Unlike many other sports triathlons require the body to tolerate intense stress over a prolonged time period. Although it is imperative that there is a focus on the development of your cardiorespiratory system, endurance training is also important in your programme design and training.
Mobility and soft tissue work
Soft tissue manipulation by foam rolling and mobility work through drills encourages flexibility improving your economy of motion, or the ease with which you can perform an activity. This assists in the ability to move faster and more efficiently whilst decreasing stress and potential injury to the body.
Ensure that you are foam rolling, with a slightly lower body based focus, on a daily basis. This will maintain range of movement, prevent tightness and increase flexibility all at the same time. Mobilisation drills should be performed at the start of every resistance based session with extra activation work incorporated into the main training session if needed.
Functional strength endurance work
Improvement and maintenance of musculoskeletal health through resistance training will assist the body’s ability to withstand the repetitive stresses placed on it by the rigors of a triathlon. Each discipline in a triathlon requires a coordinated pattern of muscle recruitment that produces motion around the joints and creates the power to make a triathlete move.
Incorporating strength endurance weight based training sessions (typically a repetition range of 12-15, using a combination of lower weight and higher reps) will encourage strength and assist in injury prevention.
Resistance band work can be very effective in both the areas of strength and flexibility. You don’t necessarily need lots of big or expensive equipment to be able to achieve results and see gains.
Performance strength training
Predominantly used by intermediate and advanced triathletes searching to improve their performance speed and rate of movement. The inclusion of strength training (a low repetition range with heavier weight) with Power based training and plyometrics will increase power output and consequently improve ground speed.
Key considerations and top tips
- Triathletes should perform any sport-specific training (swim, bike, run) before resistance work in order to ensure strong results, good form and enable solid development of technique. Muscles that are tired as a result of resistance training can produce poor movement patterns thereby impeding efficiency and wasting energy.
- Rest is as important as training. Try to schedule weight training sessions and sport specific training days with ample rest between so that, for example, if you have done an upper body weight session to help improve your swim stroke you are not following this up with a swim session – the muscles need a least a day, ideally two where possible to recover.
- Don’t neglect the small and supporting muscles in your resistance training programme. For example, strength and balance of the rotator cuff is important for swimming performance don’t just focus on the larger muscle groups such as chest and back.