Fitness

Top Reasons Why Strength Training For Triathletes Is Key

During the "I Race Like A Girl 2021 Training Camp", we presented a workout routine exclusively focused on "building strength to help triathletes perform strong on race day".

Triathletes use every muscle group. To minimize muscle injury and feel great during the race, it is important to sustainably produce the best muscular force and power.

Due to the overwhelming amount of time that a triathlete needs to spend in the pool, on the bike and running on the road or treadmill, many  triathletes sacrifice strength training in favor of additional swim, bike or run sessions. 

As a consequence, general strength is too often lacking for age group athletes. Combining multi-joint and full-body movements, targeting major muscle groups used for swimming, cycling, and running, is for sure the best way to feel strong during the race season.

WHO: Whether you’re a beginner who wants to add muscle tone or an experienced triathlete wanting to bring your performance level further up, we recommend doing more repetitions using lighter weights. The success on race day for endurance athletes is relative to the time they spent doing strength training.

CHALLENGE: Many athletes can get better at designing and integrating a strength program into triathlon training. It is hard because there are so many other priorities.

We suggest 30 minutes per session. That’s all it takes for successful triathlon strength training!

The formula is simple. We love simplicity. Start slow, with light weights and many reps. As you begin your workout, you concentrate on good form. After you’ve become used to the routine and you aren’t as sore as you were in the first few weeks of your training sessions, you can add more weight.

This first phase allows you to get in the groove of things. We suggest to begin by just doing one set of 12 repetitions of each exercise shown below, rest 30-60 seconds between each sets. And once you are comfortable with these movements, build toward two sets of 12 repetitions.

Sample Workout:

  • Lat pulldown
  • Leg extension
  • Flat dumbbell bench press
  • Leg curl
  • Dumbbell pullover
  • Incline dumbell press
  • Biceps curl
  • Triceps pushdown
  • Prone raise
  • Abdominals (curl-up, reverse & oblique curl, crunch)
  • Roman chair
  • In week three, add:
  • Squat
  • Upright row
  • Side/lateral shoulder raise
  • Calf/toe raise

Thais Glysson Certified Personal Trainer working at Life Time Athletic in Florida demonstrates the proper form for each movement.

Lat pulldown

Leg extension

Flat dumbbell bench press

Leg Curl

Dumbbell pullover

Incline dumbell press

Biceps curl

Triceps pushdown

Prone raise

Abdominals (curl-up, reverse & oblique curl, crunch)

Roman chair

In week 3 add the following exercises:

Squat

Upright row

Side/lateral shoulder raise

Calf/toe raise

In Phase 2, which can last 3 weeks, each set should increase to 15 repetitions, 2 times. And there is no rest between sets.  Then when you feel you can, graduate to 15 repetitions, 3 times. This phase is dedicated to building strength. At that phase, you should do this training 3 times per week.

The suggested workout is:

  • Lat pulldown
  • Leg extension
  • Barbell bench press
  • Leg curl
  • Squat
  • Dumbbell pullover
  • Incline dumbbell press
  • Upright row
  • Rotated biceps curl
  • Triceps pushdown
  • Prone raise
  • Side lateral shoulder raise
  • Calf/toe raise
  • Abdominals
  • Roman chair

Phase 3 lasts 4 to 5 weeks. We combine exercises for power and endurance. We continue to do 30 minutes, 3 times per week. And we do 3 sets of 8, 6 and 4 repetitions.

Sample Workout (Swim)

  • Front lat pulldown
  • Dumbell pullover
  • Triceps pushdown w/ strap or rope
  • Upright row

Sample Workout (Bike)

  • Squat
  • Leg extension
  • Leg curl
  • Barbell bench press
  • Biceps curl

Phase 4, which can last up to 8 weeks, is at peak performance. We reduce the number of workouts to 2 per week. Speed is key during these sessions. We do 2 sets of 12 repetitions, we no rest in between.

Sample Workout

  • Bent-over row
  • Walking lunge
  • Flat dumbbell bench press
  • Pectoral pullover (with EZ curl bar)
  • Supine triceps press
  • Alternating biceps curl
  • Abdominals
  • Roman chair

Phase 5 is dedicated to maintenance- during the competition season. We reduce the workouts to once every 3-4 days. These sessions are quick and non strenuous. We do just 1 set of 12 repetitions for each exercise.

Sample Workout

  • Lat pulldown
  • Stationary lunges
  • Barbell bench press
  • Pectoral pullover (with dumbbell)
  • Triceps kickback
  • Alternating biceps curl
  • Abdominals
  • Roman chair

Muscle strength helps us become better athletes and minimize the risk of injury. It is also extremely important to include an active recovery day during the week to restore and feel energized. During that day we recommend active stretching, walking, a yoga session and rolling. Anything that can help you feel rested and ready to go back at it.

Enjoy your next race and let us know if you enjoy this strength training routine!

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