The Triathlete Strength Training PrimerPart 8: The Competition Period – In-Season Strength Training
We’re back! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving week, and enjoyed reading the fantastic blog posts written by our interns. If you haven’t read them yet, you can read them here, and here, and here. This week we’ll be discussing the competition season for triathletes, and going over the importance of maintaining a consistent strength training schedule. Most triathletes drop the weights as soon as spring rolls around, and suffer unwelcome drops in their total body strength and stability as a result. Don’t be one of these people! Keeping up with a consistent strength training plan is vital for maintaining these performance attributes, as well as fighting off injuries that can creep up from tens of thousands of foot strikes and hours hunched over your aerobars. Let’s get to it!
In-Season Training Goals
It’s very important to understand what our goals are when it comes to strength training during the triathlon season. We’re not looking to build muscle. We’re not looking to make huge gains in strength. We’re not looking to develop massive amounts of anaerobic power. These were the goals of the off-season. We then used the pre-season to focus more on muscular endurance and anaerobic capacity, effectively teaching our body to demonstrate strength over longer periods of time and exhibit high amounts of power consistently and continuously. Now that the in-season has rolled around, we want to maintain the fruits of our labor so that we can perform to the best of our abilities during competition.
There’s a concept called the Speed-Strength Continuum, and, in this video, Eric Cressey does a fantastic job of explaining how it applies to training. Triathlon sport training (running, biking, and swimming) would fall on the far left under the “Speed” category. You’re not working against a significant external load during these movements, and the involved muscles are moving at relatively high velocities (even if you may feel like you’re being passed by every runner under the sun).
During the season, when our mileage is at its highest and you’re putting the most time into your sport training, you’ll inherently be working on the far left (high-speed) for the majority of your training. It’s important to balance out this “speed-work” with some strength work in the weight room. Spending the majority of your time training “speed” is going to cause a loss of stability at your ankle, knee, hip, and shoulder joints. Dedicating some quality time strength training is going to go a long way towards maintaining that stability that you’ve gained in the off-season, preventing injuries that result from unstable joints, and protecting your body from the rigors of the season. As an added bonus, being vigilant with your in-season training is going to put you ahead of the game once you enter the next off-season. You’ll need to dedicate much less time to fixing your problem spots, and have the luxury of jumping into a strength phase that much quicker.
Now that we know the goals of our in-season training plan, we’ll take next week to go a little more in-depth and lay out an example of what an in-season strength training template should look like. Now get your butt off the couch and go lift some heavy weights! '
The Triathlete Strength Training Primer
Part 1: An Intro to Periodization - Seeing the Bigger Picture Part 2: The Repetition Maximum Continuum Part 3: The Preparatory Period a.ka. the Off-Season Part 4: Off-Season Periodization Part 5: Off-Season Periodization, cont. Part 6: The First Transition Period Part 7: The First Transition Period, cont. Part 8: The Competition Period - In-Season Strength Training Part 9: In-Season Template Part 10: Post- Season Training