Recently, I picked up IronFit Strength Training and Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, and again, was reminded about how important strength training for triathletes should be.
While many triathletes know that strength training is important and even realize they should better apply it to a training program, still one of the same excuses (that I use myself) comes up. Time. Or lack of it.
Nearly all triathletes understand the benefits of strength training exercises such as faster splits, faster recovery, injury prevention and ultimately higher levels of overall performance. But still, it’s not enough to justify skipping a swim session or a key training ride in the place of hitting the gym.
It’s in my opinion that the true breakthrough comes from time-efficient strength training for triathletes as an exclusive tool in the next step of achieving goals, mastering race day and staying healthy for the long haul.
This is a strength training workout I designed for triathletes as a quick and easy fix for solving the time-problem equation. All the while, it’s very effective in targeting key muscles and movements that will show up huge in triathlon technique and performance.
Cranking uphill and passing other cyclist with ease? You’ll know why you gained that extra boost of pedal power after applying these strength training exercises for triathletes.
How to do this Triathlon Strength Training Workout
Warm up and stretch out for a few minutes before this workout. Once you start, don’t rest between sets unless you absolutely have to. Not resting, as well as comboing up some intentional movements are part of the special sauce to make this workout good and tasty.
Your heart rate will get cranking, but that’s exactly what you want, so keep it there. You’ll sweat a bit too, but you’re about to workout anyway! That’s right, pair this workout directly before a swim session or medium to short bike ride.
Let’s get going!
Sumo Squat / Side Kicks
15 reps on each side
Grab a kettle bell or dumbbell and take a wide stance with toes slightly angled outward. Go into a nice, low squat, then think about scissoring your thighs together as you press back up from the squat to target your hips and inner thighs.
As you reach the top of the squat, lift your leg straight out to the side. Focus on flexing the outside of your hip when you lift, then lower your leg and go back down into your next squat in one fluid motion.
Rapid Fire Rows: Upper body, back, arms, core stability
30 reps (15 on each side)
Using a couple weights in hand, hinge at the hips until you’re bent over at close to a 90 degree angle. It’s important to keep your knees unlocked and a natural curve in your lower back. Flex your core muscles to lock this position in place.
Raise one weight for a row, thinking about driving your elbow up high and squeezing your shoulder blade back. As you lower the first side, raise the other side, cranking your arms like a machine.
Lunge Combo One: Biceps
15 on each side
Keep those same weights in hand for this next awesome triathlon strength training exercise. Without resting, drop down into a rear lunge for those glutes and thighs. As you recover, hit it for a bicep curl at the top. Then lower your weights to your side as you step back into your next lunge with the same leg.
Lunge Combo Two: Upright Rows
15 on each side
Again, without resting if possible, switch legs for your lunge. This time as you rise from the lunge, pull your weights straight upwards toward your chin. Let your elbows guide the weights as you lift them high and to the sides.
Keep those heavy weights in hand for two more triathlon strength exercises! This time, start by standing with feet shoulder width apart and hold your dumbbells at the top of your chest/front of your shoulders.
Drop it like a squat and feel your core engage to keep the weights and your body balanced. This is good. Focus on pressing off your heels, driving your hips forward, and pressing the weights up overhead. Lower the weights to the starting position at the same time you bend into the next squat. Remember to keep breathing because this exercise will require some serious vital air!
Trainer’s tip: By keeping the movements fluid and seamless, you’ll see how your core muscles acts as a suspension systems to keep the weight balanced and the motion stable. It’s a perfect exercise for triathlon strength training that will transfer directly into increased performance.
Overhead Tricep Extensions
After 20 reps, drop one weight and keep both hands on the other weight up overhead. With elbows held in place as if your upper arms like earmuffs, bend your arms to lower the weight behind your head. Position the weight in your hands to get as much range of motion as possible. In other words, lower the dumbbell as far as you can. Light those triceps on fire for another 20 reps and then you can finally rest before your next exercise.
Hip Raise Reverse Crunch Combo
Here’s a 2-in-1 that you’ll love. First, lie on your back with hands under hips and flex your stomach muscles by pulling your lower abs inward. With your heels hovering about six inches off the ground and knees straight, lever your legs up to a 90. At that point, attempt to touch the ceiling with your toes by lifting your hips up off the floor. Feel that intense crunch before slowly lowering your heels back down.
Next, rock your knees in toward your chest to rock your hips off the floor for another, but different crunch. Extend your feet out again, and continue to alternate between the two moves.
30 reps (15 on each side)
My version of Sprinter Kicks are very much like a lying bicycle kicks but differ in two ways. First, you’ll be kicking your foot all the way out and pointing your toes; second, you’ll be moving in a slow and controlled motion.
With hands gently supporting your head, lift your shoulders off the ground for a crunch position. Keep one leg straight with heel six inches off the ground as you bring one knee toward your chest. Twist with your torso as if you are trying to touch your opposite side shoulder to your knee. Make sure you are lifting and reaching with your shoulder, not just waving your arm.
Alternate in a smooth and steady rhythm so that you can focus on the twist and crunch while keeping your abs flexed tightly the entire time.
Oblique Side Bends
20 reps on each side
Start by holding a medium weight dumbbell in one hand and place your other hand on your hip or on your head. (Hand on your hip is a bit easier and hand on your head will give you more of a challenge). Begin to sing, “I’m a little tea cup”… just kidding. Lean over to the side with the weight and then rise back up, making sure you use your abs to pull yourself back up. Repeat on both sides.
This is a good exercise for your obliques and lower back to establish a solid platform of power. When you reach while you’re swimming, press the pedal while you’re biking or stride while you’re running, this exercise will help build a solid foundation that will generate balanced strength.
Go through every rep of every exercise before resting. Then rinse and repeat at least twice.
As you see with this workout, triathlon strength training does not have to take a lot of extra time away from your training schedule. It does, however, require just a touch of commitment to plan it into your routine.
Give this and similar triathlon strength workouts a try at least twice a week for 4-6 weeks and watch your speed, stamina, endurance improve!