Top 5 Reasons Why Triathletes Should Engage In A Strength Training Program

 

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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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.

Why Tri? Triathlons Are Something You Can Do!

As originally posted on May 1st, 2017 at the StudioHop Blog.

Why on earth would you ever consider doing a Triathlon? I mean seriously, those people are crazy!

I hear it all the time. Intimidated by the perception of Triathlon is like being afraid of driving a car. Once you do it, it’s easy and you’ll take it for granted while wondering why you haven’t been doing it the whole time! As an added bonus, Triathlon may be the best sport that you can do and feel like you are in the Olympics!

So how did this perception come to be? Well, the reason the sport became popular is the same reason for this perception – the Ironman, which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and then it finally concludes with a marathon run. So unfortunately, when most non-triathletes hear the word “Triathlon”, they think “Ironman”. To add perspective here, the “Olympic Distance” Triathlon race is a .9 mile swim, 25 mile bike and 10k run.

In reality, Ironman races makes up a minority percent of Triathlons. The most popular Triathlons are actually “Sprint Triathlons”, which are anywhere from 250 to 750 meter swims, followed by 12 to 16 mile bike rides and 5k runs. Now that is much more manageable, right? Triathlon is great! With smart training, you get a diverse set of exercises that keeps you interested and may limit overuse injuries, especially for you runners!

The key to Triathlon is pacing! It’s easy, you learn as you go along. For those who don’t like to pace and just want to go fast – no worries, Triathlon can help you with that as well. (It’s called a Super Sprint!) It is that simple. Coaches at the DFW Tri Club are at every workout to help you fulfill your goals. With time, you pick up form and training tips and become more efficient. But if you’re swimming, cycling or running exclusively on your own, those efficiency gains will take longer to materialize. Furthermore, if you have very bad form, you may become injured before you get a chance to improve. An injury usually means setback, which means loss of fitness. This leads me to another good thing about Triathlon: Diversity! If you get a shoulder injury, you may still be able to bike and run. If you get a knee injury, you may be able to swim and bike, etc.

Another great thing about “Triathlon”? You don’t have to do all three sports! We also have Duathlons (Run-Bike-Run), Aquabikes (Swim-Bike), Aquathlons (AKA Splash & Dash: Swim-Run)… as well as events for those who just wish to swim, bike or run! Who doesn’t like options?

Triathlon is a very inclusive sport, filled with supportive, like-minded people. DFW Tri Club workouts are built with this in mind. They accommodate all levels of fitness and experience. Come give us a Tri and see for yourself!

-Mark Reisman, DFW Tri Club

Everything You Needed to Know About a Swim Skin (AKA Speed Suit) & A Roka Discount Over the Weekend

Race season is about to swing into full gear!

As the weather warms up, you may have a warm water race or two on your calendar. I thought this would be a great time to share some info that you can pass along to your athletes about swimskins: why they make you (a lot!) faster, how they should fit, and what races you can expect to need them at.

PLUS… Over the next 72 hours only, we’re offering ROKA Teams an additional 5% discount on all Viper Swimskins (i.e., a limited time 35% discount – so a 5% addition on top of your normal 30% discount). Just use this special code at checkout to take advantage: Member Discounts. Check out our men’s collection here and our women’s collection here.

Now for some information on swimskins. In my experience, a swimskin is the least understood piece of equipment for the average triathlete I meet. Hopefully some of this proves to be educational for you or your teammates!

WHAT MAJOR RACES ARE TYPICALLY SWIMSKIN RACES?

The following major events are typically either always non-wetsuit or borderline. If you’re planning to race any of the following, best to get your Viper now so you’re ready to race!

  • Ironman World Championships
  • 70.3 World Championships
  • Ironman Texas
  • Ironman Chattanooga
  • Ironman Maryland
  • Ironman Louisville
  • Honu 70.3
  • Eagleman 70.3
  • Buffalo Springs 70.3
  • Muncie 70.3
  • Racine 70.3
  • Ohio 70.3
  • Boulder 70.3
  • Maine 70.3
  • Atlantic City 70.3
  • Augusta 70.3
  • New Orleans 70.3
  • Any local race in the summer or early fall

HOW MUCH FASTER DOES A VIPER SWIMSKIN MAKE YOU?

