Do Triathletes Need to Strength Train?

Recommendations

I suggest anyone over 30 years old invest some time in a strength training program. The older you are, the more you need the gym. Here are a few more recommendations:

  • When you're just beginning a weight-training program, ask for help from a knowledgeable trainer. Good form is critical.
  • Maintain good postural alignment whenever possible. This means when standing in a normal, relaxed position, the head is supported by the neck, which has a normal curvature. The neck, which is part of the spine, also has a curvature that's normal for you. For example, when doing squats, the head and neck should be in a position that allows the curvature of your neck to be in a normal position. The head is not craned towards the ceiling, nor is your chin glued to your chest.
  • Maintain control of the weight on the concentric and the eccentric actions. This means using muscles, not momentum, to lift the weight. Lower the weight using your muscles to control the speed. Don't allow gravity to do the work for you.
  • Strength exercises should focus on the major-muscle groups that do the majority of work in swimming, cycling and running.
  • When appropriate, mimic the positions and movements of swimming, cycling or running as closely as possible.
  • Make multi-joint exercises the priority and do single-joint exercises as time allows. For example, squats use three joints—the hip, knee and ankle. Knee extensions use only the knee joint.
  • Always include abdominal and back exercises to strengthen your torso.
  • Separate strength-training sessions by at least 48 hours.
  • As you move from the preparatory phase of the season to the competitive phase, strength training can be reduced from two or three days per week down to one day per week. Studies have shown that a good amount of strength can be maintained with one strength session per week.

More: Strength Training for Triathletes

Fit Strength Training Into an Endurance Plan

When you're working on a plan for the upcoming season, remember that strength training needs to be peroidized in order to work in conjunction with your endurance training. The bulk of strength training gains should be made in general and specific preparation phases of training. As you move into pre-competitive and competitive phases, strength training is only needed once per week.

Examples of how to blend a strength-training program into an endurance plan over the course of 27 to 52 weeks can be found in the book, Training Plans for Multisport Athletes published by VeloPress.

More: Mark Allen's 12 Best Strength Exercises

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