A Strength Set to Keep You Strong, Resilient, and Ready For Indoor Training

With focused work now, you’ll be ready for a strong and successful winter indoors and for a 2021 race season outdoors (hopefully).


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There are many reasons why 2020 has been unprecedented in terms of training. But one upside is you have probably already dialed in your indoor set-up earlier this year—and now you can use it for the upcoming winter months. Many of us will be turning up the intensity as we log countless indoor miles through the holiday season, with the goal of moving into the new year feeling strong, durable, and resilient.

Indoor training, however, is not easy on the body; it typically involves constant work that demands multi-joint, total body competency to hold form, posture, and muscular tension. With the right strength and conditioning preparation, this doesn’t need to be as complicated as it sounds—and now is the perfect time to bulletproof your body for the winter and beyond. The following circuit is aimed at developing generalized resistance to fatigue and overall postural strength—better known as “free speed.”

Photo: Oliver Baker

1. Cable Or Banded Push-Pull

Why: This is a press and a row benefiting overall strength and posture across the swim, bike, and run. It’s also one of the best anti-rotation core exercises—critical for increasing power, preventing energy leaks, and protecting the spine from head to tail.

How: Kneeling with good posture, secure your bands/cables to an appropriately challenging resistance; one in front and one behind. Without rotating at the hips, push (press) one band/cable while simultaneously pulling (rowing) the other to your full range of motion. Do 10-12 reps per side at the best intensity you can hold with perfect form, then flip around to do the other side.

Photo: Oliver Baker

2. Trap Bar Deadlifts

Why: Generalized strength through the quads, glutes, and hamstrings (and the associated tendons/fascia) supports both speed and power. Trap bar deadlifts also focus on pull-specific upper-body strength, while being gentler on the lower back than a traditional deadlift.

How: Stand in the center of the trap bar with your feet hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips and grasp the handles with straight arms and a neutral spine. Engage your glutes, hamstrings, and quads as you drive your hips to a standing position. Reverse the movement to return the bar to the floor. Weight will vary, but I challenge my athletes to lift big (80%+ range) on this movement for 6-8 reps.

Photo: Oliver Baker

3. Reverse to Lateral Lunge Combo

Why: This is a great move to strengthen your single-leg function while increasing hip mobility. Lateral lunges complement a triathlete’s forward motion, especially through the hips and glutes, for long-term durability on the run. This combo challenges both balance and mobility, while honing in on two traditionally run-focused strength movements.

How: Take a large step out to the right, immediately lowering into a lunge, sinking the hips back and bending your right knee to track directly in line with your right foot. Keep your left leg straight but not locked, with both feet pointing forward. Activate your right glute, and drive your hips back to standing, balancing on your left leg. Once vertical, step back with your right leg into a reverse lunge. Repeat 8-10 moderately weighted reps of this movement before switching legs.

Photo: Oliver Baker

4. TRX Overhead Squats

Why: This single exercise will improve resilience and coordination for the entire kinetic chain from head to toe. Strength and proficiency with overheads will improve upper-back mobility, mid-back strength, and shoulder flexibility. Breathe better, stand taller, and hold aero longer by working on the finer muscles of your posture with this movement.

How: Stand facing the anchor point of the TRX, with your arms extended overhead and palms forward. Lower your hips toward the ground while driving your hands back and keeping your arms extended without shrugging your shoulders. Engage your glutes at the base of the squat while maintaining tension on the TRX as you stand. Do 12-15 reps.

Photo: Oliver Baker

5. Half-Kneeling Cable Woodchopper

Why: Rotation is important for triathletes, so we need to train all variations of it, especially for situations on the bike and run where that rotation should be carefully controlled. A cable woodchopper not only lights up your lats and triceps, it also fires the obliques and transverse abdominis. Learning to turn or rotate well here will ultimately make you more powerful and efficient at swimming, biking, and running.

How: Kneel on your outside knee with a cable/band over your inside shoulder. Keeping your spine tall, drive the band/cable down and across your body toward the kneeling hip without rotating your pelvis or dropping your head. Reverse the movement with perfect posture. Do 12-15 reps at a weight that permits good speed with control.

Kate Ligler has specialized in endurance training in both functional strength and conditioning, as well as technical program creation for cyclists, runners, triathletes, and multisport endurance athletes for well over a decade. Find out more at kateligler.com.