To lift or not to lift? Find out how building muscle could sharpen your race performance
Weight training for triathlon is a complicated subject. Some triathletes think it is unnecessary while others are in favour of hitting the gym, but may not know exactly what and how much to do in the weights room. Then there is strength training outside the gym – how much and how often? As I said, it’s complicated.
Strength is defined as power over time, a core component of racing at all distances. It is needed not only to hammer a 40K bike, but also to power through choppy water and prevent muscular breakdown at the end of an Ironman. The key to building that strength lies not just in what you do in the weights room, but also in strength building swim, bike and run workouts.
Tailor it to triWhile I am personally in favour of weight training, taking the gains made in the gym to the pool and the road is critical. Simply hitting the weights room twice a week is not enough because it’s unlikely to offer the specific muscular training you need. Doing several sets of lunges creates a specific muscular pattern, one that is different to the pattern used in biking or running, so they will make you stronger but not perhaps in a way that improves your race time. Resistance-style triathlon workouts build triathlon-specific strength while creating a sport-specific muscular firing pattern. By building these two elements together you gain speed through increased power, efficiency and muscular endurance, and reduce your chances of injury. Strength-building workouts are relatively simple to do and have a huge payoff.
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