“Should I do strength training?” is one of the most common questions I get as a triathlon coach.
While I’ve heard anecdotal testimony, I’ve never seen any evidence that strength training will help a triathlete go any faster in any of the three sports (the exception being absolute beginners starting from “sub optimal fitness”). I have, however, seen plenty of evidence that injuries will make any triathlete go slower, and it’s not controversial to say that strength training, done correctly, can certainly reduce the likelihood of many of the most common injuries associated with our sport.
So the short answer to the common question is, “Yes, you should do strength training.”
While, in time, you may want to commute to a gym and buy a membership, or create a home gym, it’s not necessary at this point. You can execute a simple, but effective, strength program that can be done at home with no equipment.
One thing needs be made clear here – this is a beginner program. While an athlete of any level will benefit in the same ways a beginner will (that is to say, they will reduce the likelihood of injuries by engaging in a strength program), it has to be noted that the more advanced you become as a triathlete, the more your strength program will evolve. There are men and women out there who have dedicated much of their professional lives to expanding their knowledge and understanding of strength and conditioning and how best to incorporate that into an overall fitness program in order to maximize results and a return on your training expenditure. This program is a safe starting off point. Should you find yourself embracing the pursuit of triathlon excellence, I strongly recommend engaging a professional strength coach to sculpt a personal program for you and to ensure you’re doing the movements correctly.
Having said that – let’s get started. Run through the five following movements two times a week. In the first week just do one round of the exercises.
- Squat – no weight X 15 reps
- Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift X 10 reps per side
- Prone Fly X 20 reps
- Leg Raises X 12 reps
- Front Plank 45 seconds
You can complete a single round of these exercises in about 8 to 10 minutes. Bump that to 2 rounds in the 2nd week and 3 rounds in the 3rd week. In the 4th week go back to 2 rounds and in the 5th, 6th and 7th week return to 3 rounds but add the following:
- Squats – no weight X 20 reps
- Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift x 12 reps per side
- Prone Fly X 25 reps
- Leg Raises X 15 reps
- Front Plank X 1 min
In the 8th week go back to 2 rounds. In the 9th week do 1 round. On the 10th week(race week) take a break from all strength.
Everyone will progress at different rates so I strongly recommend you empower yourself here and adjust the numbers to suit that progress. If 45 seconds of plank doesn’t test you, then start with a minute or even more. If 20 reps of prone fly makes your shoulders howl then start with 15.
Make strength and conditioning a part of your triathlon training routine and you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood have having to spend time managing injuries.
See you at the races!
Clint Lien is Head Coach at Mercury Rising Triathlon