There are a lot of people who think that runners and triathletes shouldn’t lift weights. That it will be counterproductive and actually hurt your aerobic performance, because you want to be as light as possible and avoid “bulking up”. However, that idea is slowly dying off, with trainers and atheletes alike agreeing that sport-specific strength training is actually necessary to get faster and improve endurance.
…strength training is one of the most beneficial and efficient ways for triathletes, especially age group triathletes, to supplement their training and get the most out of the work they are putting in.
I’ve personally gotten my butt back in the gym a lot lately; I started lifting seriously again mid-April of this year…and I’ve already seen some major improvements in endurance and speed. Typically I lift at lunch Monday through Wednesday, with the breakdown looking like this:
Monday: chest, triceps, back, biceps
Tuesday: quads and calves, abs
Wednesday: shoulders, abs
All sets are 3×10, with some super sets or drop sets, depending on the day. I go as heavy as I can tolerate for all three sets, usually taking the last set to failure. While my goal is endurance, I’m also focusing on overall strength. You see, I turn 40 this year, and one of the things I want to head-off is arthritis and bone density issues. The heavier the weights you move around, the stronger your bones and the skeletal muscles will be. The long-term benefits go way beyond my current triathlon ambitions.
As I mentioned, the gains I’m seeing are huge (no pun intended). Simply from an aesthetics standpoint, I’ve added a lot of definition and size to my muscles, which I’m happy with (and, honestly, super-skinny triathletes look sickly to me). I got a huge compliment on my shoulders yesterday from a trainer I know well: “Dude, your shoulders are getting huge!” Now, “huge” for me means you can see the muscles…I’m not Arnold .
The other benefit is my endurance and speed. I’m getting into the mid-7:00 pacing when on training runs, and my bike time are improving as well (Sunday I took a minute off a previous PR for a 22 mile course I ride). Swimming has also gotten easier, and I feel less winded when I finish my pool work.
Physiologically, we’re all different…what works for me might not work for someone else. But if you can, I highly recommend strength training (even body weight exercises, like chair dips) to help your multisport performance.
How often do you lift weights?