Strength And Conditioning For An Ironman

I was recently asked to put together a program for a male in his late 20s, who competes in triathlons, including the mega Ironman – 4km swim, 180km bike ride, and 42km run. Competing in an Ironman is no mean feat, and a very high level of fitness is required to even consider competing in such races.

I was approached to put together a strength and conditioning workout for him to aid in his sports performance. He had not much experience in weight training and wanted something that would improve his core strength and upper body strength.

The program I put together which is outlined below focused on:

  1. General conditioning
  2. Improving core strength and stability
  3. Improving upper body strength (mainly for improved swimming)

An adequate warm-up should be undertaken before starting this workout program. 5 minutes of moderate cardio e.g. jog, rowing machine, spin bike, followed by some light weights and/or bodyweight exercise is an ideal warm-up. Remember to stretch all muscles used after your workout.

Exercise Reps Rest
Perform A1 – A3 in a circuit for 4 rounds
A1 Wide legged squats 10 Approx 45 seconds after each round. Make the weight heavy enough that the last couple of reps are quite tough – not so tough though, that you lose your form.
A2 Bent over row 10
A3 Push ups 10
Perform B1 – B3 in a circuit for 4 rounds
B1 Cable pulldown/dumbbell press combo 10 Approx 45 seconds after each round.
B2 Tricep dips 10
B3 Swiss ball crunches 10
Perform C1 – C4 once
C1 Rotator cuff external rotation (neutral position) 15 No rest.
C2 Rotator cuff external rotation (abducted position) 15
C3 Swiss ball oblique crunches 10 each side
C4 Prone swiss ball hover (writing the alphabet) N/A


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