A Special Take on the 'Brick': the Bike-Run Workout Progression

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(U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough)

If you have ever dabbled in triathlon training, you may have heard of (or tried) a workout referred to as a BRICK. The term "brick" could refer to what your legs feel like as you transition from the bike to the run. Another explanation of the term was "Bike-Run-ICK" -- with the "ick" being what you feel like during the transition from one cardio training event to the other.

Regardless, the BRICK is an excellent way to get additional and highly effective cardio -- with more than half of it being non-impact cardio, reducing your running miles for the week. Working the legs and lungs in this fashion is a great way to prepare for timed runs in the military, especially if you need to limit your total running volume because of a previous injury or being new to running.

Here is a special take on the BRICK that involves a 10-minute bike and a one-mile run, followed by five minutes of stretching and/or foam rolling and massaging the legs.

BRICK Progression: Bike, Run, Stretch and Repeat

Make the bike ride for 10 minutes at a moderate pace during the warmup. The run or jog should also be at a moderate pace. Then stretch the legs for five minutes (foam roll or massage any tightness, if needed):

• 10-minute bike + one-mile run warmup
• 5-minute stretches, foam roll or massage tool

The next section depends on your abilities and the current running mileage you can handle. The difference is the following work sets require more effort out of both the bike and the mile run.

In fact, adding a Tabata interval for 10 minutes (20-second sprint/10 seconds easy for 10 minutes) is one way to increase the intensity. Another way is to try a bike pyramid that requires an increase in resistance each set every minute on the minute (EMOM).

If your bike has 20 or more resistance levels, try increasing the resistance by two levels every minute until you reach the 10-minute mark and level 20. You may find that you need to reverse the intensity once you are in the teen levels of resistance; just keep pedaling for 10 minutes. Then run a mile at your goal mile pace, if possible.

Do your best. Follow with a well-needed stretch, foam roll or massage tool for five minutes. Repeat for more rounds if you can handle it.

Repeat 2-3 times.
10-minute bike + one-mile run fast
• 5-minute stretch, foam roll or massage tool
• Minimal rest between the BRICK and run (one-minute maximum)

The cooldown section is an easy bike, walk, row or any cardio you prefer for five minutes. After this easy cardio cooldown, stop and stretch/massage as needed for five minutes.

Cooldown/Mobility
• Easy bike or other cardio option for five minutes
• Stretch/foam roll five minutes
• Repeat twice

For a way to break up the stretching, foam-rolling and massage-tool focus, try the following method, starting at the feet and working your way up the legs and into the hips and lower back:

Combo of stretch/foam roll:
Set 1: Feet, ankles, calves, shins, knees
Set 2: Hamstrings, thighs, iliotibial band (ITB, sides of legs)
Set 3: Hips, butt, lower back, torso
Set 4: Repeat any of the above areas of the body.
Sets 5, 6 cooldown: Repeat any of the above areas of the body.

If you need more cardio but need to reduce your impact miles, this is a way to improve both cardiovascular output and leg muscle stamina. If you add this combo to your training, you will see your runs get faster with half the running.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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