The Importance of Strength Training for Triathletes

adobestock 8380723

If you’ve set your mind on competing in your first triathlon, beginning your training can seem like a daunting task.

Luckily for you, it doesn’t have to be!

Equipped with a solid game-plan and a whole lot of motivation, completing a triathlon can be one of the most rewarding things you can do.

Strength training for triathletes is an especially important component of any training regimen.

Keep reading to find out why strength training is so crucial and gather some tips to make your training a breeze:

Increases Overall Strength

This may sound a little bit common-sense, but really: if you consistently partake in weight training for triathletes your muscles will get stronger and better.

Increasing your overall strength is particularly important for athletes over the age of about 30 when you naturally begin to lose your muscle mass.

Since the average age of triathletes is 35 to 40 years old, for most people competing in a triathlon maintaining muscle mass and definition will take a little more work.

Decreases Risk of Injury

The more muscle mass you have, the more protected and dense your bones will be.

Stronger muscles also play a key role in protecting your joints.

Since a triathlon is a sport where you’re continuously putting strain on and using repetitive motions on your joints, you’ll want to do everything you can to protect them from injury.

Including strength training that focuses on upright and functional movement patterns will also allow you to isolate and correct any imbalances in muscle tone that could potentially lead to an injury as well.

By adding in strength training for triathletes to your training you’ll significantly decrease your chance of injury during training and the race.

Improves Performance and Efficiency

Again, maybe this is a no-brainer, but strength training for triathletes will improve your performance and efficiency.

When you incorporate strength training into your routine, your overall performance during training and ultimately during the race will get better.

The stronger your muscles are, the longer it will take for the effects of fatigue to begin to impact them.

If during training you’re making sure that your mechanics are solid and you’re performing each discipline correctly, then your strength training will ensure that your movements are as efficient.

The more efficiently you move, the faster you move. The faster you move, the faster you finish the triathlon. Strength training produces measurable results.

Enhances Form

The stronger your muscles are, the better your body’s capability to maintain proper form while you train and compete.

If you catch yourself running with poor form, awkward and hunched over, then adding strength training for triathletes to your regular training could make a world of difference.

It’s also important to note that if you’re performing the mechanics of the discipline you’re training incorrectly then you could be making your form worse, not better.

Check out resources like this one on running for triathletes, or this one on swimming in a triathlon, to read more on proper form.

Tips for Strength Training for Triathletes

Now you know why strength training is important, but you’re still not sure where to start.

Here are some tips:

Warm Up and Cool Down

One of the first tips for strength training for triathletes is to always make sure you’re giving yourself time before and after your workouts to warm-up and cool down.

Don’t be afraid to take advantage of heat on your muscles before a workout to help to warm up any particularly stiff muscles or ice on your muscles after a workout to keep inflammation down.

Using a foam roller after workouts and going for a massage occasionally can also keep muscle strain down and keep your training plan flowing.

Know Your Key Muscle Groups

When you’re weight training you should be focusing on the key muscle groups you’ll need to perform at your best while making sure you’re not unbalanced in any way.

For the swimming components, your key muscle groups are going to be your chest, shoulders, and lats.

When you’re running and biking your key muscle groups are going to be your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

A strong core will be beneficial for all three disciplines and help you to maintain good form.

Exercises for Triathletes

Some of the best exercises to add into your strength training routine are:

  • The Single-Legged Squat:
    • There are a few different variations of this exercise, but the most effective variation is elevated on a box and mimicking the movement of running and standing biking.
    • To do a single-legged squat, stand with one foot toward the edge of an elevated surface and the other foot off of the side.
    • Proceed to squat normally with good form, but using only the leg on the box. Maintain good form throughout the exercise.
  • The Overhead Lunge:
    • To do an overhead lunge, grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them straight above your shoulders with your elbows locked.
    • Then, step forward with on leg and lower your body until the knee on the leg in the front is bent to a 90-degree angle.
    • Return to the position that you started in and repeat on the opposite side.
  • The Plank
    • To properly do a plank, lay on the ground with your feet slightly apart and your toes on the ground.
    • Lift yourself up on your elbows and make sure your back is straight and your body is aligned. You should not be hunched in any way.
    • Hold this pose for intervals of 45 seconds to a minute to begin with and continue to add on time as your core strength increases.
  • Overhead Kettlebell Squats
    • Take a kettlebell and hold it in front of your chest with both hands.
    • With your feet hip-width apart, begin to squat.
    • As you lower into the squat, press the kettlebell above your head.
    • When you begin to stand and return to the starting position, lower the kettlebell back to chest level.

If You Aren’t Strength Training, You Should Be

Completing a triathlon and all of the hard work and training leading up to it is definitely something to brag about!

Implementing these tips and info on the importance of strength training for triathletes should make your training easier than ever.

Comment below and let us know what motivates you to be a triathlete!