Mark Allen's 12 Best Strength Exercises

Optional Additions

There are countless other exercises that you can use to develop overall body strength. If you have any specific needs or areas that require extra attention, feel free to add in up to three more exercises to help create balance among the three sports.

A short list of additional strength-training exercises includes:

  • Incline press
  • Reverse flye
  • Back extension
  • Any core strength and balance moves

If you have a question on how to do any of these exercises correctly, consult a personal trainer. Proper execution of each lifting move is significantly more important than the weight that you use. Not only does improper form reduce the effectiveness of each exercise, but it can also put you at risk of injury.

More: Stability Ball Exercises to Build Strength And Flexibility

The Four Phases of Strength Training

The strength program cycles through four distinct phases. Each one is designed to work different aspects of your overall strength and will ideally match up to the different phases of your aerobic training throughout the season (pre-training, base, speed and taper).

Phase One: Adaptation (1 x 12-15 repetitions) — During this phase, the goal is to adapt your body to lifting. Each exercise is to be done as follows: one set of 12 to 15 repetitions. The correct weight choice for each exercise will allow you to feel like you could complete an additional one to three repetitions with good form. The weight is too heavy if you feel a strong burn in the muscles at the end of the set.

The adaptation phase can last two to four weeks. Go to the Endurance Phase once you can complete the Adaptation workout without feeling sore the next day.

More: Periodization of Strength Training

Phase Two: Endurance (2 x 12-15 repetitions) — During this phase, increase the number of sets to two, with each set still consisting of 12 to 15 repetitions. Again, the correct weight is one that allows you to complete the two sets knowing you could have done one to three more repetitions with good form and without any major burning in the muscles. Each set should be challenging without requiring maximum effort.

This phase can last four to 12 weeks. How long you extend this phase depends upon when your first big race is on the calendar. Count back nine weeks from your next A-priority race. This will mark the end date of the Endurance Phase and the beginning of the Power Phase.

Phase Three: Power (three sets: 1 x 10, 1 x 8, 1 x 6) — Feel the burn! This phase is where the largest improvements in strength occur. It is also where the sluggishness that weights can cause will carry over most into swimming, cycling and running. So don't expect to feel like Carl Lewis at the same time you're lifting like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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