Why triathletes should strength train
It can be difficult to fit in all the training when it comes to any multi-sport. Therefore, it is important to do the most effective exercises not just spend the hours out on the road. What will give you the best return on the smallest investment?
Strength training can:
Increase maximal power output
Improve endurance capacity
Reduce neuromuscular fatigue
Improve running economy
Reduce oxygen consumption
Reduce heart rate
What sort of strength exercises?
The muscles to train for both cycling and running are similar, you need a strong core as a base and specific strength in your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteal muscles. There is of course a wide range of ways to strength train. We can divide strength training into two broad groups of training styles, one being heavy and slow, and the second being powerful and explosive strength training.
Plyometric training – the best for running
Power and explosive training is called plyometric training. It trains you to be more powerful, which means to generate strength quickly. It doesn’t just train your muscles to get stronger but also your tendons to work more effectively as springs. Our tendons are designed to absorb and release energy, such as when you run. Running is a plyometric exercise. When your foot lands on the ground, energy is absorbed and temporarily stored in the tendon, to be released when you spring forward for your next stride. So, training yourself with tough plyometric exercise will make you a better runner.
A few examples are skipping, hopping and jumping. Try getting higher or go further with your jumps or skips. Jumping onto a box is a great way to measure this if you can the equipment available to stack or increase the box height. Alternatively, jumping or hopping over a measured point on the ground can similarly show you the progress you are making with distance.
Heavy and slower – the best for cycling
Cycling is a completely different way of using your muscles to produce movement. It doesn’t require such quick power generation as with running. Therefore, the strength training that most benefits you for the bike is different to the plyometric training that are so effective for running. Heavier and slower movements have a greater impact on cycling. That is doing heavy training to reach the point of muscular fatigue.
Movement such as squats, lunges, bridges, deadlifts and heel raises are all great choices. Work on increasing your strength by doing an exercise slowly, with a squat that might be taking 3 seconds to lower and 3 seconds to lift. You want to aim to fatigue between 8-12 repetitions, and doing 4 sets with a 2-3 minute rest between each.
More isn’t always better…
A new study has shown that doing just one set of a strengthening exercise to failure, 3 times per week had “strikingly similar” strength improvements to doing three or five sets of the same exercises. So if you are really short for time you can get a great benefit from just three 15 minute sessions per week. You can read the full article here.
For more advice get in touch with the Flawless Physio team here.
Feel good. Move well. Be better!