The Importance of Strength Training

If there was 1 thing I learned training for Ironman, it was the importance of strength training.  Yes you still have to run 20 miles before work.  Yes, you have to see how many different counties you can bike through on the weekends.  But whether you are trying to improve you 5K pace, get through your first half or full marathon, your first triathlon, strength is key.  Bottom line – strength will prevent injury and increase performance.  I had really bad knee and hip pain before I started strength training.  I was able to finish an Ironman without it.

If you are a runner, for example, Nick Collins described in his article Strength Training for Runners: How To Do It Right on, “You have to be able to put out more force in a shorter amount of time to run faster. But if all you do is run, you never develop the true high-end strength and high-power demands that you need to do that. So yes, if you develop a strong core, you keep things stable. And if you have good glutes, you can propel yourself off the ground.”  And so on.  If you’ve seen any videos on Olympians, you see lots of footage of them in the gym.  Michael Phelps didn’t get that body just from swimming.  And, sigh…it is a beautiful thing!  🙂

My triathlon coach would put us through a variety of strength exercises.  We did regular body weight strength (squats, lunges, etc), lifting, but she also always included plyometric exercises. And we finished EVERY training session with abs/core.

When first starting out incorporating strength into your routine, start out with a 10-20 minute circuit several days per week.  Trust me, if you’re not used to strength, you’ll be sore after 10 minutes.  Also, I think it is easier to start with squeezing a small chunk of time into your already swamped schedule.  This helps establish the habit.  Then once you start to feel the benefits and get hooked, it’s easier to make time for the 20 – 30 minute workout.

Where do you start?  Pinterest and Google can find you gazillions of different 10 minute workouts.  Also, you can go to my Beachbody website, Click on the orange “Join” and sign up for a free account.  Under the Videos tab, Click VIP Workouts.  There are a bunch of videos describing how to correctly do an exercise, or how to modify a move if you have limited mobility in an area.

If you are like me and you need more structure, I recommend 1 of 2 things: 1.  If you have the time and the money hire a personal trainer that you trust.  I promise that there is nothing more valuable than to have someone there who really understands philology, your sport, and be there to make sure you are doing the moves correctly with the amount of weight/resistance that will push you, but not hurt you.  If you don’t have the money or the time to meet with someone I recommend a Beachbody program.  And I don’t recommend them because I “sell” them.  I “sell” them because I recommend them, because I use them, and they work.  With Beachbody products you get a coach.  Yes, it is a virtual coach.  But unlike other DVD programs, you get the support of a real person who helping push you and motivate you to keep going.  Your coach provides, nutrition support and is there to answer questions if you need help or don’t understand something.  For me, being in my first challenge group was like being in my triathlon club again, but it was just online this time.

If you are thinking about option #2, for someone who is a beginner, I recommend 21 Day fix or Piyo.  If you already have some foundational strength, I recommend something like 21 Day Fix Extreme or The Master’s Hammer and Chisel.  Go to my Beachbody website and poke around.  Feel free to comment below or send me an email and we can talk about your fitness needs.  Then we can pick out a fitness program together.


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