If you, with or without the help of a triathlon coach, are going through triathlon training you can likely already attest to how gruelling it is. So during this time should you really be changing things or adding more to the load with strength and weight training? Here is a look at the pros and cons of this and a suggested weight training schedule and how it might change depending on whether you are offseason or on.
What do the studies and experts say?
There has actually not been as much research into this question as you might have thought though it is the general belief of some coaches offering triathlon coaching and athletes that some weight training is a good idea. While there are not many studies proving it, they see that some strength training as part of your triathlon training schedule results in athletes having a stronger core and suffering fewer injuries.
Pros and cons of using weights in your training plan
Pro 1 – With some thoughtful muscle training with lighter weights you can get your body more able to handle each three parts of the race. Just adding something like a 15+ repetition scheme a couple of days a week can make a difference.
Con 1 – Lighter weights with high reps to make you tired and used to muscle fatigue for racing is a waste of time as it has been shown that weight training does not improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity.
Consideration of the pro and con 1 means it is also true that heavy weight training might not improve aerobic capacity but it does increase running economy and strength.
Con 2 – You are already pushing your body hard with training in running, cycling and swimming, a triathlon is about endurance, not strength. Training endurance uses completely different muscle fibres and energy systems. Training weights too can lead to neural confusion which leads to injury.
Pro 2 – Neural confusion is not proven and if it were the case how come cross training exists and is possible already. You can do both endurance and strength tasks at the same time because the human body is an amazing machine.
Consideration of con 2 and pro 2 should keep in mind the fact that even with a triathlon coach an athlete is more likely to injure themselves because of overtraining than anything else.
Exploring weight exercises
Some typical weight exercises you might explore include;
- Leg extensions
- Stomach crunches
- Bench pressing
- Calf lifts
- Back squats
- Hyperextensions and reverse hyperextensions
- Front squats
- Bent rows
- Bicep curls
- Leg curls
- Leg press
- Standing tricep presses
During off-season training, you could include as many as 6 or 7 strength exercises using light to medium weights at 6 to 10 reps, two or three times a week. Remember you are training for strength not to pump up your muscles. Then during race season when your triathlon coaching is more intense you could just do strength training once a week. Some athletes also choose to drop the leg exercises since the running and cycling are working them hard already.
Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching, Est. 2014, is owned and run by Matthew Bottrill.
Winner of multiple National Championships, holder of competition records and many more accolades to his name Matt has focused the last year on developing MBPC and beginning to coach some of the worlds top athletes on a range of stages.
As part of this Matt transitioned from the world of Time Trialling into Triathlon in 2017 and progressed to multiple Age group and Overall wins. This learning process, along with taking on board specialist Triathlon coaches, has enabled MBPC to transform the cycling within many athletes in Triathlon.
Now coaching some of the best Triathletes in the world, including the likes of Tim Don, Will Clarke, Rachel Joyce and Susie Cheetham, Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching is taking the Tri market by storm.