Now that the season is over, it's important for every triathlete to identify weaknesses in order to improve in the year ahead.
Patrick Hagerman, author of Strength Training for Triathletes, suggests asking yourself these important questions before you get started:
- What was your weak point during the season?
- Were your legs getting tired early in the race?
- Were your arms exhausted after the bike?
Whatever your weak points are, the offseason is the time to address these issues to become a stronger, faster triathlete. Once you've analyzed how your body responded to the past year's training and racing, offseason strength workouts should be incorporated to address deficits and build your fitness base.
Use this as a guide to build a strength-training plan that's right for you.
Address Muscle Imbalances
Jen Rulon, a triathlon and strength coach in San Antonio, says most triathletes have muscle imbalances that can affect finishing times and the possibility of injury.
"Triathletes generally are stronger on the anterior side of their body such as the quadriceps and shoulders etc.," Rulon says. "It's important to get in the gym and balance out their body by working on the posterior chain."
While offseason strength-training programs should be tailored to individual strengths and weaknesses, three physiological aspects that every triathlete should focus on are strength, power and muscular endurance. By initiating workouts that address these three specific categories, you'll not only boost triathlon performance, you'll reduce your chances of injury.
Absolute strength is all about how much you can push, pull, or lift. While it may not seem relevant to triathlon, Rulon points out that "scientific studies show that lifting heavier weight increases running efficiency."
Exercises such as leg press, chest press, dumbbell curls and hamstring curls should be included in your offseason routine. By focusing on the push, pull, and lift workouts in your regimen, you'll stress the body in ways sport-specific activities can't—and you'll be stronger for it.
"The whole idea of strength training is to introduce an overload that your body isn't used to," Hagerman says.
Incorporate these absolute strength exercises twice per week during the offseason to achieve optimal results.