides, switching the shoulder and bent/straight legs. Perform 15 to 20 each side.


STRETCHING:

Be sure to hold stretches for 10 to 20 seconds. DO NOT bounce when you stretch. All stretches should be held where you feel a stretch only. You should feel NO pain while stretching!! Most health clubs have posters of what stretches to do for what body parts. If you are unsure of any, please consult an exercise specialist at your local gym. You should rotate through each stretch at least twice. This part of your exercise regimen is as important as your strength or cardiovascular component.
 

Warm Up:

Take 5 minutes to jump on a cardiovascular machine/walk in place/etc. to get your body moving, blood flowing and muscles warmed up. We encourage warm ups to loosen muscles which will prevent any strains, sprains or tears.
 

Cool Down:

It is IMPORTANT to bring your heart rate back down after a workout. Be sure to walk around the gym, walk slowly on a treadmill, pedal slowly on a bike, and etc. 5 to 10 minutes after a workout. If you workout hard and then stop immediately with no cool down, this could promote blood pooling in the legs!! Be sure to keep moving SLOWLY after a workout until your HR (heart rate) is back down TO less than 100 bpm.


SWIM DRILL DEFINITIONS:

Kick: Grab a flutter board and just kick. There is no use of arms for this drill.
 
Pull: Use a pull-buoy; place it between your legs. Squeeze it with your legs so you cannot kick. Swim down the length of the pool using your arms only. Preferably freestyle.
 
Finger Drag: When you raise your elbow up in your freestyle stroke, your fingers should gently drag through the water by your side as you come up for a breath. This keeps your elbows high out of the water.
 
Bilateral Breathing: Being able to breathe on both sides of your body. To practice this, take three strokes then breathe. Take another three strokes and breathe again on the other side.
 
Thumb Scrape: After you’ve reached above your head for your stroke and are now pulling your hand through the water, as your arm is coming up to take another stroke, your thumb should graze your thigh on the way up. This ensures that you get the fullest stroke possible.

 

Rest breaks between sets

For the SHORTER lengths (25's to 50 yards) take a 30 second break to recover.  For the longer yardage, take up to a whole minute.

 

Bilateral breathing

If bilateral breathing is too difficult, alternate between bilateral breathing and breathing every stroke. It's best that you start trying/experimenting with bilateral breathing early since it is so difficult. We don't want to introduce it too late in the game so you panic about it come triathlon time.  *But definitely keep it to breathing every stroke if oxygen uptake becomes an issue and you find yourself gasping and not getting enough air.  Bilateral breathing mostly helps to stay in a straight line and to be able to site from both sides as necessary in a open water swim.

NUTRITION:

Here, I will give you one or two tips on nutrition a month. I am not a licensed Nutritionist, so please only use these as guidelines. I think they will be helpful where most of you are just starting out. If you require additional help, please contact a Nutritionist in your area.

Tip #1 When visiting your local grocery store, spend most of your time shopping in outside isles. They contain the more healthful foods (i.e. fruits, vegetable, dairy products, etc.).

Tip #2 Check labels. You may think you are picking up a can of tuna fish that only contains 1 gram of fat per serving, when the VERY SAME brand of tuna, same can, same serving sizes could contain up to 4 grams of fat per serving!!! Why?? The reasons are changes in season and changes in fishing location. The fattier fish have been caught in cold water, hence storing more fat to keep them warmer in the frigid waters. These companies are not obligated to tell us where the fish were caught…so it’s OUR responsibility to READ LABELS CAREFULLY!

Tip #3 Replace fatty snacks with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are excellent for strengthening your immune system…so be sure to stock up!

NEXT MONTH:
Next month, look to maintain your strength training workout.

As for the rides, we are going to work even more on endurance. We’ll try to hit the roads once a month and get outside (weather permitting) for a longer ride. We’ll keep long rides for the weekend so they won’t interfere with work/family/other workouts.

We’ll be continuing to focus on swimming drills. If this month’s addition of swimming is difficult for you, contact your local YMCA and ask about adult swim lessons. Most YMCA’s offer them at reasonable prices.

Next month we’ll start implementing some walk/run programs. We want to get you all ready for a September triathlon…so once we have introduced all the disciplines of a triathlon, we’ll be ready to improve on all of them in race scenarios. Oh, don’t forget…for an added ‘twist,’ we are going to get you practicing your transitions! On you mark! Get set!! GO!!!!!

Stretching should remain the same, but I’m going to incorporate one yoga class a week for those who have a hard time stretching on their own!!!

….Rock on TRIATHLETES!

 

Beginner Exercise Program: Month 5

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date: May 1, 2006

acbadger

Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!

avataracbadger

Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!

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