Use Large, Multijoint Exercises
Strength-training experts and triathlon coaches always seem to highlight the injury-preventive and performance importance of tending to small, supportive muscles that are notoriously weak in endurance athletes, such as the rotator cuff, the gluteus medius, the small muscles along the shoulder blades, and the abdominal, hip, and low-back region, or core(15). These are certainly weak areas that shouldn’t be neglected, but for the average time-crunched endurance athlete, it simply doesn’t make sense to spend several hours a week doing isolation exercises for these tiny, supportive muscles.
You’ll maximize your gym time by doing large, multijoint movements that incorporate the rotator cuff but also use many other major muscles, thus training coordination, motor-unit recruitment, and muscle strength(18) while strengthening the rotator cuff. Two examples would be barbell or dumbbell overhead presses and body-weight or assisted pull-ups, both of which involve multiple large muscles and full upper-body coordination but also incorporate the smaller, stabilizing muscles of the rotator cuff.
Other examples of good full-body or multijoint movements include squats, cleans, and dead lifts. A video I created at tinyurl.com/utubeweights demonstrates four key moves that incorporate multiple joints.
In the same way that you shouldn’t do the same swim, bike, and run workouts all year, you’ll experience burnout and decreased performance if you use the same strength-training volume and intensity and the same sets, weight, and repetitions all year. So just as you should adjust your swimming, cycling, and running routine throughout the year, you should do the same with your weight-training routine.
For example, if you decrease sets, increase power, and incorporate more explosiveness as your high-priority races draw near, your strength-trained muscles will be at peak performance on race day.
Do strength-training workouts that target the same muscle groups at least forty-eight hours apart(12). Muscles take at least that long to recover, so if, for example, one session includes barbell squats and the next one dumbbell lunges, both of which exercises train similar muscle groups, space these sessions out by at least forty-eight hours. You can, however, do strength training for different muscle groups on consecutive days.
Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health & Life