The off-season is a perfect time for triathletes to hit the weight room, says Ben Greenfield, author of “Weight Training for Triathlon: The Ultimate Guide.”
Through the use of a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, cable, gravity or one’s own body weight, formal weight training can improve a triathlete’s ability to recruit more muscle fibers for any activity.
“Whether that be pulling your arm through the water, pushing off the ground or turning a pedal, when you can recruit more muscle fibers, you’re able to go faster,” says Greenfield. “In addition, weight training provides strength, stability and support to tendons and ligaments that surround your joints, which can reduce your risk of injury.”
Proper technique is key in weight training, as the most common injuries are shoulder, lower back and knee strains from moving a weight improperly. To avoid injury, hire a personal trainer for a single session to learn the proper movements, gradually increase the amount of resistance (Greenfield suggests no more than 5 to 10 percent per week for upper body, and 10 to 15 percent per week for lower body). Also, never lift weights after another activity, such as running, when you are fatigued and more likely to let your form get sloppy.
Also, progress with caution. “You should consider making a graduated progression from weight training machines to cables or elastic bands, and finally to free weights such as dumbbells or barbells,” says Greenfield. “Free weights give you greater range of motion and versatility of exercises, but also allow you to do more damage from an injury/risk standpoint if you aren’t ready for them.”
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