Strength Training

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I’d like to share my ideas on strength training. It’s a good idea to get in the gym in the off season, and for some people, it may be a good idea year round.

In our off season I think it’s beneficial to add in the gym and make it a priority for a few months. It can help rehab any imbalances you may have and build new strength. Building your strength in the off season can be as key as building your base for making improvements to handle the key sessions and racing later in the year.

You’ll hear the ladies often say they are afraid of bulking up and some will say that it makes them too tired to hit key sessions. As well, some people are time restricted and the gym is the first thing to go.

For us endurance athletes this doesn’t mean hitting the bench and aiming for “World’s Most Plates.” Next to the mega meat dudes, our gym routines will look pretty slim. It’s okay to put the ego aside and just focus on a few key exercises that I think will really make a difference in your next year’s season.

Exercises

Core – These are a few of my favorites:

  • V-ups
  • Twisting ball crunches
  • Hanging knee raises
  • Back extensions
  • Side-to-side bends with med ball over head
  • Plank

Lower Body:

  • Walking lunges
  • Bulgarian squats or sometimes called single leg split squats
  • Leg press
  • Light hamstring curls or hamstring curls done with a Swiss ball
  • Single leg calf raises on a step, slow and full stretch
  • Squats – light weight deep squat, good form
  • Hamstring/glute bridge

Upper Body:

  • Push Ups
  • Bent-over rows with dumbbells
  • Rotator cuff internal and external with cords

Plyometrics – Only after three months of successful lifting; no weight ever with these!

  • Russian lunge jumps
  • Box jumps
  • Box step ups knee height.
  • Full squat jumps

The number of reps, intensity and weight added changes as you develop. I recommend starting out with no weight (just your own body weight) and focusing on perfect form in slow tempo. 2 x 12-15 is usually a good starting point.

As you get stronger you can aim for adding light weight and increasing to 2-3 x 15-25 reps.

As you adapt to that you may go into a power block of 2 x 6-8 reps of heavier lifting (this is left for experienced athletes only and must be done properly and carefully). If done, heavy lifting should be the very last block of lifting before going into maintenance for your race season.

Each block can last from three to five weeks before changing and moving to the next block. Every third time you lift you can slightly increase the weight if you feel up to it.

If you are unfamiliar with the exercises above and are interested in learning them, post a message on the EC forum or leave a comment below. I can do a demonstration film showing all these exercises above.

It’s winter soon, so do things now that are going to make a change to make you better than last year. 2011 goals and planning towards them started today.