Make The Big Change - A Tried And Tested Plan For Getting Off The Couch And To A Triathlon Finish Line

As a certified personal trainer, one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced is working with a client who wanted to compete in an Ironman, but he was out of breath after two flights of stairs. 

From high blood pressure to being borderline diabetic, Jim was also carrying about 60 pounds of excess fat. 

Yup, I thought he was crazy when he asked me to help, but this was one of the most rewarding journeys I’ve ever been part of. 

And in this post, I want to share with you all my research and planning for Jim’s workout routine. I’ll also share the exact supplements that his dietitian recommended. 

This should be an inspiration for all of our readers. 

What Do You Need To Be Prepared For?

The first thing you need is a huge amount of cardiovascular fitness and stamina to compete in an Ironman. Our team of personal trainers at has helped many types of amateur and professional athletes in this space. 

And one of the most common mistakes we see people make is to spend a set amount of time on the treadmill and stationary bike at the exact same pace and intensity every time. 

While that can be helpful for general cardiovascular health, it’s not the best way to prepare your body. 

Studies have shown that exercise variability has a significant impact on both strength and endurance. And that’s why you need a training plan that adds as much variety as possible. 

What I mean is planning a 60-minute run where you change the speed or include every 3–6 minutes. That way, your muscles, lungs, and heart have to constantly adapt and work harder. 

It’s also a great preparation for a competitive event where you will need to adapt your speed at different stages. 

More on training plans shortly. 

Fix Your Diet First

Before you start working on your fitness, you have to come up with a diet plan first. If you’re still eating junk food and sugar all day, then all the physical efforts could be for nothing. 

Here are some things you need to consider. 

Meal Plans

Triathletes have to ensure that they focus on both macronutrients and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Studies have shown that the added demand on the human body in training and competitive events means that you have to keep supplying many types of nutrients.

If you’re serious about being competitive in a triathlon, then I would recommend hiring a dietitian to come up with a detailed plan. 

Otherwise, aim to eat only fresh food, no sugar, and increase your protein intake. You’ll also need to eat more calories than you normally would, as daily training will put a toll on your calorie requirements. 

The difficult thing here is balancing your calorie intake with a possible need for weight loss. One thing you should do is start tracking all your exercise and food intake in an app like Noom or MyFitnessPal. 

This will tell you whether you’re above or below your calorie expenditure, making it easier to fine-tune your diet. 

Dietary Supplements

Most of the athletes that I have worked with as a personal trainer over the years have found huge benefits in dietary supplements. 

Here are the main ones you should get a three-month supply for before you start your training plan. 


These supplements are designed to deliver proven ingredients like amino acids, minerals, and herbs to trigger increased energy production. They may also help you to reduce premature fatigue so that you can train a bit longer and harder. 

The great thing is that you can even get vegan pre-workouts, which often have a better choice of ingredients to support the needs of triathletes. 

Protein Powder

There are two reasons to get more protein into your diet during triathlon training. First of all, it can be a great way to get high-quality calories that also promote some weight loss. More importantly, it will help with your recovery time after every training session. 

But it all comes down to buying great quality protein rather than just the cheapest product you can find. 

I recommend that you take a look at our research into different types of protein powder: 

Fat Burner

Another thing you need to bring down to a minimum before you head into a competitive triathlon is how much fat you’re carrying. The lower you can bring your BMI, the more prepared you’ll be for such a highly intense event. 

The difficulty can be feeding your body with enough calories to support your training plan while not gaining weight in the form of fat. And that’s where our research and testing has revealed that certain natural supplements can be very helpful: 

Mass Gainer

And finally, I’ve worked with a few people who were extremely slim and didn’t have enough muscle strength to withstand the demands of a triathlon. And while weight training can build up enough strength over about three months, you’ll need a lot of calories to support that effort. 

Mass gainers could be the solution to solving that calorie intake struggle without having to face multiple very large meals each day. 

Buying The Right Gear

The next thing I want to address is the need for having the right training and competition gear. 

Here are a few things to consider. 

Swim Gear

The first thing I recommend is that you get a few lessons to ensure your swimming technique is good. And then you should spend all your training time in a triathlon wetsuit that you’ll be wearing for the event. 

There will be a slight difference in how easily you can move your arms and legs, and you want to be used to that long before the main event. 

Running Gear

The next thing you need to focus on is having the right gear for running. Start with a highly-quality pair of triathlon shorts. These are not just any shorts you can pick up, as the aim should be to limit any discomfort and make it easy to change into different gear. 

You’ll also need triathlon shoes for the running part. And these are possibly one of the most important things you’ll buy. You simply can’t afford to have cheap running shoes that cause pressure points or cause cramping. 

Fortunately, our team has spent many months researching and testing the right gear to find the best possible options. 

Cycling Gear

This is where things will get expensive, but you have to make the right investments. First of all, you’ll need to look into our research for triathlon bikes, where we tested dozens of different bikes in many price ranges. 

And you’ll also need to have triathlon cycling shoes. These clip into the pedals on the bike and will make a huge difference in your technique and performance. Don’t be tempted to just use your running shoes. 

Choose The Right Training Plan

Now that you understand what you need to do for your diet and what kind of training equipment you need, it’s time to come up with a training plan. Our team has a lot of experience in supporting athletes, and we have a tried and tested 12-week training plan

The trick is finding the right balance between each of the three disciplines while also being honest and identifying which area you struggle with the most. For a lot of people that will be swimming. And rather than focus on getting faster, get a few swimming lessons to learn proper technique and breathing. 

Our training plan goes into great detail on how to structure each week so that you’re ready for your first competitive event in three months. 

Start Getting Your Gear Today

If you want to start training for a triathlon, then you need to get all the gear before your first training week. The way you have to structure the training plan involves swimming, cycling, and running every week in a consistent way. 

And you want to use the same gear you’ll have for the competitive triathlon event right from the start.