Why Strength Training For Triathletes Is So Important

To prevent injuries, triathletes must strength train and take good care of themselves.

Athletes often specialize in one sport and use another for cross training. Runners might cycle, cyclists might run, swimmers might lift weights. But triathletes are willing to take on three difficult sports at the same time. In essence they triple their risk of injury by competing heavily in areas that other athletes use for active rest and physical therapy.

That's why strength training for triathletes is so important.

Triathletes face a long list of potential risks, including runners' injuries like sprains and shin splints; swimmers' injuries like rotator cuff problems and dislocated shoulders; and even groin and hip strains often familiar to cyclists.

To ward off these injuries, triathletes need to take extra precautions and extra care. Here are some of the problems they face, and some tips on how to deal with them.

Limited Range of Motion

Limited range of motion is a problem for any athlete, but it's especially problematic for triathletes. Mobility issues stemming from tight hips are common among both runners and cyclists. Jay Dicharry, author of Anatomy for Runners, says that 85 percent of the people he treats lack good hip extension.

To combat this issue, use a lunge position to open your hips. Try to spend three minutes holding a Lunge on each leg. Do this daily to help support your pelvis and keep your lower body in good form.

Weak Connective Tissue

Underworked connective tissue has a real impact on training and competition. Athletes rely on connective tissue to coordinate their timing and keep their bodies stable. It also helps transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells, which is imperative in competition.

A good way to keep your connective tissue supple is to use a foam roller on key areas. Foam roll up to 10 minutes a day to improve your performance and prevent injuries.

Forgotten Feet

Many people neglect their feet by forcing them into uncomfortable shoes and rarely taking time to care for them. Who ever heard of someone going to the gym to strengthen their feet?

However, the foot is a complex part of the anatomy. There are 33 joints in each foot, which means any one of 66 things can go wrong if you neglect your feet.

To care for your feet and improve your sport performance, perform foot exercises for mobility, strength and flexibility. Work from your toes all the way up to your ankles. The goal is to make your feet as useful as your hands.

Poorly Fitted Bikes

Purchasing an expensive racing bike is not the key to riding faster and winning races. Your bike needs to be the right fit for your body. You should set up your bike according to three primary measurements: saddle height, fore and aft position of the saddle and saddle-to-stem distance.

A bike with correct measurements in these areas will support your natural position rather than forcing you to adapt.

Remember that the way you ride changes over time. The perfect bike from five years ago may not be the perfect bike today. If you start to feel pain on your favorite bike, bring it in for a re-fit to prevent an injury.

Too Little Rest

Marathoners take a rest day. Cyclists take a rest day. Swimmers take a rest day. But when you compete in all three at once, rest days seem impossible. There are no enough days in the week for a rest day.

Yet proper rest is particularly important for triathletes. To avoid injury and fatigue, take a rest day every week and take it as seriously as you take your training days. When you're not resting, make sure to get plenty of sleep so that you can recover between sessions.

Poor Swimming Form

Triathletes tend to focus their time on running and cycling, often leaving swimming by the wayside. This can be dangerous if you're not a strong swimmer because it can lead to rotator cuff and shoulder issues.

The freestyle stroke is a demanding stroke and it requires the right form. Trying to throw it together without worrying about your mechanics can result in serious shoulder pain.

Avoid this by focusing on form and building up shoulder strength with a series of targeted exercises.

Triathletes take on the world, but to be successful they must remember that self-care is as important as training. If you incorporate rest, targeted exercises and mobility into your training regimen, you can limit your down time and spend more time doing what you love.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRENGTH TRAINING | SWIMMING | SPEED DRILLS | SPEED TRAINING | EXERCISES | RUNNING | MOBILITY | TRAIN | INJURY | TISSUE | RUNNER | BIKES