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12-Week Olympic Triathlon Training Plan for Beginners


Swimming and biking and running, oh my! A triathlon may seem overwhelming, but this plan will prepare you for an Olympic-distance race—usually a 1.5K swim, 40Kride, and 10Krun—in just 12 weeks. Besides the sense of accomplishment you'll feel, training will get you into the best shape of your life (win-win!). So put a race on the calendar (locate one at and start now. You can print out the full program below and refer to this page anytime you need a refresher on the details.

On race day, take a deep breath, forget about the clock, and just focus on finishing—because you definitely will!

Rest Intervals for Swim Sets
50 meters: 10 to 15 seconds
100 meters: 15 to 20 seconds
200 meters: 20 to 30 seconds
300 meters: 30 to 35 seconds
400 meters: 35 to 40 seconds
800 meters: 40 to 45 seconds

Cycling Zones
Zone 1: easy, aerobic, 60 to 70% max heart rate, recovery
Zone 2: moderate, aerobic, 70 to 80% max heart rate
Zone 3: moderately hard, lactate threshold, 80 to 85% max heart rate

Strength Training
Do this total-body strength routine once a week, in addition to your prescribed aerobic training for that day. Do all four exercises in circuit 1 consecutively, with minimal rest between moves. After the last exercise, repeat the full circuit twice more. Continue with all the exercises in circuit 2, completing the full circuit 3 times total. If this is too challenging, perform each circuit twice instead.

Circuit 1
Squats (bodyweight or weighted, depending on your fitness level): 12 to 15 reps
Pushups: 15 to 20 reps
Seated rows: 15 to 20 reps
Plank: 30-second hold

Circuit 2
Walking lunges: 20 reps
Assisted pull-ups: 12 to 15 reps
Medicine-ball reverse woodchops: 12 to 15 reps in each direction
Side plank: 30-second hold on each side

Download the complete training plan here

(If you're printing the plan, be sure to use landscape layout for best resolution.)