Sunday, November 4, 2007
Train Movements, Not Muscles
I get asked a lot how I train in the gym for triathlon- or, more specifically, what makes up my strength training program. People say that I am very athletic and strong looking and that I have awesome muscular legs and arms. I say "thank you" and tell them that my genetics are good. The, I proceed to tell them that I don't lift to get this way- in fact, when I am in the gym, I am not focused on my muscles so much as I am in my movements. You see, much of what triathlon is composed of as a sport is a combination of fast/slow-twitch movements on unstable surfaces in all different planes of motion- not to mention, in many dynamic environments. So, one has to take that into consideration when planning their triathlon-specific strength training program. Don't get me wrong- I do train my lower body specifically to gain and maintain my strength for all 3 disciplines- squats and deadlifts being the greatest of exercises for power and speed gains for me in this off-season. But, I more or less think of these 5 specific components as being the most important for a Triathlon Strength program.
1. Get Moving: You want to keep your movements dynamic in order to allow for your multiple muscle systems to become engaged and therefore create powerful movement and strength.
2. Environmentally Conscious: You want to train in an environment that is most closely similar to the one in which you compete. That way, your CNS (central nervous system) has to work that much harder in order to keep you upright and balanced.
3. Work It 3-Ways: Our bodies move front to back, side to side, and diagonally (twisting). You want to perform motions in all 3 planes because swimming, cycling and running are done that way.
4. Have a Goal: Know where your weakest and what should be trained first. If you can focus on that within your program as a whole, you will get stronger- train with the end in mind.
5. Progress Yourself: If you have to start with a movement that is easy to the eye, yet a lot harder to do once you try it, don't be discouraged. Know that in order for you to get stronger, you want to focus on easy movements first, and progress accordingly. Never get stuck in a comfort zone and let something get too easy. If it is too easy, you are probably doing something wrong.
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