The Importance of Strength Training
When I first started working with a coach it came with many changes to the way I had trained in the past. One of those changes was a structured weight lifting routine. (And when I started coaching I learned these same principles.) When I first saw it on my schedule I couldn’t help but feel discouraged. Why? Because I was weak and the thought of going into the gym and reaching for 5 and 10 pound weights surrounded by grunting guys lifting 100+ pounds intimidated me. However, my vanity lost this battle and off to the gym I went. Surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad.
I learned that having a solid weight training program enhanced other aspects of my training when done properly. The key was doing exercises that specifically worked the muscles used during swimming, biking and running. It also helped to start during the off-season so I could go through an entire strength cycle.
The Key Phases of Strength Training:
Phase 1 – Anatomical Adaptation (allowing your muscles to be prepped for heavier workloads later on)
– This is best done late fall to early winter.
– Weight is light, but reps are high: 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps.
– Start with 20 reps and every 2 weeks add 5 reps. When you reach 30 reps go up in weight.
Phase 2 – Muscular Strength (building strength for a strong season)
– Great progress can be made during this phase! Best when done mid-winter.
– Weight is heavy, but reps are low: 3-5 sets of 3-6 reps.
– This is done for a few weeks leading up to your season start.
– Knowing your max weight is important because you will use these numbers to calculate what you will lift during the next phase.
Phase 3 – Strength Maintenance (maintaining the gains you made in the MS Phase)
– This phase starts at the beginning of your season. You will be in this phase for the duration of your season.
– Grab a calculator! You will be lifting 60% of your one rep max.
Key Exercises to Include in Your Routine:
- Seated Row
- Squat, Leg Press, or Step-Up
- Standing – Bent Arm Lat Pull Down
- Abdominal Twists, Planks, Clam Shells (strong core!)
- Calf Raises
- Hip Adduction/Abduction
- Leg Extensions with Hamstring Curl
- Bench Press with free weights
- One-legged Stand-ups
- Lunges with light weights
*Try to use free weights when possible. * Going twice per week is best, especially for women and all adults over 40.