With the holiday season upon us, life has become especially busy!  With work, travel, holiday parties and family obligations it’s often difficult to find time to train. I’ve discovered that keeping to a daily exercise routine during this hectic time of year is vital because it keeps me happy, healthy and sane!

When time is tight, my favorite sessions are High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts that deliver quality results in a short amount of time. These efficient sessions can be done indoors or outside and include interval segments that will activate your fast twitch muscle fibers, elevate your endorphins and rev up your metabolic engine to give you a great post-workout caloric burn!

In this edition of Workout Wednesday powered by BioAstin, I’ve included a swim, bike and run session for you to try during this holiday season.  By the New Year you’ll feel stronger and fitter and ready to tackle 2019! 

Swim HIIT Session

Total time 50 min

Warm Up  

8 min. Include 3 lengths of double arm backstroke to stretch the lats, serratus, rotator cuff and pecs. Try to keep your face dry while swinging your arms overhead.

Set 1

Note: This set can be done with or without fins.

7x 50; Rest Interval (RI) 30 sec

These 50s are performed by doing 25 of breaststroke pull with freestyle kick + 15 fast freestyle +10 easy freestyle.

During the 25 of breaststroke pull, don’t pull beyond the line of your chin. The pull pattern is elliptical. This is a great strength builder for your core, arms, shoulders and back. After the 25 breaststroke pull switch to fast freestyle for 15 meters, then go easy for the last 10 meters.

Main Set

(Repeat 3x)

4x 75; RI 20 sec

Reps #1 and #2 are moderate; reps #3 and #4 are moderately hard to fast.

1st 75: Try this with slow arms and strong legs. Don’t kick down deeper, think of a light upbeat to allow the heels to come up to the surface. Count your strokes on the 3rd length. Note your time.

2nd 75: Do the same as above but alternate your breathing pattern; first length left side breathing, second length right side and third length alternate. Count your strokes and note your time.

3rd 75: Swim this strong and concentrate on lifting your legs with a regular breathing pattern. Count your strokes and note your time.

4th 75: Swim this with a quicker arm turnover. Count your strokes and note your time.

Stretch 50 after completing 3 repeats of the entire Main Set.

Set 3

2x 50 (with or without fins); RI 30 sec

1st length is butterfly and if you run out of gas, flip over and complete the length backstroke.

2ndlength is ½ length back flutter kick + ½ length back dolphin kick.

3 x 50 with paddles or no paddles.

1st length is fast freestyle with strong legs

2ndlength is ½ breast pull with flutter kick + ½ length easy choice.

Repeat the entire set (total 10 x 50).

Cool Down

5 min: Swim easy with 3 lengths double arm backstroke.


Bike HIIT Session

75 min total

This workout can be done outside or on trainer indoors. The use of power is a real plus. Speed, heart rate or perceived exertion (PE) can also be used to monitor your effort in each interval.

Warm Up

10 min choice but get your rpms up to 90+ over the final 2 min.

Main Set

If you know your FTP or LT use this number on this set. For those of you without a power meter, the goal is to hold speed or HR over the final 15 min of a 45 min Time trial.  The PE is 7 on a 1 to 10 scale.

4 x 35 sec at 25% higher than FTP

Hold 96 rpms or more

RI 45 sec

6 min at FTP

Stand up for 3 x 20 sec anywhere during the 6 min segment

3 min easy

Repeat set 3 times

Cruise easy for an added 3 min after the 3rdround.

Set 2

8 x 45 sec

Start in your choice gear at approximately 90 rpms.

At the intervals of 12 sec / 20 sec / 30 sec shift up one cog to a bigger gear and try to hold the RPMs no lower than 86. This is a very challenging set!

RI 1 min very easy.

Cool Down

5 min

Run HIIT Session

Total Time 55 min

If you have a watch that records pace, wear it.  If not, use Perceived Exertion (PE).

Warm Up

8 min

Beginning with 90 sec walking backwards. Squeeze your gluteals and run carefully over the final 30 sec. Then start your running.

Set 1

20 sec build to 5k pace.

3 mile pace + 40 sec aerobic.

Note your pace on the 20 sec efforts and the aerobic segments.

The PE for the 20 sec efforts should be fast but you’re not going to build up muscle acidity so aim for quick legs. Remember, this pace should be sustainable for a 5k or 3 miles!

Repeat 5 times.

Jog easy for 3 min before the main set.

Main Set

Swing Pace Set: This workout can be on a track, open roads or treadmill at a 1% grade. See link on my explanation and the benefits of swing pacing.

3 x 2 min at 5k pace or pace in the opening 1st Set. Note your pace.

RI 2 min as an easy jog between repeats.

4 min aerobic + 1 min easy.

3 x 90 sec

RI  2 min

The goal is to run these segments at 3 to 5 sec faster than the opening 2 min segments. The PE for the 90 sec should be an 8 on a 1 to 10 scale.

4 min aerobic + 1 min easy.

4 x 1 min

RI 30 sec. The goal is to run these segments 3 to 5 sec faster than the 90 sec segments.  PE should be 8.5 – 9. So hard! Also recognize the RI is only 30 sec!

4 min aerobic + 1 min easy.

Cool Down

5 min