5 Simple Strength Moves for the Pre-Season

These key lifts will build a bombproof body for the year ahead.

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When it comes to strength training, the off-season is the most important time to make gains that will set you up for a successful year of training and racing, says Erin Carson, a strength and conditioning coach with more than 20 years of experience in the field. At EC Fit Strength, Carson oversees the strength training for pros like three-time Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae and 2019 Kona runner-up Tim O’Donnell. Thankfully a handful of simple strength moves are all you ned to get started.

“Prioritize strength and conditioning now to prevent injury and prepare yourself for the many miles of swimming, biking, and running that lie ahead,” Carson says.

Here are five simple strength moves that will enable you to do just that. The goal: Complete all sets of each exercise, then move onto the next one. Note that the number of sets and reps listed here are specific for the off-season, but if you’re starting from scratch, do what you can to start, then build from there. Aim to do this routine twice a week.

Split Stance Goblet Squat

simple strength moves
Illustration by Oliver Baker
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, one foot in front of the other (longer and wider if you feel unstable).
  • Load your front leg with about 60 percent of your body weight.
  • Hold the dumbbell vertically in a “goblet position.”
  • With good posture squat as deeply as you are comfortably able to, and then return to standing.
  • Do four sets of five reps.

Turkish Get Up 1 and 2

Turkish Get Up 1

simple strength moves
Illustration by Oliver Baker
  • Lying face up, raise your right arm straight toward the ceiling with your left arm straight out to the side.
  • Bend your right knee to 90 degrees, keeping your left leg straight.
  • Push into the ground with your left arm and drive your right arm straight up until you are in a supported sitting position.
  • In a controlled manner lower yourself back to the starting position.

Turkish Get Up 2

simple strength moves
Illustration by Oliver Baker
  • From the sitting position achieved in Turkish Get Up 1, execute a hip drive with the right hip. For both exercises, do two sets of eight reps

Stability Ball Alternate Arm Chest Press

Illustration by Oliver Baker
  • Position yourself with your head and neck on the stability ball and keep your hips high.
  • Squeeze a yoga block or foam roller between your thighs to help activate your glutes.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand and extend with straight arms.
  • Alternate single arm presses while holding your lower body stable.
  • Do three sets of eight to 10 reps. Note: As the ball is an unstable surface, it can be more difficult to perform this exercise with a heavier weight.

Hanging Knee Raises

Illustration by Oliver Baker
  • Begin this exercise by hold- ing in a hanging position for 10-20 seconds.
  • Raise both knees to parallel and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Do two sets of 10-15 reps.

Lateral Lunge and Reach to Single Arm Overhead Press

Illustration by Oliver Baker
  • Stand with your feet together and start with a single dumbbell in your right hand.
  • Take a step directly to your left side and decelerate the step with a bent leg.
  • Reach the dumbbell toward your left knee, keeping your eyes up and driving your butt back.
  • Return to the starting position on one leg and perform an overhead press with the single dumbbell (in your right hand). Switch sides and repeat.
  •  Do two sets of eight to 10 reps each side.

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