Ironwoman Wednesday: Strength Training

Welcome back to another Ironwoman Wednesday with Jamie at From Couch to Ironwoman, Michelle at IronwomanStrong and me! We’re all training for Ironman Louisville, which is less than 8 weeks away (!!!), and are coming together every Wednesday to share our journeys and talk triathlon with all you other half and full Ironmen and women!


Today we’re talking strength training. Do you or did you strength train when you trained for your half and/or full Ironman? Should you strength train when Ironman training?  If you do strength train, when do you find the time?

It’s kind of funny to be covering this topic, because if you’ve trained for an Ironman you know you spend so much time swimming, biking, running, eating and sleeping, there’s barely time for anything else.


Strength train what?

Our training schedule does actually include 20 minutes of strength training per week and most weeks I add a little more. Note that when I say strength training, I am not talking go to the gym and lift weights. While I had initially intended to go to a TRX or pilates class every week, that plan went out the window within no time…dedicating lots of time to strength training is not necessary during Ironman training and probably not very smart either.

Instead, my strength training includes simple exercises I can do at home post-workout in addition to my stretching routine. I follow what Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy calls a mindful workout, aka how to get the most out of your workouts in the least amount of time and use every exercise in a way that benefits your training.

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Credit: Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy

For example if you are going to go for a run, you might warm up with some plyometrics like high knees, walking lunges and butt kicks. Then after you’re run you do some lunges, squats, and leg lifts before moving into your post-workout stretches.

Here’s an awesome 10-minute run warm-up (found at
Here are some of my favorite Ironwoman Strength Training Exercises plus a fun Popsugar visual of what some of these moves look like (and how quickly they can be done!)

  • Plank: In all of it’s variations. Forearm plank, side plank, alternating plank to push-up, plank with knee tuck, and when I’m using my suspension training gear, I love to do the plank to pike. [25 Plank Variations]
  • Push-Ups: I still do knee push-ups. But here again you can do any type of push up. Did you know there are at least 82 types of push-ups?
  • Crunches: I keep it simple. Basic crunch, side crunch, bicycles, scissors and sometimes I’ll do the Pilates 100.
  • Supermans and Swimmers: I recently added these to do rotation as they help strengthen your lower back which is a crucial muscle when you spend 5+ hours on a bike in aero position. They’re also good exercises for swimmers, so go get your superman on! [Video]
  • Squats: Again I keep it simple, but there are a million different squats. When I use my suspension gear, I love the pistol squat (single-leg). [Squat Variations]
  • Lunges: I love to hate lunges. They suck, but they work! I love combining them with legs stretches, like my hip flexor, hamstring and quad stretch.
  • Jane Fonda style leg lifts and clamshells: Yes, I said Jane Fonda. If you’re a child of the 80s I’m sure you remember :08 min abs and :08 min buns. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, man, you missed out! Those videos were awesome and the moves she used back then still work now. I do basic legs lifts for my inner and outer thigh and throw in some clamshells as well.
  • Bridges: Jane Fonda used to love these too. Like many of the other exercises I mentioned, there are a bunch of different variations of the bridge.[Video, also shows clamshell]

For more check out my Pinterest Boards: Triathlete Treasures, Core Strength, Ready, set RUN!

So with all the variations, how do you know where to start? Probably the best piece of advice I received from a PT at Sports & Spinal Physical Therapy was don’t worry about the more advanced variations unless you have fully mastered the basics. Magazines, websites and trainers may recommend certain exercises and hail them as “must-do,” but it’s better to do an easier move right, then to jump to a move that is too difficult and mess up your body.

Basically, don’t be this girl:

As always, any information offered in this blog is personal and based on my own training and experiences. While the information comes from valid sources, it should not be used as a replacement for professional medical care and advice.

  1. When I’m into it, I love strength training. But right now, like you, I am focused on other pursuits that are more endurance based, and I want (both logically and instinctually) to save my time and energy for that. So I try to get my strength workouts in on my off days (which I am sticking to until I have more confidence in my body), and going to yoga 2-3 times a week. I also do PT moves before I run, more for activation and mobility right now that for strength, but I need to work on that.

  2. Pingback: Lean Green Island Girl | I love suspension training!

  3. Pingback: Guest Post: 5 Great Suspension Exercises! - Pretty Lil Mudder

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