T Nation

Weights While Tri-Training

Hi All

My question involves weight training while also training for a triathlon. I am planning on doing my first triathlon in June (sprint Tri: 400 m swim, 15 mile bike, 5 K run), and while I am in no way a “tri-athlete” it is a goal I have set for myself and am excited to pursue.

I am, however, worried about losing strength and size during this training, as I have not done much aerobic exercise for the past few years, and my training has been mainly focused on hypertrophy and strength gains. For about the past 2 years, I have done almost exclusively full-body workouts, most recently Chad Waterbury’s TBT, and Charles Staley’s EDT for full body. I am looking for ideas regarding the best way to hit the weight room to at least not lose TOO much of my strength over the next few months.

For what its worth, I am 6’1" 185 lb, and have been lifting steadily for ~6 years, although probably only training “intelligently” (read: since I started coming to T-Nation) for 2 years.

Anxious to hear the opinions some of you may have.

Thanks

D

Kind of hard to judge considering you didn’t state how you will be training for the triathlon. Your intesity and frequency in the weight room will be highly dependant on it. You don’t want to be too sore from running and do more damage in the weight room, and vice versa.
Without knowing your training regimen, best suggestion to keep your strength is to eat ALOT, along with your shakes and other nutrients.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
Kind of hard to judge considering you didn’t state how you will be training for the triathlon. Your intesity and frequency in the weight room will be highly dependant on it. You don’t want to be too sore from running and do more damage in the weight room, and vice versa.
Without knowing your training regimen,best suggestion to keep your strength is to eat ALOT, along with your shakes and other nutrients.[/quote]

Sorry, I should have included that - as the contest approaches, my training will look like this, for the most part:
From the book Triathlon Training by Eric Harr

Week 1: Adaptation
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I
Wednesday: Run for 30 minutes in Zone I
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Bike for 45 minutes in Zone I
Sunday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I
Week 2: Adaptation
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I
Wednesday: Run for 30 minutes in Zone I
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Bike for 45 minutes in Zone I
Sunday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I
Week 3: Moderate Training
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Swim for 35 minutes in Zone II (Benchmark); strength train for 20 minutes
Wednesday: Run for 30 minutes in Zone II; bike for 45 minutes in Zone II (Benchmark)
Thursday: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I; strength train for 20 minutes
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Brick workout: Bike for 60 minutes in Zone I and run for 30 minutes in Zone I
Sunday: Rest
Week 4: Moderate Training
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone II; strength train for 20 minutes
Wednesday: Run for 40 minutes in Zone II (Benchmark); bike for 45 minutes in Zone II
Thursday: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I; strength train for 20 minutes
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Brick workout: Bike for 60 minutes in Zone I and run for 30 minutes in Zone I
Sunday: Rest
Week 5: Hard
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Swim for 35 minutes in Zone II (Benchmark); strength train for 40 minutes
Wednesday: Bike for 45 minutes in Zone II (Benchmark); run for 40 minutes in Zone II (Benchmark)
Thursday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I; strength train for 20 minutes
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Brick workout/test triathlon: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I, bike for 40 minutes in Zone II and run for 20 minutes in Zone I
Sunday: Rest
Week 6: Event
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Bike for 30 minutes in Zone I
Wednesday: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I
Thursday: Run for 20 minutes in Zone I
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Swim for 15 minutes in Zone I; bike for 15 minutes in Zone I
Sunday: race day

Explanation of zones:
Training Zone I–Recovery/Endurance/Anatomical Adaptation: These workouts are conducted at a nice, easy pace. Your heart rate should be at 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate and should not exceed 130 beats per minute. Your RPE score should be 10 to 12. This zone builds aerobic fitness, strengthens immunity and uses your body fat as the primary source of fuel. The purpose of these workouts is to get out there, have fun and gain aerobic fitness without fatigue. This Training Zone is where you will spend the majority of your training time, especially in the beginning of your program.

