Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

Issue #027 05/05/2010 TRIATHLON WITH THE X

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Customizing P90X, Part VII: Triathlon

By Steve Edwards

Mixing P90X and triathlon training is not something that's an obvious fit. After all, triathletes have three sports to train for already. And beyond that, they're some of the most notorious overtrainers on the planet. But as you well know if you've read this series of articles, training hard doesn't necessarily mean you're training smart. So this week let's up your triathlon training IQ and get some X into the mix.

Cups on Table;"TRIATHLON ATHLETES CHECK IN HERE" Sign; Kid Holding Poster

"You're all triathletes," said the keynote speaker, a famous cycling coach, to a large group of multisport athletes at a conference I was attending. "That means that 90 percent of you are overtrained right now." Triathletes, historically, are the consummate "if some is good, then an excessive amount is what I'm going to do" group of athletes. Steeped in obsessive lore, the most famous triathlon stories are usually about training instead of racing. And for those in the inner circle, it's even worse. Once asked by a reporter from a triathlon publication what he did for training, triathlon icon Scott Molina replied, "I'm not going to tell you, because you'll think I'm an idiot."

Triathletes: you gotta love 'em. At least I love 'em. But then again, I've been called stupid/obsessed/crazy (among other things) over my training endeavors for most of my life. And yet it's triathletes who, more than any other group, try my patience on the message boards. "Why," they'll ask, "can't I train for an Ironman and do P90X doubles in my spare time? All I was going to do was sleep anyway."

I mean, c'mon, we're talkin' about the sporting obsessed. Remember, the first triathlon wasn't the sprint or even the Olympic version of the race. It started with the Ironman and worked backward to more conventional distances. And along that line of devolution, let's take a look at how we can improve our triathlons by moving more of our training into our living room. P90X may seem like a big undertaking for that average person. I think you triathletes, however, are going to have to buy in to the "less is more" philosophy.

Why P90X?

SwimmersLet's face it: though the X is primarily a performance-based program, most of us do it because we want to look better. As one college baseball player said to me, "To be honest, I'm happy with my sports training. I'm only doing X to look good on the beach." Yeah, well, Charles Atlas may be the guy you want around when the bully's kicking sand in your face, but you sure wouldn't want to haul all his bulk around Kona. Triathletes may want to look better, but the kind of muscles the Chest & Back workout develops is going to offset any strength gains by adding wind resistance to your aero position. For this reason, a serious triathlete needs to make some concessions in the P90X regimen.

The upside is that as I said before, most of you are overtrained. This means you'd get faster by running, riding, and swimming less than you currently are. And that's where the X comes in. By structuring your year periodizationally in a way that includes both strengthening your weak areas and recovering from your overused ones, you'll get faster by spending less time working out.

The perfect schedule

In part V of this series we discussed the off-season approach. It would benefit you to read the entire series, but if you're pressed for time make sure you at least read parts IV and V, which are about endurance and weight loss. If you've got a race approaching, there's no point in beginning P90X. It'll break you down and slow you down. In a perfect world, you should begin your training program soon after your final race of the previous season. In an imperfect one, at least schedule X as far out from your main objective as possible. As a gauge, there's no reason to start X if you've got a race approaching in less than three months' time. Hopefully you've got six months; nine is even better.

Foundation

BikersP90X is the foundation phase for your sport-specific training. This is why you don't want to do it close to any important race. You may train right through early-season races, but you'll get no benefit from X training close to an event where speed is important to you.

Periodization

All triathletes are familiar with periodization. You don't all do it, of course, but you know that you should do speed work, aerobic work, and threshold work separately, then bring them together closer to your big race. Consider P90X to be the foundation plan for your foundation plan. It's where you'll strengthen your body and improve its capacity for improvement in all the areas detailed above.

Recovery

Oh, the "R" word! This is where we don't train, or at least don't train hard. No pain, no hallucinations, no glycogen-depleted hobbles home after an 8-hour training day. The horror. But you know you've got to do it sometime, or you'll become like one of those triathletes you know who've been on a plateau for the last 2 decades because they're more addicted to their morning 3-hour swims than they ever could be to coffee.

