These strength exercises are provided by Ironman All World Athlete and PHUEL brand ambassador Kalletta Caldwell.
It can be hard to incorporate strength exercises into your triathlon training plan, especially when you have a crazy schedule or work full-time like I do. But by adding strength sessions to your off-season routine, you will find it provides you with better resilience and performance, especially as we age.
In the off season, I up my strength training (both load and volume) to take advantage of the benefits and lower endurance volume. I also use PHUEL before and after strength sessions and find it helps significantly with DOMS.
As I ramp up triathlon training in the early year and spring, I keep lifting 2–3 times a week, sprinkling in core and mobility every day, usually while I watch TV at night. I find that during this time, I can still lift heavy since I’m not racing yet. I do, however, make sure that a strength session doesn’t land on a day before a key workout, so I can perform my best.
Here are a few strength moves I like to incorporate into my pre-season triathlon training plan:
1. Back Squat: 5-6 x 6-8 Reps
This is a big main muscle group, which I always do first in a session. I go heavy and use a barbell (or you can use DBs held at your side). Stand with feet just past hip width apart, toes pointed out slightly. With the barbell behind your neck (resting on shoulders slightly), squat down until quads are parallel to ground, keeping your weight level between heels and toes. Controlled going down, and push up with power, always keeping your core tight. Take 1.5 to 2 minute rest in between—you’re lifting heavy, so don’t rush it.
2. Row: 3 x 10
You can do this one with a bar, dumbbells or a suspension machine. Keep your back flat, being careful not to hyperextend, and pull the weight straight toward your chest and release slowly. If using weights, do this bent over, and if on a suspension machine, with your feet in front of you. I like this one because it works your core and your swim muscles, and if you perform bent over, it mimics the aero position on the bike.
3. Single Leg Lunge on Box/Bench: 3 x 10 Each Side
You can do this on the floor or standing on a bench/box (or
your stairs if at home). You can do this with no weight or hold a weight, but start light. With one foot on the box, lunge back with the other leg—keeping the tension in the standing leg—tap the back leg, and return back up. This simulates the running position and is great for side-to-side imbalances.
4. Push Ups: 3 x 10
You can do this on the floor (on your knees to make it easier),
on the ball, or using a suspension system. Hold your core tight, put your head in the same position as when you swim, and push down and up. You want to focus on good form and getting down low—don’t be afraid to use your knees and work your way up. You can also alternate leg raises if you want to make this exercise more advanced. This is great for the muscles you use while swimming!
5. Spiderman Plank on BOSU: 3 x 10
This can be done on the floor or with hands/feet on a
stability ball, but I like the BOSU. Get into a plank (BOSU under hands). Engage the core, putting your head in the same position you would when you swim (i.e., looking down but very slightly in front of you). Bring one knee to the same shoulder, then switch sides. If you want to make it harder, you can also put your feet on a stability ball. This is a great core workout, and I like it because I can work on swimming head position muscle memory as well.