The Endure EQ

A simple guide to start strength training as a triathlete [Endure Eq 042]

Published 9 months ago • 3 min read

Hello Reader,

Welcome to Vol. 042 of The Endure Eq.

Every week you'll get a deep dive into a topic related to endurance training, maximizing your potential or reaching peak performance. Read past editions.

Let’s jump in.

A simple guide to start strength training as a triathlete

Strength training is important for most triathletes.

Adding a simple strength routine can serve 3 big benefits:

  • It’s a foundation of health
  • It builds resilience in your body
  • It counters the repetitiveness of training

There is also the added benefit of just being a stronger all-round human.

Being able to carry the groceries, lift the couch and play with your kids is important to most people.

How to build your first strength workout and complete it within your triathlon training schedule

Let’s jump right in a build your first workout (read all the way through for a big bonus!)

Step 1: Pick a format

For simplicity, let’s stick to a Tri-Set

A tri-set is a mini stack of 3 exercises. Make 2 of them and you have a perfect little workout.

Arrange them like this:

  • A1 - Lower
  • A2 - Upper
  • A3 - Core
  • B1 - Lower
  • B2 - Upper
  • B3 - Core

Tri-sets are a little quicker to perform because you need minimal rest between each exercise.

Step 2: Add in specific movements and exercises

Pick exercises or movements that fit into the template.

(Scroll to the bottom of this email for a resource to pick your exercises).

Don’t be afraid to add in other exercise you like. (IG is a great source of inspiration if you know where to add the exercises.)

Repeat this process for a second workout.

And now you have 2 workouts ready to go.

Step 3: Decide on reps and sets

I recommend you start here first:

  • 3-4 sets
  • 8-12 reps

This puts you in a range that will build strength but will also keep you safe.

The higher load you use the more risk to injury if you don’t have great technique.

But adjust this if you have different goals.

Lower reps/higher weight will build more strength.

More reps and pushing to fatigue will build muscle.

Step 4: Determine your starting weight

For your first session, pick a weight that feels 6-7 RPE.

After the first week narrow down your weights using the rule of 2’s.

The rule of 2’s says: On the last set if you can do more than 2 reps for 2 consecutive workouts then you need to increase the weight on the next session.

This makes sure you are consistently overloading the muscles and building strength.

It’s perfectly okay to go lighter the first few sessions while you learn the patterns.

But eventually it should feel hard.

Step 5: Track progress with lifting

Set a method of tracking your weights, reps and sets so that you can measure progress.

Measuring what you lift will help you build strength by continually progressing.

I love TrainHeroic to build and track my strength workouts.

But pen and paper works wonders at the start.

Step 6: Adjust through your season

After 5-6 weeks you can start to swap out exercises. Maintain a similar pattern to your workouts so it is familiar.

Your strength workouts don’t need to look the same the entire way though the season.

Make minor adjustments throughout the season:

  • Sustainable = strength & muscle building
  • Race prep = maintain & strong movements
  • Race ready = body weight & movement veriety

Over the season you can and should adjust your workouts to meet your overall goals. Let one take priority early season and decrease strength as you prepare to race.

Logistical FAQs (rapid fire)

Strength or endurance first?

A good rule of thumb is: Train the more important one first.

  • If in season, do your endurance training first followed by strength
  • If out of season and prioritizing body composition changes or physique then do strength first and follow with endurance training.

Where in the schedule?

Plan your strength within your regular training schedule making it easy to complete.

Some options I like:

  • Perform after a swim (if your pool has a gym)
  • First thing in the AM; PM session easy endurance
  • Right after an hard interval session

What exercises are most important?

There are no ‘perfect’ exercises specifically for triathlon. You should look to include exercises that fall into the key 7 movement patterns:

  • Push
  • Pull
  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Carry
  • Lunge
  • Rotation/Anti-rotation

My FREE bonus for you

If you want to go deeper on strength training I put together a 30 min mini course on everything strength training for triathletes (and runners).

By the end of the course you will understand how to build and perform your first workout (in even more detail than this newsletter).

Happy Training


When you’re ready here are 3 ways that Excel Endurance by Chandler Scott can help you:

  • Join our free community: find more resources, ask questions, and share workout ideas. Join Community
  • EE Training Squad: Monthly sustainable training and access to on-demand race programs. Join Squad
  • 1-1 Coaching: Take your training to the next level with 1-1 access to Chandler. Coaching Request

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