Team GB Age Group triathlete and Sundried ambassador Leigh Harris gives us his insight into training as an amateur yet high level athlete while juggling work and family life.
Training and Time Management
Recently, a friend asked me about training and time management. With a busy job, young family, two dogs and other commitments, I must admit it can be hard to fit training into a daily schedule.
It’s important to get the balance right. I must be regimented to get in the training I need as an amateur athlete but also allow time for family, work, and all-important rest.
For me, consistency and flexibility play key roles. If you want to see the most gains or improvements in your training and racing, you've got to be consistent, however, it's important to have a training plan that is realistic for your schedule. A schedule that will allow you to be successful includes adequate time for training, recovery and is in harmony with both family and your work life.
Trying to cram in training and not allowing enough time for recovery or having a training plan that puts stress on work and family time won't be sustainable over the long term.
Some weeks I train up to 15 hours, other weeks I struggle to do 7 hours, this inconsistent training used to frustrate me, however, having worked with sport psychologist Evie Serventi (www.evieserventi.com) she has helped me to understand that training isn’t necessarily about quantity but instead is about quality. You need to make every session count, know the purpose for each session and the benefit each workout is giving you.
This ethos has help me to develop a training plan that fits in with my busy life and allows for consistency.
Developing a training plan
My training plan doesn’t change greatly from week to week. I have a number of key workouts that I repeat without fail and I view these as my core sessions where I see the biggest gains. The remainder of my training is flexible and fits around family and other commitments. These core sets also keep training simple; knowing I will do a certain type of workout each Monday brings better time management and provides stability for the family.
When planning my training schedule, I start with 4 core sessions per week – 1 run speed/track workout, 1 bike speed or hill efforts, 1 gym/strength and 1 swim speed set. These sessions are consistent throughout my training.
Having set my core sessions, I then incorporate my endurance (long run, swim or bike), technique (swim or run) and recovery (stretching and rolling) sessions into the plan. I like to keep these flexible so that I can fit them in around work and family commitments.
I complete a lot of my training either first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, or after the little ones are in bed. I struggle to complete high intensity workouts first thing, so these sessions tend to be either strength training or endurance based.
Most of my high intensity sessions are completed in the evening where I don’t need to rush and can really concentrate on getting the best out of the workout and my body.
If I only manage to train 7-10 hours a week then there’s no real need taking recovery sessions and easy weeks, it’s unlikely that I’ve done enough to warrant that rest. I use my endurance/technique sessions as a gauge of how I’m feeling but most importantly I listen to my body.
Another important aspect of my training is to ensure that I’m fueling my body properly. I don’t follow any strict diet, I just make sure I eat sensibly, have a healthy balanced diet and eat everything in moderation. This helps me to recover quickly, ensures I’m ready for the next session and provides consistency to my training.
Finally, it’s very important to get your family on board with what you want to achieve. You won’t be able to do it without their support and unless you can communicate your goals with them, then it’ll be hard for them to understand your training.
Triathlon will certainly impact their life as well as yours and it’s important that you can give back. I always try to factor in my family whenever I can, either by training with them (kids bike while I run), going to races together or simply socialising with other members of my triathlon club.
This year I qualified to compete at the World Triathlon Championships for team GB in Australia, we will be travelling out there together and will experience the build up to the championships and the racing as a family.
I can’t wait to have my family cheering me on and they are so excited to see me racing for my country. It’s that enthusiasm that keeps me motivated and helps them understand why I train.
About the author: Leigh Harris is a Team GB Age Group Triathlete and Sundried ambassador.
Read more: Winter Circuit Workout By Leigh Harris
Many thanks to The Protein Ball Co for this article
Here at The Protein Ball Co, we like to think of ourselves as experts when it comes to protein. We know there are so many benefits of consuming protein in your diet, such as help with digestion, immunity, new tissue growth and tissue repair as well as providing your body with essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Personal trainers and fitness instructors will also tell you that getting enough protein into your diet is key to achieving your fitness goals. But is this really true?
What is protein?
Protein is a major part of the skin, muscles, organs and glands. Every cell in the human body contains protein, making up more than 50% of the dry weight. Protein defines what an organism is, what it looks like, and how it behaves, because the body is made of thousands of proteins. Clever little things!
Why do we need protein?
Protein is needed in the body to repair muscle after exercise - so if you exercise regularly you will need a higher protein diet. Your glycogen levels deplete after training and the best way to replenish that is through consuming carbohydrates and protein. Therefore it is best to eat a high protein, high carb snack or meal between 30 minutes to 1 hour after exercise. Simple enough, right?
But if you’re like the rest of us and have a super busy schedule with no time to stop and think about eating exactly 30 minutes to 1 hour after exercise, then you need to get into the protein ball craze!
How do protein balls aid fitness?
