4. Look for a System.
Your strength program should have a similar system each day you workout. There should be a recipe that you follow each day.
More: 6 Strength Training Exercises for the Offseason
If you're doing something completely different every workout you will increase your chances of injury and progress will be stagnated. You shouldn't just randomly run through a workout without detailed attention to progressions, appropriate sets and repetitions based on your triathlon-training schedule and proper functional training.
Soft tissue work with foam roll
Activation/mobility (glutes and shoulder stabilizers/t-spine and ankles)
(Series of drills to prepare the body for the work ahead)
(Olympic lifts or Jump training; 2-leg and 1-leg drills can be used and medicine ball throws for upper body explosiveness)
1a) Knee dominant
1b) Loaded carry movement
1c) Upper body pull
2a) Hip dominant
2b) Core stability
2c) Upper body push
This system is consistent every workout for the endurance athletes that we train.
5. Stretching for Everyone?
Flexibility training improves muscle length by going through specific range of motion movements and allowing the muscle to increase elasticity. It also increases the circulation and supply of oxygen and nutrients the muscles need to work effectively.
If flexibility is limited, our movement and range of motion will be inhibited, thus making us more susceptible to injury. Increasing flexibility through stretching is one of the basic principles of physical fitness.
More: Top 6 Stretches for Endurance Athletes
Does everyone need to stretch? In my opinion, the answer is no. Hyperflexibility is an issue. Individuals who participate in dance, martial arts, cheerleading and gymnastics can generally have extreme flexibility.
When muscles are overly stretched, the affected joint will lose the ability to control movement during activity. This will cause abuse to the joint, which can cause debilitating injury (shoulder and hip labrum tears, rotator cuff trauma, ankle sprains, etc). We need adequate range of motion, not extreme.
These overly flexible individuals need to focus on building stability and strength to support their joints. Now if flexibility is an issue then yes, you need to stretch throughout the week. Your range of motion limits your movement; thus causing a lack of performance.
This is a key indicator of a smart strength training program. If you're having trouble walking the morning after a strength workout, you did too much.
It's not that you shouldn't be sore, but having minor muscle soreness and having trouble sitting and standing are two totally different effects from training.
As triathletes, we are not looking for extreme soreness after strength work. In fact, you should feel really good after a strength session because you have worked on the above principles.
You didn't just go to the gym and bang out endless repetitions of squats and lunges. There was a balanced attack of full body, multi-joint movements implemented to improve your athleticism.
More: 6 Exercises for a Balanced Body
Triathletes should be strength training. Triathletes shouldn't be extreme in the gym. The No. 1 goal of a strength program for triathletes should be injury prevention. If you're getting hurt inside the gym, you should reconsider what you are doing.
If you're constantly getting hurt outside the gym, you should reconsider what you are doing. There is a smart way to implement strength training into your program. Abide by the above principles and you will set yourself up for a successful triathlon season.
More: 12 Best Strength Exercises
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