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Winter Maint/Prep - 4 to 7 Hours - 20 Week Training Plan

Plan description Plan workouts calendar volume graph
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author : mikericci
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Who is the plan for?

This program should be used for an athlete who is coming off a season where they have already raced a Sprint Distance triathlon or they are looking at a very basic start up program over the course of the winter months. This is a great prep program leading into any of the other D3 programs such as the 12 Week Sprint Distance.

Plan schedule

The schedule consists of 3 workouts per week in each sport, 1-2 days of strength training and core work too. The maximum volume is around 7 hours pretty consistently and some of the easier weeks are around 5 hours.

There is no testing in this program with the exception of a swim test every few weeks.

Background requirements

You should be able to swim at least 100 yards. You should be able to bike at least 20 minutes and be able to run/walk for 10 minutes. It’s ok if you have to use the run/walk method for the running (more on that below). If you are a weak swimmer or runner, you can certainly do the best you can on your weaker events but its best if you are already up to the base fitness levels suggested.

Heart-Rate training

This plan uses heart-rate training zones for intensity specific training. See 'Related Links' at bottom for testing protocol and how to determine and setup your heart-rate zones.

The basic premise of this program is to help you maintain/start your winter training program so you can start your specific training in the spring without feeling that you are behind. Some people will actually improve their fitness with this program although it is really geared toward maintaining fitness.

If you already excel in one of the sports

If you have a swimming background and you want to add distance or repetitions to the workouts, you are more than welcome to do that.

If you have a cycling or running background and feel the need to add volume to the program, you are welcome to do that as well.

If you are deficient in the sports

On the opposite extreme if you feel as though you need help in one area or the other, you may want to drop a workout that you are strong in, and add an extra where you are weaker. If you feel the need to add a swim lesson in place of a swim workout on the schedule, by all means take the swim lesson and don’t feel the need to make up the missed swim workout.

If you can complete both the swim and bike workouts, but you are a weak runner and you need to use a walk/run plan that is perfectly ok. I have many runners who use an 8/2 method. This is where the athlete runs for 8 minutes and walks for 2, getting their HR back down. I have had marathoners use this method that run in the 3:00 range for 26.2 miles, so don’t feel like you are less of a runner if you use this method.

Weight Training and Core Strength
The program that I am using this time around is adapted from The Training Bible and has been tweaked to include some exercises that I think are important. The program should be fairly balanced between core and strength training.


Good Luck in your Sprint Distance Triathlon!
Train Smart,
Mike Ricci
USAT Level II Coach
USAC Expert Coach