Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Incorporating Strength Training With Triathlon Athletes

February 17, 2022

Triathlon is one of the more popular sports in Boulder with individuals training at all competitive levels and distances. Depending on their competitive level and distance athletes will commonly train up to 25 hours per week for their upcoming races. Surprisingly authors reports only half of triathletes utilize strength training in their weekly hours secondary to time and knowledge constraints. Previous authors have shown significant performance improvements secondary to improvements in running and cycling economy among athletes concurrently utilizing strength and endurance training. These improvements can make the difference in longer distance races considering athletes spend almost 90% of their race time on the bike and run.

Athletes are encouraged to choose multi joint, compound exercise movements such as the deadlift and squat to optimize their performance benefits and minimize the time required for strength training. Most commonly researchers have utilized squat and deadlift variations, latissimus pulldowns, and lunges, as well as, hip flexion and ankle plantar flexion single joint movements. Previous studies have shown these strength training movements may be more effective than plyometric movements for improving running economy and rate of force development.

Authors recommend athletes should transition from moderate (12 rep max) to heavy (6-8 rep max) strength training as able (Baldwin et al. Strength Conditioning J. 2022). Participants should aim for 3 sets of each exercise with 2 minutes of rest between sets. Emphasis and rep duration is often placed on the negative or eccentric contraction reflected in a 3 second lower and 1 second lift to optimize exercise benefits. Athletes should aim to transition from 3 days of lifting per week in the off season, to 2 days per week in the pre season, and finally 1-2 days per week while in season or on taper.

Click Here to learn which exercises are best for your triathlon training