Protein balls are made with nuts, fruits and added protein powder. The fact that they are made with a few clean ingredients means they are great as an all-natural, healthy snack to replenish your body with protein and carbs after exercise. Due to the natural high sugars in protein balls, they can also be consumed as a pre-workout snack around 30 minutes before exercise to give you that energy boost you need to really achieve your fitness goals.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking to get stronger muscles, consuming protein 30 minutes to 1 hour after a weights workout is a great way to ensure your muscles repair quicker and stronger.
If you’re looking for a quick protein snack to eat after your gym session or fitness class, grab a packet of our delicious protein balls in our online shop. If you’re not sure which of our eight unique flavours you’d like, try our taster box which has at least one packet of each flavour!
James Griffiths is the founder of Wild Training and is a gym owner and personal trainer. He talks us through a typical day in his busy life!
I tend to get up at around 4:30 am each day. I wouldn’t be the same guy without my morning smoothie: 2 scoops of protein powder, 100g of frozen fruit, a teaspoon of peanut butter, and then I top it with water, almond milk or hemp milk.
The only way I can get the project work done is by getting up early so I can nail some time on my laptop and write up resources to do with Wild Training programming, the new franchise launch or any of the other ideas I have. The gym opens at 6 am so that gives me a good bit of time before any members come in.
I don’t train as many clients as I used to but the ones I do train are consistent and hit regular days and times. Kirstie here is actually our new gym manager. She’s an amazing character and adds so much to the Wild Training gym. We are working on some proper strength training mixing up landmine training, strongman training, and some more explosive stuff as her cardio is epic but I want to get her body firing a bit harder with more intensity. The Wild Combat system is something she loves and still sticks to the power side of what we are trying to work on and gets her aerobic system pumped.
Then a little bit of admin smashing out emails and making magic happen with #MuscleTunnel which is a new outdoor strength setup we are building at the Wild Training Gym to launch in September that will rival Muscle Beach in Miami!
My second personal training session of the day is working with Alex who has had a long-term problem with a herniated disc. He’s gone through all kinds of therapy and really hasn’t seen much improvement in his pain. We have recently started working on mobility in his hip flexors, lats, quads, hamstrings, calves and adductors and he has felt a lot better. The plan is to get him feeling more comfortable and then strengthening his back while avoiding any sharing forces.
I then have a cheeky snack of fruit salad and a snack bar before grappling with the legend Phil Else. Phil is an ex-pro fighter and has trained a lot of professional fighters; he's by far the best grappling coach I’ve ever had. This session was working on some more varied ways of using a Kimura lock and we sessioned some fun flows working on getting out of a side control pin and getting your opponent in to an arm bar.
The middle of the day sees some staff training. The Wild Trainers train weekly with either me or Hannah Camden, the other Wild Training director. Today was focused on tri planar movement and how to build tri planar programs with any bit of kit. This is one of the concepts that makes the results we deliver through Wild Training systems transfer in to every day life and sport more than traditional sagittal plane focused programs.
Then after a lot more admin I hit the gym and whilst I was training working on some explosive movement with the Tornado whip and a 5kg slam ball I started helping out Josh one of our younger members who was keen to understand how to get started on the rings. Basic supports and dead hangs but he did great for his first time.
I finish my day with my Wild Woman and Wild Man small group PT sessions. These are really important to me because I can deliver more detailed training and support to more members with less of my time. They are super popular and I try to keep it really specific to women or men with the Wild Man or Wild Woman PT systems working through specific shaping concepts. The girls saw Josh playing on the rings so wanted to have a go soon. Ash and Nas came to the Wild Man and have been killing it on the parallettes. Then Ash wanted to hit his level 3 #EarnYourClaws assessment. #EarnYourClaws is a kind of lifestyle grading system for fitness. Every level tests stamina, strength, power, speed, flexibility, skill and knowledge. Level 1 gives members a white #EarnYourClaws t shirt that can not be bought. Each time they pass a new level, they get a new T shirt so they get a real sense of achievement out of it and get a proper structure to their training to make sure they achieve fitness in balance. Ash passed his level 3 so will now get his blue Level 3 #EarnYourClaws T shirt. He’s the first Wild Training member to get it. It’s a tough challenge and our minimum standard of fitness for a personal trainer to work with Wild Training. You’ll see a lot more about the Wild Training #EarnYourClaws system from September.
Total Immersion swimming is a style of training developed by Terry Laughlin, a swimming coach from the US. This swimming style aims to teach swimmers to move through the water more efficiently.
If you are planning on completing a triathlon, or just to improve your pool swimming for exercise, then it is worth having video analysis done.
With swimming, it is almost impossible to know exactly what your body is doing in the water. While I am swimming, when I look under the water all looks fine, but listening to the feedback from all around I know much improvement is needed.
There are so many things that can go wrong with a swim. Small tweaks and changes to your swim form, especially when you start training, will really make a big difference. The more efficiently your swimming, the faster you will be and the more energy you will conserve.
So why do we need better technique?
Prevent injury - Shoulder injuries are common for the older generation of swimmers that may rotate their shoulders in the water. Neck strains and all sorts of weird and wonderful aches may start to fester.
