Let's face it — you probably aren't doing enough strength training. Sure, you can run and bike all day long, but taking a few hours out of your day to add in some resistance training can make your triathlon training more efficient and effective.
Strengthening your body with the following exercises can not only help you become faster on race day but also keep you from getting injured.
Best Strength Training Exercises
Here's a look at six such exercises:
The squat is a full body exercise, meaning it works all the muscles in the body. Squats are excellent for building strength and muscle, as they target large groups of muscles in the hips, legs, and core.
Squats can be done with a barbell or dumbbells on your shoulders using an overhand grip to hold onto the plates while maintaining an upright posture with straight arms.
The goal is to squat down till you lower your hamstrings until they're parallel to the floor. Thrust back up once you squat to the ground, and repeat.
Lunges are one of the best exercises you can do to build strength in the legs, core, and arms. If you’re training for a triathlon or any endurance sport that requires high amounts of power and strength, lunges can help you develop those muscles.
Lunges are also great for improving balance, as they require you to stay upright as opposed to bending over or swaying from side to side, like other leg exercises. They strengthen the hamstrings, hips, and quadriceps all at once.
To do a lunge:
- Stand straight with your feet together and arms by your side.
- Step forward with one leg into a lunge position.
- Your back foot should be flat on the floor and knee bent at 90 degrees).
- Bring both legs back together.
- Repeat 15 times per side (for 30 total reps).
Plank is a great exercise to strengthen the core, which can improve your ability to maintain form during a long bike ride or run.
To do a plank:
- Start by kneeling on the floor with your forearms resting on the ground and hands together.
- You should be in a push-up position but with your weight shifted onto your toes and forearms instead of the feet.
- Lift yourself up so that you're balancing on both feet while keeping the hips down and body straight from head to heels, forming a plank.
- Hold this position for as long as possible before switching sides or lowering back down. Don't forget to breathe while keeping good spinal alignment throughout the movement.
The deadlift is a great exercise for triathletes, as it works the muscles that are most important to the sport: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
The key when performing this exercise is to maintain a neutral spine position throughout the lift. Don’t round your back, or stick your butt out too much. Keep your legs straight without hyperextending them (you should be able to see light between your legs when you stand up).
If you have trouble balancing a barbell on your shoulders during the movement, start off with an empty bar before adding weight. When doing this exercise, make sure you bring the bar down past where it started from so that there's no slack in the weight being lifted.
That will ensure tension throughout each repetition. Beginners should aim for 8-12 reps, while advanced athletes can do sets of 3-6 reps, depending on their needs and goals.
The pull-up is a great exercise to add to your strength training routine. It's relatively easy to learn, but more importantly, it can help you develop upper body strength, which can improve your swimming and cycling.
The key to doing a proper pull-up is keeping your body in a straight line throughout the movement. Proceed as follows:
- Pull yourself up, and lower down slowly.
- If you find yourself swinging, use smaller weights till you can do ten reps without using any momentum created by swinging or kicking your legs.
- Keep at it, and eventually you will be able to crank out 15 or so full-range motion pull-ups with ease.
Push-ups are an excellent way to build upper body strength, but they shouldn't be done in excess, as that can cause injury if performed incorrectly.
When beginning any exercise routine that includes push-ups, start slowly, and build up gradually over time as you become stronger physically and mentally prepared for the demands of triathlon training.
Do this exercise as follows:
- Place your hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders.
- Keep your legs straight and feet together.
- Lower yourself till your chest nearly touches the floor, and raise up again by pushing off from the ground with your arms.
Remember that these are just a few exercises you can do to improve your triathlon performance. There are many more you can do, so be sure to do some research, and find the ones that suit your needs.
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