Triathlon Training 102: Building Elite Endurance

Mischele Stevens


Barrie, Canada

Triathlon, Endurance Sports


EDITOR'S NOTE: Mischele Stevens has been helping beginners fulfill their dream of completing a triathlon for the past decade. A former ironman athlete, Mischele has coached athletes to the World Championship level at both the 70.3 and full Ironman distance. In addition to her work with elite athletes, Mischele also coaches in a community-based program that helps hundreds of people of all levels complete triathlons each year. 


This programming has been designed for the beginner to train for a sprint distance triathlon, but anyone can use it.


There will be workouts you will be asked to record your time or distance on. Do it! Recording your training sessions allows you to confirm that you are progressing. All workouts are expected to be done with a hard/fast effort unless stated otherwise. This means you will not enjoy it and will wish desperately for it to be over. This is how we get fitter and faster. Plus, if you are in a time crunch you can get a workout in without taking away from life.


You will plug the training week into your life and complete each workout according to your schedule. This allows you to swim when you can get to the pool or bike when you have more time, not because I said you have to do it on a certain day.


Please do not do the same sport two days in a row (example: swim on Monday and Tuesday). You can do more than one workout in a day, but need at least three hours between for recovery. There are six workouts in a week. Do not make up any you miss from previous weeks. You must take one whole day off in a week to rest and recover.

Workouts for Week 1

Triathlon Training 102: Building Elite Endurance - Workouts, triathlons, Elite Programming, Elite Workout Programs, Workout Triathlon Cycle 4


It’s all About the CORE!

When athletes produce the necessary movements in their sports with increased efficiency, their overall performance improves. Greater strength of the core musculature increases the stability of the pelvis and spine and improves body control or balance during athletic movements, thus enhancing the efficiency of movement.


Core strength training can enhance neuromuscular reaction and this can lead to improved athletic performance. A stronger core requires less forceful contractions of the peripheral muscles to produce a given amount of power, so the muscles - both in the core and in the stabilization - are less likely to be injured during training and competition.


Core strengthening requires the regular and proper exercise of your body’s 29 core muscles.




A strong core gives you:

  • Increased protection and "bracing" for your back
  • Controlled movement
  • A more stable center of gravity
  • A more stable platform for sports movements


When you have good core stability, the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen work in harmony. They provide support to your spine for just about any activity.

A weak core can make you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain, and muscle injuries. Strong core muscles provide the brace of support needed to help prevent such pain and injury.


Exercises that are crucial in core strength development:

Prone Bridge (Bows and Toes)
In a prone position on a floor mat, the athlete balances on the tips of toes and elbows while attempting to maintain a straight line from heels to head. This exercise focuses on both the anterior and posterior muscle groups of the trunk and pelvis.


Lateral Bridge (Bridge Right and Bridge Left)
In a sideways posture on a floor mat, the athlete balances on one elbow and the side of one foot while attempting to keep the body aligned in a straight line. This exercise focuses on the abdominal obliques and transverse abdominus. Also, the lateral bridge teaches the athlete how to sense the proper pelvic position.


Supine Bridge
In a supine posture on a floor mat, the athlete raises the hips so that only the head, shoulders, and feet are touching the mat. The supine bridge focuses on the gluteal muscles. Stronger glutes help maintain pelvic control, which is important for movements that require hip extension.


Follow these guidelines when training your core:

  1. Do your core exercises at least three times a week
  2. Choose exercises that work your core muscles simultaneously. Rather than isolate each muscle group in your trunk, the best exercises for your core are those that get muscles working together at the same time.
  3. Focus on quality of movement rather than quantity. You'll gradually build up to a greater number of repetitions. When starting out, take it slow and learn how to properly perform each exercise with optimal technique.
  4. Breathe steadily and slowly. Breathe freely while doing each of the exercises in your core strengthening workout. Your instinct may be to hold your breath during an exercise, but it's better to continue breathing.
  5. Take a break when you need one. When your muscles get tired, stop and change exercises. And, if you work your core muscles to fatigue during an exercise session, wait at least a day between workouts to allow the muscles to recover.


Keep in mind that strengthening workouts — even core strengthening — are just one part of a complete fitness program. Include aerobic exercise and flexibility training to round out your regimen.

Click on the number below that corresponds to the week of training you're in.


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