How To Get The Most Out Of Your Training

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 | By Jeb Stewart
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Too often these days people can get overwhelmed, frustrated and feel like they aren’t doing a
“good job” if they aren’t getting all of their workouts in to the letter. I can assure you that this is
not the case, but if we don’t know how to adapt our training during these times, then it is likely
to occur. Your coach should be relatively available often for any questions you have regarding
your training or to help you adapt the training when life interferes. Heck, we encourage it
vehemently! However, if you do not have a coach, or even if you do, here are some simple tips
and strategies to help you adapt on the fly and make the most out of the training time you do

In the course of working with my clients, I want them to learn how to adapt their training when
things come up so that they feel empowered and accomplished rather than feeling like they failed
and getting stressed out about it. I try to create the weekly workouts to give my athletes bang
for their buck training to help make the most out of the days of the week when time is at a
premium. Most coaches are well aware of how hard it is to even get that time in as most of us
have families and full-time jobs just like those who they coach. So, when time is scarce, I show
my athletes a few ways that they can adapt their workouts in a time crunch to still get them in
and make them count.

Key Workouts

In an ideal world we would all sleep 7-8 hours, train for 3-4 hours a day, eat perfectly, take naps
and go to bed by 10pm. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen very often, if ever. So, when all else
fails, if you get your KEY WORKOUTS in for the week, you will at least know that you are doing
enough to maintain or even improve your fitness.

For most of us, our key workouts fall on Tue, Wed or Thu and on your long day/days on the
weekend. These workouts usually consist of intervals or specific drills during the week and your
long days if you are outside on the weekends. If you are stuck inside, your workouts should be
kept brief, i.e. 1.5-2 hours or less, and very specific. Your key workout in the gym is your leg
and core day. If you are only going to get one gym workout in for the week, make sure it’s that
one. And lastly, always make time to stretch. It only takes 5-10 minutes and is critical to
performance, recovery and injury prevention regardless of what some of the “experts” tell you
these days.


If you miss a workout on the day it falls in your training plan, either skip it and don’t give it
another thought or get it in when you can that week if it is a time of the year when workout
sequencing is not critical. If you have a coach, I would encourage you to contact them to find out
how to adjust your schedule to accommodate your situation. If you miss a KEY WORKOUT, it is
better you get that in, than skip it and do the easier stuff unless you are just happen to be worn
out from stress and fatigue. Then it would be best to take the day off or just ride easy to
rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit. When you are really tired, either riding easy or taking the
day off and pushing that key workout until the next day can be a good call. In the early part of
the season, specific scheduling is not as critical and we need to keep our training fun for it to be
effective long term.

Adjusting On The Fly

For most of us, we are keeping the workouts during the week to the meat and potatoes to help
us get in effective training while keeping our lives balanced, but sometimes the workout may be
longer than the amount of time we have available to train that day. In that case, here’s what you
will need to do to adjust it on the fly so that you get in a good workout, even with a minimum of

Cardio and Bike Workouts

Start by cutting your warm-up and cool-down in half but still get it in. Then if you still need more
time, cut your workload in half by doing less than the recommended number of sets for the day.
Then, if you still need time, you can cut the rest periods in half. If this still isn’t enough, you can
cut the interval times in half. Please go about it in this order as it is designed to eliminate things
in their order of importance. Of course, this is only to be done in case of emergency, in which
case it will allow you to still get in a quality workout in. Contrary to popular opinion, something is
still better than nothing, for our heads as well as our fitness!

Strength & Conditioning

To save time here, similarly, start by cutting the warm up and cool down time in half. Make sure
you are super-setting exercises and performing circuits whenever possible to eliminate wasted
time between exercises. (Super-sets involve doing one set using the opposing muscles used in
the first exercise right after another without resting between the two. Circuits involve doing a
number of exercises one right after another without resting between each exercise. Both
concepts will reduce the amount of time you spend in the gym and the intensity of your
workout). Do 2 sets minimum so that you are at least maintaining and then do more next time
when your schedule allows. If you need more time, just do the key exercises for your core and
the biggest muscle groups such as squats, lunges, dead lifts, etc. And lastly, if you need more
time leave the stretching for another time later in the day or in the week and get on about your
day. Once again, this is to be done only when you are in a time crunch.

As you can see, there are many ways to adjust our training to help us get it in and avoid the
negative energy that we create for ourselves when life throws us a curve ball. The goal is to
make the training we do be effective and fun and avoid it becoming a pair of handcuffs or a
source of stress. Give some of these suggestions a try and let your coach or a friend know if you
have any specific issues you may be having with your training program and work on it together
to come up with a solution that leads to success.

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