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Simple strength training routines

So you're coming out of hibernation and ready to get serious about your multisport endeavors. You'll be swimming, biking, and running your way to greater and greater summer fitness, but don't forget about a bit of strength training to stay strong and uninjured.

Strength and/or core training can be done within your primary sport in the form of drills and plyometric exercises in that they isolate specific muscle groups for extra work. But the specific sport itself usually cannot target every ancillary (secondary) muscle group as well as alternative resistance training can. Re: running hill repeats puts more stress on your glutes (butt / rear hip) and quadratus lomborum (lower back), but is not the best way to make those muscles stronger. It is, however, the most specific way to adapt to running hilly races. :)

In other words, combining specificity training and supplemental strength training is the two-pronged approach to creating stronger, more resilient athletes (leaving out nutrition/recovery, etc). Resiliency is a key component of not becoming injured. Injury, as you might imagine, stinks for athletic progression.

The rage about core strength has been going on for a while so most of you should be familiar with the idea. Fundamentally, core strength is having a strong torso, from your shoulders through your pelvis. There are a lot of muscles in there. Certain exercises like calf raises wouldn't be considered 'core' work but would be considered functional or specific strength work. For purposes here I'm just calling everything strength training without getting into semantics.

It is very easy for strength training to fall off the radar as we get busy with our lives and consumed by the demands of higher effort run/bike/swim workouts. But, do yourself a favor and keep these on your plate. They don't have to be 1 hour workouts. You can stay pretty well-together with a couple 15-30 minute routines done 2x a week (more if time permits is great). I'm not preaching 7 minute abs - but over the long haul, consistency week in and week out will add up.

Yoga and Pilates classes taught my competent instructors are valid forms of strength training. A lot of the movements in here require flexibility & strength, both of which will enhance most athletes' performances in multisport endeavors. You can find some really good DVDs like Sage Rountree's customizable DVD and Rodney Yee's catalog of DVDs.

We have a number of strength routines for our athletes, some much more specific than others. Here is an example of one of our quick, simple routines. You can adjust the time/reps as needed for your level of experience and current fitness. Rest 30 seconds or more as needed between exercises so you're not panting/shaking.

Warm up a few minute easy aerobic exercise
1 minute front plank (optional arm-leg raises)
30 second side plank left (optional twists)
30 second side plank right (optional twists)
10-20 squats (optional medicine ball or kettle bell, optional on a bosu ball)
10-20 pullups
10-20 side leg raises
10-20 bird dog
10-20 pushups (optional with feet on swedish ball, roll knees to chest between each push)

This routine would take about 10 minutes if completed one time and hits most of your major core muscle groups. Each of these exercise has video samples/long articles about how great they are all over the internet. You could complete the routine more than once for additional training stress, or add a few other exercises.

If you have the time to train and recover well, doing higher effort & methodically approached strength training at the appropriate times in your training cycle can have a positive effect. But, if you're fighting for time on a daily basis, having a few simple go to exercises will make a world of difference.

Coach Marty Gaal is a USA Triathlon Coach and NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist. He has been coaching endurance athletes since 2002.

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