When do you recommend tapering off of strength training for an “A” race?
Strength training is an essential part of a year-round training plan for all athletes. The right type of strength training can have huge benefits on performance, but few athletes fully understand the role that strength training plays in making the body more durable, increasing the longevity of a racing career as well as permitting an active and healthy lifestyle outside of sports.
After the age of 35, our muscular strength, balance and stability deteriorate at a faster rate if we do not actively use and train these abilities, making us more susceptible to injury. Investing time and energy in strength training is more valuable during the off-season when your aerobic workouts are relatively less important. My suggestion during key training and racing phases, especially approaching your “A” race, is to do the minimum level of strength and stability required to maintain the fitness you developed over the off-season. Keeping some basic stability elements consistent, such as planks and a variety of range-of-motion exercises, while avoiding some of the large-muscle-group complex exercises will significantly reduce the impact of strength work on your big swim, bike and run workouts.
As far as tapering strength training before a goal race, if you are already on a maintenance strength program, I don’t see a tremendous benefit of further reducing your strength program until the week of your race.
Robbie Ventura is a former U.S. Postal Service cycling team member and now owns Vision Quest Coaching (Visionquestcoaching.com).