Triathlon training caters to, and creates, a certain type of athleticism. The constant pounding, pushing the heart and the body to be as efficient as possible. Hundreds of thousands of repetitions of strokes and steps only serve to reinforce certain muscles of the body, certain neural firings. Practice makes perfect, and the hours of training only reinforce the specific actions needed in the sport. Heart pumps blood, brain moves arms and legs, using the core to stabilize the body in the water, on the bike, and while running. It’s the perfect machine, but like all machines, small imperfections in movements compound after time, causing injuries, or slowing progress. And this is where triathlon training in the pure three disciplines falls short. A lot of coaches will add in weightlifting and/or functional fitness exercises in order to create a well-rounded athlete. Since I’m currently self-coaching, I’ve been trying to incorporate strength training into my weekly plans as well. My next race is Nation’s Tri in September, which I’m running with my mom, so I thankfully have some time to put the brakes on the race-specific training and can revert back almost to a build phase. Lower-intensity cardio with some weightlifting thrown in.
I’ve been weightlifting for a couple years now, so I am by no means any authority on it. But, I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, and I’m actively trying to work on better strength for triathlon, better functional fitness, and, in turn, my overall physique.
My current weightlifting schedule looks something like this:
Monday – Legs, Tuesday – Arms, Wednesday – Back, Thursday – Legs, Friday – Arms
Here is the leg workout I’ve been working on the last three weeks or so. I’m really trying to hit my legs hard to build up some muscle to help with my cycling power. That, and I want a nice butt!
Warm up with one mile jog
Super set: Squats and Calf Raises
Squats, weight pyramid – 5 sets: 8 reps wide stance, 8 reps regular stance, 8 reps narrow stance
Calf raises, perform before the squats with the squat weight
Leg press, weight pyramid – 5 sets: 8 reps, last set: finish with pulses until failure at the bottom of the press
Straight leg Deadlifts, weight you can lift over your head – 4 sets: 10 reps
Deadlifts into Overhead Press – 3 sets: 8 reps
Hamstring curls – 3 sets: 8-10 reps
Lunges with 25 lb plates in hands – 1 set: length of gym and back (about 40 reps each leg)
Leg extensions – moderate weight, 3 sets: until failure
Finish with 20-30 minutes of Stairmaster intervals
During my weightlifting workouts, I only rest 30 seconds or so between sets. I try to get my heart rate up during sets and down in between them. This is my heart rate chart from yesterday’s leg workout, which I think illustrates the undulating heart rate I was trying to achieve. (Don’t mind the low heart rate at the end; ran into someone I knew at the gym and chatted for a bit.)
The spike in the middle is all the lunges I did. They are such a good work out for the stabilizing muscles in your legs, your butt, and your shoulders if you’re holding plates like I do. Those stabilizing muscles don’t necessarily get worked out the best when performing regular triathlon training, but they help keep the main muscles in place and firing properly, reducing the risk of injury.
I’ve been maintaining my triathlon training throughout this, just at a reduced rate. I’m planning on a Spartan Race sometime in the next few months, and wanted to get my strength up to handle the heavy carrying and climbing needed. I’ll post my arms and back workouts within the next few days, with some more good weightlifting info!