Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Getting Started

Your 8-Week Couch to Tri Training Plan

Want to get started? We've got you covered with this 8-week couch to triathlon training plan.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Print + Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Outside, Better Nutrition, VeloNews, and more
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 10 Weeks to Your Best 70.3 and the 60 Day Metabolic Reset
  • Download your personal race photos from FinisherPix* for one race (up to a $100 value).
  • Member-only newsletter, and event meet and greets with editors
  • Get up to $30 off your next race and $30 off race fees every year you are a member through AthleteReg*
  • Annual gear guides for cycling, running, skiing, training, and more
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+
Triathlete

Digital + Print
Intro Offer
$2.99 / month*

  • Annual subscription to Triathlete magazine
  • Access to all member-exclusive content on Triathlete.com
  • Ad-free access to Triathlete.com
Join Triathlete

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

You want to try a triathlon this year (or, you’ve done a triathlon before, but things have gotten a little hectic and busy and you’re not in the shape you used to be). Don’t worry! We’ve got an 8-week couch to tri training plan designed to take you from start to start line.

This development plan is intended for those who are newer to the sport, have less time available for training, or are looking for an overall lower-stress program. In contrast, our advanced 8-week Olympic-distance performance training plan is built for an athlete who has a couple of years of experience and clear time- or performance-oriented goal. Build and progress from fit to fast to faster.

This development couch to triathlon training plan includes a key for you to use in deciphering the workouts, as well as generic warm-ups for each sport listed in the box below. There is also a simple strength workout that’s designed to be integrated into the training plan; there are also lower-stress core/activation 15- to 30-minutes sessions designed to fire the deeper, more postural core muscles that are key to maintaining good form. This plan uses effort notes that are based on perceived exertion or your feeling of how hard you’re going. As you get more advanced, you can fine-tune that effort with heart-rate zones.

Looking for more guidance as you go from couch to triathlete? Be sure to check out these resources:

Couch to Tri Training Plan

Warm-Ups

SWIM BIKE RUN
400-600 easy swim with snorkel, buoy, ankle strap 15-20 min. easy spin 10-min. jog
8 x 25 as: 2 x [4 x 25 progress effort 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%] 4 x 60 sec. building RPM and effort every 20 sec., 60 sec. easy spin between

Key

General Swim Bike Run
WU: Warm-Up KS: Key Swim KB: Key Bike KR: Key Run
PS: Pre-Set SS: Supporting Swim SB: Supporting Bike SR: Supporting Run
MS: Main Set BR: Brick Run

Download the Couch to Triathlon Training Plan PDF

Group of athletes starting their race after training with a couch to triathlon training plan.
(Photo: Getty Images)

Week 1: Intro Week

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Core + Activation work KS: 2 x

8 x 100 easy with 10 sec. rest.

2 x 100 fast with 25 sec. rest.

50 easy and smooth

KB: 4 x (90 sec. as: 15 sec. max. effort sprint into 75 sec. best sustainable pace, 4 min. easy recovery spin) SS: Technique swim: 3 x (8 x 25 fast, 1 x 400) with snorkel, buoy, and band STRENGTH: Core + Activation work KB: Ride ~2 hours, including 4 x 15 min. as:

10 min. strong into 5 min. hard effort

5 min. easy spin @ 95+ RPM then repeat

KS: 10 x 100 swim as:

2 @ 75%, 2 @ 80%, 2 @ 85%, 2 @ 90%, 2 @ 95% effort with 20-40 sec. rest

SR: Light resilience run, 40 min. KR: 50 min. smooth running, include pick-ups as:

20-40-60-40-20 (all seconds) with 60 sec. easy jog recovery

BR: 30 min. easy off the bike (OTB) with good form and foot speed SB: 4 x 9 min. building cadence BR: 5 min. easy jog into:

1-2-3-2-1 min. @ strong effort with equal time easy recovery jog

KR: 75 min. smooth run, working in some hills

Week 2: Building

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Full strength KS: 2 x

300 smooth with paddles on 30 sec. rest;

20 x 25 @ 90% with ~5-7 sec. rest

KB: 6 x 4 min. hard effort. Change RPM every other rep.

4 min. easy recovery between each hard effort

SS: Building ladder swim. 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and back down.

Increase effort on the back half

STRENGTH: Full strength KB: Ride 1.5-2 hr. including

MS: 2 x

10 min. strong endurance effort;

8 min. lighter endurance effort @ choice cadence;

4 min. building to race pace.

Easy spin 5 min. between sets

KS: 15 x 100 swim as

3 @ 75%, 80%, 85%, 90%, 95% effort with 20-40 sec. rest

SR: Light resilience run, 40 min.

