How athletes train: triathlete Linsey Corbin

The Ironman champ shares train-better advice that anyone can follow.

After exploding onto the scene in 2006, professional triathlete Linsey Corbin has been a star of her sport, winning titles at both the 70.3 and full Ironman distances, with her most recent victory at Ironman Mexico on March 30th. (For those unfamiliar with the Ironman distance, that's a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run.) And 33-year-old Corbin, known for crossing the finish line wearing her signature cowboy hat, does it with a smile.

With three disciplines to master—not to mention nutrition, recovery and mental toughness—Corbin, who is based in Bend, Oregon, can be considered an expert when it comes to efficient training, which is why we asked her to share some of her best strategies. Whether you plan to tackle a swim-bike-run (like the Equinox indoor qualification trials for September's Nautica Malibu triathlon) or just want to steal train-better intel from one of the world's fittest athletes, read on for Corbin's podium-worthy secrets.

1. Vary Your Intensity
"For athletes, variety in training level intensity is huge. Most people stay in the mid-level of about 75 to 80 percent and won't increase their max level. By that same token, most people don't knowhow to go easy—they really need to learn to rest and recover both within a workout and outside of it. A lot of people underestimate what they need to make gains. Sometimes it's okay to jog for 20 minutes!"

2. Get Heavy
"For me, strength training isn't about bulking up. Being strong and powerful helps me keep my form when I get fatigued. I started out using really light weights, I would do 1 to 2 sets of 12, 15, 20 reps with really light weights. Now, I focus more on doing max rep sets with heavy weight."

3. Change Your Stimulus
"I used a ViPR for the first time at the Equinox Endurance Camp in Dallas this past January - it was awesome! It really engaged my core. I like to switch up the stimulus to keep things interesting, but also so that my body doesn't know what to expect."

4. Work Across Planes
"As a triathlete, I spend a lot of time moving forward, so in addition to moves like squats, and deadlifts, and pushups, I definitely include lateral movements as well. I'll do lateral lunges, use BOSU stability balls, things like that."

5. Set Big (And Small) Goals

"First off, set a big goal, whether that's to complete a marathon or lose 50 pounds. But then within that goal, you have to set smaller goals along the way. You want to make sure everything you do has a purpose, and the easiest way to do that is to make a plan and go into the gym knowing exactly what you are going to do that day. Maybe it's adding 5 minutes to your long run, or yards to your swim set. A small goal could be doing a bench press set where you can max out so you can check in against that and see how you're progressing. But these small goals along the way are super important."

6. Choose High-Quality Fuel

"Nutritionally, I really go for high-quality snacks - Clif Kids organic bars, dates, almonds, things like that. I eliminated the high-glycemic quick fixes. You don't really need them! After a workout I eat protein, which helps with recovery. But I think people really underestimate how many fruits and veggies they are consuming, so at the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself to try to increase my consumption to 4 fruits and 4 vegetables a day."

7. Relax (and Recover)
"Once every 2 weeks I take a full day off—if I take too many days off, the body gets stiff—but I can bounce back with an easy day in the gym. But you can't take yourself too seriously with training. I became a pro athlete for fun. Ask yourself what's fun for you—in my off-season, I like to hike and swim—and the rest will follow."

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