A Stronger Athlete Is A Better Triathlete: Hit The Gym Now For A Faster Race Seaon

Triathlon training can be time-consuming, especially if your goals are the longer endurance events like half-ironman (70.3) and Ironman distance racing.  Many triathletes seem to train by swimming, biking and running.  While you do have to put in the time in order to get to the finish line, you need to prepare your body for the workload of training and racing. One important aspect of that is strength training in and winter is a great time to head back to the gym if you’ve been away from it for a while. Today, I'm sharing my basic gym session. Here are a few notes on what I do and why:

  1. I usually train on my own so I need movements that I can safely do without a spotter.
  2.  If I find myself with 30 or 40 minutes to spare, I want to get the most out of them.
  3.  I follow a few pro cyclists, triathletes, swimmers and coaches on social media and there are some pretty common weight training exercises that they all do so it's clear that the basics are a pretty good start.
  4. These are all things I do to be a stronger cyclist, runner, swimmer or triathlete.

 

The Basics - The Exercises That Show Up In Most Strength Training Routine for Triathlon & Cycling

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats or leg press
  • Lunges
  • Sled pushes (not necessarily a ‘basic” in traditional gym workouts but they are fun and effective for bike and run power. I love them!!)
  • Bench Press
  • Shoulder press or lateral dumbbell raises
  •  Pull-Ups or Pull Downs
  • Rowing or Tricep press
  • Bicep Curls
  • Planks (no equipment needed)

 

Do The Work

 Once you’ve got the basics outlined, let’s put it together with the following considerations.

  1. Form is critical in order to both prevent injury and to maximize the benefits of strength training.  So, if you are new so strength training or to any one of these moves, make sure you have a qualified person there to guide you through There are lots of free weight and machine variations of all of these so I find there is always something I can do when I train on my own.
  2.  As for how to put it all together, there are tons of training protocols in terms of the number of sets and reps and the amount of weight you should be lifting in order to achieve a goal.  I focus more on work that helps develop strength and stability for swimming, cycling and running.  The basic list above will work, for sure. I suggest 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps of each exercise. That protocol enough to start developing and improving overall strength and power is backed up by countless studies as being effective and efficient.
  3. Sometimes, the gym is busy so I sort out the order of the exercises based on equipment availability. Bodybuilding experts might shudder at that approach but my goals are to develop and maintain sport-specific strength and power, not specific muscular hypertrophy or aesthetics. Being flexible allows me/you to get the work done, to make it fit my time budget.
  4. I just sort out what pieces of equipment are free and make it work, trying to get in about 15 to 20 sets in total, that can be 6 or 7 exercises of 2 or 3 sets each.

 

Sample Workout

 There are lots of ways to put it together and this is just one example. 

Set 1:   Single Leg Deadlifts & Renegade Rows

 For this set, I alternate a set of 10 single leg deadlifts with 8 Renegade Row. I use the same weight dumbbells for each of these exercises but you might find you want different weights for each set. I take a short rest, about 1 minute, after completing one set of each exercise back to back. You can find lots of examples of Renegade Rows on Youtube but basically, you will be doing alternating dumbbell rows from a pushup position. Done right, you will also be working on core stability as you will be holding a plank position to keep your body weight from shifting side to side as you switch arms.

 

Set 2:  Leg Press and Bench Press

1 set of 10 to 15 leg presses on the leg press machine (using a challenging weight) followed immediately by a set of 8 to 12 bench presses or 10 pushups. In the gym I go to, the leg press and bench press machines are right next to each other so this set was a natural fit. I normally to 3 rounds of this set but if you are pressed for time, 2 rounds are good.

 

Set 3:Lunges & Shoulder Press & Lateral Shoulder Raises

I usually do walking lunges of 8 to 10 steps on each leg then go right into a set of 10 overhead shoulder press and 10 lateral shoulder raises. This set is sometimes a set of 3 exercises and uses different weights for each exercise but I can usually get access to everything I need, even when the gym is busy. I usually do 3 rounds of this set.

 

Set 4:Pull-Ups & Dips

If I can get on the assisted Dip-Chin machine, I do 2 or 3 rounds of assisted pull-ups followed by assisted dips. With about a minute in between rounds, I do 2 or 3 sets here. This exercise isn't paired with a lower-body exercise but I often work I the planks below between sets. Set set of pull-ups or dips alternating with 1-minute planks gives me a total of 3 minutes of plank work which is absolutely enough.

 

Finish it up with core work.

For core work, planks are my 'go-to' staple.  I could go on for a while about variations and benefits but that will be the topic of an article coming in early 2020 on the Train/Inspire blog on our website. For now, just know that the strength, stability and control that you can get from doing planks is purposeful in maintaining good positioning on the bike and good body position and control in the swim.  For longer plank segments (more than 1-minute), you can alternate positions:  prone for 15 seconds, right side for 15 seconds, prone for 15 seconds, left side for 15 seconds, for example.

 

As with any exercise routine, obviously safety is important and you should never workout on unfamiliar equipment.  Consult with a qualified expert and get the proper training in order to make your trip to the gym productive and safe. Anything I've outlined here is intended only to provide an example of what I've found works for me and is not in any way intended to be formula or guarantee for any intended result.  Be strong and be safe!