Training Zone II–Tempo/Long Intervals: When you are exercising in this zone, your subjective feeling is “comfortably challenging” (RPE of 13 to 15). In other words, you’re working, but you’re not out of control. Your heart rate should be at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. These workouts build excellent fitness for the sport of triathlon, since you will likely spend most of your time on race day in this zone. Tempo workouts are designed to help you keep a strong pace throughout your race. These workouts are done at a steady state over a longer duration (10 to 40 minutes). Long intervals serve the same purpose but are performed as a series of short bouts (three to eight minutes) at a slightly higher intensity than the tempo workouts.
Training Zone III–Short Intervals/Speed: When your aerobic fitness begins to plateau, it’s time to sprinkle some Training Zone III work into your program. These intervals can last anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes and should only be performed after at least four weeks of consistent, injury-free exercise. They help you focus on increasing your speed. When doing a Level III workout, your heart rate should be at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate and your RPE should be 16 to 17.

Training Zone IV–Explosive Power: These sessions are reserved for Fitness Level IVs who want higher-end fitness, particularly competitive athletes. Efforts should be from five to 20 seconds in duration and should build into an all-out effort. These sessions will dramatically improve your maximal oxygen-carrying capacity and your biomechanical technique. Your RPE should be 18 to 20 and your heart rate should be at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum. It may be difficult, however, to determine your heart rate during exertion, because an explosive-power effort lasts only 30 seconds or less, so your heart rate may not jump up until after the burst of power is over. Such a session is best done on feel. Go as hard as you can while maintaining good form.

Most people don’t have to lose much size if they are training endurance for less than 6 months. But based on your frame it does seem like you burn calories pretty quickly. So the number 1 suggestion is to eat a ton of high quality foods. Specially foods that support joints. (ie, salmon, flax seed oil, glucosamine supplements) Generally endurance events strain joints as muscles get weaker while training.

Your previuos training tbt, and edt are pretty intense. So depending on how long ago you did them, your body will still be growing for a week or 2 after you stop.

The training program you listed shows weightlifting after week 4 on your 1st swim day of the week(I think). You can probably start lifting week 1 instead, since you are already conditioned to do that. You have 3 rest days from endurance, 2 of which you can lift weights. Personally I would do them as far away from swimming time wise as possible.

1 day I would do major compound exercises, the other day I would do more isolation movements. Also from 1 workout to the next I would cycle rep ranges. 1 workout would be 3 sets of 8, another 4x5, and 5x4.

Keep record of your energy levels and any slight nagging injuries. If you find energy dropping you, can lower the weight a little and speed up the reps. If there are nagging injuries, take care of them right away as endurance training will make them get worse.

A good way to prevent losing too much weight during training would be to keep a food log. It probably doesn’t have to be very detailed, but know how many calories you take in on average.
Once you start training, consume 750-1000 more calories on your training days. If you start losing weight, up it.

As far as training goes, you should be able to maintain most of your strength by lifting twice a week when you feel most rested. Let the intensity/volume of those sessions be decided by how much energy you have.
Good luck.

Hey there, aspiring Triathlete: I spent a season doing tris in 2005 and did a couple more in '06 as well. I found them very enjoyable.

My experience:

For the first few weeks I tried to keep up my weight work, but found it way too exhausting on top of all the other training. So, rather reluctantly, I just skipped it.

Surprisingly I didn’t lose much muscle mass over the 10 months or so I was doing tri training. My body changed a little–calves actually bulked a bit, upper body got a little more streamlined–but overall I actually felt good and liked how I looked.
And any lost size quickly returned once I went back to normal iron-pumping.

I found that despite my lack of experience in running, swimming, or biking competitively, all my weight room work and other athletic endeavors (martial arts, tennis, etc) gave me excellent anaerobic stamina, which is just what you need in a sprint-distance race. As a result, I was top-five in 5 different events that season and even medalled a couple of times–a thrill for a rookie who rarely peeks his head out of the weight room.

In prepping for an event of that distance (about an hour of effort), you DON’T need to go super long in your workouts. I’d say work intensely, do sprint-type workouts of each discipline at least once a week, balanced out with a few over-distance workouts. That will give you the speed you need to do well.

And the faster workouts will help you hold on to your mass.

Have fun and let us know the results!
DF