T Nation

Weight Training for Triathlon

Hey, i wonder if anyone can help?

I am basically trying to start a triathlon training program with the aim of completing my first triathlon next summer.

I haven’t got a bike yet, hoping for one for xmas, but I do a lot of running and swimming training. Over the last few months I have been doing free weights about three times a week, with the emphasis on developing all round strength.

I am pretty much a weights beginner and don’t no masses on the subject, although i have been trying to read as much as possible.

Basically, I am looking for a weight/pylometrics programme that will aid training for the triathlon season and improve my endurance and speed.

I’ve noticed a lot of the athletes at the gym have been doing complex training sets with strength based sets followed by pylometrics, is this something that will help? Also a lot of people are doing things for power e.g. cleans.

I’m just trying to get as much advice as possible to try and write a possible programme and would be grateful for any help as I’m a bit of a beginner to weight training. I found a post on T-Nation about strength training for endurance athletes and someone recommended Chad Waterbury’s tbt and ttt programmes?




Looking into a weight training program is an important part of your triathlon training. Probably one of the most underrated aspects of any triathlete’s regimen.

Certain things will depend on your course length…

Sprint / International / Half / Full

But most of the principles are the same.

A lot of coaches will utilize weight training as a way to increase endurance through high-rep programs in movements similar to the “sport”, which is ineffective.

There are places for high-rep schemes in a tri program but they come from the following important aspects:

Your weight training should be first and foremost to increase your strength. As my mentor (Eric Cressey) would say…

You can’t have strength-endurance without maximal strength.

The gym is a place to build your strength and address weakness and inefficiencies. These infficiencies will come in many forms…

  1. general inefficiencies common to the general activities of daily living

  2. inefficiencies from the primary muscle groups associated with triathlon training

  3. inefficiencies from our compensation for weak muscles of the groups associated with the training.


When you are in the gym training you should be working on increasing your maximal strength throughout your body

Increasing the strength and recruitment of inefficient muscles which are usually the hamstrings and glutes.

Increasing the strength and recruitment of your stabilizing muscles (removing imbalances) which usually occur in the shoulder from the repetitive swimming motion.

You can work on this by working on your dynamic flexibility…

Check out Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson’s Magnificent Mobility in the T-Nation Store.

I do this before all my training sessions along with foam rolling.

Check out Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson’s Feel Better for 10 Bucks Article.


Work on your shoulder health paying close attention to all your shoulder musculature and your rotator cuff help.

Tony Gentilcore had another great article on myofascial release and I use his stuff for addressing shoulder release.

I think it is called Myofascial Release for Tough Guys. That article is also a must read.

Work on full body strength in compound movements but…
DO NOT FORGET your unilateral work, especially lower body unilateral work.

Triathlon is as much about health, recovery, injury prevention as it is about distance.

You have a lot of training over a long period of time and it is important you are recovering and paying attention to your weaknesses.

Do your unilateral work

Work on your dynamic flexibility

Save those plyometric work until you make sure you really have good hamstring, glute activation and strength. Nothing spells knee issues like plyometics on a guy that is using only his quads.

If you had to come away from this with one message.

Hamstrings, Glutes and Healthy Shoulders are the key to any great triathlete.

thanks so much jon, that’s really helpful, just what i was looking for! one question what exactly do you mean by unilateral work? and just out of interest how often do you strength train each week and roughly what does your programme look like?

one again cheers


I’m not a triathlete but unilateral=one leg or one arm work