To give you some background on my knowledge of cardio workouts, I completed my first triathlon recently after months of training. I’ll go through how I set up my routines.

Because I was attempting a triathlon the exercises I chose were pretty straightforward (swim, bike, run, and lift), but the exercises you do depend on what your goal is. My workout schedule would cycle through the exercises for defined durations each week (usually 20-100 minute workouts). Then I would repeat the same workout schedule the next week and increase the duration of the exercises for the next two weeks. My weekly schedule consisted of 4-5 days of exercise. During these workouts, I started out doing each exercise independently, but as I got more fit, I started to bike before running and swim before lifting. In order to understand my workouts I’ll go through each exercise in more detail.

Swimming

The key to a successful swim is to raise your heart rate by keeping your body moving. I swam by doing long sets of laps with minimal amounts of rest in between sets of laps. As for the strokes I did, I started by switching off each lap between front crawl and breath stroke, but as I swam more, I was able to transition to a more front crawl heavy workout.

Biking

When you start biking, you realize that the muscles is your legs start to get sore way before your cardiovascular system starts to get tired. The key to biking over time is to continually increase the distances you bike by building leg muscle while not decreasing the speed you bike at. When I bike on a stationary I like to keep a standard pace with a 30 second hill interval every 10 minutes.

Running

There are a couple different schools of thought on how to go about your runs: sprints, interval training, constant pace, etc. The method you chose really depends on what you want to get out of your runs. Personally, I prefer interval training because it builds some endurance and works best mentally for me. You should try many different approaches to running to figure out what works best for you. Also, your running schedule should accommodate short, moderate, and long runs. The key to knowing how far to run is to listen to your body and not push yourself further than you feel comfortable.

Motivating yourself

Before you can even get out of the house, there’s one major obstacle to overcome: motivation. I’ve found that it’s all about having the initial push to start exercising. Once you get started, between the release of endorphins and self-confidence, you’ll start to actually enjoy exercising. There are many different methods that people use to get themselves started: goal oriented motivation, rewards, a sense of accomplishment, etc. In my case, I registered for a triathlon and knew that I’d be wasting time and money if I didn’t train hard enough.