Strength Training for Performance

Strength Training for Performance

Find out how to evolve your general strength training to focus on triathlon performance.

Not having races on your calendar to work towards is a struggle, but as Dr. Lisa Lewis and I spoke about in her podcast, there are a few ways to come out stronger.

In fact, many triathletes have used their “pool time” to begin strength training, and while this is a step in the right direction, a question many do not ask about strength training is “What am I trying to get out of it?”

There’s a difference between general physical preparation (doing sets of 10 and simply adding 2.5# to the bar each week for the major lifts) and strength training for performance. Here are a few of the properties that should be considered in a “strength training for performance” program:

  • Breathing Mechanics
  • Running/Sprinting Technique
  • Plyometrics
  • Corrective Exercises
  • Core Stiffness & Control

Simply put, strength training for performance differs from general physical preparation in that it looks not to increase the weight on the bar or the number of repetitions performed in an exercise, but rather to improve the athlete’s tissues, energy systems, breathing patterns, balance and stability.

Many athletes think that they’ll need longer strength training sessions in order to work on the skills above—but that’s not the case. In fact, a carefully designed program should take the athlete no more than 45-75 minutes to complete, 2-4 days a week. 

Let’s take a look at how a Strength Training for Performance program differs from general physical preparation strength.

General Physical Preparation strength training program:

Five-minute warmup into main sets of:

  1. Box Jumps 2*10
  2. Deadlifts 3*8
  3. Lunges 3*12ea
  4. Bench Press 3*10
  5. TRX Rows 2*12
  6. Planks 3*60 seconds
  7. Side planks, 3*30-45 sec ea

Looks pretty decent, right? As a general physical preparation program, for those who are just beginning in strength training, it is! But let’s take a look at a sample Strength Training for Performance program:

Strength Training for Performance program:

Six-minute Dynamic Warmup of:

  1. Crocodile Breathing 5 breaths
  2. Figure 4 Hip lifts 10 ea
  3. Hip Approximation 6 ea
  4. Single Leg Hip lift hold 1*20 sec ea
  5. Active Preacher Stretch 2*through

1a. Hands on Hips Jumps to Box with Absorb 3*4

1b. Front Squats to Box 1*10, 3*6

1c. Quarter Squat C’s 3*6 ea

2a. Tempo Band Pull Throughs 4*10

2b. Kettlebell Halo 3*8 ea way

2c. Straight Leg Kickbacks with Slider 3*8ea

3a. 2-1-1-1 Tempo Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3*15

3b. Half Kneeling Band Pull Aparts 3*10

As you can see, there is a lot more going on in the strength training for performance program. We won’t dive into the details, but the timing and technique of each exercise also matter immensely. 

Both these types of strength training have their place in a triathlete’s progression, it’s just a matter of what will suit your needs and desires best. 

If you’d like to learn more about strength training for performance, you can join my new Strength Training for Triathlon Team. Each week you’ll get fresh workouts, as well as access to a community of triathletes from around the world!

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