Strength Training Base Period For Triathlon

Triathlon coaches usually concur that strength training for triathletes necessitates a method that varies from that employed by athletes focusing on sharp strength and power generated quickly. This post discusses essential tips and tricks to assist you in extracting the greatest benefit from endurance-oriented strength training.

Triathlon strength training

Many triathletes wonder whether they should incorporate strength training into their routine. Sadly, numerous people opt not to do so, believing that doing one extra round of swimming, biking, or running would be more beneficial for them.

Integrating strength and conditioning into a training plan is a more effective path to better fitness. Especially for endurance athletes.

Strength training has a lot of benefits for triathletes. One of the benefits of this activity is an enhanced capacity to govern and generate power, secure joints and stabilizers, and reinforce neural performance (the connection between the brain and muscle).

Working out regularly builds up the body’s strength and endurance, so you can stay in shape for longer periods, maintain good posture, and avoid physical ailments.

Engaging in a type of strength training uses a significant amount of muscle fibres – more than a jog or a bike ride would. Engaging in various exercises or adding more weight to the mix can lead to an increase in fast-twitch muscle fibres, improving the functioning of the mitochondria and making them grow.

This is why doing strength training for triathlons efficiently will not cause a reduction in aerobic fitness, but rather enhance it.

Strength training periodization

Triathlon strength training does not only involve lifting weights; it involves more than that. It is necessary to break the whole process up into periods to get the maximum benefit of adaptation. This enables athletes to hone in on particular areas needing improvement more accurately, and consequently, develop an ideal training regimen.

Periodization, essentially, means splitting the overall training plan into several phases, each with its own parameters – type of training, intensity, volume, rest intervals, etc. There are 5 distinct phases to choose from:

  • Adaptation – building neuromuscular connection and preparing muscles & tendons for the work ahead
  • Hypertrophy – growing muscle size. Not really relevant for triathletes, as it requires too much time to recover from
  • Maximum strength – maximizing the force that athletes can produce
  • Power – training the ability to maintain strength for longer (i.e. translating strength into muscular endurance). This is usually integrated with swim, bike and run training
  • Strength maintenance – preventing loss of strength during the active season

Typically, endurance athletes begin by conditioning themselves, also referred to as building strength and balance. From that point on, they focus on increasing the strongest amount of power to create the highest force that the muscles are capable of producing.

At that point, triathletes may include a short strength period (to improve hill climbing capacity, force and speed, for example) and progress into the maintenance phase while in the middle of the race.

Creating a triathlon strength training plan for the base period

The majority of a triathlete’s practice is typically dedicated to the base phase, which spans from 50% to 60% of the season. During this time, athletes build up a base of strength and conditioning that allows them to handle the rigorous training and competition that comes along with the sport.

The majority of triathlons, excluding short races, take no less than two hours to finish and generally require a substantial amount of aerobic activity.

This is the reason why improving a muscle’s capacity to utilize oxygen will reduce the rate at which fatigue occurs during competitions. Doing aerobic-based workouts is the most widely accepted method to reach your goal, however, it does not stand alone as the only option.

Strength and conditioning can lead to neurological changes, increase the number of mitochondria, raise an athlete’s capacity for applying force, and reinforce the muscles located throughout the body. It’s an excellent way to put an end to the dullness of extended, effortless jogs and biking.

Triathletes should emphasize bodyweight exercises as part of their training regime. These exercises typically involve a combination of moves that stimulate the activation of a significant number of muscle fibres throughout the entire body – the primary muscles and the stabilizing muscles alike.

Furthermore, they enhance suppleness, freedom of movement, and the extent of motion. Doing all of these things leads to enhanced efficiency when it comes to the muscles, greater strength and the potential to retain the proper form for a longer time, which is essential in a half and full Ironman race.

Particular muscles (hips, rotator cuff, etc.) that help promote stability are especially crucial for athletes as they can restore equilibrium and stop harm.

The ideal time to undertake this type of training is during the base period. At this point of the season, athletes usually engage in extended activities that do not demand too much physical. Due to this, their healing is expeditious and permits more strength and conditioning exercises.

