Training the ‘Sports’ Engine In You

Does your NY resolution include making more of your limited time? At Tribal we advocate an understanding of the interdependencies of various training modes and intensities to give you a greater ability to choose the best approach for you to reach high performance- You can see in figure 1 the balance we strive for between-

  • Performance Foundations
  • Athlete Development, and
  • Race Specific Endurance

The healthy balance of these different intensities and training modalities builds a well-rounded paleo-athlete. This graphic gives a general approximation of the total spread or distribution of work throughout your training year- Are these % set and rigid? Absolutely not, they are a guide.

Figure 1- Tribal Training Interdependencies

Tribal interdependencies v3


The volume and distribution of total work and the inclusion of high-intensity intervals or strength training is dependent on one thing- your physical condition, recovery and resilience- Within Tribal this is one of the key lessons of our Performance section-

“Everybody is an individual and your ability to perceive and act upon your very personal constitution is the key to your success”

The fashionable sway toward high-intensity interval training is the latest all or nothing band wagonesque movement to pass through the fitness industry. Is it effective? Yes, if used appropriately. Is it for everybody? Absolutely not, its effectiveness is directly related to your personal constitution as explained above.

As part of the ‘Athlete Development’ section of training we advocate that a portion of your year round training is focused upon anaerobic interval training- Tribal tag it as ‘Sports Interval Zones’ as the properties of this intensity are very much like that of a sports car, fast high-performance and a quick burnout when compared to the ‘Diesel’ or ‘Cruiser’ intensity zones.

The benefits of training your ‘Sports’ zones include-

  • Increases muscle fibre strength.
  • Increases aerobic capacity (work ability)
  • Increases muscle mitochondria (the main energy production center in the muscle).
  • Increases insulin sensitivity.
  • Increases natural growth hormone production.

‘Sports’ zone intervals are short- from 0-5 minutes and will push you past your anaerobic threshold for a portion of the interval- the % completed above your anaerobic threshold will be dependent upon the length of interval and the ratio of work to rest you have- 100m repeats with 3 minute recoveries are going to be almost entirely anaerobic- where as 5 minute intervals (nasty) with just a 2 minute recovery will use a higher % of aerobic energy production.

To decide upon the number of intervals to complete in a set- Tribal advocate ‘form dependence’, a term used by POSE master coach Brian Mckenzie- it eludes to the fact that once your technique or your ability to maintain speed decreases, your race is run and you need to stop the set, it’s a great way of monitoring your improvement (track over time) and protecting you from injury (all injury comes when the clarity of a movement is disturbed).

Triathlon has heavy demand on your aerobic energy pathways- You may be asking, what is the application of ‘Sports’ zones work for triathlon?

It is Tribal’s belief that to become the very best triathlete you can be you need a foundation of health- the benefits of training this zone effectively are very much going to improve your muscular and metabolic health so that you have a greater, wider base (work capacity) to later add ‘Race Specific Endurance’ to. The inclusion of race specific endurance is limited for Tribal athletes, the reasons for which I’ll explain in a later blog.

I’ll bring you an easily implementable approach to training your ‘Sports’ zones before the New Year. Let me know if you have any questions.

Paul Roberts