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lifting weights = slower ironman
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Every single book or magazine I read tells me that lifting weights is a must for good triathlon performance. I think they've got it completely wrong.

I'm 6', 175 pounds, and my background is in rowing and kayaking, so I'm naturally a bit top-heavy. I've run eight marathons, and my best times have come during a three to four month training cycle when I ran so much that I didn't have time to lift weights. My shoulders and chest became scrawny, I lost weight down to 168, and felt scrawny and fast (like most pro marathoners look like).

Well, since every book says to lift, I've tried it. I lift every day I swim, right before I go in the pool. Three sets of 10 reps, three days a week or squats, calf raises, bench press, dumbell raises, and pull-ups (with weight added). I've got proper form, and it hasn't caused my any injuries, but I feel like the added bulk is making me a bit slower on the bike, and a lot slower on the run. I'm up to 178 pounds now, and slowing down every day.

I have a background of lifting weights, so I'm much stronger than your average 5'9", 135 pound marathoner. It may just be the summer heat, but I feel like every time I've spent months in the weight room, I slow down until I figure it out, then once I stop lifting weights, I get a lot faster.

How many of you have this same problem? Could lifting weights be detrimental to triathlon success?

Should I maybe keep the squats in the routine, and do away with everything else? Ironman is in about three months.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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Well doh the added bulk will slow you down on the run. To run fast (relatively speaking), you need to float above the surface, and for that you need to be light and nimble.

I think there are two types of lifting. You can lift like a manly man (for bulk), or you can lift like a girly man (for strength). The former is guaranteed to slow you down, whereas the latter may not. Between you and me, I lift like a girly man because I haven't got the mojo to lift like a manly man (not that I want to either). My lifting does not slow me down any, and I feel that it protects me from injuries and makes me studlier in the big scheme of things. It is an integral part to my overall well-being, so why would I want to give it up?

Many times I do a ton of core work and call that "lifting". I'm sure the meat heads would laugh at that if they got wind of it.


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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [BottomFeeder] [ In reply to ]
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I believe the secret may be to lift lighter weights for longer periods of time. So instead of doing curls for 10 reps X 3 with 100 pounds, do 70 pounds with 2 sets of 15.
At least this is what I have always been told. Smaller weights, more reps.

https://www.miles4matt.run/
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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Put on your flame-resistant pajamas, grab a six (or two) of beer, settle into a comfy chair, do a search on "lifting weights" in this forum, and read. Get back to us in about a week.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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It isn't so much the weightlifting that is the problem, it is the added mass and lack of flexibility. If you can lift weights while maintaining or dropping your body weight, and also maintaining shoulder flexibility for swimming, you should be fine. But that may be easier said than done.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [Markus Mucus] [ In reply to ]
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70lbs? Holy crap. I probably couldn't even roll that bar across the floor let alone curl it!
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [Markus Mucus] [ In reply to ]
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There's also the other issue of wanting to get fast at all cost. Sure you can pour all your energy into S/B/R to race triathlons faster, and that's fine if it's a short term focus of yours, but I can't see it being a sensible strategy for the long term. There's more to life than S/B/R, and in the end nobody is going to care if your all-time OD PR is 2:10 vs. 2:30. If you know deep in your heart that weight lifting is good for your health, you ought to embrace it and not feel guilty about doing it.

Let me also mention that weight lifting is excellent for folks who are injured, who are inherently weak, or who have weaknesses in their biomechanics. Those folks shouldn't look exclusively to S/B/R as the road to health.


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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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Lose the weights.

1st Place, 50-55 2018 USAT Duathlon Sprint Duathlon National Championships, National Champion; 2nd Place Overall, 2018 Virginia Duathlon; 3rd Place, 50-54, 9th overall, USAT Long Course Duathlon (Miamiman); 4th Place Masters, 10th overall, 2018 Kiawah Island 1/2 Marathon
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [matti58] [ In reply to ]
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That was just an example. i don't lift weights at all (except for my food to my mouth) so I was guessing at the 70lbs :)

