Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why Strength Training Matters to a Triathlete

6 hours on the bike.
5 hours running.
Countless laps in the pool.
This is just a few examples of what a triathlete does and the amount of time spent training. With all the time spent in each disciplines of the sport, why should one spend extra time in the gym hitting the weights?
Slouched shoulders, hunchback, lower back pain and IT band syndrome are just a few of the problems that occur as a result of muscle imbalances which stem from the lack of a well balanced training regimine.
Lets take a look at 4 time world Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington

Great form. Looks strong.
 This is how we all look like when we train (or daydream looking like). Arms in aero position, shoulders protracted, back in flexion. Now lets think about the 6 hours (or so) put in a week in this position. That is a good amount of time that the muscle adapts to this position.
Now lets stand up, relax and recognize that there may be a tendancy to keep the same “rounded” stance. Hunchback, slouched shoulders, and overall a terrible posture. Combine sitting hunched over a keyboard daily for hours on end, and you can begin to understand the amount of time our muscles can develop an imbalance.  Unfortunately, this is a common problem within the triathlon community, but can easily be avoided or fixed with a strength program added to your training schedule.

Now, lets talk about the lower body. When a coach/trainer puts together a strength program they should look to incorporate movements and exercises that are performed in all 3 planes of the body.  To give a basic understanding of a plane:
 one can lift their arm straight in front of them (plane 1)
 lift the same arm out from their side (plane 2)
 then from straight out of side bring the arm across their chest (plane 3) 
These planes are used to describe the range and direction of  movement of the body.  Unless complete at rest, our body is at any time (such as exercise, sports, daily living) moving within one of planes. The sport of triathlon encourages movements predomintately in 2 planes (front-back and up and down), which can leave major muscle imbalances (side-side) and can ultimately lead to injuries. These imbalances are most noticed when one is having pains in the hip & knee, which can extend from lower back to the calve muscles.
So take a look at your week and add in a total body strength workout.  Think about literally stepping outside the box of your normal movements and incorporating an exercise on a different “plane”. Also if you already have strength workouts in your schedule, DO THEM! They are just as important as your long runs on Sundays.
As always, be healthy, train smart and have fun
Coach Chris ( "coach", did you notice that :) )
*** You can also find this post located at the PRSFIT BLOG ***