When it comes to training for a triathlon, emphasis is generally placed on heart rate training, cycling, running and swimming techniques, transitions and nutrition. But another important factor to consider is strength training.
Strength training can help with balance and stability and is a strong aid in injury prevention.
When you gain muscle you boost your metabolism and burn fat more efficiently, aiding in performance. Here are some additional benefits of strength training (which apply whether you are an athlete or not), according to Terri Schneider’s “Triathlon Revolution – Training, Technique and Inspiration”:
• Strength training can help with speed and endurance when racing.
• Strength training helps prevent injuries by adding stability to your joints and ligaments.
• Strength training creates a sense of stability and balance that, in the long run, will allow you to stress your body further, therefore creating a more solid training effect going into events. Once you have completed a segment of a race, subsequent segments of the event can be continued with less fatigue.
• Strength training allows your body to draw from your muscles as a reserve, allowing for better pacing.
• Strength training increases your metabolism, thereby utilizing fat more efficiently.
• More strength allows you to improve your swimming, biking and running, as well as the combination of all three.
• From a mental standpoint, strength training enhances your self-confidence. You feel stronger and your body responds accordingly.
Optimally, strength training should be done three times a week; however, twice a week is effective. There are three types of training significant to enhance performance. There is training to build strength used as a foundation, which requires heavier weights and fewer repetitions. There strength training for endurance, where you use lighter weights with increased repetitions. Lastly, there is plyometric training, using explosive movement to build to power for short bursts. This can be helpful for sprinting in running or cycling. This type of training can be quite intense and even dangerous, depending on your condition. It is best to consult with a sports and conditioning specialist for this type of training. It is important to maintain proper form in order to get the best results and avoid injuries.
For efficient use of time, group two or three exercises together. These are called supersets. You can quickly go through the movements from one to another without taking a break because the muscle group you just worked on is in active recovery while you focus on the next one. If you can do this as circuit, each muscle group receives sufficient rest or recovery before the next set.
Be sure to warm up with some light cardiovascular activity like walking, jogging or biking for 5 to 10 minutes. This lubricates the joints and warms up the muscles, preparing them for training. Additionally, make sure you stretch after the entire workout for 5 to 7 minutes to decrease soreness and injury. Lastly, increasing your physical strength also keeps your mind functioning optimally. Having your mind fully engaged with your body makes the end result even more gratifying as you cross that finish line.