Free 8-week HIIT training plan for triathletes

Think high-intensity training isn’t for us triathletes? Well think again, and get ready to smash your race PB with this 8-week HIIT training plan from Dermott Hayes

Credit: The Secret Studio

The concept of using HIIT (high-intensity interval training) as part of a triathlon training schedule may seem confusing at first, but once we understand the benefits of working at such high intensities, we can start to build it into our preparations. This doesn’t mean you should swap all of your long, steady workouts for HIIT – instead, adapt your sessions to include elements of both.


It’s a well-accepted fact that triathlon is an endurance sport, and by their very nature endurance sports rely on us, the athletes, being very efficient at using our aerobic energy systems. A potential danger with this is that we can become very comfortable training, or even racing, within comfort zones that don’t require anaerobic energy.

Don’t be put off by those infomercials that claim HIIT will turn you into the Hulk – there is a way for triathletes to use HIIT. How many times have you seen an athlete pass you in a race, and thought: ‘If only I had that little burst of speed to stay with them?’ Well, maybe HIIT can help.

The training plan that follows is based around a Sprint triathlon, so if you want to build this into your training for longer-distance racing, you’ll need to increase the volume of sessions appropriately. You’ll see that each discipline still has training sessions that are classed as ‘Endurance’ – in these cases, the HIIT efforts only make up part of the bigger session.

Effective HIIT requires the athlete to work well outside of their comfort zone, achieving speeds and power that are far in excess of the norm. But these efforts are only sustained for seconds, and are followed by long periods of either complete recovery or very easy movement. So you need to apply yourself physically; to go into the sessions with a willingness to really dig deep and test your limits.

A word of warning: if you’re new to the world of HIIT, it’s advisable to proceed gradually and build sessions into your regular training as you become more accustomed to this style of training. Also, you must ensure that you’re well warmed up for these sessions, as they’ll require your body to work to its maximum.

Remember, in order to race faster, you must train faster