If you have been reading FITaspire for any period of time, you have likely heard me talk about the importance of strength training for running and triathlon. It often falls into the category of “I should”, instead of being a consistent part of a training program. To be honest, it’s an area that I neglected myself for many years in my own running & triathlon career.
There are two common reasons that you may skip strength training:
- Not sure WHY you need to do it (and you are already balancing so many)
- Unsure WHAT strength training program to follow (to benefit your endurance goals)
Why Include Strength Training
There are several reasons that you should include strength training in your training program as a runner or triathlete. The core reason is for injury prevention, especially if you have battled injuries in the past. Strength training will help you avoid (or correct) muscle imbalances that are common.
Hip strength is a great example of one area that needs regular attention for endurance athletes. Including hip strength exercises in your training can help avoid a number of common running injuries, including: IT band pain, runner’s knee, and piriformis syndrome.
If injury prevention isn’t enough, strength training also helps you build strength for improved performance and improved form for running, cycling, and swimming. It’s a delicate balance sometimes, as you don’t want to lift so heavy that your other training is negatively impacted. You can adjust your strength training approach throughout the season to match your training focus.
I have seen great progress in my own performance from incorporating strength training in my plan. Regular focus on increasing leg strength translates very well to increased power on the bike when climbing. With very limited cycling over the past few years, I am seeing increases in my FTP from the additional strength I’ve gained in the gym.
Nothing replaces putting in the miles (or kilometers) in training, but you can enhance the result by also putting in time building your strength in the gym.
What Strength Training Program?
Now that you understand why you should including strength training in your running or triathlon plan, the next question is what exercises should you do? This was the question I struggled with most, as I didn’t want to waste time in the gym on exercises that didn’t apply to my goals. You also don’t want to do the same program every week, as eventually your body adapts and becomes efficient at those movements. Efficiency isn’t a good thing, in this case, as you want to challenge your body to continue seeing results.
I recommend that you include strength training in your plan at least twice a week. Three is even better, but it can be hard to fit that into your schedule if you are training for a marathon or triathlon. To minimize any negative training impact, plan most of the lower body exercises early in the week – ideally the same day or day after your speed workouts.
Make sure you include exercises that target any areas of past injuries or known weaknesses. For example, if you’ve had shoulder issues in the past with increased swim volume, look to include exercises to strengthen the shoulder and surrounding areas. If you have a history of IT band issues, make sure you’re including hip and glute strength (and stretching) in your routine to keep that area healthy.
FREE 2 Week Strength Training for Endurance Athletes
If you’re ready to make strength training and important part of your running and triathlon plan, I have a workout plan designed just for you! This FREE strength training guide includes a complete program that you can follow for the next 2-3 weeks.
- 2 workouts each week
- Full workout descriptions with specific sets & reps for each exercise
- Links to video demonstrations of each exercise
- Home workout options included (with dumbbells or bands)
- Print-ready format, easy to take with you to the gym
These workout are designed to take 30-45 minutes to complete, which will add no more than 90 minutes to your training plan each week. I hope you agree the benefits listed above are well worth 90 minutes of effort each week!
Take 2 weeks to start building a stronger body to help you swim, bike, and/or run stronger and longer for the rest of your life!
Want the full 6 week program?
You can also upgrade to the complete program, which 6 weeks of workouts designed specifically for runners & triathletes. You can upgrade to the complete program for only $9.99, which includes:
- Detailed schedule of strength workouts
- 2 strength training workouts each week, for a total of 6 unique workouts
- Options for gym workouts or at-home workouts (with dumbbells)
- Detailed instructions to guide you through each workout
- Video demonstrations for all exercises, so there’s no question on what to do & proper form