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Strength Training, Part II: Building The Program

In the last entry, we essentially answered the questions, “Why strength training?” In this post we will dig a bit deeper and discuss the details of what types of movements make sense for triathletes.

We need to first frame the issue of which types of muscles and how we will work them. There are a dozen ways to break down muscle types and how to move them. Some are bs industry phases like “core” and others can get extremely medical. For the sake of our dialog, we will break muscles down in to two simple groups: Mover Muscles and Stability Muscles.

Mover muscles are, generally, the big muscles that get you down the road. When you see a body builder who is completely ripped, chances are you a gawking at what we are referring to here. On the other hand, stabilizing muscles are all the little muscles that hold your shoulder and pelvis in place during exercise. They are not generally visible on the outside of the body and do nothing for your physical appearance. Know that there is some overlap between the groups. The gulte max (the big part of your butt) is the best example as it is certainly a mover muscle, yet is extremely important in pelvic stabilization.

So how and when do we work them? Mover muscles are trained with the stereotypical body builder exercises that you see 90% of people in the gym doing. Stabilizer muscles are worked doing smaller, more targeted movements with much less weight.

Strength training can be periodized just like your cardio. During different seasons we would focus on different ratios of weights and repetitions and rest intervals. And for athletes with an open schedule, this might be an example of the periodization we would implements.

As always, reality often differs from the text book. As such, get in the strength training when you can and don’t be too neurotic about the details of weight/reps/set/etc. Just honor your body and stop when it doesn’t feel good or when your form begins to deteriorate, like the guy in the pic below.

Like what you’re hearing so far? Don’t want to pay us for the program design? Great. Get to know, love, and internalize the next slide and you’ll have a great stability workout. The top two muscle groups and movements are designed to help combat the slouch that most of us get from sitting at the desk all day, then bent over the steering wheel of our cars, then in aero, then on Facebook when we get home, and on and on. Those things, in addition to having over-developed chest and anterior deltoids (front of the shoulder) from swimming, and we are unnaturally curved toward the front of our bodies. We need to compensate that by strengthening the back of our shoulders and mid back. The middle three muscles and movements are designed to help strengthen the area just above our waistline all the way around. They help keep us stable in the saddle and solid in our run stride. The final two are on the list to help keep our pelvis stable during the run. Collectively, these muscles are arguably the most important for an endurance athlete.

Here are a couple of those exercises.

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