Triathlon Training Section

This section of the site covers triathlon training for beginners to advanced competitors over the various race distances.

Triathletes (or aspiring triathletes) at any level are typically serious trainers. Clocking up dozens, even hundreds of kilometres in the pool and on the road each week takes a hefty commitment. It makes sense that with such an outlay of time and energy that training should be as effective and as efficient as possible. And with a sport like this, it requires some careful, upfront planning...

Aside from the obvious intensity, frequency and duration of swimming, cycling and running training sessions, a triathlete must also consider:

  • Movement economy and technique training

  • The correct type of strength training

  • Periodization of the annual plan

  • Injury prevention and recovery strategies

  • Tapering and race preparation

  • Pre and post workout nutrition

Even novice triathletes can benefit from adopting some of the training techniques used by elite competitors. And on closer examination of the top performers it is clear that success consists of far more than just pounding out the miles.

It seems obvious that triathletes must posses extraordinary aerobic endurance. Despite this however, studies have found a poor relationship between VO2max and both long distance running (1) and triathlon performance (2). While there is a definite correlation between aerobic power and elite endurance performance it seems that additional factors are important for success. Such as?

Variables measured at sub-maximal exercise intensity including - lactate threshold, velocity at lactate threshold, substrate or energy availability and particularly economy of motion may be more important during prolonged competition (2,3,4,5).

In terms of a triathlon training program this has important implications. Many endurance athletes favor heavy volume and relatively low intensity training (below lactate threshold). However, reducing volume and incorporating some shorter, more intense sessions at or above lactate threshold could improve endurance performance (6,7) and help to prevent long-term injury (8).

Strength training, prescribed correctly, can also improve endurance performance. While traditionally any form of weight lifting was frowned upon by endurance coaches, low-weight, high-repetition routines have become generally accepted by triathletes in order to improve strength endurance and limit an increase in bodyweight. However, maximal and explosive type strength training has been shown to improve endurance performance and exercise economy (9,10,11) and is not associated with a signifcant increase in muscle mass.

The articles below cover the elements and principles of conditioning important in a triathlon training plan. Amongst them, you will find plenty of sample training sessions and plans - all evidence-based and written by experienced triathlon coaches.

Triathlon Training Articles

The Different Types of Endurance & Triathlon Training
Interval training, fartlek training, tempo runs... these are all distinct forms of endurance training that can be incorporated into a triathlon training plan

Interval Training for Sport-Specific Endurance
Distance cyclists and runners have traditionally favored long, slow distance training almost to the exclusion of all else. But substituting a small percentage of weekly mileage for more shorter, more intense interval sessions may improve performance...

VO2max - Your Aerobic Potential
Endurance training and VO2 max seem to inextricably linked. While maximal oxygen uptake is certainly not the be all and end all of triathlon performance, understanding what it is and how it can be affected by training can help athletes better prepare themselves for competition... 

Lactate Threshold - Tapping Your Aerobic Potential
Perhaps more indicative of success in the triathlon, and more trainable, is lactate threshold. Often a confusing subject for some coaches and athletes, from a practical point of view, improving lactate threshold is relatively straightforward...

How to Determine Your Anaerobic Threshold
Here are some non-invasive tests used to determine an athlete's lactate threshold...

Lactate Threshold Training
And here are training tips to improve anaerobic threshold... 

Heart Rate Training for Endurance Events
Heart rate training, despite being erratic, is still popular with cyclists and runners. Here's how heart rate can be best used to monitor the intensity of a cycling training program 

Altitude Training
Performance at high altitude can be improved through altitude training. But what effect does living and training high have on sea-level performance? 

The Sport-Specific Approach to Strength Training Programs
Strength training is suitable even for ultra distance athletes. Even maximal strength training can improve exercise economy and reduce race times. Of course, a strength training program must match the specific demands of the event it's designed for... 

How To Design Resistance Training Programs For Athletes
Here is the step-by-step process of developing a sport-specific strength training plan - one that meets the demanding nature of the triathlon...

Power Training for Athletes
Distance cyclists and runners require explosive power for mass starts, hill climbing and sprint finishes. So what are the best methods for improving explosive power?

Plyometric Training for Sport-Specific Power
Plyometrics is one very effective form of power training. Here are some important guidelines for setting up a plyometric program suitable for cycling and running...

Muscular Endurance Training
Muscular endurance obviously plays a pivotal role in a triathletes success. However, for most long-distance events, the common prescription of lifting weights for sets of 20 repetitions is not the most effective approach...

Flexibility Exercises
Flexibility training is part and parcel of most athletes' conditioning program. Increased flexibility may reduce the risk of certain long-term injuries...

Self Myofascial Release Exercises
Many Exercise Scientists believe that enhancing recovery between training sessions is the key to winning. Myofascial release exercises are said to relieve and release trigger points in the muscle sheath that may compound leading to injury and sub-optimal performance... 

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
We've all suffered it - the stiff, aching muscles that follow the first day of training or a long layoff. But can it be prevented or treated?

The Wingate Test
One of the most reliable tests for anaerobic power and capacity...

Endurance Fitness Tests
Determine your aerobic capacity with these field-based fitness tests. Includes, Balke 15 min run, Cooper 12 min run, Multistage shuttle run and the Rockport test...