Ask Tawnee: What's a great winter strength training routine?
Posted Jan 13 2011 9:44am
I'd like to start a strength training routine now over the winter and was wondering what type of exercises you suggest?
A: As a triathlete you’re better off choosing a handful of exercises and doing them in circuits that have 4-6 rounds and last 20-30 min, as an added bonus add in a short run (200-400m), jump rope, rowing or some cardio component lasting 1-2 min per round. Circuit training is great because it keeps your HR elevated, that aerobic training component is great for triathletes. But please, I'll say it again, just don't choose a weight that's so light you could lift it all day long – make it somewhat challenging (i.e. you're dying after anywhere from 8 to 15 reps)!
With heavy lifting, however, things change. Doing a circuit isn't the best idea because you need time to recover after each set. Heavy lifting meaning so heavy that 2-6 reps are all you can take, and it's usually a compound exercise (Oly lifts, DLs, squats, push press, etc). You NEED to “fully recover” between sets to get the most benefit and to maintain good technique – rest 30 sec to a couple minutes between sets depending on the load. For example, when I’m deadlifting 150 lbs, I probably rest a minute or so after each set.
Of course, the major concern I haven't mentioned yet: "I don't want to bulk up!" Trust me, when it comes to ST, I promise that as long as your endurance training is high, you won't "bulk up," especially girls... we just don't have what it takes hormonally speaking (unless you start taking freaky supplements). Look at me, I lift pretty heavy weight very consistently and ST in general 2-3x a week. Do I look like a bodybuilder?
What will happen when an endurance athlete strength trains: The combo of ST and endurance will cause you to gain some lean muscle mass and shed fat, which will make you look more ripped and defined but not “bodybuilder buff.” Endurance training of 8+ hours a week surely prevents that. Plus, due to the wonders of physiology, endurance athletes tend to build “smaller condensed” muscles and don’t really get extreme hypertrophy like a bodybuilder (various reasons for this, and I could babble on but will stop while I’m ahead lol). As a side note: to ensure such results don’t take steroids or any weird drug/supplement and you’ll be just fine.... super sexy/ripped/powerful fine.
Last but not least…
Some of my favorite ST exercises:
Romanian deadlifts (RDL)*
Sumo squats (extra wide stance)
KB swings (common mistake to avoid: Arms should not rise above shoulders when thrusting the KB up. Arms should finish at a position that’s parallel with floor, NOT overhead)
*key heavy lifting exercises to increase LB power/strength
Lateral squat walks with resistance band just above knees
Inverted ring rows (Olympic rings or TRX)
Pullups (variation: band or jump pullups – even I can’t do many “real” pullups)
Overhead slam ball
Bent-over row with Olympic bar
Regular and reverse fly
Med ball chest throw
Hang clean (I’m still learning these)
Inverted hamstring with reverse DB fly
Overhead squats with resistance band around whole body (essentially you stand inside “the perimeter" of the band keeping arms straight/behind the head; this one is a lot harder than it sounds)
Pushups with elevated feet (in Olympic rings or TRX)*
Sledgehammer swings (yes, I’m serious… not practical to do at most gyms, but my gym rocks)
*extra emphasis on core
Planks / side planks
KB Can Openers (lay supine, hold KB overhead and lift lifts up/lower down)
Core twist with med ball or weight
Plank march (rotate lifting each leg and/or taking steps in circle)
Overhead med ball toss + situp with partner
NOTE: the exercises I list all use free weights, body weight or bands; they ARE NOT the typical machine exercises (i.e. lat pulldowns, leg curl, etc). As a personal trainer and frequent gymgoer, I find that machines cause people to be lazy and just sit there between sets. I like a ST routine that keeps you moving and doing unique things.
For further reference, here's a great website that has detailed info on exercises of all types and the muscles they work, plus info on anatomy, exercise testing, etc... ExRx.net
Tawnee Prazak is a Triathlete, USA Triathlon Coach, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (NSCA), personal trainer, exercise science grad student, freelance writer.
You can read more of her knowledgeable advice on her most excellent blog HERE .