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Aaron Scheidies: Workouts to Train Your Metabolic Systems

By Aaron Scheidies | June 04, 2019, 3:05 p.m. (ET)


Most everyone knows it’s important to train all of our metabolic systems within our workout plans. This is why we do the long ride, the track sessions and the short rest intervals in the pool.

Mixing up these systems up within a training session is a way to make even larger gains, especially for the sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlete. In these races, everything happens quicker and the time gap to make a move or react to others is much smaller and can be much more costly.

This means that being able to switch between the different metabolic systems quickly and becoming efficient at utilizing energy from each system without long transition gaps is crucial.

Below are sample workouts from each discipline that will train your metabolic systems to transition quicker. Do these workouts and you will be ready for anything in your next sprint- or Olympic- distance race.

Swim Workout

Warm Up:

  • 200 yards easy
  • 3X50 yard (25 yard Scull/25 yard Long Hard Pull)
  • 3X50 yard (25 yard Fits/25 yard Long Hard Pull)
  • 8X25 yard (Alternate 25 yard Build/25 yard Sprint)

Main Set 1: (3x thru)

  • 400 yard (Five strokes hard/10 strokes easy, entire 400). Short rest interval (RI) 
  • 100 yard sprint hard
  • 45 seconds rest

Main Set 2: (3x thru)

  • 200 yard tempo. Short RI
  • 50 yard sprint
  • 30 seconds rest

Main Set 3: (3x thru)

  • 3X100 yard tempo. Short RI
  • 50 yard ALL OUT
  • 30 seconds rest

Cool Down:

  • 200 yard easy backstroke 

Bike workout

Warm Up:

  • 10min Easy Spin
  • 3X30 seconds High Cad (1100/105/110rpm/30ec Normal Spin between
  • 5X10 seconds Hard/30seconds Easy spin
  • 2 minutes Easy Spin

Main Set 1:  Aerobic/Tempo Intervals

3X5min (1min Aerobic/2min Tempo/2min Aerobic)

Main Set 2: 2X Thru  (5min Gradual Build to Tempo Between the two rounds)

  • 8X (5 seconds Stand Hard/20 seconds Sit Hard/1 minute Threshold)
  • 1 minute Easy Spin between each

Run workout

Warm Up:

  • 10 minute jog
  • Dynamic Stretching
  • 2X (200 Aerobic/200 Tempo)
  • 3X100 meter strides 

Main Set 1:

  • 1200 meter Tempo (Base Pace) w/ 10 second Burst  every 200 meters. Two minutes Active Recovery.
  • 2X800 meter Tempo (Base Pace) w/ 10 second burst every 200 meters. 1:30 Active Recovery. 

Main Set 2:

  • 5X (800 meter Aerobic Pace/400 meter VO2 Pace). Continuous.

Cool Down: 

10 minute easy jog

Aaron Scheidies is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and licensed Physical Therapist. He is an 11-time world paratriatlhon champion and set the world’s fastest time for anyone with a disability at both the Olympic (1:57:24) and IRONMAN 70.3 distances (4:09:54). He can be reached at

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.