While the sport of triathlon revolves around an individual's endurance and stamina, neglecting strength training can be the difference in a PR and a DNF.
From a personal training perspective, working with triathletes on strength training can be tough. There are many days these clients have low levels of energy to put toward their strength plan, or they are in the middle of intense endurance training that leaves them with little time to devote to anything else.
There is no blanket approach to strength training because there are so many variables: age, recovery time, upcoming races, experience, time and family/work commitments. Triathletes should aim for one to two strength-training sessions per week, keeping these sessions less than 45 minutes.
By only completing two sessions per week, this allows the body to recover for the next training session, whether it focuses on endurance or strength. During strength sessions, targeting the larger muscle groups (glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest and back) will provide the biggest bang for your buck.
Because triathletes often have demanding training schedules, there are some days your body may not have much to give. Don't be afraid to take the day off or lighten up the intensity of the strength training session.
Here are some best exercises triathletes should practice:
Renegade Rows1 of 7
1. Hold a 15- to 20-pound dumbbell in each hand.
2. Get into a pushup position with hands still wrapped around the dumbbells.
3. Keeping your body rigid, bend your right arm and pull the dumbbell straight up beside your ribs.
4. Bring the dumbbell back down to the floor in a controlled movement.
5. Keeping your pelvis still, switch to the left side, pulling the dumbbell up beside your ribs on your left side.
Complete 3 to 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
Russian Twist2 of 7
1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
2. Hold a 10- to 15-pound medicine ball or dumbbell in front of your lower chest.
3. Keep your torso straight and twist the medicine ball from side-to-side.
Complete 3 to 4 sets of 10-20 seconds.
Bent-Over Rows3 of 7
1. Hold a 20- to 50-pound barbell with your palms facing down.
2. Bend over slightly, keeping elbows straight and chest up.
3. Pull the barbell straight up toward your chest, keeping your elbows tight to your body. The barbell should be nearly touching the side of your chest.
4. Slowly lower the barbell into the starting position.
Complete 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps.
Shoulder Press4 of 7
1. Grab a set of 10- to 20-pound dumbbells or a 20- to 40-pound barbell.
2. Hold the weight(s) in starting position near your chin, palms facing upward.
3. Pull your shoulders back, tighten your glutes and pull in your abs.
4. Press the weight(s) upward in a vertical line and lock your elbows.
Complete 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps.
Single-Leg Deadlift5 of 7
1. Hold a pair of 10- to 20-pound dumbbells or a kettlebell in front of your body with your arms straight down.
2. Pull your shoulderblades back and down to keep your back in the correct position.
3. Lower the weight toward the floor by bending at your hips, while your arms remain straight.
4. One of your back legs should raise up behind you when you bend over. Keep your knee on your planted foot slightly bent and lower the weight(s) toward the floor. If your back or shoulders start to round, you have gone too far.
5. Switch sides to raise the opposite leg off the floor.
Complete 3 to 5 sets of 4 to 6 reps on each leg.
Bulgarian Split Squats6 of 7
1. Hold a pair of 10- to 30-pound dumbbells at your sides and place one foot behind you on a bench or weight plates. Your legs should be in a lunge position.
2. Squat down by flexing the knee of your front leg, ensuring that your front knee does not collapse inward.
3. Return to the starting position by extending your knee and hip, pressing up to the starting position.
4. Switch sides to move the opposite leg in front.
Complete 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps on each leg.