Baseline Improvements: Workouts to get you ready to train

Okay, so we talked about needing to get your baseline fitness up before tackling tri-training. But how exactly do you do that? Using the pool, spin bike, and treadmill can be rather boring, but when the workout includes a variety of distances, speeds, and efforts, time will fly by.

Using the pool, spin bike, and treadmill to complete the basic workouts below can get you up and running (or swimming, or biking) in less time that you think. Start by doing each of these workouts once per week, working up to swimming, biking, and running twice a week with one day of rest.


Take this workout to your local pool and get ready to bring your endurance up! First time headed to the pool? Check out my tips for your first pool swim here.

Basic swim workout:

Designed for a 25 yard pool, this workout will have you completing a little over a pool-length mile. We call this a “pyramid” style workout because it starts at a short distance, works up to a longer distance, and then works back to the short distance in the same increments. Rest for as long as you need between sets, but remember to push yourself to complete each without resting during the set itself.

Remember: A “lap” is down to one end of the pool and back to where you started.

  • 50 yard warm up (1 lap)
  • 100 (2 laps)
  • 200 (4 laps)
  • 300 (6 laps)
  • 400 (8 laps)
  • 300 (6 laps)
  • 200 (4 laps)
  • 100 (2 laps)
  • 50 yard cool down (1 lap)

As you progress, add an additional lap to each set, and eventually work up to longer pyramids.


For those looking to get their endurance up on the bike without having to worry about traffic, helmets and, well, an actual bicycle, a workout on your gym’s spin bike may be the ticket. Just be sure to use a spin style bike and not a stationary bike. Spin bikes more closely mimic the ride of a real bicycle, putting you in proper position and allowing you to quickly control the resistance by turning the knob in front of your, just below the handle bars. Many gyms have spin style bikes out in their general equipment area, and others have no problem with you using the bikes when classes aren’t scheduled. If you’ve never used a spin bike before, ask a gym employee for help or take a look at this setup guide from  When you find your perfect set up, be sure to note the setting on your seat height so that you can quickly set up for your next ride.

Basic spin bike workout- 45 minutes

To set your paces, use the “talk test.” At a light effort, you should be moving but able to comfortably talk to a friend. At moderate effort, talking should be getting difficult, but you could still carry on a conversation with effort. At heavy effort, you should be working so hard that gabbing is impossible! Accomplish the change between each by turning up your resistance dial and moving your pedals faster.

  • Warm up by riding with light resistance for 5 minutes
  • Add some resistance and ride for 10 minutes at moderate pace to get the legs moving
  • Resistance Intervals: Crank up the resistance for 1 minute of “heavy” effort, where it’s impossible to talk while riding, then dial it back for 1 minute of easy recovery. Repeat for a total of 5 rounds (10 minutes)
  • 10 minute speed intervals: take your resistance to a moderate level, light enough where you’re not straining to move the pedals, but heavy enough where you can keep your legs moving without the pedals running away on you. Without touching your resistance, pedal hard for 30 fast seconds, then go easy for 30 seconds. Repeat for a total of 10 times.
  • Time Trial: Keeping your resistance the same as the set above, place your arms down on your handle bars and get comfortable. For 5 minutes, lock eyes on your speedometer and watch your “RPMs”- revolutions per minute. Aim to keep your RPMs between 70 and 80. If this feels too easy, add resistance until
  • 5 minute cool down


Ahhh the treadmill. Intimidating, boring, monotonous. But when it’s storming or freezing or dark outside, the treadmill can be your saving grace. For beginners, it’s also a great way to control and keep track of your speed and distance. When using a treadmill, be sure to set your incline to a minimum of 1. This helps you mimic being outdoors, taking away a little of the ease you get by having the belt move beneath you and forcing you to engage your glutes more. Next, pick your paces- what can you comfortably walk at, jog at, and run at? With a “6” being a 10 minute per mile pace, I like to walk at a 3.5, job at a 5.5 or 6, and run at a 7 or 8. Some treadmills allow you to program in your ideal walk-jog-run buttons, allowing you to hit one button on the treadmill to change speeds. Play with the treadmill at your gym, or ask one of the employees if there are programmable options.

Basic run workout- treadmill 30 minute

  • Warm up by walking for 3 minutes
  • Jog 3 minutes
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Jog 5 minutes
  • Run 30 seconds/ walk 1 minute for a total of  10 rounds (15 minutes)
  • 2 minute cool down walk

    Be sure to take the time to stretch after every workout.

Have a question about beginner workouts? Send me an email at and ask! If I don’t know the answer, I will find out. I’m happy to look like an idiot so that you don’t have to.

Time for a disclaimer… The Anxious Triathlete is an enthusiastic young woman with a sarcastic sense of humor who enjoys sharing her passion for triathlon. While everything she posts is the result of personal experience, she is not a  personal trainer, doctor, or certified coach (yet…) and would like to remind you to consult with your friendly licensed medical professional should you have any concerns about trying things mentioned on this site. Safety first. 

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