Trainer Topics: Strength Training for Triathletes

Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work with many different level triathletes. From age groupers to Olympians, the approach I take to strength training is always the same.
Speed and strength are key!

The common mistake that most endurance athletes make is they attempt to replicate what they do in triathlons in the gym; they focus on too much volume (high rep) and way too little intensity (too low resistance).
Due to the endurance or high volume nature of the sport, the bulk of your work should be your sport specific training (swim, bike, run). Unfortunately, most of you can probably admit that strength training takes a back seat and is usually the first workout missed or cut out of your program.

I’m an endurance athlete…why do I need to lift weights?

Simply put…weights will help you get stronger, get faster, work on imbalances, prevent injuries and minimize the effects of long duration’s in an aerobic state. Some of the adverse effects of high volume work in a slow state, is it inevitably breaks down muscle tissue and puts your body into a state of conservation (i.e. fat retention not fat burning). This slower pace also teaches your nervous system a slower pattern of firing. Speed and power come from your nervous system…not necessarily the size of your muscles, so keeping your nervous system firing fast is optimal for performance; after all its a race right?!?

Do not misinterpret these statements; to succeed in your races, you need to put in the road work, but you also require the physiological benefits of strength training I want to dispel the biggest misconception about strength training:
Lifting heavy will NOT bulk you up!
I work with many fighters, and keeping them strong while maintaining a weight class is crucial. Triathletes, even though they are not confined to a weight class, should also keep weight relatively low since the lighter you are, the less stress you put on your joints. The key is maintaining high power to weight ratio. Think about your FTP on the bike, if you can exert more power at the same weight, you’re going to be faster. Lifting heavy weights activates your nervous system. This teaches your body to use more motor units (the nerve cell and all the muscles that cell integrates), and teaches your muscles to fire; not volumize as is the case with a hypertrophy program.

Contact us today if you are looking to change up your training or if you are interested in starting a strength style program.. We are here to help!


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