Why Strength Training For Triathletes Is Essential

Triathletes are great at many things, but after all the time they spend running, riding, and swimming, they might forget something important – strength training. Strength training for triathletes can be a significant advantage for several reasons. In addition to its performance benefits, we think that strength training also plays an active role in keeping athletes healthy and injury-free. While adding another activity to your exercise routine might sound daunting, you can become an all-around better athlete with a simple plan that doesn’t have to take more than half an hour a week. Building your strength will make you faster and keep you feeling stronger as you make your way to the finish line.

Read on as we describe why strength training for triathletes is important.

The Importance of Strength Training For Triathletes

Successful triathlon training should include strength training. It helps improve muscular endurance to help prepare the body for the demands of training and racing. This kind of exercise helps to increase your power output and also prevent injury.

Any athlete with a well-balanced strength training plan has the ability to efficiently transfer power from their body into their run, their swim, and their pedaling. On the other hand, an athlete who lacks strength throughout their body might experience a lack of power due to poor postural control, reducing the amount of force they can produce during the triathlon.

Postural strength is crucial when it comes to injury prevention. As your workouts get more challenging, your body requires the proper support from your muscles to maintain good form for all three areas of the race. When your form is weak, you become more susceptible to injury. You’ve already heard that you need good core strength, and it’s because core strength creates a stable base for all the activities you do on a daily basis.

When you ask a physical therapist, they’ll tell you it’s imperative to work on the lateral and rotational musculature of the hips and core. These muscles are used to help you move side to side and help prevent any unwanted twisting motions of the pelvis, trunk, or legs when running and biking. When these muscles are strong, your workout will be much more efficient and keep you from straining unnecessarily. Since running and biking is a straight-forward motion, you’ll naturally be working the muscles in the front and back of the hips and legs. Therefore, adding a strength program that includes strengthening the lateral muscles will help you improve stability.

Better Performance

Many of the best triathlon coaches will tell you that strength training for triathletes is a vital part of any multisport training program. With triathlons, there is both upper body and lower body training involved.

Research supports the idea that strength training and improved endurance performance are linked. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at several studies and concluded that the analysis showed a 4.6% improvement in running overall among those trained along with their regular endurance training.

Additionally, another study looked at both runners and cyclists. After a ten-week resistance training program, participants showed an increase in leg strength by 30%, a 13% improved running time, and cyclists could ride for 14 more minutes than they could initially.

Reducing Injuries

While performance benefits might appeal more to triathletes, as physical therapists, we encourage strength training as a way to prevent injuries. Injuries are often caused by muscle imbalances and chronic weaknesses in certain areas of our bodies. A basic strength training program is the best way to increase your muscle tissue strength and connective tissue, too, like tendons and ligaments. As your tissue is strengthened, you’ll be able to put in more training without injury, which leads to better and faster performances.

Break Your Training Into Phases

Just like with all triathlon and marathon training, strength training should be periodized throughout the year. You should start with the general strengthening and preparation phase, which lines up with the offseason and helps you build triathlon training phases. This period is when you increase your overall base strength. The offseason is when you should also take a break from the main activities in a triathlon. Hitting the weights will be a nice change of pace from the hardcore training you might be used to. We might even suggest that you increase your resistance in this phase, as you don’t necessarily need to worry about soreness or fatigue for your next run, bike, or swim workout. In particular, heavy-resistance training has been shown to enhance both short and long duration endurance capacity in high-level endurance athletes, like those who participate in triathlons. The healthier you are, the better you will be able to handle increases in workout intensity as the season progresses.

After the offseason and build phases, then comes the pre-racing stage. The pre-racing phase will require that your strength training become more specific and focused on building power and speed. This is where plyometrics comes in. Plyometrics, also known as jump training, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals, the goal being to increase both speed and strength.

During the competitive phase, the idea is to maintain the strength you’ve built throughout the season. Resistance training is reduced, and you can continue focusing on training and practicing for your races.

Once the season is over, take some time off to rest and recover. During this time, strength training is low and shouldn’t be done more than a couple of times a week. You want to let your muscles rest, but you also don’t want to lose the fitness you’ve earned before the next cycle.

Consult A Physical Therapist

If you are new to strength training or new to triathlons in general, you should definitely consult a physical therapist to help guide you. They’ll show you the proper technique and help you focus your strength training sessions on your specific needs.

Even if you’re an experienced triathlete, it’s never a bad idea to have a functional assessment and evaluation from a licensed therapist to learn what you need to work on so you have an injury-free and successful season.

The experts at Park Sports Physical Therapy would love to set up a consultation to see how we can help you maintain your health and wellness so that you can continue to do the things you love.

Common Injuries In Runners & How To Treat & Prevent Them

Running is one of the most popular ways to improve and maintain fitness, and more than 40 million Americans run on a regular basis to stay in shape. Though running is a great way to keep active, runners across the country deal with an injury at some point in time. Many running injuries are caused by repetitive stress, but other injuries like sprained ankles and torn muscles can happen suddenly.

Keep reading to learn a little more about the most common injuries in runners and how they are typically treated.

