Training for a triathlon is no easy task. In addition to regular swimming, running and bike workouts, you also need to find time to strength train. Gym training only requires about three days out the week, according to Matt Fitzgerald, author of "Triathlete Magazine's Essential Week-By-Week Training Guide." The goals of weight training workouts in preparation for triathlons are conditioning the body and limiting injuries. Weight training also helps improve your overall performance.
There are many types of strength training, and more than one type can benefit athletes. Fitzgerald recommends stability strength training over other types to increase the stability of your joints--the knees, hips, spine and shoulders--and help you swim, ride and run with greater efficiency. Using free weights, such as dumbbells, during your weight training workouts ensures that both sides of the body work equally.
The dumbbell press strengthens the chest, triceps, and shoulders. To execute the movement, lie flat on a weight bench with moderately heavy dumbbells in each hand. Extend your arms straight up over your chest without locking out the elbows. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and keep your hands out to your side. Extend your arms back up to starting position. Repeat this bending and extending of the elbows for 10-12 repetitions.
Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Dead Lift
The dumbbell stiff-legged dead lift strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and muscles of the lower back. To execute the movement, stand with the feet hip-distance apart while grasping a dumbbell in each hand at the front of the thighs. Bend forward from the hips while bringing the chest forward. Keep your back straight and your legs as straight as possible without locking the knees. Extend the hips and return to starting position. Repeat this bending and extending of the hips for 10 to 12 repetitions. To stretch the hamstrings, use very light dumbbells.
Triceps kickbacks strengthen the triceps muscle group at the back of the arm. To execute the movement, grasp a dumbbell, stand with the knees slightly bent and lean forward from the waist while keeping your back straight. Bend the elbow and hold the upper arm close against the body. Extend the forearm back and contract the triceps muscle. Bend the arm and return to starting position. Repeat this bending and extending of the elbow for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Dumbbell Single-Leg Squat
The dumbbell single-leg squat improves pelvic, hip, and knee stability. To execute the exercise, begin with your right foot on an exercise bench or other sturdy surface and your left foot out in front about 12 to 15 inches ahead of your body. Grasp a light dumbbell in each hand. Squat down by bending your left leg to 90 degrees. Extend your left leg and return to starting position. Perform this bending and extending of your left leg until you complete 12 to 15 repetition, then perform the exercise with the right leg.
The lat pull-down strengthens the latissimus dorsi muscles of the back. To execute the movement, sit facing the machine with the legs positioned under the pads. Grip the bar with a wide, overhand grip. Pull the bar down to the top of the chest and pull the elbows back. Hold this position for two to three seconds, then extend the arms and release the bar back to starting position. Repeat this bending and extending of the elbows for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Lower Abdominal Squeeze
The lower abdominal squeeze strengthens your abdominal muscles and improves pelvic stability. To begin, attach 5 pound weights to both ankles. Lie on your back with your legs straight, knees slightly bent, and your hands out to your side for support. Contract your abdominal muscles and lift your feet toward the ceiling. Hold this position for two to three seconds, then lower your hips toward the floor. Repeat this lifting and lowering of the hips for 12 to 15 repetitions.
- Strength Training Anatomy, 2nd Edition; Frederic Delavier; 2006.
- Triathlete Magazine's Essential Week-By-Week Training Guide"; Matt Fitzgerald; 2006