To experience any significant benefits from strength training you need to be training 2-3 times a week. These sessions shouldn’t be long time consuming workouts but instead 30 minutes chunks of your time dedicated to injury prevention and performance enhancement. In the grand scheme of things strength training remains a small percentage of your total training time as triathletes.
However you choose to squeeze it in to your routine, I have provided a few tips to use when planning strength sessions into your busy training week:
Rest days are perfect for including vital mobility sessions. This will keep joints mobile and muscles flexible but won’t put any additional stress on the body that’ll take away from your recovery.
It will ensure you are aware of your more restricted areas on and can be used as an “early warning system” to detect any minor niggles or tight spots that might need specific attention.
Doing strength work at the beginning or end of a session is a great way to be time efficient but can also have the added bonus of ‘activating’ key muscle groups if done before the session.
Certain exercises engage specific muscle groups and prevent you using those that are already strong and dominating your technique. For many this tends to be your glutes: quads efficiency. Your body will aim to work most efficiently using the least amount of energy. Applying certain exercises before we train can target muscles less often used resulting in an athlete feeling stronger and more stable.
First or Second?
Due to the high volume of training involved you will most likely perform your strength session on the same day as another training session. But is it best to do the strength first or last?
This will really depend on the intensity and the goal of the other session/s that day which will remain your main focus of training. For this reason any over-exerting or new strength exercises that could fatigue you may not be ideal. On the other hand, if you just have a steady aerobic ride, run or swim, the order won’t matter as much so is really down to what is better for you.
Keeping your strength sessions at around 30-45minutes in duration is also important because of the neurological demand of strength work. Longer sessions can reduce the impact of the strength session but also have a greater impact on the remaining training scheduled that week.
Race season or off season?
When training volume is less intense during the winter it is the perfect time to introduce strength training to your routine. With less of a race schedule and more of a focus on building a base, getting to grips with the foundations of strength work that are going to help build resilience and prevent injury is vital.
During the race season itself is targeted at maintaining current strength levels and not a time for setting new personal bests. This will only detract you from your training and increase the risk of overtraining and injury. This is most significant around taper week where the goal is to simply maintain your neuromuscular activation and coordination. For this reason you should train with very light or no weights and incorporate more mobility and activation exercises. These strength sessions should produce no muscle soreness or but still include a sufficient amount of muscle stimulation.