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16 Awesome Triathlon Exercises

16 Awesome Exercises for Triathletes…

triathlon exercises strip

Note: these are some of my favorite exercises for triathlon training because there’s no gym required! All you’ll need are a couple of dumbbells, some determination. (Optional: your favorite pump up music!)

In a lot of ways, to me the sport of triathlon is all about pushing your limits and realizing how much you are actually capable of. Aside from simply running, you also have to swim and bike, and I think that makes a triathlon a hardcore challenge. Although training for a triathlon is definitely a challenge, it’s not impossible and you may be pleasantly surprised at how far you can push yourself!

Obviously, in order to consistently challenge yourself and improve with every triathlon that you do, you have to be ready to dig in and dish out performance. And there’s no better way to serve it up than by preparing and practicing just that in your triathlon training. So here’s a quick (but intense!) workout with some killer triathlon exercises that will help you handle everything that comes your way – whether it be water, road, or an all-out-sprint finish.

Triathlon Exercises by Trainer Davey

Awesome Exercises Equal Awesome Triathlon Performance

Overview: This triathlete exercise routine will follow along with exercises that assist in swimming, build power and balance for biking, and increase endurance with in your running while also helping to prevent injury. I designed this strength training routine with triathlon specific exercises that will benefit you in your training by building functional strength and endurance, creating muscle balance to protect you from injury and toning up your entire body so that you look awesome in your spandex!

Keys to the workout: The reps listed are only general recommendations. Since I don’t know your current fitness level, feel free to double the reps if you’re up to it, or cut them in half. Just keep these things in mind during your triathlon workout:

You have to perform with picture perfect form. Once you fatigue to the point of breaking form and cheating, move on to the next exercise.

Don’t do so many reps in one set you can’t move on to the next exercise quickly. See below ↓

There should be little or no rest between these triathlon exercises. When do you ever get to sit down and catch your breath during a race? The point of this workout is to help build strength and endurance. 

(Video of all the Triathlete Exercises below)


Super Man Stretch X 20

How to do it: Start by lying face down and put your hands out in front of you… like super man. Then lift your hands and feet in the air, flexing your lower back and buns. Pull your elbows back to squeeze your shoulder blades together.  Really stretch it out at the top and you’ll see how flying like super man will help you swim like…a super mermaid?

Why it’s good: I love this exercise for the triathlete because it builds shoulder endurance and core strength for a streamlined swim, and it also helps your posture.

Super man stretch -  good for triathlon swim training |

Pike Push Up X 20

How to do it: This is just like a push up, except you lift your hips high into the air as you’re pressing upward with your arms. Kind of like pushup meets downward dog… but more hardcore.

Why it’s good:  This will rock your core muscles while helping you power through the water by increasing your upper body strength and muscle balance.

Pike push up - triathlon exercise that's great for swimming |

Rapid Fire Row X 20 on each arm

How to do it: Grab your dumbbells and hinge at the hips, keeping your knees slightly bent and back perfectly straight. Alternate pulling one weight up at a time in quick succession. I call them rapid fire rows for a reason.

Why it’s good: Moving more water with each stroke means swimming faster and more efficiently. This exercise helps with the pull phase of your swim stroke.

Rapid fire rows - a triathlon exercise that targets the shoulders for a strong swim |

T-Press x 20 on each arm

How to do it: Let me just say, it’s harder then it looks. Drop your weights and start in the same bent over position. Then, with palms facing outward, and elbows remaining straight, fly your arms out to the sides, pressing your shoulder blades back and together.

Why it’s good: Targeting the rear deltoids and mid back provides endurance. The recovery phase of your swim stroke is very important and this exercise helps target and strengthen those muscles.  This is a counter movement to the pull phase, meaning it’s a good exercise for injury prevention. Also, it’s great for pulling your shoulder posture back after being hunched over on the bike.

T-Press - A great triathlon exercise to help improve your swim |

Pullover Row with V Up – 10-15 reps

How to do it: Lying on your back with heels hovering just above the ground, grab one dumbbell with both hands overhead. With elbows locked, pull the dumbbell overhead and sit up as your simultaneously lift your legs to meet the weight at the top.

Why it’s good: This exercise challenges the same muscles that you use in your swim stroke while adding an intense core strength move. Plus you’ll find it takes some balance and coordination to get the hang of this killer exercise.

Pull over V-up - Triathlon exercise that's great for your core |

Flutter Kicks – 30 two count reps

How to do it: Drop your weight and put your hands under your hips. Your feet are still straight out in front of you, but this time raise one leg at a time up to a 45 degree angle and kick back and forth.

Why it’s good: Flutter kicks directly target your hip flexors and that helps make your swim kick stronger and more efficient.  It’s also great lower ab exercise so you’ll look great in your jammers. Practice pointing your toes to hone in on your kicking technique.

Flutter kicks - An awesome core strengthening triathlon exercise |

Pump and Jump Squats x20

How to do it: Start with feet shoulder width apart and drop it like a squat. Come half way up and then go back down for the “pump”. Then, explode up into a jump. Land lightly on your toes and go right back into your squat. Pump and jump. Pump and jump.

Why it’s good:  This intense plyo move will build power into your pedaling and you’ll find that it rocks your cardio capacity at the same time. Get your burn on, baby!

Pump and jump squat - Builds strong leg muscles to help build your bike and run endurance |

Drop Steps with an Upright Row x15

How to do it: Grab 2 dumbbells and stand with feet shoulder width apart. Step back with one leg for a rear lunge. As you power back up on that one leg, lift the weights straight up towards your chin to target your shoulders. As you step back with again with the same leg, lower the weights by your sides. Rinse and repeat.