Swim more efficiently - The efficiency in water makes such a difference. Someone with good technique has so much more speed.
Don’t look like such an amateur - Big splashing in the pool is just not cool!
How does Total Immersion swimming work?
Terry Laughlin's theory is that humans are not natural swimmers as we instinctively try to fight the water. He says that one of the biggest mistakes most swimmers make is trying to overpower the water while swimming, instead of gliding easily through it. Since water is over 800 times denser than air, moving through water creates a lot of resistance and drag which is not good for racing.
Swimming can be the difference between life and death so being a strong swimmer is an important life skill. Diving in with raw power can be counterproductive so it is vital that your swimming is efficient and does not waste energy.Total Immersion swimming aims to teach people how to propel themselves through the water in a streamlined fashion rather than kicking the legs and flailing the arms. It is a logic based on facts and has helped many people enter the world of competitive triathlon.
When you talk to people about powerlifting, they often confuse it with Olympic weightlifting or even bodybuilding. We take a look at this often overlooked sport and debunk some of the confusion surrounding it.
What is powerlifting training?
Powerlifting is a sport consisting of three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. The goal of the sport is to lift as much weight as possible across the three lifts while following all the rules.
Powerlifting differs to Olympic weightlifting (or Oly lifting as it is sometimes called) in many ways and the two are completely different sports. In Olympic weight lifting, there are two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. For both these lifts, the weights end up above the athlete's head and a lot of skill and technique is needed to succeed. In powerlifting, it is more about brute strength and there is far less technique involved. Bodybuilding, on the other hand, differs yet again as this is all about sculpting the body and the muscles. Bodybuilders often do not have much strength at all as this sport is all about aesthetics and not about power or strength. Powerlifters may end up with big muscles as a result of training but it is not the primary focus, and many powerlifters do not look classically 'athletic'.
Benefits of powerlifting training
Apart from gaining strength, there are many benefits of powerlifting. Lifting heavy weights increases bone density which in turn reduces the risk of developing brittle bones and osteoporosis later in life. It also works every muscle group in the body in compound moves which improves co-ordination and develops the large muscle groups better than isolating exercises. Increasing muscle density also burns more fat at rest and so you end up losing weight without even trying. Being stronger overall will reduce the risk of injury in other sports like running and cycling and translates well to other aspects of life like walking up stairs or hiking, for example.
Is power lifting an Olympic sport?
Powerlifting is not an Olympic sport and is often confused with Olympic weightlifting, which does feature in the games. However, powerlifting does feature in the Paralympic games. In the Paralympics, powerlifters only complete the bench press discipline, which is considered the ultimate test of upper body strength. Some athletes are able to press more than three times their body weight which is incredible impressive.
It is open to male and female athletes with the following eight eligible physical impairments:
- impaired muscle power
- impaired passive range of movement
- limb deficiency
- leg length difference
- short stature
- hypertonia (a condition in which there is too much muscle tone so that arms or legs, for example, are stiff and difficult to move)
- ataxia (a term for a group of disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech)
- athetosis (a condition in which abnormal muscle contraction causes involuntary writhing movements)
A range of physical disabilities, including Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Cord injuries, Lower Limb Amputation, and poliomyelitis, also meet the current minimal eligibility criteria and athletes with these conditions can compete, safely and appropriately, according to the World Para Powerlifting rules. All eligible athletes compete in one sport class, but in different weight categories.
The bench press is the sport’s single discipline, with 10 different categories based on body weight. Competitors must lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless on the chest and then press it upwards to arms length with locked elbows. Athletes are given three attempts and the winner is the athlete who lifts the highest number of kilograms.
How do powerlifting competitions work?
Anyone can enter a local or regional powerlifting competition. In order to qualify for a national or world competition, you need to achieve a certain total in your age and weight category. There are different powerlifting federations across the country and the world and these feature different weight categories. The overall governing body for powerlifting is the IPF.
Results are based on what's called the Wilks score, which takes into account body weight as well as weight lifted, to make for a fairer result, as someone with a heavier bodyweight will generally be able to lift heavier than someone who is lighter/smaller.
Being short is often an advantage in powerlifting as it means your levers (arms and legs) are shorter so you have less distance to move the weights. A higher body fat percentage also has this effect, but you need to find the right balance as a higher body fat percentage will also leave you with a higher body weight and therefore a disadvantage against lighter but stronger lifers.
There are two types of powerlifting: equipped and non-equipped (often referred to as 'raw' powerlifting.) In equipped powerlifting, lifters wear extremely tight body suits and lifting shirts as well as knee wraps and wrist wraps. This limits movement but also aids in the lifts dramatically. As a result, you are only allowed to wear wraps and lifting suits/shirts for specifically equipped competitions. For unequipped competitions, you are still allowed to wear knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and a lifting belt, but they must be a certain approved type. Some federations do not even allow knee sleeves so you must check the rules before you compete. Belts are actually encouraged during all powerlifting events as they protect your back and reduce the risk of injury when lifting extremely heavy weights.