ALWAYS WARM UP
Your warm up can be as little as 3mins, but must make sure that all the joints you are going to use are put through their full range of movement, but with less strain. Start gently and gradually increase your pace for CV, start low and gradually increase your load for weights.
An example warm-up: for running could be walking, for weights would be the same movement but with little or no weight, for the bike could be a gentle start or lunges, bridges and squats, etc.
MIX IT UP
Whether you want to be a runner, tennis star or rower, you should cross-train. Runners especially commonly think that running develops the strength they need in their legs to run. However, the strain of repetition will over-work the dominant muscles and could lead to them getting injured.
For example: Get on that bike and then do squats and lunges, runners. Make it part of your run routine, you’ll be amazed how much easier your running will feel.
Another example: The breath work involved in yoga and high intensity swimming sessions will benefit all athletes.
STRENGTHEN BEFORE YOU START DOING YOUR SPORT
The first phase of starting any sport should be gradually developing the strength and condition of the muscles you are about to use. In this way you establish the flexibility and strength you need in the right places to do the activity.
For example: A golfer or racket sport player will get a shoulder injury really quickly if they don’t build up their core muscles to make sure that they are strong enough to generate power from the core, not just the arm.
Whether you are a runner, rower, swimmer, martial artist or cyclist you should make sure that your glutes work (look up bridges), your core is strong enough to support your rotation, the muscles either side of your knees are strong & you can open your hips.
WHAT SHOULD I DO EACH WEEK?
This is a great question. One longer (endurance) session AND one speed (interval) session are the minimum. Many beginner athletes are uncomfortable with the change in pace of speed/interval work, but it is essential to improve lung and heart efficiency, as well as overloading the skeletal muscles to fatigue, thereby strengthening them.
The longer sessions should build very gradually to your goal distance, e.g. 50mile cycle, Iron Man or 3km swim.
The interval sessions should be in a shorter training session, but sufficiently intense to push you to your limit.
For example 5-8 repeats of 8-12sec sprints in the middle of a half hour run. Recovery of 40-90sec in between is fine for beginners
You can add to your speed and endurance sessions any of these others:
Force workouts - these are working against a greater force. For a runner & cyclist this might be working on windy days or hills. For a swimmer it could be using current or drag (like a drag suit or even a t-shirt!).
Muscle endurance workouts - these are where you work your muscles for a longer interval period to gain endurance. In practice this would be 5-8 repeats of 6mins increased intensity, with 1min recovery.
PRACTICE TECHNIQUE EVERY WEEK
No matter what your experience, even the Brownlee brothers (triathletes) will tell you that they incorporate some work on refining technique every week. Don’t worry, this doesn’t need to increase your time spent training. You can add technique work into your warm up.
For Example: swimmers this is practicing arm alignment, roll, “pressing the buoy”, etc, for 200m at the the beginning of your session. For a runner, start with some dynamic stretches to open your hips (like Carioca and striders), then play with keeping feet low to the ground, forward lean, mid-foot landing, arms to waist height and shoulders relaxed. For cyclists, concentrate on smooth circles of the pedals with even pressure throughout, brace your core to take weight out of your arms for the first 2-3miles.
FIND OUT WHICH ARE YOUR WEAK MUSCLES AND WORK THEM
Get to a specialist and find out what muscles you have that are dysfunctional before you do lots of repetitious movement patterns. You could go to a movement specialist, a knowledgable personal trainer, or even a physio.
For example, glutes are your stabilisers for each and every step, when the glutes aren’t functioning properly, the other muscles like piriformis and lower back have to step in. Over time, this leads to pain and dysfunction through habitual movement patterns frequently repeated. Runners will find this a problem, but only after 3+months, or even years of running without using their proper stabilisers.