Strength training is the triathlon's fourth component, and a consistent regimen will help you become more efficient in all three disciplines. Strength training will help by lowering your risk of injury, helping the body be in better balance and building self-confidence. If you're new to triathlon, there is a chance you're new to the weight room. There's a lot of misinformation on strength training, so let's clear some things up for you:
1. Stay away from the machines, they are not nearly as effective as free weights. 2. Compound exercises are the best at building strength (i.e. squats, presses and deadlifts). Compound exercises use multiple joints and engage the most muscle mass. 3. Beginners should keep the exercise selection to 4-5 exercises. 4. Try to get to the gym two times a week, and you don't need to be in the gym longer than 45 minutes (that includes warm up and cool down). 5. You need to progress: Slowly try to increase the weight on each exercise by 2.5 to 5 pounds every week or two. 6. Learn the proper technique for each exercise.
Here are some exercises to get you started.
Spiderman Plank10-20 seconds, 3-4 sets 1 of 7
Start by getting into the forearm plank position and make sure you feel stable and that your abs are held tight before you start moving. Drive your right knee toward your right elbow, pause, and return to the starting position. Switch to your left knee and repeat.
Russian Twist10-20 seconds, 3-4 sets 2 of 7
Grab a medicine ball or a dumbbell and sit on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Hold the ball out in front of you and then twist the ball from side to side.
Back Rows4-6 reps, 3-4 sets 3 of 7
Grab a pair of dumbbells and put them on the floor beside a bench. Put your left hand and knee on the bench with your right foot on the floor. Your torso should now be parallel to the floor. Pick up the dumbbell with your right hand and row the weight by pulling your right elbow toward the ceiling. Return the weight back toward the floor and repeat.
Shoulder Press4-6 reps, 3-4 sets 4 of 7
Grab a pair of dumbbells and bring them up to your shoulders. Before you press the bells, brace your torso and squeeze your legs. Press the bell straight up until you lockout your elbows. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Dumbbell Deadlifts4-5 reps, 3-4 sets 5 of 7
Grab a pair of dumbbells, hold them with your arms straight out in front of your legs. Set your feet hip-width apart and slightly bend your knees. Tighten your core and bend over at your hips, trying to get your torso almost parallel to the floor. Return to the standing position and repeat.
Dumbbell Squats4-6 reps, 3-4 sets 6 of 7
Grab a pair of dumbbells and put them on your shoulders. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed slightly out. Squat down with your hip crease going below your knee (get low) and make sure you keep your knees pushed out (do not let your knees cave in). Return to the standing position and repeat.