https://www.miles4matt.run/
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [TriBriGuy] [ In reply to ]
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Lifting weights isn't the problem, it's a matter of tailoring your strength training to benefit SBR rather than mass and bodybuilding. It's all in how you structure your lifting. Personally I'd say there is no need to lift more than 2x per week for ~30min each. Stick with functional compound movements that strengthen your entire body (or at least a large portion of it). Your lifitng strategy should also change through the season along with your tri training...periodize based on your goals at the time. During prep and early base you can go heavier to develop more strength and probably a bit of extra mass. As you progress into the build and rece-prep phases you need to adjust your lifting appropriately. Shift towards power and force...that's where you take that strength and make it more functional for your sports. I personally drop lifting 3-4 weeks out from my A races. Although the soreness from lifting may be gone within a few days, your muscles can take weeks to completely recover from lifting so they need sufficient time to repair all of the damage before race day.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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"I ran so much that I didn't have time to lift weights." --



You answered your own question. If you're peaking for a marathon or an Ironman, you should be riding/running/swimming so much that squeezing in gym time is low priority.

1. Religiously lift in your off season and base phase. Especially as you get older (approaching Master and beyond). Stretch, stretch, stretch.

2. Reduce or stop lifting as you hit your build / peak phases. Focus on race training. If you're running/riding intervals and hill repeats along with your normal LSD rides/runs, you're getting plenty of resistance work. You don't need to go pound out a big squat set or incline bench the next day.

3. Weight loss you described (7 lbs) is not from skipping the gym -- it's from the increased aerobic. And you're not losing significant muscle mass -- you're losing water weight and fat.

4. The "slow" down you describe may be normal fatigue during your peak training. A good taper will restore your energy levels and get you ready for race day.

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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [Markus Mucus] [ In reply to ]
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I've experienced performance gains since starting a weight lifting program last year. I adopted the program used by Mark Allen:
http://outside.away.com/magazine/0297/9702festr.html

The weight lifting flame wars that occur on this forum are silly. Every physiologist and kinesiologist I've asked has said the same thing: an athlete can achieve higher power output by increasing muscle fiber density and mitochondrial count, both of which are attainable from a weight lifting program... HOWEVER, the increased power output is useless without the oxygen supply necessary to sustain the increased power output, meaning:
lift weights, but not at the sacrifice of SBR workouts.

That's the advice I've received from bonified (PhD), pocket-protector wearing lab nerds.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [Markus Mucus] [ In reply to ]
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Whew, thank heavens. You had me quite worried :)
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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Everybody is different. You have to do what works for you. All of these triathlon training books are written for the majority but some of us don't fit into that group. I followed a weight lifting regimen during my training for last years IM CDA and I felt like it slowed me down. I was doing light weights and lots of reps like everyone recommends but I felt like it was making me tight even though I strecth on a regular basis. This year I completely blew off the weight training and concentrated on S/B/R and I took nearly 10 minutes off my IM CDA finish time. Worked for me but probably won't work for the majority.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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I echo what others say, do what feels right. I get more grumpier in the gym as the season wears on..I just know I don't belong there and would rather be outside than stuck inside.

Traditionally I lift heavy in the off season and during season I can sit on the knee extension machine for upwards of half an hour doing light weight high reps. I lift different according to distance of races too. Shorter the distance the higher reps and lighter weight. Longer the distance I need the muscle and body fat to metabolize for energy since I always shut down the ability to eat.

The weight training has protected my joints from injury (although the broken bones and bone bruises I can't protect).

One thing I always remember, my old swim coach (cue 80s music) and he would not allow anything on the upper body to be over 20 lbs and anything on the lower body over 50 lbs. My training is about to be taken over from someone overseas so God knows what they will have me doing.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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In the build and peak phases of training I'm a big fan of very basic excercises in the gym--ones that don't involve actual weights like push-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc. Your goal should be to approach you race weight and maintain it through a combination of your diet, basic(limited) excecises in the gym, and your training. Essentially, when you toe the line at your A race you want to look like a muscle wrapped around a lung--lean and wirery, like a greyhound.

"I really wish you would post more often. You always have some good stuff to say. I copied it below just in case someone missed it." BarryP to Chainpin on 10/21/06

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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [Eileen Steil] [ In reply to ]
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Lifting only light weight and high reps is not the proper way to build appropriate muscle density. I could post volumes on this subject but the truth is the majority of folks here donít want to listen to anyone who says lifting can and will improve your performance. It appears to me that everyone who has tried it and failed to get performance improvements is doing it all wrong. Most are all just taking some information that a few have posted on the internet and try to build a routine.

