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By: Port of San Diego

12 Myths About Strength Training For Triathletes

Myth #1: More Strength Training Is Better

Just like everything in triathlon, more is not always better. In fact given that majority of any triathlete’s training should be spent swimming, biking, and running, excessive strength training can easily affect other workouts. Unlike bodybuilding I never recommend going all out with strength training, always leave a little of energy left in the tank for the workouts that count.

Myth #2: Weight Training Will Cause You To Put On Bulk

Unless you’re eating an extra 500-1000 calories a day you simply won’t get big from strength training. Triathletes are burning so many calories with swimming, biking, and running it’s near impossible to put on a lot of weight unless you’re eating in excess.

Myth #3:Weight Training Will Increase Risk For Injury

Quite the opposite is true. In fact several studies have shown that runners and cyclists who regularly conducted strength training actually reduced their risk for injury. Given that a majority of running injuries are caused from a muscular imbalance, strength training can address and fix these imbalances. For example I have the athletes I coach do single leg squats (with one foot on a bench, box, or stability ball), when switching sides almost everyone notices one leg is noticeably stronger and/or more stable than the other.

Myth #4: Weight Training Is Less Important Than A Swim, Bike, or Run Workout

This is my biggest pet peeve as a triathlon coach. Although swimming, biking and running is the the bread and butter of triathlon, often times strength is just as important. For example most triathletes aim to complete 3 bike and 3 run workouts a week in base phase of their training year. In most individuals I see much better results in just 2 runs and 2 bikes with 2 strengths sessions a week. I guess you can easy the amount the workouts is the same, but strength, biking, and running workouts are balanced.

Myth #5: High Reps Are Better For Endurance

This was conventional wisdom for many years which is understandable given triathlon is an endurance sand not so much a strength focused sport. This being said new research is coming out suggesting that traditional “heavy” weight lifting is very beneficial for runners and cyclists. Two Norwegian studies for example, had runners and cyclist do 4 sets of 4 repetitions of front squats 3 times a week for 8 weeks. By the end of the 8 weeks this study found dramatic improves in the performance of both the cyclists and runners.

Myth #6: Only Certain Individuals Need Strength Training

It is true that older athletes benefit more from strength training, however I believe all endurance athletes can see a benefit from incorporating strength training in their training program. The key is making the strength training specific to the needs of the individual.

Myth #7: Strength Training Is Only Important In The Offseason

Strength training should be a major priority in the offseason/early season for a triathlete however, it’s very important to maintain strength as the race gets closer. Additionally incorporating plyometrics in strength workout just a few weeks before a race has been shown to provide endurance athletes with some extra speed on race day.

Myth #8: You Need To Go To A Gym For Strength Training

It is nice to access to a variety of equipment but as discussed in detail in How To Have The Ultimate Home Gym For Under $100, you can create your very own gym right in your house. This saves time, money, and can be fun to incorporate with your family.

Myth #9: Crossfit Is The Best Way To Train For Endurance

As a personal trainer as well as a triathlon coach, I love many of the crossfit methods and employ them myself and with my clients. However, when it comes to endurance athletes I often find these high intensity workouts leave triathletes sore or injured for too long, affecting other workouts. Stick with exercises you know how to perform properly and that will be specific to you and your goals.


About Brad Haag

Brad is a certified USAT triathlon coach, a certified USAC cycling coach, and a certified NCSF personal trainer. Brad specializes in coaching endurance and warrior class athletes to peak performance. He can be found at HaagsAthletics.com.

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