ATC 277: Beginner Strength Training, Back to Back Racing, Core Strength for Endurance, Flipping the Triathlon, and more!

January 4, 2019


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In this episode of Ask the Coaches, Brock and Lucho tackle listener questions about: Beginner Strength Training, Back-to-Back Racing, Core Strength for Endurance, Flipping the Triathlon, and more!

In the intro banter, Brock and Lucho discuss different kinds of motivation and whether New Year’s resolutions are BS or worthwhile. Then, on to the questions…

Houston asks:

I’m a 33-year-old male, runner, and cyclist. I don’t train a tonne, about 4-6 hours/week cycling and 2-3 hours running.

My goals are to more or less maintain my running and cycling but I want to be a more functional human and gain a little muscle (currently 5’11” and 145 pounds). I have time to increase my weekly training time by adding strength training but I’m clueless in the gym and I do not know where to start. Is there a resource you could point me to teach me some basics (eg. a blog, YouTube, book, etc.). Brock, are there any trainers in the Vancouver area you would recommend to show me around the gym.

If it changes anything, I’ve had plantar fasciitis but I think that’s behind me now. Monthly massages and regular stretching seem to have kept that in check.

The coaches say:

  • You don’t need to gain muscle to be functional but you can if you want to, and putting on muscle mass is an admirable goal.
  • When it comes to gaining muscle, diet matters as much — if not more than — the strength workouts. That is, no matter how heavy you’re lifting, if you’re in a caloric deficit then you won’t put on muscle mass.
  • Functional Movement Screening (use to check for imbalances) –
  • You can hire Brock at
  • Brock’s blog – Turn your fitness weakness into a strength

Steven asks:

Do you have any advice for training for and executing triathlon races on back to back days? This is not about multi-day races, like Ultraman. I have signed up for “Wildflower Squared” which is a long course triathlon on Saturday followed by an Olympic triathlon on Sunday.

I have a fair amount of triathlon experience having completed about twenty races over the last ten years including three Ironman triathlons so the fundamentals are no problem. My main concern is being able to effectively recover well enough to be able to finish on the second day. If you have any advice on how to train to prepare for these races, how to recover after the first day, or how to approach either race it would be greatly appreciated.

The coaches say:

  • It’s all about recovering as much and as fast as possible. This means consuming ample carbs after the first race, and laying back with your legs up (after doing some mobility).
  • Don’t over-do it on the protein after the first race. Remember that you’re eating a pre-race meal as much as a post-race one.
  • Recovery tools will help (i.e. foam roller/massage stick).
  • Biohacking techniques probably won’t be your friend here… they’re really expensive and might disrupt your system if you’re not used to them.
  • If you’re camping at Wildflower, trying standing waist deep in the lake the night after the 70.3. The cold plus hydrostatic pressure will do you good. If, by chance, you’re staying in town then choose a  hotel with a pool and hot tub so you can do contrast bathing.
  • It’s up to you what effort you want to put into each race, depending on your goals. The only way to know how much you really have in you is to give 100% to each race and see where that takes you! But, if one of those races is more of a priority than the other, then pace yourself accordingly.

Michael asks:

I attempted my first 100 miler. I had to medically withdraw at mile 78 due to severe back spasms. I was walking, listing 45 degrees to the left, for the final few miles. I also train for Ironmans. I would admit I don’t do any strength/gym/core/weight training. I’m not sure if this was a core strength issue but I’ve gotta think the 100 milers involve a lot of core strength. A couple of questions:

Would a typical hour run be better to do 30min run and 30min core strengthening a better way to do things? Would doing core, etc. help to complete a 100miler in the future?

If I have minimal time to add this to my workout schedule, what would be your basic/minimum/go to workout that would be the best bang for my buck? i.e. Give me 4-5 of your best workouts/exercises… kettlebells, etc. (I struggle with motivation for these so I believe I could add a few. Give me your best.)

The coaches say:

  • This may not be a core strength issue. Could be hams and quads.
  • Don’t split a 1-hour run into a 30 min strength and 30 min run… the 30 min run won’t do anything for you if you’re training for ultras. Instead, dedicate that entire hour to strength and do it circuit style to keep the heart rate elevated and maintain endurance.
  • Brock and Lucho discuss a wide variety of exercises in the episode; tune in for details. You can’t go wrong with lunges (forward, backward, and lateral) and four-way hip exercises.
  • Check out the Drop Sets article at Brock’s Get-Fit Guy blog

Moss asks:

Go down one of your rabbit holes with this one: How would flipping the order of a tri affect (effect?? hate that word) the results? If you ran first then swam then biked would that result in faster times? Would it change as you went from a sprint to full? What about the other way; what would result in the slowest finishes? Bike, then run then swim?

The coaches say:

  • Check out Superleague for some evidence of how this works.
  • Switching the order of events probably wouldn’t impact elite athletes too much, but it would drastically alter the race for 15-16 hour finishers (at 140.7 distance)… imagine swimming 2.4 miles after being out there for 14 hours already!
  • Swim last would lead to the slowest finishes.
  • Athletes benefit when the last event is their strength.

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