Importance of S&C for Triathletes

There are 3 reasons every Triathlete needs to include S&C in their weekly training schedule even if they are competing seriously or simply doing it for fun.

1) Injury Prevention

This is the most common with Triathletes hence why physio’s love you 🙂 Following a personalised S&C program will not only reduce the risk of injury in training and competition but overcome and rehabilitate any niggles or injuries. Athletic performance requires adequate muscular strength, balance, power, endurance, neuromuscular coordination, joint flexibility and good body composition. An athlete who follows a well-designed S&C program will prevent or eliminate muscle imbalances, strengthen connective tissues and address flexibility issues which will lead to fewer injuries.

For example, strengthening the muscles around the knee joint through a progressive and exercise-specific S&C program will ensure knee stability during training and competition thus reducing the chance of skeletal or soft tissue injuries.

2) Force production

Every sport involves the application of force including Triathlons.  Most people don’t realise that exercises such as squats and step ups will get an athlete’s lower body stronger and is the quickest way to make an athlete faster and achieving new PB’s. Adding off the bike work through S&C with weight bearing exercises will result in an increase in power on the bike. Some can pedal as fast as the top-level sprinter but normally they can’t apply as much force with each pedal stroke.

Making you as athlete’s faster is a simple concept but it is a complex road to get there. Improvements aren’t made from running yourself into the ground on the treadmill or road. Something that appears simple such as running or cycling fast is actually very technical like a lot of other sporting skills. It needs to be broken down into the key elements, learned, practiced and then applied on an individual basis. Strength and conditioning ensures that the correct improvements made are specifically applied to the discipline.

I have never seen an athlete who can cycle efficiently without first being taught how to do it. Most coaches think that pushing an athlete until he or she throws up is the best way to make an athlete faster. Cycling efficiency is very technical and requires hard work to promote improvements trying to replicate movements with precision. The program should address stabilisation, conditioning and power work so that this newly developed strength and speed transfers into power on their bike.

3) Efficiency 

Efficiency is key component that S&C shown to improve. This is basically how well you produce and use energy.  The improvement is similar to results found in running where strength training has been shown to improve running economy. A recent study examined the effect of eight weeks of strength training on competitive cyclists and found an increased rate of force development, increased work efficiency, increased cycling economy and increased time to exhaustion.  Besides physiological changes due to S&C, the coordination, balance and recruitment of the right working muscles also improves which directly improves your pedalling efficiency.


Every S&C intervention will be different for every athlete and should be individual depending on goals, your level and structure of your competitive season. All S&C programmes will look to address and improve one or all of the following:

  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Power
  • Agility
  • Endurance
  • Stability
  • Postural correction
  • Imbalances
  • Injuries 

Research has shown that with of strength training being incorporated to an endurance program it will improve performance by improving the economy of movement, delaying fatigue, improving anaerobic capacity and enhancing maximal speed (Ronnestad and Mujika, 2013). Athletes should be doing 2-3 S&C sessions a week alongside their cycling and running training to see improvements in their performance.

If you have any questions on any of the topics discussed please contact Gareth at


Monthly – Athlete S&C Programming

For athletes who are looking for Strength and Conditioning to compliment their training. See Blog on Importance of Strength and Conditioning for Triathletes.