STRENGTH & CONDITIONING
Strength training can boost performance and develop your resilience to injury. Luckily, the impending off-season is the perfect time to focus on building lean body mass
Although triathlon is brilliant in that it incorporates three disciplines in one, swimming, biking and running all have relatively limited movement patterns. The specific training you do for each means you get strong through those movements patterns but, if you’re challenged outside of them, you expose yourself to the risk of injury. There’s more to life than swim, bike and run so, whether it’s lifting the kids or shopping out of the car, or doing some gardening or DIY, developing better all-round strength can make you more robust and resilient.
Additionally, by using strength training to develop your peak force, you can improve your swim, bike and run performance. If your muscles are stronger, they’ll be working at a lower proportion of what they’re capable of when you’re putting submaximal loads through them. This means they’ll function more efficiently, meaning you’ll be able to go harder for longer.
The off-season is the perfect time to focus on strength training. The short-term fatigue and heaviness that strength training tends to put into your muscles will have less impact on lower intensity offseason workouts than on higherend pre- and in-season sessions. As you’ll probably be able to dial back on your swimming, cycling and running during an off-season strength block, your body should develop lean mass without so much catabolic (destructive) training load.
Strength training is also an anabolic activity, stimulating the growth/ building of lean mass, as opposed to cardiovascular exercise, which tends to be catabolic, breaking tissue down. By using a focussed block of off-season strength training to build lean tissue, you can offset some of the inevitable in-season losses. Along with making you a stronger athlete, increased lean tissue can also help with maintaining good body composition and fat loss. This is especially pertinent for 40+ athletes for whom strength training can delay – and even reverse – the lean tissue loss associated with ageing.
Although a gym is the ideal place for strength work, with the minimum of kit you can train at home. Some dumbbells or kettlebells, a doorframe mounted pull-up bar with suspension training straps and a bench/step are about all you need. For running and cycling, focus on squatting, lunging and dead-lift type movements. For the swim, pull-ups, rows and pressing movements are key.
For maximum benefits allow at least 12-24hrs between a strength session and any aerobic activity; you might also find you need to up your protein intake during a strength training block.