Of some controversy, I suppose, is the need for lifting weights in triathlon. Personally, I'm all for it, but if you find you're doing just fine without it then by all means spend that time swimming, biking and running. I like to dedicate a little bit of time though during the week for 3 short strength workouts - two functional ones that concentrate more on core strength, functional movement, and balance, and one old school session with dumbbells and machines.
You know, some good old hard core wight lifting, kinda like this.......
Whoa! How did that get in here?!
I've been into lifting since I was in high school, when a girl in P.E. saw me in my tank top and said, "Bruce, your biceps are skinnier than your forearms." That comment broke me, and I hit the gym right after that.
Admittedly, the muscle I put on in high school that's still with me might not be all that helpful in triathlon. But I had no idea back then I'd be into this stuff. But there is strength there that I believe is tantamount to cycling strong, and can be useful in swimming and running as well. Now, the lifting I do is meant to augment the swimming, cycling, and running - I'm not trying to add muscle, just use the strength in the muscle I already have, and the movements I stick to are meant to mimic those that I use in triathlon and work the muscles that will be called to service on race day. Just very basic movements that employ the major muscle groups. I also find that a little muscle strength work keeps the injuries at bay.
Here's my Monday lunch time weight routine, which takes less than 45 minutes:
Ab Ripper X routine
Leg Press, 3x20 reps
Leg Extensions, 3x20 reps
Leg Curls, 3x20 reps
Calf Raises (Seated or Standing), 3x20 reps
Pull-Ups (Weight Assisted), 3x20 reps
Lat Pull-Downs, 3x20 reps
Back Extensions, 50 total
Dumbbell Chest Press, 3x20 reps
Dumbbell Flyes, 3x20 reps
Dumbbell Lateral Extensions, 3x20 reps
Single Dumbbell Tricep Extension, 3x20 reps
Dumbbell Bicep Curls, 3x20 reps
Note that I don't go below 20 reps. Again, just trying to build strength not mass. I find that 20 reps gives a good burn and keeps me from lifting too much that can cause muscle to build or possible injury.
Notes on the Above:
- Ab Ripper X: If you haven't tried this great ab workout from P90X, Google it. I love this routine. It hits the abs from all angles and is a quick way to deliver a knockout punch to the core.
- Only four exercises for the legs and glutes, starting with the one that employs the most muscle groups (Leg Press). I scrunch myself way up in the leg press to maximize the range of motion. You can cheat yourself out of a lot of work if you push the seat back.
- Leg Curls are what I believe to be the most important of the lower body exercises. Hamstrings are injury prone for runners, so you need to build them to be strong. You don't see a lot of muscle heads doing leg curls for two reasons: (1), they hurt, and (2), you can't see those muscles and they only care about what they look like. This is why they spend forever on the bench press.
- Calf Raises, again for injury prevention. Any muscle that is prone to injury has got to be strengthened against it.
- 2 lat exercises that both work the lats in a vertical plane, in line with the lever direction of the latissimus dorsi. It's my feeling that this plane mimics the action of swimming more than doing rows, which work the back muscles in a plane perpendicular to the lats.
- Back extensions, critical because the lower lumbar muscles are one of the first to ache on long bike rides. Toughen these muscles up! They also protect the spine which is another reason to strengthen them and guard yourself against back injuries.
- Both chest exercises are done with dumbbells, which incorporate a balance aspect into the lifting process. Leave the bench press with the barbell to the muscle heads that are more concerned with how they look in the mirror.
- Shoulders need to build some swimming strength too, so I hit them with the lateral raises. Sometimes I mix in some front raises just for the sake of it.
- I do the triceps with a single dumbbell so I can hit both triceps at the same time. At this point, I'm running out of time in my lunch workout so I'm trying to get it done without skimping too much on the smaller muscle groups. Those triceps can be key in maintaining good posture in the aero position over the long haul.
- I try to whip through the bicep curls as well. These are lesser muscle groups when it comes to triathlon, and they've already had some work during the lat pull downs and chin ups. But the biceps do play a roll when you're climbing out of the saddle on the bike and controlling your steed while your legs power you up the climb.
Okay, now you know what I know as far as putting a weight session into your weekly training routine. So, come on, pencil neck! Get your butt in the gym!