a weight on a bench

We’re gonna pump you up!

Pack on all the breathable layers, water-resistant shoes, gloves, and balaclavas you want and some days it is still just too cold to train outside in winter. When you hit the gym, you will of course focus on your passion, be it running, swimming, or cycling. But don’t simply move your outdoor routine indoors. Your gym membership is for the whole gym. If you’re going to be inside anyway, hit the weight room where you can really focus on specific muscles to be your best on the track, road, or in the pool. Check out some of the weight-training sessions we’ve found to help athletes whether you’re a runner, swimmer, or cyclist.

For Runners:

  • Alternating Dumbbell RowThis exercise is a great way to strengthen the core and engage the full back side of the body—from hamstrings to traps. If your core is weak, your form will be inconsistent and fatigue will set in more quickly.
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extension With Calf Raises -- Many runners assume upper body strength, particularly arm strength, is unnecessary for their sport. However, studies have shown that the arm motion is important to decrease foot-to-ground time. The less time your foot is on the ground, the faster you’re running. Here is an exercise that builds your calf muscles—necessary for the quick spring from the ground—and your triceps. Strong triceps allow for more force in the up-down counter action of your arms while running.
  • Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curls – Since runners may not focus on arm strength on a regular basis, that’s where we’re putting our As we just said, the motion of your arms while you run is a crucial part of how you run. The biceps and muscles through the elbow are responsible for your elbow bending as you run. This exercise really focuses on those muscles, giving you more power as you bend and contract the arm, and increasing your endurance to a avoid floppy, useless arm as you end your race.

For Swimmers:

  • Lat Pull Downs – For swimmers, the back muscles are key. When we think of a swimmer’s build, that iconic silhouette is highlighted by well-defined lats. The great thing about this exercise is that while it strengthens the latissimus dorsi, it also stabilizes and strengthens the core.
  • Leg Press – When you push off the wall at a turn, your position and leg motions will mimic the actions of a leg press. Doing leg presses to strengthen the quads, along with the glutes and hamstrings, will help swimmers kick off for faster starts down the lane.
  • Standing Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension – Triceps work with the biceps to bend and straighten the elbow, especially for strokes like the freestyle. These triceps extensions will add strength and endurance to help you maintain form and swim faster and farther.

For Cyclists:

  • Front Squat – The front squat is great at engaging the quads and keeping the focus on keeping a tight, controlled core. Since your quads really will take a beating, either maintain weights on the lower side of a challenging range or incorporate these into a week when weight training is a much higher priority than actual bike work.
  • Leg Curls – This exercise focuses on strengthening the hamstrings. While most cyclists notice the quads working, the hamstring is actually engaged and working throughout the stroke cycle, first to help propel a powerful stroke, then stabilizing the knee during the recovery phase of the stroke. A stronger hamstring will allow cyclists to more fully engage the muscle, generating more power and speed.
  • Reverse Lunge – The glutes produce as much as 27% of your cycling power. They deserve some real attention. This exercise puts less strain on the knees than a forward stepping lunge. Like the front squat, the reverse lunge will also fatigue the muscles if you perform a few dozen reps or use weights on the heavier end of your range.

These are really just to get you started. And for those of you worried that you’ll bulk up and turn into Mr. or Ms. Olympia if you touch a weight, don’t worry. It takes real effort and commitment to add substantial muscle mass. Yes, every ounce counts in competition. So be mindful of your weight-training routine, just as you are with every other aspect of your training.

What weight-training routines help you in your discipline? Have you noticed a real difference in power and speed after times of dedicated weight/resistance training? Tell us your story—we’re listening on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make the most of this winter season whether indoors or out. You’ll thank yourself when race season rolls around!

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