If you're training for a multi-sport event like a duathlon or triathlon, you need to be doing brick workouts. We answer all your questions from what they are to why you should be doing them and the benefits.
What is a brick workout?
A brick workout is a training session in which you do two disciplines back to back with no rest. For example, you may do a bike ride followed by a run, or a swim followed by a bike ride. The most common brick workout for duathletes and triathletes is the bike to run brick workout, as this is where the race is won or lost, and running off the bike is the one that catches most people out.
If you have never done a multi-sport event before, your body won't be used to the feeling of doing multiple disciplines back to back. You need to acclimatise your body to this type of stress and also to get accustomed mentally to running with legs that don't feel like they belong to you!
Why is it called a brick workout?
The jury is still out on this one! If you were to ask 100 triathletes why they think it's called a brick workout, chances are you'd get quite a few different answers. The most widely accepted reasoning is because your legs feel like bricks after finishing this type of workout. However, other people say it's because you are stacking two disciplines on top of each other like bricks, or even that it's a fun acronym for Bike Run It Can Kill!
How to do a brick workout
As with everything, it's important to start small and work your way up. If you are going to do a bike to run brick workout, do a longer bike ride of, say, 1 hour, and then do a shorter run of only 10 or 15 minutes. The key is to have as little rest in between sessions as possible, with none at all being optimum. On race day, you want your transitions to be seamless and short, so practising at home is a great way to get used to this.
When doing a bike to run brick workout at home, have your running kit ready to go for when you get back from your bike ride, just like you would on race day. If you are going to practice a swim to bike brick, you could easily cycle to the swimming pool and then cycle back afterwards.
How important are brick workouts?
Brick workouts have many benefits, not only for race day but also for your conditioning and general fitness. Doing two different disciplines back to back keeps things fresh and will really crank up the calorie burn. You will be able to do a longer session without it feeling boring as you won't just be pounding the pavements for 2 hours, you will be changing from one sport to another.
Another benefit of brick workouts is that it will be more of a full body workout and therefore condition your body better. If you go from swimming to cycling, you will be working your upper body hard in the pool and your lower body hard on the bike, therefore getting a more all-round workout and improving your tone all over.
Apart from that, brick workouts are extremely important for multi-sport events. You will need to get your body used to being under stress for a long period of time and to be able to keep your technique sound when fatigued. Running off the bike is a strange feeling and you need to be able to do it without thinking too hard. Brick workouts are also important as they will help you to pace and know what your body is going to feel like on race day.
Brick training for beginners
An effective brick session is more about the transition than anything else. If you are training for a sprint triathlon, you don't need to be doing 3 hour brick sessions and killing yourself. Build up slowly by doing a short cycle followed by a short run and go from there.