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4th place, age group M30-34, Kona qualification

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Winner, age group M30-34

2013 IRONMAN Kalmar
2nd place, age group M30-34, Kona qualification

Finisher in 9 hours 30 minutes

5th place, Finnish Championship

Winner, age group M30-34

More results here.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


Functional Strength

I used to be really into weights. Actually, that was all the training I did for several years. 3-4 times a week with specific days for every big muscle groups. By my current standards, I was in pretty strong condition. I mean, we used to call washers the barbell weights of 10kg and under. Nowadays, that's often pretty much all I'm using at the gym! I guess I can admit it now, the sole goal was to grow muscles bigger because that's what looks good. Right? 

When it comes to age-group level endurance training, strength workouts have traditionally had a smaller role than they really deserve. Fortunately there seems to be a change in attitudes going on and now all the magazines and coaches talk about functional strength training as an integral part of endurance training programs. What is it about this strength training then that endurance athletes should be so interested in and spend their precious  hours doing it while they could be out there running or riding? It's not about growing muscles, I can assure you!

Functional training to me is about strengthening those muscular pathways needed in swimming, biking and running. It's also about maintaining adequate mobility and teaching the body to recruit more muscle cells to do the work when training and racing. All the hours spent in the saddle and running make sure that you won't build too much muscle mass, you'll just become more efficient and redundant to injuries.

To be effective, functional strength training should be integrated to the training program and there should be similar progression in load, volume and specificity as in the other three sports. Now, I'm the first one to admit, it's often the strength training that gets dumped when I'm constrained by time available for training. This can also happen when the weather outside is just too good to be sweating at the gym. But just there lies perhaps a misunderstanding about the concept of strength training for endurance sports. A lot of the work can be done home or outside with only few training aids.

My weekly strength workouts normally consist of 2-3 short, 20-30min blocks of mainly core strengthening and stabilizing exercises at the end of a run or swim session. During the earlier parts of the season I'll do a circuit type session every week with movements using my own weight to get adapted for the heavier loads that will follow. Later, I'll head to the gym for an hour once a week to do some work with bigger weights. I should probably do another session, but this is where I'm at, at the moment. My reasoning for these maximum strength type workouts is that I'm getting enough endurance training already by doing the three sports of triathlon. I don't need to work it at the gym anymore. There are also some studies confirming the benefits of heavy weights and few repetitions for cyclists and runners alike. Important thing here, though, is to remember not to overdo it and get injured in the gym. Avoiding injuries was, after all, one of the main reasons to go there in the first place.

I can really feel the gained strength on the bike while doing low cadence work with high power output or while doing hill reps running. My core muscles help me maintain my form longer and channel all the power to the ground and pedals. Being strong is definitely advantageous on the final kilometers of an ironman marathon!

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