RunnersHere's where you'll want to place P90X in your schedule: at the season's end when you shouldn't be running, riding, or swimming anyway. Not only will it give you something new to focus on, but no matter how fit you are, it will blast your endurance-oriented cells into oblivion and leave you sore and tired enough to feel as though you've spent 20 hours each week on your bike.

Putting it all together

A full round of X, done during the off-season when you're resting from your sport-specific training, would be preferable. Then you'd begin doing maintenance X work, along with your specific training increased in volume and intensity.

You may want to alter the classic schedule or even do the lean schedule if you're a high-level competitor who's worried about muscular mass in a strength-to-weight-ratio sport. P90X won't get you huge, but the classic schedule will almost certainly add size to your upper-body muscles. Whether or not you'll find this a benefit is a call you'll have to make for yourself.

Runner with Personal CoachIf you feel you need the overall body conditioning that P90X offers and are willing to sacrifice your race results for a while, you may want to put together a hybrid schedule that combines P90X with your current training. It's hard to write a schedule for everyone because there are hundreds of personal variables to consider. This is why so many athletes hire personal coaches.

Below is just one example of such a schedule. Yours should probably vary, but by using this template, you should be able to get an idea about how to make your own schedule. You could also consult my blog, where I create hybrid training schedules for myself all the time.

I would write a schedule like this for individuals who are fairly triathlon fit but have been doing too much sport-specific training and are pretty weak outside their sport-specific movements, causing their triathlon times to have hit a plateau.

This schedule contains no racing, but you could work races into it. Your personal races should all be labeled A, B, or C. A races are priority races. None should be scheduled near this period. B races are where you'd like to do well but not necessarily peak. These are to be taken seriously and none should be here either. Around B races you should be doing more sport-specific training. The difference between B and A races is that you may schedule a B race during intense training while you would always taper and peak for an A race. This schedule will address your weaknesses and get your ready for a C race. This is a race you enter so you can work on things like transitions, race tactics, and scheduling, and so you can dust off your racing form. Slow times are to be expected.

Your actual multisport training should be planned by you or your coach. For P90X, I'm going to use a hybrid of the classic, lean, and doubles schedule.

Block 1 (Weeks 1 through 3)

  • Day 1: Chest & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Easy swim and Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Easy ride or run and Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: LSD (long, slow distance: ride, run, swim, or "brick" [combo] workout like bike/run, etc.)
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic ride, run, or swim and/or X Stretch

Note: Your sports training should be easy technique training done in zones 1 and 2.

Recovery/Transition Week

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Easy ride, run, or swim and Yoga X
  • Day 4: Legs & Back
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: LSD (long, slow distance: ride, run, swim, or brick/combo workout)
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic ride, run, or swim and/or X Stretch

Note: Easy, again, is the key with your specific training. Your goal here is engram training: building neuromuscular coordination patterns.

Block 2 (Weeks 5 through 7)

  • Day 1: Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X, and easy run
  • Day 2: Swim drills and Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Back & Biceps, Ab Ripper X, and easy run
  • Day 4: Easy ride or run and Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: LSD (long, slow distance: ride, run, swim or brick/combo workout)
  • Day 7: Rest or easy aerobic ride, run, or swim and/or X Stretch

Note: Here you can begin coached workouts. These should still not be full-on as your priority is still on your X training.

Recovery/Transition Week

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics
  • Day 2: Easy run and X Stretch
  • Day 3: Easy swim and Yoga X
  • Day 4: Easy ride and X Stretch
  • Day 5: Core Synergistics
  • Day 6: LSD (long, slow distance: ride, run, swim or brick/combo workout)
  • Day 7: Off

Note: This should feel like a true recovery week.

Block 3 (Weeks 9 and 11)

  • Day 1: Chest & Back, Ab Ripper X, and easy run or ride
  • Day 2: Plyometrics & easy swim
  • Day 3: Shoulders & Arms, Ab Ripper X, and easy run or ride
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back, Ab Ripper X, and transition practice
  • Day 6: Hard brick/combo workout
  • Day 7: Rest and/or X Stretch

Block 4 (Weeks 10 and 12)

  • Day 1: Core Synergistics and coached workout
  • Day 2: Cardio X and coached workout
  • Day 3: Ab Ripper X and coached workout
  • Day 4: Yoga X and coached workout
  • Day 5: Legs & Back and Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Coached workout
  • Day 7: Recovery ride, run, or swim and/or X Stretch

Note: There are too many variables to discuss your sport-specific training, so I'm leaving that to you and your coach. If you do race at any point in the schedule, alter it so you take at least a couple of easy days prior to the race. Racing always takes a lot out of you and you'll want to avoid overtraining at all cost. I think it was Paula Newby-Fraser who said that it's better to be 25% undertrained than 1% overtrained. If you want to run a schedule by us, check out the Message Boards.

