The Ironman is a really tough task to accomplish. A lot of people won’t ever try this sport as you need a lot of time for training for the Ironman. Although it’s ideal to invest 15-20 hours per week for training, we’ve prepared an Ironman training plan for you which lets you accomplish the basic Ironman fitness within 10 hours per week.
Start the race with confidence, take this guide with you and finish the race with your strongest body you will ever have.
Ironman Training Plan – The Basics
This plan was designed for a time-efficient but at the same time very effective training routine. We are focusing on the final seven weeks of training before your competition here to keep things as simple as possible.
The target of this ironman training plan is to let you finish the competition within 12-14 hours total time but as we only cover the final seven weeks here, it’s important to feel confident with the following distances:
- You can swim more than 2,000 meters in one session.
- Next, you can run for longer than 120 minutes in one session.
- Finally, you can ride for longer than 4 hours in one session.
If you are able to achieve these distances – but don’t lie to yourself here – then you are ready for our ironman training plan you will find below. But if you struggle to achieve these distances, you may not be ready for our plan and you should take a step back to be fully prepared.
The total routine consists of two major splits:
- The first 5 weeks of our plan focus on training progression
- The final 2 weeks of our plan focus on the taper – which means a planned reduction of training intensity
Each week is split into four training days with a total of 10 hours per week and three rest days. Our training is based on our heart rate and we are spending our training time in either a threshold (hard sustained effort) zone or an aerobic (easy/medium) zone.
Before we start, you should calculate your heart rate zones which you can do here.
The Weekly Training Structure
We recommend sticking to the routine we are presenting in this 7-week ironman training plan because the routines are designed in a way for you to achieve maximum progress with minimal stress to your body.
Swimming is kept as simple as possible for time efficiency. There are two main objectives:
- Increasing your speed
- Building endurance
While swimming for endurance, we are using a pull buoy with a possible alternative in using swim paddles for strength building. It will also simulate our body position when wearing a wetsuit during the ironman competition.
Cycling & Running
We are splitting our seven weeks up into different sections:
- Week 1-4 focus on running threshold and bike endurance (weekends)
- Week 2-5 focus on cycling threshold and running endurance (weekends)
That’s the reason why our long run at the weekend will take place before our ride, as then we are able to run on fresh and powerful legs.
- Week 3 will be a lower-intensity week from Monday to Friday. This will allow our body to recover and prepare for a longer run or bike ride at the weekend. These long sessions are optimal for training also our mental strength, focus and attitude for preparing for the competition both physically and mentally.
These are the three main phases of our ironman training plan when it comes to cycling & running.
The Ironman Taper
There is some confusing and false information regarding the taper. A lot of people think you have to train as much as possible the week prior your competition and then shut it all down from one day to another. But in general, it’s better for your body to slow down your training schedule step-by-step.
This will ensure you can re-stimulate your body muscularly and cardiovascularly for maintaining the level you reached at that time and for keeping your blood plasma levels up.
The Taper Structure
Two weeks before our competition we get into the taper phase of our ironman training plan. This means we will start with 3-4 days of aerobic recovery sessions and rest days, followed by some short training sessions.
The week before our ironman competition we will follow a similar pattern but we will reduce our training even more. Resting time is very important now so you should rest while keeping your current level. This is done by proper nutrition which we will explain a bit later in this guide.
It’s important to be mentally prepared too. Stay focused, keep your goal in mind and push yourself both physically and mentally. Once your competition begins, you will see the results of your final seven weeks and you will compete as the strongest version of yourself you’ve ever been.
Ironman Nutrition Guide
Your physical training you will learn in this ironman training plan is really important. But nutrition is just as important too. You will train a lot and you will train for long distances. That’s why it’s important to eat enough food.
Write down everything you consume in terms of calories, protein, carbs, fats, fluids and sodium levels. Don’t change your nutrition plan during your training. Stick to one plan and get the most out of it.
Here are some recommendations for you:
- Within the first 15 minutes of riding the bike, drink some water but consume minimal calories only, mainly by drinking sports drinks. Your body needs to adapt to cycling and your heart rate should drop.