Strength training for triathletes in the early base phase

The beginning stage is generally a short period, lasting for only a couple of weeks. During this period, athletes are mostly building up their stamina and gearing their bodies up for harder workouts. This means doing aerobic exercises over a long period at a relaxed pace, but including brief periods of increased speed.

The point of adaptation is not to gain strength, but instead to enhance overall strength and establish muscles used to working out after a period of not doing any training.

From a strength and conditioning point of view, the best way of encouraging early change is to complete a large number of reps (in the region of 20-30) with little or no pauses between exercises.

This will guarantee that even the weakest muscles used for stabilizing are activated. Imagine it to be similar to a lengthy stroll at an easy pace that slowly wears you out.

It is essential to return to mobility after taking a rest from exercise; therefore, devote additional time to the warmup and guarantee you are utilizing the entire scope of motion in strength exercises.

Strength training for triathletes in late (main) base

Once the muscles and joints have been conditioned through preliminary exercises, athletes can then begin more dynamic movements.

The purpose of this step is to generate the highest possible strength and encourage additional endurance adjustments.

This usually involves performing high-intensity efforts (less than 10 seconds) with big loads or movements followed by long (around 5 minutes) breaks in between to prevent muscular fatigue.

A large gap between difficult repeats helps to prevent an increase in H+ ions (which results in tiredness) and enables you to keep doing repetitions.

The effort does not last long enough for muscles to become fatigued, but spending just five minutes on it is enough to replace the expended Creatine Phosphate (CP).

This method enables the athlete to do the activity multiple consecutive times, causing the mitochondria to increase in size and resulting in improved endurance without feeling overly tired afterwards.

These practice sessions require minimal effort since athletes don’t tire themselves out – they can recuperate completely within a day. Triathletes should fit 2-3 sessions into their weekly schedule, depending on how much time they need to devote to swimming, biking, and running.

The goal of strength training for triathletes

The main purpose of strength training for triathletes should be to minimize the risk of injury and also to impart strength, power, movement proficiency, and muscular endurance that will be beneficial when competing in various events.

It is important to look right away at any issues with swimming, cycling and running because of their repetitive motions. To avoid harm well, certain weakened muscle groups should be strengthened to aid with the issue.

Athletes may be able to better their performance through strength exercises that precisely focus on the movements and speed.

Strength training programs which are planned out in segments move athletes from general exercises to more specific ones. When it comes to endurance sports, workouts should progress from general movements to more intensive ones, to reduce the risk of contradictory adaptations of the body’s extremities.

Eventually, some of the strength training should be done as part of the activities focused on swimming, biking, and running.

Strength training can produce effective results throughout the year, but it is advisable to begin during the offseason to avoid doing too much.

If you can commit to approximately three months of dedicated strength training during the offseason, In that event, there is an enduring training benefit and an extended postponement of the preparation of strength that can provide remarkable outcomes for the competition season.

It is possible that your performance levels will not rise right away, and in certain circumstances, it is possible to see a modest decrease.

In the long run, putting money into strength training can be very advantageous. It is especially important for athletes doing preparation for Ironman or marathons, which involve long-distance triathlon events.

Here are some rules and basics to assist you in carrying out an adequate and efficient off-season strength exercise program.

1. Embrace Strength Training Fresh and Avoid Mal-adaptations

It is especially essential to do strength training exercises when you have lots of energy, as they require a great deal of effort. An individual who is strong in athletics would not engage in a strenuous endurance workout before focusing on their strength, and the same principle applies to athletes who specialize in endurance.

It is important not to begin any kind of strength-building activity while feeling exhausted. Nevertheless, taking a brief jog or bike ride is acceptable. You can completely negate the benefits of your strength workout by following it up with an intense and tiresome endurance session.

Doing an exercise session that covers a moderate amount of distance shortly after strength training may help transfer some of the benefits gained to your particular sport. If you exercise too intensely or for too long before or after a strength routine, you can suffer from maladjustment.