In our experience, athletes find that a Viper Pro gives them 2 to 6 seconds per 100 meters vs. a jammer or one-piece women’s training suit. Strong swimmers will be closer to the 2s/100, and developing swimmers will be closer to 6s/100. The speed gain is even greater if you compare vs. a tri race kit, which may balloon and cause more drag than a swimsuit. The speed gain is also greater as you fatigue during the latter part of a swim.

WHY DOES A VIPER SWIMSKIN MAKE YOU FASTER?

How can a suit that doesn’t give you buoyancy make you faster? There are several reasons:

1. A swimskin lowers surface drag. The hydrophobic coating on the Viper X, Viper Pro, and Viper Elite makes the suits extremely slippery in water. Pour water on them, and you’ll notice that the water doesn’t soak in, but beads up and slides right off. The same thing happens to the water that you swim through – it is repelled by the suit and has very little frictional interaction with the suit as you move forward. The result: lower surface drag + faster swimming.

2. A swimskin reduces form drag. Your body and your tri race kit have all sorts of ripples and contours. Your race kit may flap around in the water. All of these things mean you have to move more water out of your way in more different directions in order to move forward. Moving extra water takes extra energy, and this resistance is called form drag. A Viper swimskin – particularly a snug-fitting one – smooths these wrinkles over and makes them into long, flowing lines that water can flow over without a lot of energy.

3. A swimskin helps you maintain your body line. This is the least obvious reason, but it’s the most important: in swimming, body line equals speed. This is why experienced swimmers can swim so fast with so little effort, while developing swimmers can spend twice the energy and not go nearly as fast. Experienced swimmers keep a straight body line; developing swimmers tend to wiggle, or “snake” as they swim. A swimskin – again, a snug-fitting one especially – simply prevents you from wiggling as much. We have an interesting story from product development that illustrates this point. Several years ago, we were testing a potential new material for the Viper Pro. The new material had the same coating (and thus the same surface drag) as the existing suit, but the new material had more stretch, and our hypothesis was that the additional stretch would result in better performance. However, as we tested the suits, the existing material – the less flexible one – was consistently one second faster per 100m. This crept up toward 2s/100m as the tester fatigued and lost the strength to maintain body line as effectively. From this, it became clear that for optimal speed, we should be designing more, not less, rigidity through the core of the suit. This is where the idea for the Viper X was born.

HOW SHOULD A VIPER SWIMSKIN FIT?

If you just finished reading the previous section, you probably picked up that for optimal performance, a Viper swimskin should fit tightly. How tightly? Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can get it on without another person zipping you up from behind while you squeeze your shoulder blades together, it’s too loose.

My colleague Michael has a story he likes to tell where, during a demo swim at Kona, he was getting ready for a swim in a size Small Viper Pro. Someone that was the almost exactly his same size came up to him and requested to trade his size L demo suit for a size XL because he thought the size L was too small. The gentleman was expecting it to fit like a swimsuit or bike shorts, but a swimskin should be much, much more compressive than either of those garments.

When trying on a swimskin, there are a few things to keep in mind. (1) You’ll want to put your race kit underneath, as you will wear it over a race kit during a race. (2) It’s important to understand that the degree of compression you feel on land will be different from what you feel while swimming. While the compressive properties of the material don’t change when wet (i.e. it doesn’t technically “loosen up”), the shape of your body does change when you swim. Try lifting your arms above your head – do you notice how your rib cage narrows and your belly sucks in? This is the shape your mid-section takes when you swim, and the fit of your swimskin should take into account this narrowing. This is why you can expect a well-fitting swimskin to feel more compressive when you’re standing with your arms at your side than when you’re swimming.

