Strength training. Gets a lot of debate within advanced triathlon circles. Is strength training for triathletes great, or a waste of time? The answer is it depends on the athlete. For some, its a huge way to get faster (especially on the bike). For others, its a waste of time. It is for you? read on!
First off, a few misconceptions on weight lifting:
- You won’t actually gain weight in any measurable way in a few months of weight training, so stop worrying about that.
- Even if you are an endurance athlete, when doing strength, train strength.
- 40 repetitions of a light weight isnt strength, its just a weird way to do stair climbing.
- After a month building up to it, you should be doing only 4-10 repetitions of the heaviest weight you can do for the exercise, 3 sets, with 2 minutes of rest in between
Who is strength training a good match for? You, if you answer Yes to 3 or more of these questions:
- What is your build? Are you built more like a ballerina than a pickup truck?
- Are you unusually slow on the bike relative to your run?
- Do the following test:
- Ride at 90 rpm (pedal rpm) in a pretty hard gear up a pretty big hill (or on a trainer).
- Make sure you are spinning at 90-95 rpm.
- Now keep going hard until you have to stop
- choose a hill where this takes ~3 minutes before you can’t keep it up.
- Did you have to stop because your legs were burning or because you were out of breath/panting?
- If you answered “legs burning” then count that as “yes strenght is for me”
- Are you over 40 of either gender?
- Are you a woman?
- Do you come to triathlon without a background in a leg-strength sport? (Leg strength sports include rowing, alpine skiing, hockey, etc)
If you answered yes to 3 or more of those questions, then strength training may be a big help to you. Now the trick is to find the right strength routine (more on that later!) If you answered yes to 2 or fewer questions, figure out what your biggest limiter is (may not be leg strength!) and go and work on that instead!
As always you can: