The Ironman triathlon is a challenging test of an athlete’s mental, emotional and physical stamina. To make sure that you survive the rigorous demands of an Ironman competition, it is important to strength train for all three sports portions: swimming, bike riding and running to finish successfully.
Training for the Ironman competition normally takes 20 to 36 weeks, depending on how physically in shape you are. The first month of your training (seen as a warm up period) prepares your body for the strenuous activity you will be engaging in during the triathalon. Muscle groups that include the abdominal muscles, the lower back (lumbar region), and the thoracic and cervical region of the spine all make up your “core muscles,” which serve to provide stability, support, and a solid foundation for the rest of the body to function efficiently. After focusing on strengthening your core, you can build strength with your other muscle groups for each portion of the Ironman competition.
The muscle groups used for swimming include: lateral, chest, and shoulder muscles. Your core muscles, primarily your obliques, are put to work especially while you breathe, as your body rotates while swimming. Therefore, it is essential that you focus on your techniques for swimming by developing a long, strong core to keep non-core muscles stable and to generate more power with every stroke you make.
The constant pedaling action while riding a bike requires that you strengthen your hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Without a strong core, your lower back, shoulders as well as ligaments and tendons will compensate for your lack of core strength, which could quickly become injured from overuse as you rotate the pedals.
As is the case with bike riding, you will need to strengthen your hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Because there is so much force from your foot pounding down on the ground, the strength of your stabilizing muscles is hugely important to prevent crucial issues ( i.e., cramping, hamstring and tendon tears, Achilles ruptures, knee blowouts) from happening while running.
Frequently monitor your health to avoid developing any injuries while you train; you can even reduce the intensity of your workouts, but keep training under the same hours as you did from the beginning. In between strength training, give your body adequate rest so that you can build up your fitness to the optimum level. By the fourth month, you should have a good handle of where you stand physically. Whether you are a hardcore athlete or a casual fitness enthusiast, strength training dedication and consistency is key. Even if your cardiovascular and key muscle groups are strong, developing a strong core will support those key muscle groups so that they perform at maximum capacity. Strength training also includes that you follow a diet that is compatible to your training. Lastly, fine-tune your techniques to optimize your performance for each aspect of the Ironman race to keep from “hitting the wall” before you complete it.