You absolutely must consult with a professional trainer that can work with you to tailor a periodized program that will complement your endurance training. It is important that the trainer have a background in both weight training and endurance training. Finding one that has a college degree in kinesiology would be your best bet if you can afford it.

Sitting on the knee extension machine for 30+ minutes is silly. In the 80s most coaches did not understand how to properly design and use weights in a training program. Well, unless they were in the Russian or German Olympic programs.

The program I am on now has me in the gym 3 times a week for less than 15 minutes. I do 2 exercises, 3 sets of 5, mostly compound movements. (deadlift 350lbs, situps with 125lb DB on chest etc.) This will change as I get closer to race day.

Most programs will have you go through various phases just like your endurance training. An example might be mass building, strength building & power application.

I would like to address the thought that lifting weights makes you tight. Thatís one of the top 10 muscle building myths that gets spouted all over the place. This is wrong on so many levels. If you are lifting properly, and have the proper stretching program you can remain extremely flexible. If you go bike, swim or run and you donít stretch you will get "tight" too.

The benefits of added density, strength and flexibility far outweigh the minimal time you need to spend in the gym to get it.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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The problem is you are not doing enough weights. Load up on the squats and preacher curls for best results.

Swimming/biking and running are overrated ways to train for a triathlon.

:)

__________________________________________________

You sir, are my new hero! - Trifan 11/13/2008

Casey, you are a wise man - blueraider_mike 11/13/2008

Casey, This is an astute observation. - Slowbern 11/17/2008
Last edited by: Casey: Jul 7, 06 7:50
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [iamtikigod] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
...but the truth is...
I guess that settles it.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [Tri Fold] [ In reply to ]
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;)
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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I've been lifting a weight daily for 15 months now. I started out easy at 7 lbs 10 oz, and have been adding weight steadily each day at an alarming rate. Currently, I am up to doing 23 lbs, and if things go well, will think about adding an additional weight in a year or so. Lately, I have started bringing my weight with me on some of my bikes and runs. I have a feeling that these weights will definitely make me a slower ironman, but thats the choice you make...
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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I've chatted with several PhD's in exercise phys about this same question. Will lifting weights make me faster? Their consensus is that it will probably not. Any research that shows yes can be shot full of holes in their opinion. Now someone is going to come and say if you can put out more power and develop that through lifting weights........I'd answer that muscular strength is not the limiting factor when it comes to increasing performance, swimming cycling even when climbing and running are sports where you are using a small % of the available muscular power for long periods of time.

Personally, I do not have my athletes lift weights, but if I did, I think you need to design it to mimic your sports. So it has to be specific to both the movment pattern that you would do when S/B/R and has to be specific to the metabolic demands that triathlon imposes. I personally am not convinced that even doing light weights for 3 sets of 15 reps is worth the time that it takes. Now if you were going to go do 10-15mins worth of reps of a sport specific pattern then you might get some agreement to let me let you lift weights.

There is a reason why most world class runners don't know where the weights are in the weight room, but do know where the treadmills are.

Brian Stover
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Last edited by: desert dude: Jul 6, 06 8:47
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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Lift leg weights all year. Get off them 10-14 days before your 'A' race and you'll be on fire, even at Ironman!

Dev
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [trirookie] [ In reply to ]
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How old are you!? It's my understanding is it's not totally necessary for a guy in their 20's to lift. It's more important in the older years!! If you are bulky, I would do what others have suggested, more reps, less weight. I do two sets of 20 with a lighter weight for endurance.
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Re: lifting weights = slower ironman [Kestrelkerri] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
I do two sets of 20 with a lighter weight for endurance
Not to bag on you or anyone else that does this, but please explain to me how 40 reps with a rest between them will incresae your endurance? Do you only run/ride/swim for :30s at a time in a triathlon? If the avg person takes 85 stride cycles per min per mile and runs an 8:00 mile that is 1360 steps per mile X6 miles = 8160 times you have to move your leg to run. If you ride at 90rpm and ride for 2hours that is 10800 rpms. How is 40 squats going to help your endurance?

Brian Stover
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Last edited by: desert dude: Jul 6, 06 8:55
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