Triathletes are typically very time poor. We spend long hours training each week, and most of us also balancing this with full time jobs, families and making all attempts to maintain a social life. Whilst squeezing all of this into each week the last thing we want to try and do is find time for another training session. However, the reality is if your weekly training schedule fails to include any strength training then you are leaving yourself vulnerable to injury.
Strength training, most effective when done in the gym environment, is the process of working your muscles against heavy resistance to bring about strength gains. Many home strength program act as an adequate starting point, but the ceiling effect with these program means progression can only go so far.
Lack of time, busy work, life and training schedules stands out as a common barrier when addressing strength training. However, a large majority of us are also unaware about the benefits it can provide.
Benefits of strength training for endurance athletes
Improves tissue resilience - Stronger muscles / tissues mean that they have a greater capacity to attenuate load. This means that we can back up from training sessions better, and recovery is greater.
- Aids in performance and economy - By strengthening the key muscle groups required for our sporting performance, we are likely to see them more readily recruited during exercise and be used to greater capacities.
- Reduces injury risk - Having tissues more capable of tolerating the load we are putting on them, and having the ability to use these muscles more effectively and efficiently, means that the likelihood and/or severity of overloading our tissues is reduced, ultimately decreasing injury risk.
Unfortunately the benefits of strength training aren’t instantaneous and sufficient time needs to be given to build strength so that it can be utilised when it’s most needed. Often, when introducing strength training, performance in other training disciplines may be affected. Therefore, it is very important that your strength workouts are introduced at the appropriate time, but when is this?
When adding strength to your training this needs to be a focus area. It’s safest and most effective to begin strengthening when you have sufficient time before any events (approximately 6 months), and you are not in the middle of any other training phase. Once this is established consistency is then key. Ensure you are able to maintain regularity with your gym sessions and apply sensible progressive overload principles to your exercises.