The Anatomy Of Triathlon Training Plan

It is important to be aware of the activity you are undertaking–i.e. swimming, cycling, running, weightlifting, or resting–to prepare for necessary items or conditions you may need for the activity. Looking over the details of the workout beforehand helps you plan accordingly.

You will be aware of the level of intensity of your exercise (which we’ll talk about later), and this may mean you will need something extra to eat before the session. Take note of the specifics of the exercise, as this can provide guidance to specific requirements. Some common terms you’ll see:


Holding a foam piece between the thighs with a pull buoy.

Using a kickboard, keeping it outstretched in front of you, is a popular swimming exercise known as a kick set.

Using either flat or curved pieces of equipment referred to as paddles, one can add strength to the stroke.

A band, which can often be fashioned from an old bicycle tire, is a tight elastic band worn around the ankles.

Swimming IM includes four different strokes, which consist of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle, performed by one swimmer.


A coach might be used in some fitness plans to lead bicycle exercises. This is a device for securing the rear wheel of the bicycle, transforming it into a stationary bike that can be used indoors.

An ideal fitness trial should take place on level ground with as few traffic lights and bends as possible.

Working out on a stationary bike trainer is great for executing specific drills like single-leg drills. This enhances the level of safety while permitting all attention to be directed to technique.


A brick training session involves doing multiple sets of exercises in succession without any rest in between. A bicycle ride with a subsequent jog is the most typical activity.

Time Trial: A test of fitness on flat terrain. A track is ideal.

Doing intervals on an uphill surface, a parking lot, or a stairwell. If a hilly area is not obtainable, a treadmill could be used as an alternative.

For How Long

Most physical activities will not just give the instruction to “swim for 60 minutes” and expect you to wander aimlessly. Instead, you’ll likely see something more like this:

WU: 200m easy, 200m moderate

MS: 5 sets of (50 meters hard with a:20 second rest period), 300 meters easy, 5 sets of (25 meters pulled with 50 meters free), 5 sets of (25 meters kicking with 50 meters free).

CD: 300m easy

To finish this exercise, you should analyze the directions. In this workout, begin with a 200-meter swim at a gentle pace, then proceed to swim a 200-meter portion at a somewhat faster speed.

You continue the workout by jumping into the MS and swimming 50 meters at a fast pace and then pausing for 20 seconds. Swim five sets of hard and easy, then recover with a 300-meter swim at an easy pace.

You will do a total of five repetitions of the exercise, which will consist of swimming one lane of the pool while using a pull buoy. Drop the pull buoy at the end and swim a single lap to retrieve it, then start the cycle again. You will do the same with the kickboard, followed by 300 meters of cooldown at a relaxed pace.

Swimming workouts are usually gauged by length, but when doing biking and running activities, the measurements are more likely to be noted in terms of minutes, as opposed to 5x (50m hard/:20 rest), which would be written as something like 5x (2:00 hard/1:00 easy).

Run for two minutes at a fast pace, rest for a minute at a slower rate; repeat this cycle for a total of five hard/easy intervals.


The most difficult aspect of completing the workout in the exercise schedule is ensuring that it is done with the right intensity.

Many different training languages are used to communicate intensity. Lueb suggests considering the training that would suit your individual character. If you prefer to have quantifiable data to inform your training and like to track parameters, a training plan based on the subjective rating of effort won’t be suitable for your needs. You should search for a plan that enables you to pinpoint your workout zones and acquire numerical metrics.


The Perceived Effort Rate is one of the easiest methods to indicate the level of intensity. Training plans typically require athletes to gauge their efforts as either “easy,” “medium,” “hard,” or “all-out.” The variations in the interpretations of these terms enable the formation of customized plans that cater to the needs of individual athletes.

Others quantify these effort levels into zones. Though the zones may vary from plan to plan, they usually follow some variation of these general parameters:

Zone 1 requires extremely low-intensity exercise, allowing you to hold a conversation without any difficulty. If you think you are making progress at a sluggish pace, you are doing it correctly.

Zone 2 should be a level of effort that is simple enough for you to maintain for a longer duration. If you can speak, but not belt out a tune, you’re likely in the second area.

Zone 3 is typically referred to as a “tempo” effort and it involves exerting yourself at a comfortably hard level. You can keep your pace at this rate and still feel relaxed.

Zone 4 should seem tough, but not at maximal effort. This endeavour necessitates both physical exertion and mental concentration.

Zone 5 is normally utilized for fast runs and intense intervals but is too extreme to hold for protracted intervals. A period of intense effort is typically accompanied by easy time intervals or a short span of complete rest.

Heart Rate Data

By using a heart rate monitor, athletes can collect precise information to help them stay within their desired effort range. Many exercise plans are associated with levels (as shown above), as opposed to training based purely on sensation, the levels are described using various heart rate figures.


By utilizing a power meter for biking and running, athletes can have a consistent measurement of watts, or the power output being put towards the bike.

Power figures are a personal assessment: After determining a benchmark in a time trial, training zones are determined based on a spectrum of watts for every intensity level.


Some training plans, particularly those designed for achieving a target in a certain period, will integrate guidelines on speed.

This might come out as min/mi or minutes for each mile (most especially in running instructions) or as MPH which stands for miles for every hour (like on a bicycle). A GPS watch can be beneficial in making certain that the speed of movement is accurate.

Other Helpful Terminology


The extent from one side of the swimming pool to the other. Usually 25 meters or yards.

The length of the track from one wall to the other in a lap race, then back to the first wall. Usually 50 meters or yards.

Swim training in a body of water that is unenclosed, such as a lake or ocean, is referred to as open-water swimming.


Cadence: Revolutions of the pedals per minute (RPM).

