What specific strength training should female athletes do?

Should women do the same strength training as men, or do they need more specific exercises? Matt Sanderson of Triathlon Coaching UK explains more

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Women are more susceptible to osteoporosis, so they need to be robust. Strong ligaments, tendons and muscles are key to a healthy musculoskeletal system,  and since triathlon is a repetitive sport, any muscle imbalances will affect alignment and potentially lead to injuries.


Muscular-strength endurance is just as important as cardiovascular endurance for triathletes, and we can all do the same S&C sessions. But before people embark on one of our training plans, we ensure that their spine and pelvis are moving freely – in most people we see, this isn’t the case – since 65% of injuries stem from these areas.

We also look at how a person activates their core and gluteal muscles, as well as the movement in their hips. If a female has had children, for example, she may need additional work to build her core before adding any impact work. The same applies if there’s a family history of osteoporosis.

Having time to do S&C training can be a problem for all of us, so smarter working is the answer. Multiple-joint exercises, such as a ‘squat, curl, press’ or ‘reverse lunge with rotation’ are ideal, as are bodyweight exercises like ‘press-up into side plank or mountain climber’ and ‘shoulder bridges’.


 Matt Sanderson is a BTF Level 3 coach and has qualified for the IM 70.3 World Championships three times. Find out more about him at www.triathloncoaching.uk.com

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