If you reflect on your year of triathlon training and competition, you will probably agree that you put in a ton of volume and intensity. Your body is thanking you for taking a few months off before you break it down again. This brings up a great opportunity to understand the importance of how to handle your offseason.
Of course, you will continue to swim, bike and run, only with a lighter intensity and possibly with less volume. One major component triathletes forget about during the offseason, however, is strength training.
Strength training is the key to your performance next year. This doesn't mean hitting the weight room and hammering out bench presses. Your strength sessions should be focused on preparing your body for next year's volume, preventing injuries, and increasing your performance from the previous year.
Prepare for Next Year
Triathlon is taxing on the body, and if you don't take the proper steps to prepare your body for the next season of triathlons, you will be disappointed in the outcome.
Think of your body as a machine, a highly sophisticated machine. This machine requires specific preparation in order to perform at its optimal level. Strength training is an extremely important element in keeping your machine's components healthy and strong.
The components of your machine include your bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints—all of which need to work together to create a well-oiled machine. Without strength training, you will be less efficient and more prone to injury. Prepare your body to manage pain and to give yourself the best possible chance for a healthy and fun triathlon season.
As you know, triathlon is a sport that demands a great deal of volume. Most injuries develop from the continuous stress placed on the joints. Running and biking require the same joint actions over and over again. This can create an imbalance between certain muscle groups, which then leads to dysfunction in the joint. Strength training will help develop underactive or weak muscle groups, which can help develop optimal joint movements throughout the body.
You see it everyday when you are training. The runner who is hunched over and whose knees dive in at each foot strike. Or, the guy on the bike whose knees dart out every pedal stroke. These examples are common muscle imbalances that can be corrected through a proper strength training and flexibility program. The more you can limit or prevent muscle imbalances, the greater chance you have of being healthy year round.
A proper strength training program will help increase lean muscle tissue and decrease body fat.
Added lean muscle tissue provides foundation, power, increased neuromuscular efficiency, increased metabolic efficiency and a decreased risk for injury. While decreasing your body fat has shown to increase your VO2Max. This allows you to process oxygen faster and provide the working muscles more of it.
Triathlon is an addictive sport. An addiction that will break you if you don't train properly. Use this offseason to reflect on your previous year, analyze your races, and figure out where you could have improved.
Ask yourself this: "Did my performance program put me in the best position possible?" Challenge yourself to add strength training to your offseason performance program and reap the benefits at your future races. Enjoy the offseason!
Sign up for a strength training class.
Nick Clark is a regional educator for Newton Running and a performance coach for Clark Endurance Training. For more information on his coaching services, go to www.clarkendurance.com.