[083] Working the weights

Swim: 2,200 m/80,600 m

Bike: 0/566.5 miles

Run: 11.3/161.5 miles

In the wake of last weekend’s race, I’ve found myself wondering how I’m going to get faster on the bike. Putting in lots of miles will definitely help, but there’s another facet that I can add to my training that should have a noticeable effect – weight training.

It’s been in the back of my mind that I’d like to start bike-specific weight training as part of the prep cycle for my Olympic-distance race in September, and that cycle officially started last week. My go-to book, “The Triathlete’s Training Bible”, suggests adding intense weight training for about six weeks of the base period, or the very beginning of the cycle, and then backing off as the intense sport-specific training begins. So that’s what I’m doing.

For the next five weeks (I started last week) I’ll be hitting the weight room twice a week to tear up my quads, hamstrings, glutes and flexors. I’ll also be throwing in a couple swimming- and running-specific exercises along the way. The book suggests the exercises, the amount of weight (as a function of body weight) and the repetitions, so I’m following those recommendations pretty closely.

I’m no stranger to the weight room – I spent about 2.5 years lifting weights pretty religiously after my daughter was born in 2008. But that all fell apart when I started my triathlon training this year. I tried to keep some gym time in my schedule but couldn’t make it work in the end as the demands of training in three sports took over my free time. My weight work had been focused on the upper body, and that wasn’t where my new focus was as a runner and cyclist. I lost about 15 pounds of muscle in short order but embraced it as part of my new lifestyle as a triathlete.

But now I’m forcing myself to find about 1.5 hours a week – two 45-minute sessions – to focus on weight work, even though it’s going to take the place of some running or biking miles. But it’s easier to make myself follow through since I know the work in the gym is going to have a real effect on my performance in all three sports, and also since it’s a relatively limited commitment of only six weeks early in the training cycle. The benefits of the weight work will likely outweigh the extra biking or running miles that it’s replacing.

My new best friend - the squat rack.

In my first sessions I’ve found myself on the lower end of the leg-specific weight loads recommended by the book. For instance, the book says a person of my body weight should squat between 195 and 255 lbs., and I’ve been maxing out at 195. But that’s actually a good thing – it lets me know that I have plenty of room to improve. And, like any sport, weightlifting improvement happens quickly at the beginning of a new regimen. I hope that improvement translates to the bike just as quickly!

My regimen includes:

Squats: Done with a weighted bar @195 lbs. (3 sets of 6-8 reps) – hoping to work up to about 225 lbs.

Seated row: works back and shoulders for both swimming strength and bike stability. (3 sets of 8-10 reps)

Abs: Incline sit-ups with rotation. (3 sets of 30. First 20 done while holding a 25-lb. weight and then 10 with no weight. Hoping to work up to all 90 with the 25-lb. weight.)

Hamstring curl: using hamstring-curl machine (3 sets of 20 reps on each leg)

Standing lat pulldown: great for swim strength and core (3 sets of 6-8 reps)

Walking lunges: 20 lunges per set, holding 25-lb. dumbbells (3 sets)

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2 Responses to [083] Working the weights

  1. Amy says:

    Wow, I am exhausted just reading all of this!

  2. Twice a week is great, I think I should try to follow your lead on this. Right now I’m only doing one big weight training session a week, and then little stuff here & there when it fits. Maybe I should dust off my Triathletes Training Bible..

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