Once you reach a good rhythm for cycling, you can start eating some food.
- Between your first 15 minutes and your final 30 minutes of cycling:
- Consume 250-400 grams of carbohydrates each hour. The number may be even higher for large and muscular athletes, but this is a good starting point.
- Drink 1 to 1.5 quarts of fluid each hour. This equals two large bottles (24oz) each hour or two small bottles (20oz) each hour.
- Take in a gel every 30 minutes which equals to roughly 200 calories per hour. Additionally, consume one bottle of sports drinks each hour which equals to roughly 100 calories per hour. Make sure to drink enough water with the gel.
- Provide your body with 500–750mg/quart of sodium. You can find it in products such as the PowerBar Ironman Perform with 190mg sodium, or the PowerBar Energy Gel with 200mg sodium.
- Optional: If you don’t consume enough electrolytes, consider supplements such as salt tabs.
- Within the final 30 minutes of cycling, reduce your total calorie intake and focus on sports drink or water. Your stomach will empty while food and fluids you consumed will be absorbed.
This will allow you to start your run with a good feeling after finishing the cycling session and you can start consuming again once your run begins.
- The plan is very similar to the cycling plan of our ironman training plan, but you want to reduce the total calorie intake by a third. Sodium intake should remain the same and consider focusing on liquid calories during your running activity.
Your heart rate and your calorie intake are inversely related to each other. During your exercise your heart rate will increase, and you will be able to digest less calories. That’s the reason why your nutrition during your competition has to be planned according to your heart rates.
Make sure you know your exact heart rate intensity zones and also make sure you have practiced eating according to these heart rates.
Check the table below for more information as these tips are the fundamentals of our ironman training plan. You definitely want to do this in the right way here.
The Ironman Training Plan – Your 7-Week Routine
Now, we are finally ready to get into our exact 7-week ironman training plan. Implement the tips we mentioned so far and create your training plan according to the examples we show you below.
We’ve split the whole ironman training plan into seven different plans (one plan for every week) so you can follow this plan step-by-step each day and each week.
Before we get into it, let’s get an overview about the terms we are using within this plan:
Terminology / Coaching Abbreviations
- Wu = warm-up
- mS = main set
- CD = cool-down
- X’ = X minutes, i.e. 3’
- X” = X seconds, i.e. 30”
- Zn = zone (heart rate or perceived effort), i.e. Zn 1 = Zone 1
- (brackets) = time indication for rest in between intervals or tasks, i.e. 4 x 3’ (2’)
- RPm = cadence (repetitions per minute)
- HR = heart rate
- P-ups = pick-ups. Short accelerations at 75-85% of your maximum sprint speed
- Alt = alternate
- Pe = perceived exertion
#1 – Ironman Training Plan – Week #1
#2 – Ironman Training Plan – Week #2
#3 – Ironman Training Plan – Week #3
#4 – Ironman Training Plan – Week #4
#5 – Ironman Training Plan – Week #5
#6 – Ironman Training Plan – Week #6 (Start 2-Week Taper)
#7 – Ironman Training Plan – Week #7
There you have it, this is the 7-week ironman training plan you should follow for laser-focused preparation for the final competition.
You don’t need to 100% follow every single step of this plan but the more you do as outlined, the better your results will be. So, start practicing today and win your first ironman at a personal record tomorrow.
Check these guides too for maximum progress for any of your fitness goals:
- Muscle Groups To Workout: How To Hit Them All!
- Body Weight Chest Exercises For Strong & Aesthetic Pecs!
- Benefits Of Wall Sits: Your Ultimate Core Workout!
- How Many Exercises Per Muscle Group Are Ideal?
- What Is Powerlifting? Your Ultimate Guide For 2020!
- Macro Cheat Sheet For Growing Giant & Lean Muscles!
Thanks a lot for reading our ironman training plan and I hope you enjoyed going through all these steps.
Leave a comment below and tell us what you think. I would also highly appreciate it if you take a second to share this ironman guide to your social media followers and friends to spread the word about this well-structured routine.
Thanks again and now, go out there and crush any of your fitness goals!
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