5 Great Strength Training Exercises

These strength training exercises are geared toward the new triathlete.


By Beth Shaw


So you’ve completed your first triathlon and are already looking for next one. In addition to increasing your training for the swim, bike, and run, it’s important that you implement some strength training to compliment what you are already doing and gain strength for improved performance. Here are 5 great strength training exercises geared toward the new triathlete.

Plank Row

To strengthen the arms and core for the swim – In swimming, it’s essential to have a strong core, back, and arms. This move helps strengthen all three. Start with a dumbbell in each hand and get into plank position. It’s important that your feet are about hip width apart and your arms are about shoulder width apart.

Keep your back flat and keep a neutral head position. Start with the left arm and lift it in a “rowing” motion. Then switch to the right arm. Try not to rotate your torso and keep your chest facing down. Start with 10 repetitions for each arm and use a weight that is light enough for you to have perfect form before increasing it.

Clamshell and Side Leg Lifts

To strengthen the hips and glutes for the run – More often than not, runners need lots of work strengthening their hips and glutes, and these two moves are great for doing just that. They are simple exercises that target those areas and can be done just about anywhere and without any equipment. For the clamshell, lie on your left side and bend your legs, then raise your bent right leg toward the sky. Slowly lower it, but not all the way, just enough to leave a little space in between your two knees. Repeat this about 20 times and switch sides. For the leg lift, lie on your left side with your legs straight out and slowly raise your right leg. Repeat this also about 20 times and switch sides.


To strengthen one leg at a time, targeting quadriceps, hips and hamstrings. To begin with, don’t hold any weights until you have great form. Step forward with your right leg and lunge down until the knee is almost touching the ground. Don’t let the knee extend beyond the leading foot. Pop back up to both feet by pushing off of the right toe. Repeat with the left leg. This exercise should be done with higher repetitions in the 15-30 per leg range. Aim for 3 to 5 sets.


Squats help the hips, quads and hamstrings, which are needed for all three disciplines of triathlon. With your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, point your toes slightly outward. Look straight ahead and squat down with a nice straight back – don’t hunch!

Squats are fairly taxing and work best when done with other exercises so start with about 25 reps and work them into your strength training routine. Increase the number of repetitions as you get stronger and be sure to do them with perfect form.

Dead Bug

This move is great for the core and helps with the swim, bike and run. Begin by lying on your back with your hands and arms extended toward the ceiling. Bring your feet, knees and hips up to a 90 degree angle. Make sure that your back is flat to the floor. If you feel a spot near your lower back that is lifted, bring your knees toward you to adjust. Then bring them back to 90 degrees. This is where you will start. Extend your left leg by straightening it and lowering it toward the ground, but don’t let it touch. At the same time, lower your right hand back over your head, but don’t let it touch. Bring both back to the start position and then alternate using right leg and left arm. Be sure to exhale as you extend and inhale and you bring the arm and leg back in.

Beth is a running and triathlon coach from Florida who began her journey through health and fitness as a high school swimmer. After leading an unhealthy lifestyle while in college she made changes to get back in shape. Since then, she's completed numerous marathons and triathlons and finished her first full Ironman in 2014. She's also a freelance fitness writer and blogger. Her passion is fitness in all forms, though she enjoys running and swimming the most, and she believes in doing what makes you happy and healthy.

Main Photo Credit: Pavel1964/; Second Photo Credit: Maridav/; Third Photo Credit: Syda Productions/