Workout: the swim-run brick

An alternative to the traditional triathlon back-to-back session

“In triathlon training, the transition is almost a fourth discipline,” says Dana Staggs, triathlon coach for Equinox at South Bay in Los Angeles. “As you switch modes of exercise, your body needs to effectively and efficiently prepare for the next demand while recovering from the previous exercise demand.”

The best way for your body to learn how to handle the aerobic, anaerobic, and muscular demands that comes with racing a triathlon is through a “brick” workout. A brick workout involves stacking two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with minimal to no interruption in between. It gives you a good idea of what you’re in for when it comes to running on tired legs after cycling.

You’ll also see gains in aerobic fitness and the ability to train at a higher level with lower levels of perceived exertion. Most bricks tend the be bike/run variety, but Staggs likes to switch it up with swim/run bricks and include intervals early in the training calendar to help athletes increase their base endurance faster. Boost your strength and test your muscles with his workout below.


Warm Up (100m free, 100m kick, 100m pull, 100m non-free)

To do the 100m intervals, Staggs suggests doing them at [time intervals of] 1:30, 1:40 or 1:50 with built-in 10 seconds rest. Meaning, if you swim your first 100m in 1:20, you’ll do the 1:30 intervals, because you’ll get 10 seconds rest at the pace you’re swimming. The same applies to the 200m/15-second rest intervals.

Main Set

10x100m @ 1:30/1:40/1:50 with 0:10 rest

200m pull recovery

500m swim build

3x200m swim @ 3:00/3:15/3:30 or 0:15 rest

Cool Down (200m choice)

Throw on shoes and head to treadmill as quickly as possible.


Warm Up (10 min moderate pace on treadmill @ 2.5-5.0 mph)

Main set

6x0:30 fast w/0:30 recovery @ 2 mph over base pace

2:00 recovery at base pace

3x5:00 at 5K pace w/2:00 recovery

2:00 recovery at base pace

6x1:00 fast w/0:30 recovery @ 2-3 mph over base pace.

Cool Down(10 min easy)

Sign up for Equinox's annual indoor triathlon to qualify for a spot in September's Nautica Malibu triathlon.

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