Over the years many people have taken my thoughts on gym work for triathlon out of context. 'You don't believe in weights' is levelled at me, because the vast majority of my athletes don't use them. However, I get many notes that go something like this - 'but coach if you did, what would you recommend?' So for those who have persisted, here is what I would do if I'm forced to give an answer.
First though let me set the context by pointing out what many don't know about Brett Sutton and Coach Robbie, my right hand man. I have stated many times that during my swim career I used weights more extensively for my sprinters, more than most swim coaches in sprint events for men, and used weights 3 times a week for most women. Back in 1983, before many of you were born, I trained the Australian amateur bodybuilding champion, who worked as the local lifeguard at my pool. The next year he finished 3rd in the pro ranks. Then I stopped training him, and asked him to stop, as he was a clean athlete!
Coach Robbie was in another life a bodybuilder himself, his first sport. Nobody in triathlon has more experience with weights than the two of us. While you all bask in I know bodybuildings poster boy Arnold 'I'll be back' Schwarzenegger, I can assure you Robbie and I can educate most on the history of the sport. Reg Park, Bill Pearl, and a collage of info on the beasts before Arnie. Or we can give you a detailed history should you wish to test us, on the likes of and training regimes of Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman, or Dorian Yates, who are not so well known outside of the sport they dominated, but one could certainly argue were the equal or superior to 'The Terminator'. We do know our history, just as we know the benefits and drawbacks that weight programs deliver, or fail to deliver.
At Trisutto we do more, or at worst the equal amount of strength work of any other triathlon program. One does not see a barbell in sight, but we deliver sport specific strength work in all three disciplines and in copious amounts, week in and week out, month in and month out. After many blogs over the past 6 years explaining how we incorporate strength work into our triathlon program, this one is for the gym junkies who still want to know what weights exercises can be used effectively for triathlon.
I'm posting the four exercises that I prescribe to my 17 year old daughter Zali. Authenticity that I do believe in the benefits of weight training in certain circumstances.
1) Quarter depth squats
2) Barbell hip thrusts
3) Walking lunges with kettle bells
As you can see in the video, these are not 'play weights' but Zali is shifting real tonnage. At 51 kg and a budding pro slalom skier, power is very much needed - along with 10kg extra body weight, if she is to reach her goal of racing at the Olympics. Technically I'm told that she is excellent, so her success hinges on the weight room to build the power and muscle she is currently lacking. So that's where we go.
However, triathletes take note. Triathlon success hinges on the run portion of races. Hence I point out that each kg of body weight gained will slow your run at least 10 seconds per km. Knowing this, if you still want to do weights, these are the four exercises that I would recommend to help your bike and also run.
Does Zali do more exercises in this workout? No, we stick to less is more, quality over quantity. This is a specific workout for lower back strength, glute strength, thigh strength, inside knee strength (stability), and hamstring strength. All super for running and biking if you 'must' do weights, but also there is secondary strength in the core regions without doing the myriad of mythical sit up exercises.
So if you happen to be that person that must go to the gym and stand in front of the mirror, at least you can say Sutto has armed me with a 'real' gym work out!
Just the way I see it.
Photo Credit: Frank Heestermans