D3 Multisport Strength Training Plan for Triathletes

A strength coach instructing his athletes in the weight room
February 12, 2022

Mike Ricci


Pre-Strength Training Notes

A. Warm-up: First warm up with 5 to 10 min on a spin bike or treadmill, then do the 3 warm-up exercises. This combination should give you a general warm-up. THEN, you MAY need one or two light sets in your first circuit to get a specific warm-up. This is particularly true of deadlifts, as it generally takes a few sets to be ready to do a working set.

B. Working set: In general, the goal of a working set is to use enough weight such that you reach close to failure within the intended range of repetitions. So if your goal is 6-10 reps, and you can do 12 then you need to increase the load on the next set. Conversely, if you can only do 5 reps then you need to decrease the load.

C. Progression: As you progress through a phase, begin with a weight that allows you to perform reps at the higher end of the range. As the phase goes on, increase the weight such that you fatigue in the lower end of the range. It is OK to change the weight between sets in any given workout. Also note, one can use this same method of “progression” within a single workout, especially in the beginning of a new stage. In the first working set, select a weight that might cause fatigue near the top end of the range of repetitions. Add weight on each set such that you can accomplish fewer repetitions yet remain inside the target range. This conservative approach helps prevent injury.

General Adaptation Phase

Best done in the early season, starting in November/December. 

This phase could last 4-6 weeks. 

Frequency: 2-3 times per week.

Sets: 2 to 5 ideally, with 3 working sets.

Repetitions: 15-25

Rest between Sets: Done as a circuit, but rest 15-60 seconds between individual exercises within each circuit and 1-3 min. between circuits.

Tempo: 1 count lift, 1 count isometric (pause at bottom), 2 count lower, 0 count rest.

Transition to Max Strength Phase:

This is a short phase that lasts 2 weeks. This is to get your body ready to lift heavy. You’ll lift 2x per week with a weight that will allow 2-3 sets, 10-15 reps, max. In other words, you’ll be adding weight to this phase. Work on making these sets of strength exercises hard to complete. 

Max Strength Phase:

In this phase, our goal is about 12 sessions (over 8-12 weeks) and we keep the number of exercises to a minimum. From our list of exercises, we may use Deadlift, Single-Leg Squat, DB or Bench Press, Thrusters, Hex Deadlift, and Hang Clean. 

You will complete no more than 12 heavy sessions in this Phase. You can do 1-3 sessions per week. In my experience, 1 really good Max Strength heavy session, coupled with 1 Maintenance day usually works well for a multi-sport athlete. There may be weeks where you can do 2 sessions, but this will certainly leave your endurance workouts feeling a little less zippy.  The number of sets during this heavy phase is 3-6 working sets, with 3-6 reps as the goal. Your rest time between exercises should be between 2 and 3 minutes. That may seem like a lot of rest, but that’s how you’ll be able to max out the lifts in each exercise. 

*The rest of the exercises during this phase will stay at 8-12 reps.

Maintenance Phase for Race Season:

In-Season Maintenance: 1-2 sessions per week with 1-2 sets of 10-12 reps. Don’t go for max reps or max weight. Just work on great form. 

Good luck!

Warm-up Set: you can use what’s below as a warm-up set or you can take 2-3 exercises that work the entire body. 

Main Sets: During a workout, you can choose any 2 or 3 of the Main Sets below for your workout. Each grouping has a Lower Body, Upper Body, and Core exercise. 

Warmup set:

Main set #1:

Main set #2:

Main set #3:

Main Set #4:

Main Set #5:

Balance Drills:

Core and Plyometric add-ons

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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