Working the over-trained athlete

In our previous article, we highlighted the fact that training for triathlon takes some serious dedication (but you all know that already!). However, in comparison to the majority of other sports, triathlete’s have to fit a great deal more into their weekly schedule.

There are long days on the bike, many kilometres spent running and endless lengths in the pool. Like with most things though, too much can be a bad thing, especially when it comes to training.

Now overtraining is easy to do for highly motivated Type A personalities, which just about describes all triathletes! Once you reach an overtrained state, fatigue causes performance plateaus – possible injury, sickness and decreased motivation are all common repercussions.

How you plan your swim, bike and run sessions is largely out of my hands. With my athletes, I have the benefit of being able to help find the best days and times to schedule in their strength sessions. For you, I’d strongly advise sitting down with your coach and making all your sessions work in harmony rather than fighting for your time and effort.

So, what’s the best way to ensure you get the right balance, especially when you’re also adding strength training into the mix? I want to discuss how you can integrate strength training into your busy week, which will go a long way to injury prevention and improved performance

Rules to follow when integrating Strength Training into your week

Frequency & Duration
Two to three sessions a week – this is what I program the athletes I coach to ensure maximum benefit without affecting the quality of their other sessions.
No longer than 45 minutes per session (quality over quantity).

Key Ingredients

  1. The focus of these sessions will always consist of the following key ingredients:A mobility/dynamic warm-up routine that works on improving the range of motion of our major muscle groups and joints.
  2. Skill-based or activation drills and exercises that prime and work on areas of weakness.
  3. A series of strength exercises specific to the athlete’s needs.

Think Quality over Quantity
This is a term that I use on a daily basis in our training studio and something that should always be considered. It can be overwhelming when you start thinking that you need to set aside 2-3 x 60-90 minute strength sessions into your
weekly program.

Instead, start by working out what your main priorities are. Each of you will have your own individual goals, whether it is ankle or hip mobility, single leg strength or improving your core – when you know what your priorities are, these should become your focus.

I’ve spent many years looking at ‘typical’ weekly timetables of triathletes. For many, this is six days of training per week, with some doing 2-3 sessions a day. Now that doesn’t leave a great deal of time for anything else, especially if that athlete has a full-time job and family.

This brings me to the Action Plan.

Action Plan
Looking at your timetable I want you to find one morning, lunchtime or evening where you can fit a 30-45 minute strength session in, either at home or at the gym.

Now we are left with having to find another 1-2 sessions in our week and this is where most people struggle. So, from here I want you to select 2x 10-15 minute windows. This could be pre-swim, bike or run, during your lunch break or when you’re waiting for the dinner to cook.

Then select one or two mobility exercises, one activation exercise and one, maybe two strength exercises that you know you need to focus on. In total, these 4-5 movements that you’ve selected should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete. Repeat this and you will have completed all your necessary strength work, without hugely affecting your weekly schedule. Taking this ‘bite-size’ approach is an effective solution to managing your time.
Above is an example of a possible weekly schedule and where I would suggest adding in the strength sessions.

NB: At Strength For Endurance our aim is to deliver strength training as simply, conveniently and effectively as we can. Through our StrengthForEnduranceKIT programming and easy to use Strength Units you can build the essential foundations you need to perform at your best.

Visit to download your FREE “Strength Unit”


Kriss Hendy

Seeing the need for better athlete education and understanding with regards to Strength & Conditioning for the endurance athlete. Kriss works with a variety of athletes from age groupers to professionals, developing programs that support and heighten their endurance performance. Kriss is based in Byron Bay with his wife (professional triathlete) Polly Hendy. He has an International client base that use his Online Strength Training Packages.
For further details or to contact Kriss, visit:
Instagram: @kriss_hendy
Twitter: khendy3

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