How To Treat the Most Common Injuries In Runners At Home

Before we begin, it’s important to note that there is no substitute for a highly-qualified physical therapist, even though some running injuries can be treated at home. Here is a brief list of some of the common injuries in runners and some basic prevention and treatment options. 

Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Syndrome)

Patellofemoral Syndrome, commonly known as runner’s knee, refers to the pain that resides in front of your knee or around your kneecap. This is a common injury in sports caused by overuse from running or jumping. 

Runner’s knee usually causes pain that is dull and can be felt in one or both knees. Typically the pain ranges from mild to extreme and worsens with prolonged sitting or exercise like jumping, climbing stairs, or squatting. 

This type of injury may also include cracking or popping sounds after being stationary for prolonged periods. You might be at higher risk of developing runner’s knee if you have weakness in your hips or the muscles around your knee.

A doctor can usually diagnose a runner’s knee with a physical exam, but they might recommend an X-ray to rule out anything else. A physical therapist like the ones at Park Sports will give you a specific treatment plan to treat runner’s knee and other common injuries in runners.

IT band syndrome

Your IT band, or iliotibial band, is a long piece of connective tissue that runs from your outer hip to your knee. It helps stabilize your knee as you’re walking or running. 

Repetitive friction of the IT band rubbing against your leg bone is the typical cause of IT band syndrome. Runners have tight IT bands, which is why this is a common injury in runners. Other things that may also contribute to this condition are weak gluteal muscles, abdominals, or hips.

Runner’s experiencing IT band syndrome feel a sharp pain on the outer side of your leg, just above the knee. The IT band might also be tender to the touch, and the problem gets worse when the knee is bent.

Plantar Fasciitis

One of the most common foot injuries is plantar fasciitis. It entails irritation or degeneration of the fascia, the thick layer of tissue on the bottom of your foot. This tissue layer acts like a spring when you’re walking or running. You can put your fascia under increased stress by increasing your running volume too quickly. Weaknesses in your calves and muscle tightness can also increase your risk of plantar fasciitis.

Some symptoms include gradually developing pain, a burning sensation on the bottom of your foot, pain that resides under your heel or midfoot, and pain after prolonged activity.

Hamstring Injuries

During your running cycle, your hamstrings help decelerate your lower leg during the swing phase, so if your hamstrings are tight, weak, or tired, they might be prone to injury. Distance runners rarely experience sudden hamstring tears like sprinters might. Most of the time, distance runners experience hamstring strains that come on slowly. They are usually caused by repetitive small tears in the fibers and connective tissue of the hamstring muscle. 

Hamstring injuries usually cause dull pain in the back of your upper leg, muscles that are tender to the touch, or general weakness and stiffness in your hamstring.

Treatment Options For Running Injuries

Follow up with your doctor or physical therapist if you’re experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort or find it hard to run so that you can get a proper diagnosis and rule out any underlying conditions.

For many common injuries in running, treatment often includes specific exercises assigned by physical therapists, following the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation), cutting back on your running time, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen.

Specifically for runner’s knee, you should try strengthening your quadriceps and hip muscles while making sure to stretch quads and calves often. It might also help to wear orthotic shoes. With IT band syndrome, daily stretching, and strength training for your hip muscles can decrease pain. If you’re experiencing hamstring injuries, then you should work on strengthening your glutes, stretching your hamstrings often, and changing your running technique. If you’re experiencing plantar fasciitis, then stretching and strengthening your calves can help ease discomfort.

Prevention Tips For Common Injuries In Runners

Running injuries can happen to anyone, but you can minimize the risk of injury in a few of the following ways:

First, warm up! Warming up before you go on your regular run by starting with an easy job or dynamic mobility stretches for 5 to 10 minutes. Another tip is to increase your running volume slowly. Consider the 10% rule, where you don’t increase your weekly volume of running by more than 10 percent at a time. 

A lot of physical therapists recommend preventing further injuries to take care of the small ones as they come up. If you already have a nagging pain in your knee or leg, rest! You don’t want them to develop into more severe issues. A physical therapist will give you a proper diagnosis and provide you with a customized treatment plan. 

Include stability exercises in your training program to help strengthen your hips. Try glute bridges or single-leg squats to help you protect your knees and ankles. You might also consider cross-training to improve your aerobic fitness, which gives your joints a break from the repetitive impact of running. Add some low-impact workouts into your schedule, such as swimming or cycling.

You should also work on your running technique. Especially if you’re just getting into running, it’s important to note that poor technique can increase the amount of stress on your muscles and joints. Work with a running coach or film yourself running to help yourself improve. 

Lastly, run on softer surfaces. Grass, rubber tracks, sand, or even gravel is easier on your joints than running on pavement. Especially if you’re experiencing nagging injuries, try switching up your run and stay on softer surfaces until your pain subsides.


Many runners will deal with an injury at some point, and the most common areas that sustain injuries include knees, legs, and feet. If you’re a runner and experience any kind of pain or discomfort when running, it’s essential to reach out to your physical therapist or doctor to get a proper diagnosis and to rule out other conditions.

A targeted plan made by a physical therapist can go a long way into helping you properly recover when you’re injured so that you can get back to doing what you love. When you need help or advice, give us a call today. We’d love to schedule a consultation with you to see how we can help you alleviate pain and keep you healthy and safe.