A Stronger Athlete Is A Better Triathlete

 

Triathlon training can be time-consuming, especially if your goals are the longer endurance events like half-ironman (70.3) and Ironman distance racing.  Many triathletes seem to train by swimming, biking and running.  While you do have to put in the time in order to get to the finish line, you need to prepare your body for the workload of training and racing. One important aspect of that is strength training in and winter is a great time to head back to the gym if you’ve been away from it for a while. Today, I'm sharing my basic gym session. Here are a few notes on what I do and why:


  1.  I usually train on my own so I need movements that I can safely do without a spotter.
  2.  If I find myself with 30 or 40 minutes to spare, I want to get the most out of them.
  3.  I follow a few pro cyclists, triathletes, swimmers and coaches on social media and there are some pretty common weight training exercises that they all do so it's clear that the basics are a pretty good start.
  4.  These are all things I do to be a stronger cyclist, runner, swimmer or triathlete.

 

The Basics - The Exercises That Show Up In Most Strength Training Routine for Triathlon & Cycling

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats or leg press
  • Lunges
  • Sled pushes (not necessarily a ‘basic” in traditional gym workouts but they are fun and effective for bike and run power. I love them!!)
  • Bench Press
  • Shoulder press or lateral dumbbell raises
  •  Pull-Ups or Pull Downs
  • Rowing or Tricep press
  • Bicep Curls
  • Planks (no equipment needed)

Yes, it’s pretty basic. It is K.I.S.S. principle approved!

 

Do The Work

 

Once you’ve got the basics outlined, let’s put it together with the following considerations.

  1. Form is critical in order to both prevent injury and to maximize the benefits of strength training.  So, if you are new so strength training or to any one of these moves, make sure you have a qualified person there to guide you through There are lots of free weight and machine variations of all of these so I find there is always something I can do when I train on my own.
  2.  As for how to put it all together, there are tons of training protocols in terms of the number of sets and reps and the amount of weight you should be lifting in order to achieve a goal.  I focus more on work that helps develop strength and stability for swimming, cycling and running.  The basic list above will work, for sure. Going back to the KISS principle from Session 1, I suggest 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps of each exercise. That protocol enough to start developing and improving overall strength and power is backed up by countless studies as being effective and efficient.
  3. Sometimes, the gym is busy so I sort out the order of the exercises based on equipment availability. Bodybuilding experts might shudder at that approach but my goals are to develop and maintain sport-specific strength and power, not specific muscular hypertrophy or aesthetics. Being flexible allows me/you to get the work done, to make it fit (FITT) my time budget.
  4. I just sort out what pieces of equipment are free and make it work, trying to get in about 15 to 20 sets in total, that can be 6 or 7 exercises of 2 or 3 sets each.

 

Today’s Workout – Strength Training for Triathlon

 

Today’s workout session is a strength-training session incorporating a lot of the basics listed above.

 

Set 1:   Single Leg Deadlifts & Renegade Rows

 

For this set, I alternate a set of 10 single leg deadlifts with 8 Renegade Row. I use the same weight dumbbells for each of these exercises but you might find you want different weights for each set. I take a short rest, about 1 minute, after completing one set of each exercise back to back. You can find lots of examples of Renegade Rows on Youtube but basically, you will be doing alternating dumbbell rows from a pushup position. Done right, you will also be working on core stability as you will be holding a plank position to keep your body weight from shifting side to side as you switch arms.

 

Set 2:  Leg Press and Bench Press

1 set of 10 to 15 leg presses on the leg press machine (using a challenging weight) followed immediately by a set of 8 to 12 bench presses or 10 pushups. In the gym I go to, the leg press and bench press machines are right next to each other so this set was a natural fit. I normally to 3 rounds of this set but if you are pressed for time, 2 rounds are good.

 

Set 3:Lunges & Shoulder Press & Lateral Shoulder Raises

I usually do walking lunges of 8 to 10 steps on each leg then go right into a set of 10 overhead shoulder press and 10 lateral shoulder raises. This set is sometimes a set of 3 exercises and uses different weights for each exercise but I can usually get access to everything I need, even when the gym is busy. I usually do 3 rounds of this set.

 

Set 4:Pull-Ups & Dips

If I can get on the assisted Dip-Chin machine, I do 2 or 3 rounds of assisted pull-ups followed by assisted dips. With about a minute in between rounds, I do 2 or 3 sets here.

 

Finish it up with core work.

For core work, planks are my 'go to' staple.  I could go on for a while about variations and benefits but that will be the topic of an article coming in early 2020 on the Train/Inspire blog on our website. For now, just know that the strength, stability and control that you can get from doing planks is purposeful in maintaining good positioning on the bike and good body position and control in the swim.

 

As with any exercise routine, obviously safety is important and you should never workout on unfamiliar equipment.  Consult with a qualified expert and get the proper training in order to make your trip to the gym productive and safe. Anything I've outlined here is intended only to provide an example of what I've found works for me and is not in any way intended to be formula or guarantee for any intended result.  Be strong and be safe!

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