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Strength Training for Triathletes. For Real.

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

That's a thing? Indeed it is.

Back in 2005 I did a few triathlons. I wasn't overly competitive, nor did I have great endurance. Fast forward to June of 2017 and my first triathlon in 12 years. I came in 5th out of 24 ladies in my AG and even more importantly my level of endurance was infinitely better then when I was younger. What's changed? Strength training.

With the amount of time already invested in the swimming, biking, and running, is it really necessary to add in strength training too? Yes. Strength training has had an amazing impact on my fitness and endurance in all three sports. My running has improved from 10+ min/mile to 8+ min/mile. Cycling, which is one of my strengths has also improved and I can now pull between an 18-19+ mph on the road. And in swimming, I'm averaging a 1:35/100 yards.

And then there are the health benefits of strength training, especially for women:

• Lose body fat

• Improve bone density

• Reduce your risk of:

- injury - heart disease

- diabetes

- osteoporosis

During the off season I do strength (and core) work 4 times/week. As I amp up my training in the spring for race season, I do less strength work as my training in the three disciplines will increase. Do you have to do strength work 4 times/week? Nope. You should do what works for your schedule and training needs. To reap the benefits of strength work, I do believe it should be incorporated at least 2 or more times/week. Most of my sessions are 40-60 mins. in duration.

Below are 10 strength training exercises and moves that I find beneficial for triathlon. You can find more strength training moves and information here on my blog. Note: It's important to not perform the exact same exercises and moves week after week as eventually your body will adapt and further development will be limited. I continually rotate exercises from week to week — and always include new moves every week to challenge myself. Check out my new moves of the week on the home page of the blog. When strength training, it's critical to have proper form (to avoid injury and get the most out of exercise) and when incorporating weights start off light to find the correct weight for you. I have a variety of dumbbells, kettle bells, and resistance bands as different exercises require different resistance and weights. I generally do 2-3 sets of 8-12 or 12-15 repetitions depending on the exercise and where I am in my training cycle.

Squats. Engages the glutes and quads; helps with power for cycling and strength needed for hilly running. To make the move more challenging, incorporate weights.

Dead Lift. Targets the hamstrings, glutes and erectors. Help to improve form, economy, and power. To advance this move, perform the dead lift on one leg.

Lunges. Engages the glutes and adductors and targets muscles used in the push phase of running. To make this more challenging, add in weights.

• Calf Raises. Works the calves and helps with pushing off for running. To challenge yourself, use


Bench Press. Uses the chest muscles and helps with pull phase of freestyle. To challenge yourself, use a stability ball instead of a weight bench.

Lateral Dumbbell Raise. Strengthens and engages shoulders muscles and helps to prevent injury.

Dumbbell Pullover. Uses multiple muscles and helps with catch phase of freestyle.

Bicep Curls. Works the front of arms and assists with pull phase of freestyle, as well as assisting with climbing on the bike. To challenge yourself, try bicep curls while balancing on one leg.

Tricep Extensions. Engages back of arms and helps with back half of freestyle stroke. To make this more challenging, try doing the kickbacks in a warrior pose.

Push-up. Strengthens chest, shoulders, tris, abs, and core, all involved in freestyle. For a simpler version, perform the push-up on your knees before advancing to performing on your toes. To challenge yourself further, raise a leg while performing the push-up.

Just about all of the research available claims that it's never too late to start incorporating strength work into your training, which I firmly believe. I was 49 when I started and 51 now. Strength is beautiful — and helps to keep us healthy.

Check out my Youtube channel for workouts, moves of the week and more!

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