Finish with 6 x 30 sec. strides

KR: 15 min. easy aerobic effort;

10 min. steady;

5 min. up-tempo

BR: 30 min. OTB SB: Easy bike spin. All low stress with varied cadence., 60-90 min. BR: 10 min. light run to find form.

4 x 1K strong but controlled, 2 min. easy

KR: 4 x

1 min. hard running right into:

6 min. controlled,

4 min. easy jog between reps

Week 3: Building

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Full strength KS: 2 x

4 x 100 best effort you can hold on 10 sec. rest.

400 pull between. Rest 1 min.

KB: 3 x

5 x 1 min. hard @ high cadence into 1 min. easy spin.

5 min. smooth between

SS: 8 x 200 smooth swim on 30-40 sec. rest.

8 x 50 as 25 fast/25 easy on short rest

STRENGTH: Full strength SB: 2-3 x 6 min. building effort every 2 min.

5 min. recovery @ 95+ RPM

KB: Ride up to 2.5 hours including

3 x

5 min. building to 80%, 4 min. @ 85-90% effort, 1 min. best effort, then 20 min. build effort by 10 min. to finish at goal race pace for the last 10 min.

KS: 4 x 400 at 75%, 8 x 25 fast.

Finish with:

2 x 100 fast on 1 min. rest

SR: Light resilience run, 50 min.

Finish with 8 x 30 sec. strides

KR: 60 min. including

6 x 60 sec. hard uphill run, easy jog down into 8-10 min. strong effort

BR: 30 min. easy OTB BR: 30 min. easy OTB KR: 60 min. smooth endurance run into

2 x 8 min. @ race pace with 3 min. easy walk/jog between

Week 4: Transitional Week

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Core + Activation work KS: 2 x 500 with buoy @ 75% on 30 sec rest.

2 x 300 with buoy @ 80% on 30 sec. rest.

2 x 100 swim @ 90% on 45 sec. rest

KB: Light rolling hills ride. Do 6-10 rounds of:

3 min. easy riding @ choice cadence,

2 min. hard effort @ <65 RPM

SS: Building Ladder: 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 and back down.

Increase effort on the back half

STRENGTH: Core + Activation work KB: Lighter 2-2.5 hr ride including

4 x 5 min. smooth riding @ 100+ RPM into 5 min. stronger @ choice RPM

KS: 15 x 100 swim as

9 @ 80%, 3 @ 90%, 3 @ 95% with 20-40 sec. rest

SR: Light resilience run, 30 min.

Finish with 10 x 30 sec. strides

KR: 30-60 min. easy recovery run No brick run today. Rest for next week! Relax! KR: Low-stress, rolling trail run up to 60-70 min.

Nothing deep today, prepare for next week

Week 5: Race Simulation

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Full strength KS: 2 x 300 smooth with paddles on 30 sec. rest,

30 x 25 @ 90% with ~5-7 sec. rest

KB: 4 x 2 min. as:

20 sec. max effort sprint into 1 min. 40 sec. @ best sustained pace.

4 min. recovery spin

SS: Technique swim: 3 x (6 x 50 fast, 300 smooth) with snorkel, buoy, band STRENGTH: Full strength KB: Ride 2-3 hours including

2 x

20 min. @ strong endurance pace ~65-75 RPM.

10 min. lighter endurance @ choice RPM.

8 min. building to race pace.

Easy spin 5 min. then repeat.

KS: 600 at 75%

4 x 25 max. effort on 20 sec. rest.

600 @ 80-85%

4 x 50 fast on 30 sec. rest.

600 @ 85-90%

8 x 25 max effort on 20 sec. rest.

600 @ 95%

4 x 100 fast on 1 min. rest

Relax! KR: 20 min. easy aerobic effort into 15 min. steady running, finish with 10 min. up-tempo pace BR: Optional run today, only if time and energy.

30 min. easy OTB

SB: 3-4 x 6 min. building effort every 2 min.

Easy spin between builds

BR: 6 x 1K @ race pace, 2 min. easy between KR: 60 min. smooth endurance run including

4 x 8 min. @ race pace with 3 min. easy walk/jog between

Week 6: Sharpening

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Full strength KS: 300 with paddles + buoy @ 70%,

4 x 100 steady with buoy @ 70% with 20 sec. rest,

300 with paddles + buoy @ 70%,

6 x 75 @ 75-80% with 5 sec. rest.

