Strength Training for Triathletes

Each portion of your triathlon performance can be improved with strength training.
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The triathlon is a grueling athletic event, whether you are doing a half-triathlon or compete at the full Olympic distance of 1.5 kilometers of swimming, 40 kilometers of biking and 10 kilometers of running. To be at your best for your event, engaging in a well-rounded, full-body strength training program is required. Consult your doctor before starting a weight training routine to be sure you're healthy enough to do so.

Strength Training Focus

    The most effective workout plans are those that have a specific focus that guides exercise selection and other facets of the training program. When training for a triathlon, you should aim to incorporate both subsets of strength training -- training for power and training for endurance. Power training will help you produce bursts of speed and force to handle inclines with ease, while endurance training will allow you to maintain your muscular strength over an extended period of time. To train for power, use heavy weights and perform sets with few repetitions. To train for endurance, use lighter weights but perform sets with higher numbers of repetitions. You can alternate repetition ranges each workout so you have power days and endurance days.

Lower Body Training

    Performance in swimming, biking and running all rely on strong legs, so lower body training is a must for triathletes. Compound movements, or those that engage multiple muscles at the same time, are the best choices because they most accurately reflect how your muscles work together when you run, swim and bike. Thus, incorporating squats, leg presses, deadlifts, calf raises and lunges can help you strengthen your lower body for optimal triathlon performance.

Upper Body Training

    Shoulder and arm strength is important for triathlon success, and not just in the swimming portion. Your arms help keep your bike stable and pumping your arms adds extra power to your running stride. Performing exercises such as the standing dumbbell press, front raise, dumbbell curl, chest press and barbell row can help you strengthen your swimming stroke and will also benefit your running and swimming performance.

Core Training

    Training your lower back and abdominal muscles -- your core -- is important because these stabilizing muscles help you maintain your form. Olympic triathlete Sarah Haskins also notes that an unstable core may lead to injury. Thus, you may wish to incorporate exercises such as side planks, weighted crunches, lying leg lifts and ab roll-outs to strengthen your core.

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