The Cliché Training Effect

Published by Tri Travel
on July 30, 2020


By Matt Burton

Interpreting the “Less is More” Approach with Michael Freiberg, Director of Terrain Dynamics.

Pull Quote: ‘’Less; to a smaller extent, amount or degree.

More; in a greater quantity, amount, measure, degree, or number.’’

“Less is More” is one of triathlons many cliché training philosophies can be literally be interpreted as “the smaller amount of training, results in greater quantity”

Although, do we as athletes take time to truly understand the application of this phrase, or have coaches and athletes worldwide created it as a trending hashtag rather than a well-applied process?

And further to this we ask; so is there really a substitute for Old fashion Hard work?

Recently I was fortunate to discuss various applications to training with Michael Freiberg, director of Terrain Dynamics and creator of the AIRHub, a question was posed, based on this approach

“Less of what equates for more?”

As this cliché is referred to through all forms of endurance sport Michael made an interesting point as to whether this statement should even be relevant to the amateur athlete who works full time, has family and commitments beyond sport.

Michaels point being “long term fitness isn’t enhanced by sitting on the couch”, but if “less is more” wouldn’t that mean less time training is more time for couching?

The great mistake most athletes make when you first follow the approach off “less is more” is spending… less time training!!

Really this is no direct fault of our own. As humans as we have evolved to ‘try’ to be more efficient with time available. Yet the growing misconception of “less is more” is heavily promoted by an industry of multisport coaches and needs to be understood specifically and applied to all amateur, elite, or weekend warriors alike.

For the sake of our discussion and this attempt in relying on some understanding, please note: *Fitness is achieved through a progressively loaded training plan, phased into preparation and adaption cycles toward a goal, event or time. Every coach or scientist will have a differing theory as to training mixes, yet the basic principles will always be the most important. The basics being: consistency over an applied time, with specified development of energy systems and strength and conditioning with adequate recovery. In other words phased periods.

So Michael and I wanted to put food to this thought and pose an understanding of #lessismore for all too apply to their own training focus.

Michael is definitely a man of many volumes and alternate training techniques to enhance fitness yet eventually agreed less can be more given the following thought:

Less of the unspecified with an enhanced FOCUS placed on the necessary development of energy systems and endurance range/s specific to the goal race or effort.

It sounds a Lazy cliché though Undoubtedly the “less is more” approach once well applied will result in fitness gains, yet the application of such an approach cannot be misinterpreted as, if you do less you will get fitter.

Michael closed our discussion with an important fact to always note when referring to “less is more”:

“Less is only more if you know exactly why you are doing something.

Less doesn’t mean less training, it often means more training, it just means less wasting your time.


The water doesn’t move your arms for you, the bike doesn’t ride itself and your joggers don’t pull themselves on”

A great thought to use when training toward your goal would be the harsh reality of, “Less doesn’t mean less training”. It brings us back to the fact that sitting on the couch may not be optimising your time to achieve this goal.

You may be reading this and feel it doesn’t apply to your application to training, however with quiet reflection this cliché is apparent in all who pose a goal toward a specific event.

To apply this entire process to a broad example; if you are preparing for an Olympic distance triathlon with the goal to finish sub 2hours 20minutes time, and you have 8hours available for training per week, then you shouldn’t be completing 7 hours worth of bike training per week leaving only an hour for both run and swim. Applying “less is more” to this would simply be, put less of a biased approach, and more of the 3-dimensional view to what needs to be achieved across each discipline to achieve such a goal implicating the development of speed and endurance through A SINGLE sport that just happens to have a 3 part process. Not less time in training just a more specified use of time.

So no one athlete should exclude themselves from the training methodology or trending hashtag that is “less is more”, yet use it as a reminder to do more of training targeting specific goals and less of the junk that does not act as a stimulus for change.

And we can all say that mum was right when she said, “less of the bad stuff and more of the good stuff”

See you on the road!



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Published by Tri Travel
on July 30, 2020

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