A Realistic Plan for Offseason Gains

No matter where you live, how you train, or how fast you race, inevitably you will find yourself in the offseason.

Some offseasons come too soon, others too late; some are lamentably short, others painfully long; some give the opportunity to heal, others to reflect, still others to train. For those of us in the 1st world portion of the Northern hemisphere the offseason coincides with shitty weather that makes training outdoors dangerous, unpleasant, often impractical and sometimes impossible. The same can be said for our friends in the Southern hemisphere where outdoor training in the summer months promises casualty rates roughly equal to the Bataan Death March.

Despite all our differences, every year we all find ourselves overcome with the feeling that we must use the offseason to somehow make ourselves better. Actually accomplishing this is one of the most difficult tasks in endurance sports. 

And it’s not for lack of trying. My facebook and twitter feeds are chock full of blogs, articles, and listicles from magazines, websites, coaches, and pros, each with its own take on offseason training. I’ve reviewed all these resources, compiled and analyzed them, checked with experts in the field, and condensed my findings to create the realistic plan for offseason gains presented below. The plan consists of  8 simple exercises that can be done as a circuit or on their own, as time and circumstances allow.

I have enlisted the help of Always Curious who is, hands down, the best creator of satiric triathlon images and graphics. There is no competition (literally). The characters in the graphics below are borrowed from The Age Group Home, created by Always Curious and Dark Mark and appearing on TRS Triathlon every Tuesday and Thursday.

***NOTE: Please be sure to check with a medical professional before beginning any new exercise regimen.


Treadmill Deck Lift

Description This simple exercise is low impact and it saves space!
1.  Stand facing the end of the treadmill with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2.  Bend at the waist.
  3.  Grip the underside of the treadmill deck.
  4.  Lift.
Treadmill with a deck that raises.
Target muscles Back, hamstrings, quads.
Workout Do one rep at the beginning of the offseason.
Pro tip If you’re not “feeling it,” just leave the deck down. It doesn’t save that much space anyway.

Fridge Door Pull

Description Nutrition is the fourth discipline of triathlon, but the first discipline of offseason training!
Steps 1.  Stand facing the fridge with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2.  Place hand on fridge door handle.
  3.  Pull.
Materials A refrigerator with a door handle.
Target muscles Oblique, triceps
Workout Do one rep anytime you feel like eating or drinking something that is in the fridge.
Pro tip By placing high demand items such as beer, cheese, salsa, red wine, and mix into fridge drawers, you can double the impact of this exercise.


Description Any good offseason training plan will involve a lot of sitting, so make sure you’re doing it right!
Steps 1.  Stand facing away from a chair your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2.  Bend at the waist.
  3.  Slowly lower your ass onto the seat.
Materials A chair, toilet, couch, sofa, chesterfield, or anything else that can serve as a place to sit.
Target muscles Quads and hamstrings.
Workout Do one rep everytime you don’t want to be standing.
Pro tip As you fatten up over the winter this will become a more intense workout.

Full Recliner Extension

Description My personal favorite, this simple exercise puts you in the perfect position for watching TV, napping, or both!
Steps 1.  Follow the steps for “Sit”, ensuring that the seat is a recliner.
  2.  Pull the recliner handle.
  3.  Recline fully.
Materials A recliner.  
Target muscles Lower back, core.
Workout Repeat every 15-60 minutes, as commercial breaks allow and bathroom breaks require.
Pro tip For a low-impact version, buy a couch that has an electric recliner.

Lateral Lift

Steps 1.  Follow the steps for “Full Recliner Extension” or “Sit”.
  2.  Place a drink on the floor to either side of you.
  3.  Reach over and grip the drink.
  4.  Lift.
Materials A seat and a drink.
Target muscles Core, shoulders, obliques.
Workout One rep per drink.
Pro tip Begin with a single can, bottle, or glass and work your way up to a full case of beer or box of wine.

18-inch reducer curls

Description  Whether your doing an Ironman or watching all three Ironman films, it’s important to keep hydrated!
Steps 1.  Stand or sit with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2.  Lift a bottle, can, mug, or glass to your mouth (approx. 18 inches).
  3.  Drink.
  4.  Lower the bottle, can, mug, or glass.
Materials A can, bottle, or glass of  beer, a glass of wine, or other beverage.
Target muscles Biceps.
Workout  Do reps until your drink is empty.
Pro tip This impact can be adapted to endurance training by “sipping” your drink, and thereby increasing your reps; or, you can limit yourself to one rep per drink to train your gut for a beer mile or wedding dance.

Platter Balance

Description This exercise allows you to nail your nutrition plan while relaxing and working on your mental toughness!
Steps 1.  Get a platter.
  2.  Fill it with your choice of snack(s).
  3.  Follow the steps for “Sit”, ensuring that the seat is a recliner.
  4.  Balance the platter on your stomach.
  5. Recline
Materials Platter, snack(s), and a recliner
Target muscles Core, brain (mental toughness)
Workout  Do one rep per platter.
Pro tip Up the ante by loading your platter with foods that will ruin your couch, carpet, or clothes if the platter tips.


Description This is the most difficult exercise in the program, but standing is a necessary evil for the thirsty, the hungry, and those of us too proud to pee or poo our pants!
Steps 1.  Be sitting (remembering to follow the steps for “Full Recliner Extension” or “Sit”).
  2.  Firmly plant your feet, shoulder width apart.
  3.  Stand.
Materials Whatever you are sitting on.
Target muscles Quads.
Workout  Do one rep whenever sitting is impossible.
Pro tip As you fatten up over the winter this will become a more intense workout. You can decrease your reps by wearing an adult diaper or sitting on the toilet all day.


And there you have it, my realistic plan for offseason gains. I guarantee that if you build your offseason training around these 8 simple exercises you will see tangible gains in as little as a few weeks!

Now I know a few cynics are going to ask: “What the hell do you “realistically” expect me to “gain” from this bullshit “plan”?”

About 10 pounds.



photo credit: profivideo via pixabay (Public Domain)

About the Author

James Lange
James Lange is an age group triathlete living in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. He aspires to be one of the top 500 amateur triathlon journalists in Western Canada. You can reach James at james@TRStriathlon.com. Follow @james_lange !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');