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Substitute Circuit Training for Biking

BY Hal Higdon

Feel free to substitute circuit training for biking on your running cross-training days.

Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I am training for a marathon using your Marathon 3 training program. Would 45 minutes of circuit weight training work in place of 45 minutes of biking?


So everybody understands: Marathon 3 is a variation on my usual training programs, which feature 4, 5, or 6 days of running a week. Marathon 3 features three days of running on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Mondays and Fridays are set aside for rest. On Wednesdays, you bike for 30-60 minutes. On Sundays, you cross train 60-90 minutes. I designed Marathon 3 for runners who have a tendency to break down if they run more than three times weekly.

So my simple answer to the above question is, yes! Feel free to substitute circuit training for biking. But let me define circuit training, since different people may view circuit train in different ways. When I go into a gym, I usually do a half dozen strength training exercises, alternating between upper-body, lower-body and core. I use relatively light weights and high reps, moving rapidly from one machine to another, almost an aerobic workout. Usually I am in and out of the gym in 10-15 minutes, but I couple this “strength” workout with running, swimming or biking. No reason you can’t hang around for 45 minutes, expanding on your activities.

Regardless of your blend of circuit training, I suspect we are on the same page. Feel free to substitute circuit training for biking on Wednesdays, and Sundays too.

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About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.