Having said all of this, it’s important to add that there is nothing wrong with opting for a less compressive fit if it makes you more comfortable. You’ll lose some of the body line and form drag benefits of a tighter suit, but you’ll still get a lot of the benefit of a swimskin. Just know that our size charts are set up with the ultimate performance fit in mind, so if you’re looking something less compressive, you will want to size up.

RULES TO KNOW

IRONMAN’s 2017 rules regarding the use of swimskins and wetsuits can be found here starting on page 12. A few key takeaways:

  • Wetsuits are not allowed in water temperatures above 76.1 °F / 24.5 °C.
  • At some races, IRONMAN may make wetsuits “optional” for water temperatures between 76.1 and 83.7 °F / 24.5 and 28.7 °C. However, athletes wearing wetsuits at these races will be ineligible for awards or Kona-qualifying spots.
  • Your tri kit may extend outside of your swimskin as far as the elbow. IRONMAN had a rule prohibiting this in the past, but it has changed in the current rules, per Section 4.03(f).

USA Triathlon’s current rules regarding the use of swimskins can be found here. A few key points:

  • Wetsuits are not allowed in water temperatures above 78 °F.
  • Wetsuits are “optional” for water temperatures greater than 78 °F and less than 84 °F. However, athletes wearing wetsuits at these races will be ineligible for prizes or awards.

HOW LONG SHOULD A SWIMSKIN LAST?

A swimskin is a race-specific product, and it won’t last forever. It’s best to swim in it 3-4 times in the weeks leading up to a race (this will let your skin build some toughness and reduce chafing on race day), then race in it. But it’s not meant to be a train-every-day product.

For a Viper X or Viper Pro, the hydrophobic coating will wear off after about 20-30 uses (maybe fewer if you wring it out, let it get tossed around, stuff it in bags, etc.; maybe more if you are careful to avoid things rubbing against the suit or the suit rubbing against itself). After that, it will still retain its compressive material properties due to the robust stretch-woven material, but it won’t have the same surface drag reduction benefits that it did when new.

A Viper Elite will have a similar life for the hydrophobic coating, but because it is a knit and not a woven material, it will experience a slight reduction in the compressive properties of the material over time.

A Viper Comp does not have hydrophobic coating, so there will be no change to the surface drag properties of the suit, but because it is a knit, it will see compressive properties decline over time, similar to the Viper Elite.

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If you have other questions or want assistance with ordering or finding the perfect fit, we have dedicated Customer Experience Specialists for ROKA Teams. Send a note to teams@roka.com or call 877-985-7652, and let one of our specialists know which team you belong to, and we’ll take care of you between Monday – Friday from 8 AM to 6 PM CST.

As always, thanks so much for being a ROKA Team.
Jessica

End of Season = Beginning of Off-Season

MARK REISMAN – NOVEMBER 10, 2016

Another season is in the books with most of our races completed for the year. I know I speak for all of the DFW Tri Club Coaches here when I say that it has been an honor to be a part of many of your training programs this year. No matter how big or small an impact we’ve made in your training, thank you for letting us be a part of it.

With the end of the season upon us, it is a great time to reflect. If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to think through what worked and what didn’t work for you, so you can make adjustments next season. Don’t forget to include how training affected your career and personal relationships!

Many of you have put in the hours, worked consistently and achieved your goals. Others have had fun working out and if you raced, you had fun racing. I’m going to guess that for the majority of you, you had plans to workout more, but life got in the way and although you enjoyed your training when you were able to do it, it may not have been enough to achieve your fitness goals. (I personally fall somewhere in between the last two!) No matter where you fall on this fitness spectrum, we all have one thing in common (depending on your race schedule) – the end of the season marks a time to wipe the slate clean and start over. Continue reading End of Season = Beginning of Off-Season

Eliminate the (Bike) Noise

Scott Alexander – March 29, 2017

In my first post from this series, I touched on the first triathlon discipline: swimming.

The second discipline, cycling, has many more moving parts – literally and figuratively.

I’ll focus on two major areas of “noise” that can occur in cycling: mechanical and physical. Eliminating all this can definitely make you more efficient!

