Weight Training to Help in Preparation for Your First Ironman Triathlon
For many people "doing" weights is a scarey thought. They really feel they will be terribly out of place with all those muscle-bound types in the weight room.
I agree that was the case years ago, but not anymore. You'll even find senior citizens doing weights since it was discovered how weight training can better their quality of life.
I don't claim to be a fitness expert, but I will tell you what exercises and what format worked for me after many years of trial and error doing weights.
Some tips about doing weights...
I narrowed it down to six exercises. Three for upper body and three for lower body.
UPPER BODY- Lat pull-downs, arm curls and bench press...These exercises will add some strength and flexibility for your swimming.
LOWER BODY- Squats, Quad extensions and Hamstring curls...These exercises will improve your running especially on hills and they will also help pretty well every aspect of your biking.
Do weights at least three times per week(not more)and always have a rest day in between.
Do three sets of each exercise and do ten reps each time.
Always use machines as opposed to free-weights. Its much safer especially if you're new to the weight room.
Always use your first set for warm-up and use very light weight. Do all three sets of one exercise before moving on to the next one.
For your second sets add a small amount of weight (2-5 lbs.). After the second ten reps you should feel a bit of a burn. If you can complete the third set fairly easily, increase the weight of your second and third sets next weight training day. Always leave your warm-up set at a very light weight. When you get to the point that you can't finish the third set, then stay at that weight until you do. That's how you will tell if you are getting stonger.
NOTE--You should record the amount of weight you are at so you don't forget the next time out.
There's really no need to spend more than 35-45 minutes in the weight room. You want to get in there, do your six exercises and get out. You only need about 90 seconds rest between reps. You have too many other things to do. Get in the pool instead of spending too long in the weight room and work on your nice long smooth stroke. Besides, swimming after a weight work-out feels great. I always planned a swim for after weights.
I've always felt that the best exercise in the entire gym for Ironman over-all improvement is the squat. Be CERTAIN to do this exercise. If all the time you have on any given day is 10-15 minutes, then do just squats. Be careful to do them properly. Use a squat station, not free weights! Make sure you get the technique right. Straight back, feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly out. If you've never done a squat before in your life have one of the fitness people in the gym show you proper technique. You could easily hurt your back by using improper technique. Don't be afraid to wear a squat belt. It will help you maintain your form and keep a straight back as you lower into the squat position. This is critical. Proper squat technique will do wonders for your cycling.
***I once read an interview of the Puntos twins who were both excellent swimmers and runners. They said their cycling never really improved a lot until they went to the gym and did squats. In 1984 they were first and second in the Hawaii Ironman.
IMPORTANT: You can REALLY injure yourself if you try and do too much weight too soon. Don't feel self-conscious because everyone around you is pushing big weights. They have different goals than you. Look at the big picture and what you are trying to accomplish in the end. How many of them will be able to add Ironman to their name? FOCUS!!
After many years of experimenting, I found that these sports specific exercises helped me be successful in many of my 14 ironman triathlons. Hopefully they will do the same for you.
The name of my website is Ironstruck.
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