Move the bicycle’s chain to a bigger (more strenuous) gear.

Move the bicycle chain to a smaller (easier to pedal) setting.

A Pyramid is a type of pattern of exercise which starts off with one having a set period where they gradually increase the level of effort they are doing and then gradually decrease the level of effort in a measured amount of time.

Move your bike into the smaller gear and pedal faster. Usually recommended for hills and recovery.


In Fartlek running, the athlete determines the length and intensity of their speed intervals as well as the rest period in between. The term comes from the Swedish language and means “speed play”.

A kick is a type of exercise done after a running session, meant to imitate the last few moments of a race. It requires you to put in speed even though your legs feel tired.

Striders involve taking lengthy leaps from one foot to the other, mainly used for warming up or cooling down.

Running Long Slow Distances is typically the longest workout of the week, which is made to increase stamina.


Engaging in a light activity doesn’t have the goal of improving conditioning; rather, active rest helps the body to heal from the preceding training program. Some examples of activities to do are swimming, walking, or going to a yoga class.

“Full Rest: Another name for this is “absolute rest” and it is an instruction that denotes a period without any exercise, generally when a person is not feeling well or is hurt.”

A taper is an interval right before a race when activity is decreased slightly (though not completely stopped) to allow the body to rest and rejuvenate.

The Three Bs

Brick workouts. One of the most important ways to integrate your three triathlon sports is to do brick workouts, in which you perform two or even all three sports back-to-back, with minimal rest in between.

Brick sessions are an essential part of your event preparation because they help you familiarize yourself—both mentally and physically—with the specific transitional demands of the triathlon. You don’t need to go too hard during brick workouts; they’re just to work on transitions.

The swim-to-bike variety is best performed from a pool. This allows you to leave your cycling gear poolside. When you finish with your swim, simply suit up, get on your bike and ride from the pool.

The simplest way to perform a bike-to-run brick is to set up a transition area in a wide-open parking lot, park or track, with a friend watching over your gear.

The training programs for each particular Fitness Level all include brick workouts. Not every Saturday workout needs to be a brick, however. Unless the program calls for a brick, feel free to do each sport separately, whenever you can fit it into your day.

Make Progress, Bust Benchmarks

Measurable improvement is a great motivator. The best way to gauge your fitness progress and boost your exercise motivation over time is with benchmark workouts.

Benchmarks are simply two or more workouts that you perform the exact same way—over the same distance and within the same heart rate range. You need to document your time and average heart rate for these workouts so that you have a record of your results for comparison. Benchmark workouts don’t need to be long or intense, just controlled and repeatable.

An example of a benchmark swim session would be to do five 100-yard repeats with 30 seconds of rest in between each one. An ideal bike benchmark session would be to ride a five-mile course at a specific heart rate and then ride the same course in the same heart rate range again later in your training. A run benchmark session is best performed in a controlled environment, such as at your local track.

Run two one-mile repeats at a specific heart rate and record your time. When you repeat these benchmark workouts a few weeks later, you should find that it takes you less time or that you can perform the same workout at a lower heart rate. That’s because a fitter, more efficient body will run faster at the same heart rate.

The training programs for all four Fitness Levels include one pair of benchmark workouts per sport throughout the program. In addition to confirming your progress, benchmarks can prevent overtraining and even predict oncoming illness.

Once you’ve established a baseline of fitness, a workout that falls below that level is usually a sign of bad things to come.

It indicates that you need to rest, adjust your training schedule or rework your nutrition. As you record more benchmarks, you will develop deeper body awareness and learn to move with greater efficiency, strength and grace.

Most important, benchmarks build your confidence. When your workout produces improved numbers, that’s proof of the positive effects of your holistic approach to exercise, rest and nutrition.

The best athletes in the world continue to improve because they constantly monitor their progress with benchmarks and modify their training programs accordingly.

There are just two caveats to doing benchmark workouts.

First, you need to conduct them on days when you feel like you’re performing at your peak. If there’s a benchmark scheduled on a day when you’re having, well, an off day, it’s best to perform the workout as a regular workout and do the benchmark on another day when you feel better.

In some cases, you may have a benchmark scheduled on the same day you are also scheduled to do a strength training workout. When this happens, make sure to do your benchmark session before
the strength training. Lifting weights can tire out your muscles and may hurt your benchmark workout.

Breakthrough Sessions

To that end, you need to challenge yourself in some small way—and break through your perceived limits—several times over the next six weeks.

Breakthrough sessions can provide you with exciting mental and physical results in a very short period. They can also increase your daily energy levels and prevent exercise-induced injury.

Exercise places positive stress on your body: It increases the demands on your muscular and cardiovascular systems, prompting your body to grow stronger and more efficient in preparation for the next workout.

“The human body is wonderfully adaptive,” says George McGlynn, author of

Dynamics of Fitness. “It directly responds to the quality and quantity of the exercise—or lack thereof—that you invest into it.”

However, that same adaptability can also be your nemesis. Have you ever experienced a period in which, no matter how much you exercised or how little food you ate, your body didn’t change proportionally?

This is known as a plateau. It happens when your body has, in essence, grown wise to you. It has adapted to the stress of the exercise you’ve been doing, so unless you sufficiently increase that stress, your body will no longer change its shape.

That’s where breakthrough sessions come in. By providing stress that is higher in volume or intensity, they help you overcome plateaus. They also take your confidence to the stratosphere.

You will notice that the breakthrough sessions are not scheduled in your training program. There’s a reason for that. These sessions need to be done on days when you’re feeling your absolute best. Only you know when those days are.

On those days, you will likely need to perform a different workout than what is scheduled into your program, because breakthrough sessions need to be either longer or more intense than your typical workout.


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