Aussie professional triathletes Mirinda Carfrae, Melissa Hauschildt (nee Rollison), Michelle Wu and Lisa Marangon (to name a few) do it… You should too. Strength and conditioning should be an important part in all triathlon training programs.

Now I hear what you are probably thinking –

“Jen, I don’t have the time to do my swim, bike or run training, let alone do even more training. I’m already too busy with work and family commitments, household chores and I’d much rather veg out in front of the television at night or catch up on my sleep.”

But here is the thing: it doesn’t need to be time consuming. Plus, the benefits (which include faster improvements, quicker times and less injuries) will become quickly apparent once you start to include it in your program on a consistent basis.

So here are a few questions I am often asked by other busy and short-on-time triathletes like you –

What is strength and conditioning training?

Strength and conditioning is really just an ‘umbrella’ term to describe things such as:

  • Strength training (or resistance training as it is sometimes called);
  • Core strength and stability training;
  • Mobility, flexibility and stretching.

Basically anything other than swim, bike and run training can fall within this category.

Why should I include strength and conditioning in my triathlon training program?

Training for and participating in triathlons make you (very) strong in some ways but weak in other ways.

Throw in everyday activities like sitting for prolonged periods of time and most of us have (major) imbalances in our bodies. Those imbalances cause (in my experience) the majority of triathlon-related injuries.

Including strength and conditioning training in your program helps you to reduce the imbalances in your body and reduce your risk of injury. Less injuries allows you to train more consistently and improve faster, putting you on the fast track to your next PB!

And there is another benefit of including strength and conditioning in your program. Carrying a little more muscle mass increases your metabolism. A higher metabolism burns more calories when exercising (and even up to 36 hours after your training session) resulting in more weight loss

in the long term!

Won’t I get big muscles? I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder.

Many women are scared of doing strength and conditioning because they don’t want to look like a female version of Arnie.

However women naturally do not produce the

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hormones necessary to produce that sort of muscle mass growth. Besides, all the cardiovascular exercise we do when swimming, biking and/or running basically turns our body into a muscle-chewing machine (rather than a muscle-growing machine).

So rest assured – it is impossible for the average women to end up looking like that Arnie without some (as we say in triathlon) “outside assistance”.

How long should my strength and conditioning sessions take?

Around 30 minutes 3 times each week is ideal.

But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? Often our work, family and social commitments (not to mention the desire to actually enjoy our lives) means we don’t always have much (if any) spare time.

So the good news is that as little as 15 minutes a couple of times each week is enough – provided you choose appropriate exercises!

I see many triathletes and runners choosing exercises more appropriate for bodybuilders or football players than for triathletes. Triathlon places a very unique set of demands on your body. So the most effective way for you to spend your (precious) time is

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to choose strength and conditioning exercises which improve the way your body adapts and responds to those (triathlon-specific) demands.

So in the weeks ahead, we will explore some triathlon-specific strength and conditioning exercises you can include in your training program. Many of them

don’t require equipment so you can do them at a time and place convenient to you.

Implement some of the exercises and you will start to see some weight loss not to mention rapid improvements in your strength, flexibility and balance. And who doesn’t want that?


About The Author

Jen Brown

Registered Fitness Professional

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6 Responses

  1. carol fulton

    this is great when is the first instalment? Been wanting to know this for a long time.

  2. Garonzatron

    Great stuff, Jen! Looking forward to part 2!!

    Bring it on!!!!!

  3. Stef Hanson. Chief.

    Carol – hope to have something up within the week. Working on getting a lot more training content up on the site

  4. Herby

    Great stuff, really good read – After my first ever season in try last year ( thanks to Witsup for my inspiration! ) I ended up with a sore right knee – all it was was a lack of strength in my quads and the old gluteus, meant my kneecap was not staying in the right place!
    So I’m hitting the gym 3 times a week and the great guys a Footpro not only sorted out my running gear but also gave me specific exercises to do AND the resistance band to do them with. Brill!
    Bring on more tips I say!