Incorporate Strength Training Into Your Regimen

Begin by doing just one set of 12 repetitions (1 x 12) of each exercise, using 55 to 65 percent of your one-repetition maximum resistance (RM). Concentrate on maintaining good form and on taking a full two seconds on the concentric movement (lifting the weight) and four seconds on the eccentric movement (lowering the weight). Rest 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Build toward doing 3 x 12 and increase resistance for each exercise as necessary. Do three sessions per week.

Sample Workout:

  • Lat pulldown
  • Leg extension
  • Flat dumbbell bench press
  • Leg curl
  • Dumbbell pullover
  • Incline dumbell press
  • Biceps curl
  • Triceps pushdown
  • Prone raise
  • Abdominals (curl-up, reverse & oblique curl, crunch)
  • Roman chair

In week three, add:

  • Squat
  • Upright row
  • Side/lateral shoulder raise
  • Calf/toe raise

Phase II: Strength/Endurance Phase (4 to 5 weeks)
As you ramp up the aerobic mileage, your strength training goes with it. "What you're trying to do in the second phase is go after the slow-twitch, endurance muscles fibers," says Buchta. "The athlete tries to deal with higher blood lactate levels."

Speed of execution remains the same in Phase II as in the previous phase, but each set should increase to 15 repetitions and there's no rest between sets. At first do 2 x 15, then graduate to 3 x 15. Alternate between upper-body and lower-body exercises as in the sample workout below. You'll probably have to decrease weights from the previous phase at first. Continue to do three sessions per week.

Sample Workout

  • Lat pulldown
  • Leg extension
  • Barbell bench press
  • Leg curl
  • Squat
  • Dumbbell pullover
  • Incline dumbbell press
  • Upright row
  • Rotated biceps curl
  • Triceps pushdown
  • Prone raise
  • Side lateral shoulder raise
  • Calf/toe raise
  • Abdominals
  • Roman chair 

Phase III: Power/Endurance (4 to 5 weeks)
"There is a distinction between strength and power," Buchta explains. "Strength applied quickly is the definition of power."

Here, in Phase III, you begin to turn strength into power. This phase falls about two to three months out from your first race of the season, and involves the most intense and time-consuming strength training you will do all year. Buchta advises that you not combine hard event-training sessions and these heavy gym workouts on the same day.

Unlike the previous phase, the three weekly strength workouts of Phase III are different from one another. The first workout of the week is a swim-specific routine in which half the exercises are done for power and the other half for endurance. The power sets involve three sets of 8, 6, and 4 repetitions, performed with 85 to 90 percent of your 1-RM and performed to failure. Allow four seconds for the concentric movement and another four seconds for the eccentric movement. Cut these numbers in half for endurance sets, which consist of 15 reps each with no rest.

The second workout is a bike-specific routine involving the same structure. The third workout combines the exercises of the previous two routines in an all-endurance format.

Sample Workout (Swim)

  • Front lat pulldown
  • Dumbell pullover (power)
  • Triceps pushdown w/ strap or rope (power)
  • Upright row 

Sample Workout (Bike)

  • Squat
  • Leg extension
  • Leg curl (power)
  • Barbell bench press (power)
  • Biceps curl 

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