Build lower body strength to improve your triathlon performance.
Triathletes depend on their training program to develop the techniques, stamina and endurance needed for a successful race. But two commonly overlooked components are power and speed as a result of strength. To build strength, power and speed you can incorporate various strength workouts into your triathlon training schedule. However, adding strength workouts into your schedule can be difficult, especially for workouts such as a leg-strength workout. If done properly, leg-strength workouts for a triathlete will build the strength, stamina and function needed to maximize your triathlon performance.
Leg-strength workouts provide more benefits to the triathlete than simply improving strength. A well-designed sport-specific workout can actually decrease your total race time by up to 25 percent according to Mark Allen, Ironman triathlon champion. Additional benefits include decreased recovery time, reduced potential for injuries and the preservation of lean muscle tissue.
There are a variety of exercises that can be included in a leg-strength workout, but a triathlete demands sport-specific exercises to achieve maximal results. Allen suggests single-joint isolation exercises such as leg extensions for the quadriceps, leg curls for the hamstrings and calf raises for the calf muscles. The best multi-joint functional exercises include squats, lunges and leg presses. The combination of all of these exercises directly influences different components of swimming, biking and running.
Incorporating leg-strength workouts into your triathlon training schedule can be difficult after dedicating two to three days to each sport. Focus on spending at least two days per week performing leg-strength workouts. Use lightweight resistance settings and perform one set of 12 to 15 repetitions. You can perform the strength workouts on rest days or after a sport workout for swimming, cycling or running.
The increased workload from adding leg-strength workouts into your training program increases the potential for overtraining. As a result, you also increase the likelihood of injuries and decreased performance. You can reduce overtraining by focusing on leg-strength workouts during the off-season and by taking enough rest days during the competitive season. Always listen to your body and take additional rest days as needed. Consult your doctor or triathlon coach immediately if you experience any unusual pain or discomfort from your workouts.