Why it’s good: A drop step lunge targets the glutes, especially as you focus on powering up through your heel and pulling your upper leg backward with each motion. This is directly the same movement you do as you crank on your pedals to pass your triathlete nemesis. By adding the upright row, you get double the cardio benefit and you strengthen your shoulders at the same time.

Drop Step with an Upright Row - This triathlon exercise helps you pedal with more power |

Drop Steps with a Curl x15

How to do it: This is the same idea, but lunge back with the other leg and add a hammer bicep curl instead of an upright row.

Why it’s good: This is another 2 for 1 special. This time we’re adding a hammer curl which will help you connect with your bike as you pull up on the handle bars during sprints and hill climbs.

Drop Step Lunge With a Curl - Strengthen your legs and biceps at the same time with this great combo move to help you swim, bike and run better |

Side Plyo Jumps x20

How to do it:  Go down into a squat, jump up and to the side in a lateral motion. Think about landing softly in another squat, and then power right back into another jump.

Why it’s good: First off, these are a great plyometric move that will build strength, power and cardio capacity. But as a trainer, I love lateral movement because it strengthens joint integrity and helps prevent overuse injury.

Side Plyo Jumps - A great cardio triathlon exercise that targets your glutes |

Mogul Jumps x25 two count reps

How to do it: Using the same lateral movement, stand with feet together and hop side to side as if you’re jumping over a line. You knees should be slightly bent to absorb the impact when you land.

Why it’s good: Staying light on your toes builds lower leg strength and ankle agility. Again, the lateral movement is excellent for injury prevention.

Mogul Jumps - Increase your speed and agility with this triathlon exercise |

Calf Killers x30

How to do it: With no rest after your side plyos and mogul jumps, go directly into this exercise. Stand with feet together and hop up and down, keeping most of your weight on your toes, similarly to jumping rope. Try variations with toes pointed in and out. I named this triathlon exercise calf killers for good reason.

Why it’s good: Building lower leg strength helps with your running form and increases your running economy by giving you spring in your step and shock absorption  That just means you will be improving your form which will make you a more efficient runner which means you’ll be able to run faster while spending less energy.

Calf Killers Hop - tone up your calves with this cardio triathlon exercise |

Single Leg Good Mornings X 15 on each side

How to do it: Balance on one leg and hinge forward at your hips, slightly bending your knee, until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstring. Concentrate on using your hamstring and glute muscles to pull your upper body back upright and squeeze your glutes at the top. Keep your hips square instead of rotating at the bottom part of the movement. Be careful and work up to this one if you have lower back issues.

Why it’s good: Do this exercise directly after the calf killers and feel the burn in your lower leg as your ankles get balance training – another excellent exercise for triathletes!

Single Let Good Morning - Work your butt and hamstring to run faster and bike harder with this triathlon exercise |

Plank With Side Knee Kicks x15-20 on each side

How to do it: Start in push-up position and kick one knee up and out to the side. Think about high and outside for your knee kick. Try and keep your hips straight and butt down while focusing on getting a good oblique crunch.

Why it’s good: This is a good exercise for triathletes because it targets in your oblique core muscles as well as your hip rotators which will help keep you streamline in the water, more powerful on the bike and helps to prevent hip injuries that are caused by using poor running form.

 Plank with a knee kick - A strong core = a more efficient triathlete |

Plank Position With Single Leg Lift

How to do it: Begin by locking in your perfect plank position with abs pulled in tightly. Next, concentrate on holding perfect form while lifting one leg and squeeze your glutes.

Why it’s good: Strengthen just about every muscle in your core with this move! Your core strength is the platform for all of your triathlon movements, so the stronger your core, the better you swim, bike and run.

Plank position with a leg lift - Work your core and butt to swim, bike and run better |

Atomic Sit Ups X 20

How to do it: Polish your workout off with one of my favorite exercises for triathlon training! Lie on your back with your heels hovering 6 inches off the ground. As you sit up, simultaneously kick your knees to your chest and then back out again.

Why it’s good: Because this move takes a lot of coordination and balance, you’re targeting many more core muscles then you would if you just did a basic crunch. Atomic sit ups will strengthen your upper and lower abs as well as your hip flexors which you use in your swimming kick, the upstroke of your bike pedal and  when your bring your leg forward during your run.

Atomic sit-ups - This triathlon exercise targets your upper and lower abs and hip flexors |

Triathlon Exercises posted by +Davey Anderson 

About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →

  1. Axel

    Great workout! I only had a little time before a meeting today so I did a single circuit. Note: you don’t mention the number of reps for the plank exercises (third-last and second-last); I did 20 and 15 respectively, I think.

    • Jess

      AWESOME! and thanks… we’ll make sure we put the reps in for the plank.

  2. MervTuplin

    Hi Davey,
    I have enjoyed going through your website. I think I will try some of these exercises. Maybe , I ‘ll have my dream come true yet. I’ve also started fir the umpteenth time to take piano lessons. It is going well. Because of the heart thing , I really need to exercise and do cardio stuff as well. I’ve tried to stay reasonable fit and eat properly, but the doctor said there are some “jeans” genes that you can’t change. I have males on both sides of the family with major heart attacks. My dad one of them. Doctors do say that my heart is now good as a 30 year old.
    Your web site is really motivating me to get more serious again. I want to do some serious hiking in the summer again. the Rockies are great for that.
    I really damaged a disc in my spine when I was 25 when I lifted a quadriplegic (dead weight off the floor one time.) dumb move on my part. A long as I exercise I can deal with that one. Also did some stupid things when I was growing up on the farm. Really dumb. Life 🙂