Wednesday, May 19, 2010

To Gym Or Not To Gym

In my current training schedule, I'm supposed to go to the gym twice a week - Monday & Wednesday evenings. But this past Monday, I had the chance to work with a swim instructor, which I did in lieu of the gym. And one of the things about my training schedule I'd like to change is adding a longer bike ride. I need to put a 2 hour/35-40 mile ride in there somewhere.

Overall, I have the time. It's just that it tends to come in one hour blocks. But still, I could probably figure a way to do that longer ride, say on Wednesday. But I'd have to cut out the gym.

But I like the gym. And I feel some loyalty to it. The gym is what got me down from 280 to 250 pounds. And since I live and Huntington Beach and am a fan of random and awkward moments, you can only imagine what a goldmine the gym can be in terms of people watching. California girls and mixed martial arts wannabees - it's an incredible combination.

I think that weight training is an important part of multi-sport training. There is a somewhat dated argument that endurance athletes should not supplement their training in the weight room. But I personally think that if done right, weight training not only helps with weight control but also gives you the opportunity to strengthen parts of your body not engaged when swimming, biking, and running.

On the other hand, I think there is a good argument for getting as much volume as you can manage into the the actual disciplines. And if time is limited, I wouldn't fault anyone for trading a weight bench for an extra half hour on the bike.

I'd hesitate to try and solve my schedule issues by simply adding more hours to my week. That's not to say that when I start training for a HIM next year or someday decide to go all in for a full, that I wouldn't make a further time commitment. But that would be planned, and my family and work commitments would have to be considered.

Because here's the thing. Though participating in triathlon has shown me how much I love swimming, biking, and running, it's taught me even more about life balance. As counter-intuitive as this may sound, I think increasing my training time right now would cause diminishing returns. Not in a physical sense, but in a life balance sense. I don't want to ignore the most important things triathlon has taught me by doing more to get prepared for triathlons.

This season it's all about getting out there every 4-5 weeks and competing in sprint and Olympic distance races. It's about experiencing everything I can and learning from it. It's about experimentation. And I believe that this schedule is exactly where it needs to be at the moment.

Does the above make sense? Maybe it would be easier if I just said that I'm in a bit of a catch-22 here.

Kovas Palubinskas wrote a great post today over at Midwest Triathlon Life where he asked his readers "What’s your Simple Thing? What could you do to improve performance?". I thought it was a fantastic question. Check it out and leave a comment if you haven't.

Hopefully, Kovas won't mind if I borrow the idea and ask what you all do in terms of weight training in relation to the core sport(s) you participate in. Do you go to the gym or not go to the gym? Do you go to the gym but never at the expense of the rest of your training schedule, or are you in the gym all the time? Maybe you do something else entirely?

I'd love to know. Thanks in advance.

16 comments:

Barbie said...

I don't go to the gym Patrick.I used to but I find it a bit intimidating. I don't like the girly weights and so this leaves me with having to enter the forbidden male zone with the free weights. Needless to say the stares make me nervous.So I do my weights at home in my courtyard.

Jennifer said...

I have a love/hate relationship with the gym. Lately is has not been fitting into my daily routines. However, if I loved it more than I am sure I would find the time. When I get 'into it' I love being there. Unfortunately I do not have a regular routine and I really need to change that. Next week, I promise. I always prefer to run/ride/swim and will do that first if given the choice.

Matty O said...

HAHA, the gym is a gold mine for those people, LOVE IT! I laugh a lot when I go to our rec center to swim... At least the people are trying to get fit right?!

I agree with life balance... everyone has it and everyone achieves it at a different level. Mine is achieved running. I zen out and just float through the trails with no pain and nothing stopping me.

I have dropped off of the weights though mainly because I needed to lose weight to race. I ran a marathon last month and dropped 10lbs from muscle alone. I was doing a great workout though that kept me toned and fit (aside from the cardio). It's called 21's. You do 21 pushups then 1 situp. 20 pushups then 2 situps, 19 pushups and 3 situps, etc. until 1 pushup and 21 situps. This throttled my arms and kept minimal muscle mass on my body. I do regular ab workouts as well because my core is my life, with a strong core I have no injuries while trainig.

Sorry that got long, I feel strongly on this though and even if I hit the gym, it would be for reps, not for mass.

Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Have a gym membership but only to swim and the occasional treadmill in bad weather ... I still do a p90x workout or yoga at least once a week and a 15 minute core workout 2x a week (ab ripper X)... I have a full set of dumbbells at home and resistance bands which helps.

