As we head into the holidays and the end of the racing season this is very common question. It is also somewhat misleading, as not every athlete gains weight, or needs to gain weight. It is a question of lifestyle preferences and sport goals. I’m a firm believer that every athlete is unique and each season plan has to be suited to their situation. This is a question from a relatively new athlete heading into his second year of racing triathlons. He is in his mid 40’s and currently weighs 155lbs with 17% body fat.  He has targeted Olympic distance races with a short term goal of finishing top 10 in his age group at local races and a mid-term goal of qualifying for the National Championships.   This particular athlete is also a married father of two children. He works 50-60 hours a week and is under a lot of stress. With so many factors involved in ideal athlete weight there is no magic equation that is going to work for all athletes and this is what we have worked out for him.

Break down his situation:

  1. What is the goal for the next season
  2. What is the current baseline weight and body composition
  3. What is the current “lifestyle” of the athlete
  4. Plan of attack


  1. Top 10 in AG in local races (specific and competitive goals)
  2. 155lbs/17%
  3. Very busy, highly stressed and eats a lot of processed sugar
  4. Our goal is to not have any weight gain. We are looking to reduce his body fat by 4% (6lbs) and replace that fat loss with muscle to support next season’s training.


  1. Build strength training into schedule.
  2. Review snacks and nutrition for a busy athlete: choosing healthy, nutritious option such as fruits instead of processed sugar, and nutrient dense foods to support muscle mass. Portion awareness at holidays meals.
  3. Focus on quality sleep to provide a cushion for stress.

My athlete knew this was going to be challenge going into the holidays. We sat down together and built a realistic game plan. I stressed that the strategy must fit into his life and could not be too all or nothing or he would quickly fall off the wagon and go back to his old habits. The off-season should be embraced as a restful and rejuvenating time, and can also be a time to lay a strong foundation for a very successful racing season.  

“There are no excuses, only choices.”

LifeSport coach Chris Thomas is a USAT certified coach who is currently ranked one of the top amateur triathletes in the world. Chris is certified to work with both youth and seniors. Contact Chris to share your goals, race faster, or master the Ironman distance.