There has been something that I have been very passionate about for a long time and I have proved it time and time again throughout my career. We, as triathletes don’t put enough focus or time on strength training.
I believe that the single biggest limiting factor that affects how fast an athlete can race an Ironman, or Ironman70.3 for that matter, is their strength!
Let’s look at it this way. The swim in an Ironman consists of thousands of swim strokes, the bike, many thousands of pedal strokes and the run has thousands of strides. You only have so much energy to use during the race. You need to be as efficient and as fast as you can.
Now being strong allows you to hold good technique when you swim, bike and run. This helps you do 3 things:
Generate more power. More power equals more speed. This helps you be faster.
Maintain good form. This allows you to be as efficient as you can be.
Help the body to withstand the repetitive stresses of training and racing. This helps prevent getting injured, which in turn allows you to be more consistent in your training, which allows you to achieve better results when you race.
A few other things to also note are:
As you get older your strength naturally diminishes. If you want to maintain strength you really need to use it or lose it.
Being strong on the bike helps you to run faster off the bike. The stronger you are on the bike the less the bike fatigues you which allows you to use your run speed.
Strength and particularly resistance training has been shown to improve male testosterone which makes you stronger, faster and helps you recover better from training. It also makes blokes go pretty well in other areas of their life as well if you know what I mean!
There are different components of strength.
There is strength endurance, which allows your body to withstand the repetitive stresses of the training and racing.
There is Functional strength which allows you to maintain good form and therefore increase your efficiency.
Then there is power which by definition is strength with speed. It is well worth spending time focusing on strength training and actually making it one of your key sessions. (We have three strength classes every week in SEAC Studio - book here.
So how does one improve strength you may ask. You can incorporate specific strength into your swim sessions (by using paddles, pull bouys, bands etc) , your bike sessions (big gear SE efforts, seated hill climbs, power efforts, - every week in the Studio), and run sessions (hill repeats, double runs , fatigued speed efforts).
I am a big fan of strength training. It has played a very big part in the success and longevity of my career. I feel strength is an essential part to any triathletes program. Triathlon should not just be about just swimming, riding and running. Sometimes in order to get faster you also need to be strong.