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Active Root Ambassador and Personal Trainer Kate gives us her top tips on how to build a conditioning circuit and how to build functional strength over the winter!
It’s here! For most triathletes and many other athletes, the main season has ended and, save for a few wee races here and there, it’s time to get serious about our strength.
Strength training is super hard to fit into our schedule. For triathletes, our daily schedule is packed and every single minute is filled with work, family, training, eating and sleeping. It can be daunting to think about adding another hour or 2 into the mix.
It’s also really hard to know where to start - we all know we should do it, but we got into our sports because we love being outside. Standing in front of a mirror doing bicep curls with body builders has little appeal.
There’s also the fear that it will hinder our main training, that the DOMS will make us fatigued, and that it will make us bulky when we need to be light and agile.
The good news: strength and conditioning training doesn’t have to be complicated. More and more sports coaches and clubs will programme it for you and offer weekly classes. You could also think about hiring a PT on a weekly basis - if you go down that route, look for someone who has experience in programming for your sport and don’t be afraid to take numerous free trials until you find someone you like. It’s a big investment so you need to like the person!
If you’re going it alone in the gym, the Internet is awash with programmes and how-to videos, but I’ve put together a wee programme below that covers the main push, pull, legs, core and plyometric moves and mixed single limb work with big compound movements.
Start with big compound movements before moving to push, pull and core work, and finish with come cardio or plyometrics. Mix your weekly sessions up and make sure you spend some time working on single leg and single arm movements over the course of the winter to manage biomechanical imbalances.
Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise if you’re an endurance athlete, working to failure on the final set - the weight should be so heavy that you only make 10 or so reps. Rest for a minute after each set. As you get more confident and stronger, you can progress to low reps (5-8) of very heavy weights to really build strength and power for the main season.
This should take about an hour.
2) Goblet squat: take 4 seconds down, Pause, 2 up. Slow and controlled.
3) Split leg squat
4) Lat pull down dropset: this means do 3 sets as normal and on the last set work to failure then quickly reduce weight by 5kg (ie no rest), do as many as you can to failure then quickly drop by another 5kg to failure - this will build endurance in your back muscles.
5) Single arm dumbbell chest press
6) Push ups to fail (knees, full or on feet raised or single leg depending on level)
7) Single arm dumbell shoulder press
8) Circuit, core: 20 crunches, 20 oblique sit ups, 5 leg lowers (use 1 leg at a time if two is too hard). Repeat x 3
8) Circuit, plyometrics: 20 ball slams, 15 skaters (each side), 10 box jumps (start on a step if too high), 5 burpees. Repeat x 3
Remember: if you’re unsure of form or any exercise, ask a member of the fitness team at the gym to show you.