Related Articles
"Part I: Customizing P90X for Specific Goals"
"Part II: Customizing P90X® for Skiing—How to Structure a Short Training Cycle"
"Part III: Gaining Mass with P90X"
"Part IV: Losing Weight with P90X"
"Part V: Endurance Athletes—Get Ripped in the Off-Season"
"Part VI: Customizing P90X—Running"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, May 10th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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The 8: Creating the Perfect Day

By Tony Horton, creator of P90X

I'm fascinated with the applications of theories and/or behaviors that work well for me. I'm always looking for ways to enhance this amazing journey called life. I often talk about finding the Energy and Enthusiasm to enjoy everything you want in this world. For me, this often requires examining behavior where I've fallen short, and trying to alter my approach the next time around. I'm beginning to learn that certain things need to be in play almost every day. In the process I've created a list called "The 8." If I do these eight things I feel like I've had the perfect day. You might want to create and personalize a list of your own.

Tony Enjoying Day Training Others

  1. Sleep. My perfect day starts with the night before. If I get 7-1/2 to 8 hours of sleep, I'm revved up and ready to hit the ground running.
  2. Working Out. Like you didn't know this was going to be on the list. My workouts affect all aspects of my life. Mind, body, spirit, and beyond.
  3. Whole Foods. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats provide the fuel I need for a whole life.
  4. Supplements. They assist me with recovering from workouts and provide energy for the next one.
  5. Attitude. The more time I spend asking questions to find solutions in life, the more exciting life becomes. Focus on what works, not on what doesn't.
  6. Hobbies. Find something you love to do. From stamp collecting to bird watching, hobbies can provide great friendships and tremendous personal growth.
  7. Charity. Whether it's sending flowers to a friend or working with orphans, when you take the onus off of yourself and put the focus on others, you'll find true happiness.
  8. Woman Meditating in Lotus PositionDowntime. Turn off the tube and breathe. Balance is part of a perfect day. Read, meditate, or exchange ideas with people you love. Whenever I do all eight, my day is as good as it gets. If the items on this list feel like work to you, then they won't work for you. You have to truly want to live this way. If you are willing, then choosing "The 8" will make for many perfect days.

Power on!
Tony Horton

Related Articles
"Avocados: The Poor Man's Butter"
"Life Is Behavior"
"4th Law of Exercise: Purpose"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Monday, May 10th, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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P90X Triathlon Training

Many triathletes are learning the value of using Beachbody® programs like P90X to train for triathlons. Watch Diamond Coach David W. put his newfound strength, speed, and flexibility to the test at the San Diego International Triathlon.

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Recipe: Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers

Here's a tasty Asian-influenced main course recipe that's easy to prepare and packed with protein. Whip the ingredients together and let the chicken marinate in the fridge while you run errands, do your P90X workout, or go to work—then grill it up in minutes whenever you're ready! Delicious and convenient.

  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, skinned and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder*
  • 1 cup low-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 bamboo skewers
  • Medium-sized bowl

Combine five-spice powder, sauce, juice, oil, ginger, garlic, and salt (to taste) in a medium-sized bowl and mix well. Add chunks of chicken breast and stir to coat. Distribute chicken so all pieces have maximum contact with marinade, cover bowl, and marinate for at least 1 hour in refrigerator.

Preheat gas or electric grill, or light charcoal grill. When grill is nearly ready, remove chicken from refrigerator and spear cubes on bamboo skewers; grill for 1 minute on each of four sides, or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Makes 4 servings.

* If no Chinese five-spice powder, mix ground cloves, cinnamon, hot pepper, fennel, and anise to make 2 tsp.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (plus 1 hour marinating time)

Cooking Time: 5 to 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
363 64 g 0 g 0 g 8 g 0 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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