2. Focus on Functional Movements

Putting together a strength training routine that involves a good mix of exercises becomes simpler and easier to do when you concentrate on types of motion and varieties of movement rather than specific muscle groups.

To understand the implications of this, it is best to refrain from single-joint isolation exercises unless the desired result is to avert injury and to stimulate an inactive muscle group.

Focus your lower body strengthening on ground-based, multi-joint exercises. For instance, while doing a squat or a lunge, you involve muscles adequately as compared to when doing hamstring curls or leg extensions.

Include exercises that involve the usage of only one leg, like the single-leg squat, single-leg RDL, and step-up to address endurance athletes’ needs. The exercises are extremely effective at promoting increased balance and protecting against injury.

3. Don’t Overlap Endurance with Strength Training

Remember that strength training should be used in addition to endurance training. Do strength training at a demanding level of intensity, yet abstain from programs such as CrossFit and other circuit-style workouts which feature numerous repetitions and little rest time.

The main objective should be to maximize strength and power while avoiding excess tiredness.

Take breaks between sets and focus on doing shorter but more intense bouts of activity. You can also organize your fitness by utilizing digital technology to assist in enhancing your fitness. For more details visit here.

Your body relies on three main energy production methods: A-lactic (ATP-PC), step-aerobic, and aerobically. If you limit the majority of your exercise programs to short intervals (10-15 seconds) with ample rest, it won’t have such a great impact on the other parts of your training.

4. Incorporate Plyometrics

Plyometrics involve rapidly jumping up and down with limited time so that your feet remain in contact with the ground. The fundamental objective of plyometric workouts is to raise strength.

It doesn’t matter if everybody doesn’t want to jump; it’s essential to keep in mind that even a small amount of it is quite beneficial.

Begin performing exercises with a fairly low level of exertion like hopping on your ankles or jogging with short repeatable steps and gradually build up to more vigorous training such as box jumps, lunges, or running with large strides. Take heed of how much jumping you do during a plyometric session as it can be physically demanding.

Investigations have revealed that plyometric exercises can strengthen running performance. This means that for a particular pace, utilizing oxygen is less costly.

Adding plyometric exercises to a structured regimen has been shown to boost physical conditioning. Athletes are capable of not only reducing their heart rate while running at a steady pace but can also reduce their oxygen consumption, which signifies an augmented running economy.

5. Emphasize Power in Addition to Strength

Work is defined as force multiplied by distance. Power is defined as force multiplied by distance/time. Increasing the velocity of any action will increase its strength.

Particular emphasis has been placed on heavy weightlifting, which has been proven to be highly effective through rigorous testing, primarily because it engages many muscle fibres and produces great power. Nevertheless, strength can be increased by utilizing lighter weights and performing the movements faster.

Several research studies demonstrate that utilizing heavier weights is an effective way to increase strength for endurance athletes. Research also suggests that engaging in light to moderate weight lifting can be helpful.

Using lighter weights, it is achievable to move quickly enough that it resembles the activity, similar to plyometrics.

Nevertheless, when lifting heavier weights, the speed is not so fast, yet the power generated increases. They found that having the aim to be fast is just as crucial as actually being fast.

No matter how heavy the weight may be, it is essential to have a strong intention to move it rapidly to increase the force being exerted.

6. Transition Your Strength Training to Actual Sports

The ultimate objective of concurrent training is to make sure knowledge can be applied in multiple contexts. If you increase your maximum weight lifted on a single squat by 30%, you won’t see a 30% rise in your cycling power output.

An idea to follow would be to imitate many of the movements of the sport you play and the speed at which they are done. Eventually, you should incorporate strength training into your sport.

For instance, swimmers have the option to either swim with streamlined resistance or engage in roped swimming. Paddles are often employed, however, they possess the potential to cause shoulder injuries and thus should be used with caution.

Athletes who run can do exercises that include running short distances quickly or doing short repetitions running up hills. Cyclists can also do short, A-lactic surges, which are 10-15 second extreme sprints that are followed by full recovery.


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