Upper body strength is important for all three disciplines of a triathlon. The lats, biceps and pectoral muscles are used to create power in your swim stroke, and the back and shoulders are used to generate arm swing during the run and to stabilize the bike on climbs. Weakness in any of these muscle groups will affect your performance.
Instead of making the mistake of concentrating on lower body strength, use the following sample exercises and workouts to incorporate upper body exercises into your training routine.
* Note: When strength training, use the same principles that you would use for your long runs or rides. Add weight and sets gradually and complete the exercises no more than two times per week.
Strength Training Tips to Remember1 of 14
1. Keep exercise selection small.
2. Add small increments of weight each week.
3. Add more rest in between sets as you begin to lift more weight.
4. Make sure you use proper form at all times.
Shoulder Press2 of 14
Raise a pair of dumbbells to shoulder height.
Shoulder Press Continued3 of 14
Tighten your core and press the dumbbells over your head, locking out your elbows. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat. Complete 3 to 5 sets of five repetitions.
Inverted Rows4 of 14
This exercise will combat the tendency for cyclists and swimmers to develop rounded shoulders.
Using the squat rack, lie down with your back flat on the ground.
Inverted Rows Continued5 of 14
Position the bar so that your arms are fully extended. Try to keep your body and feet as still as possible. Pull your chest up to the bar and return to the starting position. Complete 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 12 repetitions.
Dumbell Bench6 of 14
Lie on your back with the dumbbells at chest level. Make sure you pull your shoulder blades back and down. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
Dumbell Bench Continued7 of 14
Tighten your torso and lift the dumbbells straight up. Lock out your elbows and lower back to the starting position. Complete 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions.
Dumbbell Back Rows8 of 14
Start with your right hand and knee on the workout bench.
Dumbbell Back Rows Continued9 of 14
With the left arm, raise dumbbell in a rowing motion until your elbow is just past the level of your torso. Pause and return to the starting position. Complete 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions.
Back Extension10 of 14
This exercise can be done on the floor, with a stability ball or on a roman chair.
Back Extension Continued11 of 14
To complete the exercise, put your arms behind your head and lift your chest up and away from the floor. The entire range of motion should be completed slowly. Focus on squeezing the muscles of your lower back. Complete 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Sample Upper Body Routine: Day 112 of 14
Volume Day: Begin with 10 to 15 minutes of light jogging and dynamic stretching. The stretching should include upper body movements to help prepare the body for the workout.
1. Shoulder press: 5 sets of 5 repetitions with 1 to 3 minutes of rest between sets.
2. Inverted rows: 5 sets of 8 repetitions with a superset of dumbbell bench press. Complete 5 sets of 5 repetitions with 1:30 to 3 minutes of rest between sets.
3. Back extensions: 5 sets of 10 repetitions with 30 seconds to 1-minute rest between sets.
4. Finish with a core circuit of 6 to 10 minutes with minimum rest.
Sample Upper Body Routine: Day 213 of 14
Begin with a 10- to 15-minute warm-up of light jogging and dynamic stretching. The stretching should include upper body movements to help prepare the body for the workout.
1. Shoulder press: 1 to 2 sets of 5 repetitions. The load should be heavier than the first day. If you complete a second set, rest for 2 to 3 minutes between the set.
2. Dumbbell bench press: 3 to 4 sets of 5 repetitions.
3. Follow with a super set of dumbbell back rows, 3 to 4 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions.
4. Finish with 5 to 8 minutes of core exercises.