By: Coach David Bernal (D1 Dallas)
Triathletes are some of the most strong-willed and determined athletes that you will come across. These individuals push their bodies to the max. Although some do it as a fun hobby, others aspire to compete with the best in the sport. Whether you are an “Age Grouper” an elite competing at the highest level, one thing is certain: You should be participating in a strength-training program. Yes, if you are a triathlete you are already exercising three different ways (swim, bike, run), however, your body has a funny way of adapting to the stress and repetitive motions. The real key here is the word “repetitive.” Your body needs to be challenged and strengthened with all types of movements, otherwise, you are focusing on certain forward moving muscles, but neglecting all of the other ones. That is a recipe for imbalance, which can lead to injury. Therefore, participating in a strength program will benefit your body in more ways than you think. Here are my top 5 reasons why triathletes should be participating in a strength-training program:
- Builds Muscle Mass / Helps Counter Muscle Atrophy
Incorporating strength training into your routine will help build muscle mass and prevent muscle atrophy (muscle loss) due to age. Research show’s that our muscle mass tends to be the highest in our 20’s and starts to decline in our later years. You can help counter muscle atrophy by participating in a strength program. A good strength program includes body weight exercises, weights, plyometric, etc., will help build muscle and slow down the atrophy process. Triathlon is an endurance sport, plain and simple. Strength training makes muscles stronger, consequently stronger muscles can perform longer at higher intensities before they fatigue.
- Increases “ROM” (Range of Motion.)
This one is big! There are a high number of triathletes who are over the age of 30. The older we get, the greater likelihood that we’ve set into our ways and lost some flexibility, especially if you have a desk job and sit down all day. With that said, our Range Of Motion needs to be constantly challenged as well. Participating in a strength-training program will help by placing your body through various movements that require you to get into positions that require good flexibility and mobility. For example: If all you do is swim bike and run, you are missing out on squatting, lunging, pulling movements and other exercises that challenge your flexibility and mobility. Using the squat as our example, this is universally the most important thing any individual can do. We squat when we pick things up, sit down, etc. A good squat can improve one’s hip and ankle mobility. If done frequently you will see major improvements in your range of motion with any squatting exercise period. A good exercise program revolves around taking the joints to a full range of motion and increase flexibility.
- Avoids Injuries
As stated in the introduction, triathletes perform a lot of repetitive motions. This repetitiveness can cause muscles to become imbalanced, breakdown and eventually lead to injury. A good strength training program can introduce various exercises that can help you avoid injuries. A common example of this is an imbalanced cycling stroke. One leg works harder than the other, which can then cause other muscles to overcompensate for that imbalance and is an easy recipe for injury. However, with a good strength-training program that addresses this issue, by incorporating a lot of single leg exercises, can help you avoid injuries as such.
- Improves Posture
Improving your posture and how your body functions are one of the main goals of a good strength program. Strength training is all about good body mechanics. Going through a program, especially with a fitness professional, will teach you good body mechanics and will also point out some of the bad habits that you may not even know were “bad.” Thus learning how to perform an exercise correctly will teach you more about your body than anything else.
- Improves Your Performance
Finally, the number one reason why triathletes should be participating in a strength-training program is to improve your performance! Simple. Everybody wants to perform better. So whether you consider this a hobby or compete at a high level an increase in your overall performance and how your body functions is a win. Add up these 5 reasons and I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to participate in a strength-training program regularly.
Note from the editor – Coach David will be leading our off-season Strength Training Group. Read more about the Training Group here. Year-round, the DFW Tri Club has super-discounted rates at D1 Sports. Check out our Club strength training options here.