Fitting in strength training into your overall competition training can be a struggle. Here are some strategies you can use to integrate strength training into your program.

1)      Complement your triathlete training with strength training:

Endurance athletes (runners, triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, etc.) already have large volumes of training stress from swimming, running, and biking.  There’s really no need to add high volume onto high volume.  Pair high volume triathlon training days with low volume strength training and vice versa to keep yourself fresh. 

2)      Think intensity over volume:

Expanding on point 1, endurance athletes don’t need to be hitting high volumes of repetitions in the weight room: the high-volume work is already taken care of through the competition training.  Ideally, your strength training should aim for 3-4 sets of 2-4 reps per exercise for your main lifts.  The key is to lift a weight heavy enough where 2-4 reps is still high-quality work. Even on higher volume strength training days, 3 sets of 6-8 reps should be plenty for your main lifts.

3)      Lift first or during your endurance training

I would recommend strength training prior to endurance training.  From a physiological standpoint, lifting first will most effectively utilize your body’s energy stores and set yourself up for best results.

Alternatively, if you have a triathlon training session that includes shorter distance circuits or tempo work, throwing in some strength training during your breaks are great ways to promote active recovery.

Check out Part 2, 5-exercise workout you can use to complement your endurance training:


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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge.  He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

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