Tips on “How Often Should a Triathlete Lift Weights?”

I LOVE putting together The Strongest Mile classes, but it was hard to design a program for a group. I always asked to see what they had going on that weekend and we would adjust if we needed to. There are a lot of factors when it comes to lifting weights, just to name a few:

  • Beginner Lifter (Never lifted a weight)
  • Intermediate Lifter (Feel comfortable under a bar and have lifted weights)
  • Advanced Lifter (Feel comfortable under a bar, and can do Olympic Lifts)
  • What type of gym access?
  • What race is the athlete doing?
  • When is the race?
  • Is the athlete new to triathlons?
  • Is the athlete a veteran to triathlons?

When I customize a strength and conditioning program for triathletes and runners, I used periodization, but I also look at all the factors that I listed. Most coaches that I know will periodize your triathlon training program. I do the same for a strength and conditioning program. (Olympic lifters have been periodizing for years!)  What is Periodization? Here is my Reader’s Digest version: Peaking your body and your mind to your ‘A’ race of the season. Check out my blog about periodization!

So, how many days a week should a triathlete or runner implement strength training in their triathlon program? Here is the breakdown and explanation of my chart:

Preparation (Prep) Phase –How Often should a Triathlete Lift Weights?

  • 3-4x a week/lifting (Under the bar, 2x/1-2 body weight workouts)
  • Building the solid foundation of the body.
  • Length of Prep Phase: 6 weeks to 2 months.

Base Phase –

  • 3x a week/lifting (Under the bar, 2x/1 body weight workout)
  • Building your “aerobic development” or getting time in the pool, the saddle, and on the road/trails.
  • Length of Base Phase:  2 months to 4 months.

Build Phase –

  • 2x a week/lifting (Under the bar, 2x/HIT should be 10-12 minutes MAX, if you are even up for it!)
  • Building the specifics of what you NEED for your race.
  • Length of Build Period: 1.5-2.5 months.

Peak Phase –

  • 1-2x a week/lifting. (GET under the bar/NO HIT or just 1x)
  • This is a tough phase. You are so spent from the harder workouts from your swim, bike, and run, that it may be tough getting in the gym.
  • Bringing your volume down but still keeping the intensity up.
  • Length of Peak Phase: 10-21 days.

Race Week –

  • 0-1x a week/lifting.
  • Listen to your body; if you need extra rest, take it. Your body will thank you!
  • It’s GO TIME!

This is a general guidance for how often you should lift for your triathlon season. It depends when your race is AND what race you are doing, as well as how comfortable you are in the gym. You have to be very mindful of when you start your lifting program. For example, I would not suggest starting a lifting program 7 weeks before a major race, especially if you have never lifted before.

It can take a lot of work to get into that gym BUT I promise you, you will NOT regret it, especially when you pass that person in your age group to get that Kona slot!!

Interested in my Strength Training Newsletter on every other Friday? Click the photo TODAY!