300 with paddles + buoy at 70%,

8 x 50 @ 85% with 10 sec. rest,

300 with paddles + buoy at 70%,

10 x 25 @ 90% with 15 sec. rest

KB: 5-6 x 5 min. @ race pace @ 70 RPM or lower, 4 min. recovery SS: 45 min. including

MS: 3 x (6 x 50 fast, 300 smooth)

STRENGTH: Full strength KB: 2-3 hours ride including

4 x

6 min. @ race pace @ 70-80 RPM.

10 min. smooth @ 85-95 RPM.

Finish with 2 x 15 min. building efforts as:

10 min. below race pace,

5 min. @ race pace,

easy 5 min. between

KS: 3 x (4 x 50 fast, 20 sec. rest,

4 x 100 @ 85%, 20 sec. rest.

400, holding 100 pace, ~90-95%)

50 easy swim

SR: Easy 30-40 min. light, low stress running KR: 4 x 60 sec. pick-ups with high cadence. 60 sec rest between, then:

3 x 8 min. building by 2 min. to strong pace.

3 min. easy running between.

BR: Brick Fartlek

1-2-3-2-1 min. @ race pace with equal time recovery jog

SB: 60-90 min. easy bike spin. All low stress with varied cadence BR: 30 min. low stress run KR: Low stress endurance run for 80-90 min.

Week 7: Race Prep

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Core + Activation work KS: 2 x 300 smooth with paddles on 30 sec. rest,

40 x 25 @ 90% with ~5-7 sec. rest

KB: 3 x 2 min. strong @ 95 RPM,

4 min. choice RPM,

90 sec. strong @ 95 RPM,

3 min. choice RPM,

1 min. hard @ 95 RPM,

2 min. choice RPM,

45 sec. hard @ 95 RPM,

1 min. choice RPM,

30 sec. sprint @ 95 RPM

SS: 45 min. including:

MS: 3 x (6 x 50, 300 smooth)

STRENGTH: Core + Activation work KB: 2-3 hours ride including

3 x 5 min. strong building 1-3 with 3rd @ best effort. 4 min. spin between.

Then 15 min. building from strong to race pace

KS: 6 x 100, building effort every 2 intervals (70%/80%/90%) on 20 sec. rest

14 x 25 all fast, 20 sec. rest

6 x 75 building effort every 2 intervals (70%/80%/90%) on 20 sec. rest

14 x 25 all fast with 20 sec. rest

6 x 50 building effort every 2 intervals (70%/80%/90%)

14 x 25 all fast with 20 sec. rest

SR: Easy 30-40 min. light, low stress running KR: Sharpening run

8 x 400m (or ~90 sec.) @ race pace into 12 min. at or just above race pace

BR: 10 min. easy jogging into 8-10 x 20 sec. strong with 40 sec. easy between SB: 6 x 1 min. building to sprint effort, 2 min. easy spin between.

3 x 4 min. building RPM each min. 3 min. light spin between

BR: 3 x 4 min. @ race pace, 4 min. easy recovery with great form KR: 4 x 30 sec. strides into 40-50 min easy aerobic effort

Week 8: Race Week

MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
STRENGTH: Core + Activation work KS: 200 w/ snorkel + buoy,

12 x 25 swim as 3 x progressing effort 1-4 to fast on 10 sec. rest

MS: 8 x 150-200 as:

2 @ 70%, 2 @ 80%, 2 @ 85%, 2 @ 90%, 30 sec. rest between

KB: PS: 2 x (3 min. aerobic, 2 min. strong @ <65 RPM, 1 min. build to fast and high effort @ 95+ RPM, 1 min. easy recovery)

MS: 3 x 4 min. progress effort each interval as:

#1. Build to 75%;

#2. Build to race pace;

#3. Build to fastest effort 2 min. easy spin between each, then 5 min. @ race pace

SS: Longer progressive building effort swim, 45 min. total STRENGTH: Core + Activation work PREP SWIM: Warm-up for 10-15 min. then 2-3 x:

30 strokes race effort, 30 strokes smooth, 20 strokes race effort, 30 smooth, 10 above race effort, 30 smooth

RACE DAY!

Trust in your preparation, be patient, and have fun out there!

SB: 45 min. easy bike. All low stress with varied cadence KR: 3 x (3 min. steady endurance. 3 min. race effort, 1 min easy)

6 x 30 sec. pick ups, 30 sec easy

BR: 3 min. steady, 2 min. build to smooth effort,

3 min. steady, 2 min. build to race pace,

3 min. steady, 2 min. build to best effort

SB: Short bike with pick-ups.

3 x (6 min. build effort by 2 min. @ 70%, 80%, 90%) with 2 min. easy spin between

PREP BIKE: Ride ~20-45 min. including:

4 x 3 min. building up to quick cadence.

Spin easy 2 min. between efforts

Download the PDF