Triathlon training consists of swim, bike, and running… and lots of it. But how many of us consider doing any strength training during the off-season two or three times per week and continue it through the spring/summer about once a week. And those of us that do strength training, how effective is it? Do you find yourself doing the same two or three boring routine every time you decide to hit the weights.
I’m just as guilty as the large majority of triathletes out there. I never really took time to strength training seriously. In high school, I loved lifting weights, but I burned out from it… and found myself bored with it and unchallenged. The only competition I had in the weight room was the football players. Their mentality for weight lifting was much different than what I should have been doing as a cross country runner and swimmer.
Ever since I started doing triathlons at 17 years old, I hardly every touch a weight. The thought of doing weight training crossed my mind several times, but each time I went to the gym or started doing a workout in the basement, I struggled getting into the mindset of pushing myself to my limit as I do in my other training. I wouldn’t go to the point of failure… I would often stop just as it started to hurt, not allowing my body to get any real benefit.
This off-season, after my first (partial) season as professional triathlete, I knew that if I wanted to make the gains I wanted (and needed) to do to start being more competitive, I would have to make a real effort on my strength training.
I found out of Pure Fit through a guy name Mike Jett, a professor (and co-owner of Pure Fit) at University of and is at least in charge in some degree of the Louisville’s Human Performance Lab. I wanted to get a lactate threshold test on the bike to redefine my training zones for the bike so I could train more effectively in preparation for the 2013 season. I didn’t expect him to offer me some help with my strength training at his gym by attending some of the boot camps a couple times per week. I jumped at the opportunity.
So far I’ve attended the Pure Fit boot camp class for about 3 or 4 weeks about twice a week. If I have time in my schedule, I do some of my own strength training on my own another day of the week where I focus more on my core strength than anything else.
They offer classes Monday through Friday every evening and M, W, F mornings. The also offer a mid morning class on Saturdays. So far the only thing that has been consistent in the class is the starting and finishing times. One thing I absolutely love about Pure Fit is that no class is ever the same. The muscle confusion that I experience in the classes I’ve attended are already starting to pay off, which I will get to later.
The start of the class usually has some forms of light cardio to get the heart pumping and blood moving, some dynamic stretching, and light resistance with therapy bands. Once that is complete (about 10 minutes worth), we head to the glass room. The instructor, either Mike Jett or Wendy Wormal, and one of the Pure Fit personal trainers/employees will demonstrate the exercises at each station. There typically is about 8-10 stations depending on the size of the group that shows up. Some of the stations may be inside the glass room, while some of them are out in the hallway if extra space is needed.
Typically each station involves a combination of cardio, core, and strength training. Often times, each exercise targets at least two of these categories, which is great for triathletes, because we are always trying to multitask! It also is much more functional than going to a gym and only working one muscle group. Can you tell me one thing in athletics (or everyday life) that only involves using one muscle group? (the answer is no!). So, if we want to be more physically fit and better at the sport we do, it would make sense to train this way too.
Shortly after going to Pure Fit, I came down with Achilles Tendinitis for the second time since moving to Louisville. I still decided that going to class would be a wise thing, but would have to know my limits and not push my Achilles too much. When I showed up to the class, I simply approached one of the instructors for the class, let them know my injury, and if something would aggravate it (i.e. jumping exercises) they would come over to me and tell me something to do instead to allow me to still get a workout, but not further injure my Achilles. The knowledge of the staff to work around someone’s injuries or limitations is phenomenal. I’m confident that no matter what injury someone would present with, they could figure out a way to tailor the workout to your specific needs.
My perception of strength training from high school has been shaken dramatically since starting to go to Pure Fit. I now enjoy it, and actually look forward to going to class. I’m starting to meet some of the people that attend the classes and making some new friends, which is always a bonus. Every time I go to class, I leave with a sense of accomplishment, sore/tired muscles, and the chance to meet someone new. Everyone that I’ve met there has been very welcoming. Pure Fitness has people of all ages and abilities… and that’s the beauty of it! I know I’m the strongest or fastest there, and probably never will be, but one thing I do know is only after a few short weeks of training my butt off in a totally different way, I’m seeing gains already being made.
Today I completed an aerobic set in the pool and finished up with some 100 meters on my base interval. I noticed that I was consistently coming to the wall with the same amount of effort just under 2 seconds faster… and my muscles were sore from the previous training at Pure Fit. Two seconds doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but consider two seconds over the course of 2.4 miles (the swim distance in an Ironman triathlon). That’s a time savings of about 1:15… not to mention the fatigue rate would be less, and would probably be closer to a times savings of about 1:45 to 2:00.
Unfortunately, I don’t have many other numbers since my power meter is getting changed over from a BB30 to a GXP to fit my new ride for next year (Scott Plasma Premium), and my Achilles is just starting to allow my to run again. But I’m confident that there would be gains in these areas too. I plan on testing my LT again in January at the U of L Human Performance Lab to see what my training zones are again. Last time, my LT was 338 watts (4.62 watts/kg). I would be thrilled if I was able to push 345-350 watts after I have three months of strength training at Pure Fit.
I truly believe that many people could benefit from participating in the boot camps at Pure Fit, whether your sport is an endurance event, or more traditional sports, such as basketball or football. Or, even it your goal is just to drop a little bit of weight, or keep those Christmas calories from catching up to you… Pure Fit can help you with all your goals. They will meet you where you’re at, and get you to where you want to be (and more than likely, further than you expected).