MECHANICAL
You’d be surprised how many issues people never address that can negatively impact your efficiency and therefore, performance, on the bike. Continue reading Eliminate the (Bike) Noise

Eliminate the “Noise”

Coach Scott Alexander – January 31, 2017

In life, there are plenty of opportunities to lose focus and let distractions take over. With triathlon in your life, it can happen even more frequently. With swimming, biking, running, strength training, yoga, and – dare I say it – recovery, filling our ever-shrinking calendars, it’s easy to let the “noise” of triathlon interfere with your non-tri life (if there is such a thing!).

Well, I’m not here to talk about your non-tri life; I’m here to help you eliminate the noise that occurs in your training!

First, a few relevant definitions of the word “noise”:
-a disturbance interfering with the operation of a mechanical device or system.
-irrelevant or meaningless data or output occurring along with desired information. Continue reading Eliminate the “Noise”

Goals

Mark Reisman – January 14, 2017

I recently heard from an athlete something along the lines of, “If I don’t qualify, then I’m [going to be devasted]”. What is wrong with this statement? Let’s discuss!

Let’s say, to qualify, you need to be in the Top 10, with a roll-down to 18 if the spots don’t go claimed. You train your butt off and you do everything you can to recover efficiently, including getting adequate sleep, eat right and regular massages and adjustments. On race-day, you nailed it and had a perfect race! Maybe, that’s good enough for a 10 minute PR! Maybe, in a previous year, you would have slipped in at number 7, score! But this year was different. This year, there happened to be 15 or 20 other athletes ahead of you and you did not reach your goal of qualifying. Devastating indeed.

Or in this other example, what if you made some mistakes along the way, but for the most part, you had a good race! And finally, what if nothing went right. Injuries in training and a race well below your expectations. Continue reading Goals

How to Top a Year of “Epic”!

Scott Alexander – December 5, 2016

Webster’s dictionary has the definition of epic as “extending beyond the usual or ordinary, especially in size or scope”.

For endurance athletes, that could mean a variety of things. What could possibly make a triathlete, who can swim, bike and run hundreds of miles in a single day, have an EPIC year?

Although I didn’t do a whole lot of triathlons in 2016, I did have what most people -including triathletes – would describe as epic. Continue reading How to Top a Year of “Epic”!

Palo Duro Canyon 50km, Race Report

Scott Alexander – October 27, 2016

THE TRAINING

I felt I was a little late to the training schedule, which showed a start in May. The plan was basically created for a 50-mile event (JFK), with a short taper for those folks doing the Palo Duro Canyon 50km. The schedule I was provided showed running six times weekly, which I didn’t get anywhere near doing!

I further modified the schedule myself to accommodate the fact I didn’t have as much running base mileage as the others did. I did have quite a good bit of cycling fitness though, as having recently completed a bunch of high altitude riding in Colorado, including the Triple Bypass 120 mile single-day ride. I believe that cycling fitness can translate quite well to running fitness.

I was aiming to have two long runs, back-to-back, on the weekends, with at least a couple longer medium-distance runs mid-week. Obviously, as much of that I could get on the trails and/or hills, the better. I’d supplement these runs with occasional hill and track workouts. Continue reading Palo Duro Canyon 50km, Race Report

15 Thoughts While Running My First 15k

Lyndsi Bieging – February 26, 2016

I found that in my latest running race, the Hot Chocolate 15k on February 6th, I had quite a bit of time to think about things. After about 2 miles into the race I started making a mental list of the things I was thinking about and here it is. Enjoy!

1. I look like a triathlete at a running race
– Mainly because I am using a race belt and haven’t pinned my race bib to my shirt.

2. There is not a lot to do before a running race
– At triathlons I walk transition to find the entrance and exit for each discipline, I walk to the water and make sure I understand the course, I get my transition area set up, I warm up on the bike and run at a minimum – and the swim if I can, I hydrate and make sure I have the proper nutrition… At a running race all I needed to do was the last piece of that whole routine. Continue reading 15 Thoughts While Running My First 15k