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Thanks for the shout-out Patrick. I'm not yet to th epoint where I am adding strength exercises to my training plan, but have thought about it a lot. I've never been a big gym goer, but prefer to find more natural, organic strength work, i.e., working the entire body rather than focusing on arms or chest or whatever. The single best exercise I've found for that lately is the pushups. If you follow the 100 Pushups Challenge training plan, you'll find yourself becoming stronger, leaner, and overall more fit without leaving your home. I did about 7 weeks, repeating some weeks, and was amazed at the progress. I dropped it because I felt that I was doing too much (yup, I'm weak mentally as well), but will definitely incorporate it again at some point, if not this season, then over winter.

Christine Jensen said...

I really like that you talk about balance in life. I think as someone training for races (I don't do Tris yet...still working up the guts for the open water swim and the money to buy a decent bike, I just dot the running part)it can be difficult to balance the many aspects of life. Training, Family, other responsibilities... It all has to come into balance or we lose in the end. Thanks for the reminder. (By the way, I came over from Kovas' blog)

Karen said...

I think going to the gym is one of those things you *know* you should do but is also one of those things that is last on the list when training. Especially with a triathlon. You almost feel like you are sacrificing a chance to swim, bike or run to work on strength. In the end, I am sure it is worth it (or I think so anyhow.. Clearly I don't have it figured out!)

Bill G said...

During the off-season I am at the gym 6 days a week. I might not lift but that is where I swim and run and most likely some core and body weight exercises.

When I start commuting if I get to the gym 2-3 x a week (including swimming) that is a lot.

I agree with you on ST helping overall base fitness and plan on hitting it harder this off-season

skierz said...

I currently kind of do the gym,. it is the first thing I drop when pressed for time. That being said, I have a renewed commitemtnt to gettting it done! All of the triathletes that I know that have improving results from race to race and season to season all do weigths. As you have recognized, it builds strength and helps in all the disciplines! Good luck trying to manage! :)

ameldamegos said...

Given that I do not compete at any sport, unless pick up ultimate Frisbee counts, I only exercise to stay healthy. That said, I do believe for me, where some weight loss is desired after pumping out three kids, weight training is a must, though I agree with a more organic approach, as my local gym is full of meat heads. I do yoga 1 - 2 times per weeks and pilates 1 - 2 times per week, babysitting allowing. At home I lift the kids in presses, leg lifts and bridge lifts, do some core work and push ups. In the past 6 weeks since I have begun in earnest to shape up nutritionally and physically, I have spied the outlines of muscles in my upper thighs and arms and my pants fit better, though the scale continues its topsy-turvy displays. I would like to clear some space out in my basement and get the Bow Flex in action. Though it is fairly limited, I think it will serve my purpose well.

RockStarTri said...

There is a school of thought that says the best way to get better at swimming, biking, and running is to swim, bike and run. Weight training has its place in the plan but if I was short time I would invest that time on the bike.

Then again, most of us aren't professional athletes and we are doing this for general health and body composition improvement. In that mindset, everything can be a piece in the puzzle.

Just my view.

Bryan S said...

I'm in the "not gym" category most of the time even though I know it's a necessary part of the equation. I am like you in the sense that you have to find a balance. If I have to cut something out because of work or family, the gym is the first to go. More often than not, I only get in the gym once a week. I am working on correct this with my coach I just hired. I think strength training can do wonders in reducing injury and enhancing performance.

Glenn Jones said...

I used ot have a gym membership, but I just never went, so it went by the wayside. I pretty much have everything I need at home - Concept 2 rower, weights, TV, remote control...

I *was in 24 hour Fitnessonce in Costa Mesawhen Dennis Rodman came through. That was pretty interesting....

lindsay said...

i used to gym 3x/week in the morning after a run (and still get to work by 7:30). now i can't... but i hope to get back in the routine sometime soon here... i def am not a lift-after-work person though for whatever reason.

maybe you could start with one weight day / week and hit full-body?

shel said...

i'm an ultramarathon runner. i bike rather pathetically, yoga, walk, weight lift, plyometrics, occasional karate and easy hikes with the kids. i do all of this at home, no gym visits for me. you can get a basic whole body routine done in 45 minutes with a set of dumbbells in front of latenight tv when most folks would be eating ice cream off a bowl set up on their belly. all this extra crap is necessary for me because my legs are used in one way repetitively, but since you multi-sport, i don't know how useful that would be. if you feel like you don't need it, try life without it for a month and then revisit.

abba said...

According to me all people should go in gym every day and at regular base. We can spend minimum an hour for gym daily so that we can maintain our health.
gym bags

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