This is a fantastic question because it’s clear that the person asking wants to integrate strength and conditioning work into their triathlon routine. I actually prefer to call it mobility and strength (MaS) work because I think that both are vital 12 months of the year.
Let’s start with the reason why triathletes should include more MaS work. The primary reason is to prevent injury by creating a robust physique. Most triathlon injuries (70-80%) are lower limb and related to running. The 3 main causes are poor technique, lack of strength, and inappropriate volume. You definitely want to pay attention to ankle and foot mobility, and calf strength.
These injuries are as a result of chronic overuse caused by the hundreds of thousand of almost identical repetitive movements in swim, bike and run.
My prescription to start with would be daily mobility work. There are several alternatives for fitting it in to your day:
- Traditional 20-40 minute workout
- 5-10 minutes before and after every workout
- Repeated 2-3 minute bouts spaced throughout the day at convenient opportunities. This process is known as ‘greasing the groove’.
As for strength training, choose one of the protocols listed above and work to strengthen the connective tissue and stabilising muscles around the main joints – shoulders, hips, lower back, ankles.
This is low intensity work and need not add any more load onto your day. If performed regularly you will find it makes a big difference to your consistency and performance.
If you have time then you could also consider some more traditional style strength training. This would be higher intensity and can focus on traditional exercises such as deadlift, overhead press, squat, etc, mostly targeting the posterior chain. Also aim to lift heavy weights with relatively low reps (no more than 5-6 reps). Training of this sort would be a priority in the winter, and after March-April would assume a lower priority in your schedule but always still in there.