Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Strength Does a Body Good
Last year about this time I started working with a personal trainer to push me around a little and keep me honest with getting stronger. I like to lift weights and have done so on and off for a long time. In fact I started back in high school as a way to jump higher and get faster. Being on the short side for a volleyball player, I wanted an edge up(always a competitor!)
I used to lift in the triathlon off season to get strong and prevent injury. Being a physical therapist I know how important strength is to preventing injury and combating the muscle imbalances that creep up seemingly from no where and all of sudden there...it is ITB syndrome or a stress fx. Yes Ive even had my share of a few of these uglies. But...once spring would come around I'd stop the weights and really pound out some training and still be able to make it through the season feeling strong.
Then I began to notice something in my mid to late 30s. By the end of the summer....I didn't feel as strong, or that I had lost power... a few more aches and pains..some slower times. How can that be? ....after training all summer...I'm getting slower not faster? What I began to realize is that I hadn't lifted a weight or done anything to maintain strength since early spring. Its a brutal fact that as you get older it gets harder to maintain your strength. I knew this but some how didn't think it applied to...... me!! So for a few years I did lift on my own to keep the strength going but fully confess that though I liked lifting its an easy one to blow off....or just slap the same old weight on there and push it around, without much care..never progressing. 2008's tri season ended ugly and injured.
I started working with Mark Nilles last year this time with my client MM. We rotate through a circuit and get pushed..nothing fancy. Much of the work is full body strength lifts with heavy metal (weight and music), some super sets, some plyos, and lots of core. Its hard and I often get sore. And just like periodization with the tri training, we perioidize the weights.
Last season I noticed some good changes and stayed healthy and strong through the summer plus a hard core season of racing cyclocross every week come home with bruises all over me. But now is when I am really starting to see some big benefits... 1 year of consistent work on some serious strength and core work. My long easy run paces are faster than have been the in a few years and my form is holding up through the entire long run and I haven't been doing anything different with my run training. I credit this truly to getting stronger in the muscles that get forgotten with all the swim, bike, and running.
These muscles that get forgotten and left out in triathletes are the glutes, and hip extensors, posterior shoulder muscles, along with the abdominals and trunk stablizers. We triathletes LOVE to use our quads, IT bands, pecs, anterior deltoids and wind up walking around like gorillas when it all gets too tight.
Next blog I'll write more specifically about these neglected muscle groups and why they are so important in keeping an endurance athlete in 1 piece, and moving efficiently through the water, on the bike and across the finish line fast!