• Train Like A Pro: Strength Training For Triathletes

    triathlete strength training

    Swimming, cycling, and running will inevitably take up most of your time as a triathlete, but hitting the gym and doing strength training is just as important. We chat with two professional triathletes to get the low down on how they strength train to improve their performance and get the most out of their training.

    Matt Leeman - professional triathlete

    Matt doesn't do strength training in the typical sense. Instead of hitting the gym and lifting weights, he uses natural factors like hills to help him improve his strength and increase his muscular endurance. 

    Triathlete strength training

    Strength training is a big component of any sport, the common definition of strength is "the ability to exert a force against a resistance". Each sport has different demands and hence requires different classifications of strength, triathlon predominantly requires strength endurance - the ability to express force many times over.

    Although I personally do not lift weights, which are commonly associated with strength training, I do triathlon-specific strength training, adapting the training of the disciplines to a strength based way of training.


    There are swim specific tools that can be utilised to enhance swimming strength, the main ones I use are the pull buoy, hand paddles, and band. The muscles used in swimming are predominantly the lats (side of the back) and triceps. The pull buoy enables swimming with less kicking to maintain the body position so that the upper body can be worked more. The hand paddles create a larger surface area to increase the resistance of a stroke. The band is used to take leg kicking out of the equation and rather get propulsion from the overall movement of the body and core muscles.

    Matt Leeman pro triathlete swimming training triathlon


    The majority of the time in a triathlon is spent on the bike so having good bike strength is essential for putting together a good race, both directly, making you ride faster, and indirectly, the less the bike takes out of you, the more you’ll have left for the run. The two things that can be utilised for bike strength are the bike's gears and hills.

    By doing specific intervals ‘over-gearing’ i.e. using a bigger gear than you would usually use to train your leg muscles to produce a greater force so that when we are racing we are working at a lower percentage of our overall capacity. Hills obviously give a great stimulus for developing strength, ensuring you ride on different terrain is important for developing a well rounded strong athlete.

    strength training cycling


    The main ways in which I train my running strength is using hills and mixed surface terrain. I will often do a specific hill repeat session where one specific hill is targeted and run up multiple times. The beauty of hills is that it prevents you from over-striding and promotes glute engagement, which improves our ability to utilise the bigger muscles in the legs such as glutes and quads that handle fatigue better than the smaller muscles of the leg, which is very important in an endurance sport.

    winner triathlon strength training

    Claire Steels - World Champion duathlete

    Claire tells us about her three favourite strength training exercises and why they are well suited to an endurance athlete.

    Bulgarian Split Squat

    This exercise is great for running and cycling power but also glute, hip and core stability. Unilateral exercises like the Bulgarian split squat are fantastic for developing the individual leg strength required for sports such as running and cycling, where each leg is required to produce power independently.

    duathlon strength training

    TRX Mountain Climbers

    This exercise requires core stability and control whilst moving each leg independently. This replicates the physiological control that is required in a duathlon as a strong core is essential for efficient running and cycling.

    TRX mountain climbers strength training for duathletes

    Kettlebell Swings

    This is a fantastic exercise for developing power through the posterior chain along the back of the body. It challenges the strength of the whole body but primarily the glutes and hamstrings. It is also a fantastic exercise for testing the cardiovascular system while also trying to produce power making it yet another great exercise for duathletes.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Training Update By Sundried Ambassador Andrew Jones

    Sundried ambassador training update triathlon

    Training is going really well and the longer summer nights are coming into play; it’s great to be outside. Event-wise I have just finished competing in the Welsh national sprint championships and had equally good weather. The sprint format is always tough when it’s 100% on the pace from the start. For longer events you can sometimes build into a full race pace but I love the format of a sprint.

    My next big target is in San Francisco and I’ll be heading out in just over 10 days to get ready to race the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, which is a must do and on everyone’s bucket list.

    Read Sundried's 2018 Escape From Alcatraz triathlon race report.

    I can’t wait to do it! It’s a challenging swim from the island followed by a very challenging bike ride and very elevated run, but it looks amazing. It’s a very special race and I feel very lucky to have got a place.

    Sundried will be keeping me cool whilst in the states and I’ll be taking my favourite pieces with me. After San Francisco, it will be back to training in Wales and London and gearing up for a summer of competing.

    The season in the UK is reasonably short so it’s challenging and also incredibly exciting to fit in all the events and sometimes have a quick turnaround. I’m very lucky to live close to the sea and have incredible hills and also beautiful cycle routes and trail run paths to fine-tune my trade. I can’t wait to see what the second half of 2019 brings. Training has gone well and it’s time to dive in and get the job done!

    About the author: Andrew Jones is a triathlete and Sundried ambassador.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • Harriet Woodland-Broome Junior Athlete Ambassador

    Sundried ambassador runner running

    Harriet lives on the Scottish borders and juggles sports training with studying for her school exams. She talks to Sundried about training and racing.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, since the age of about 4. I have a very sporty family so I was born into a sporty environment. I started out doing most sports: netball, hockey, swimming, tennis, and football, before settling down to competitive running.

    What made you decide to enter the world of running?

    Having mucked around on the track in the Scottish Borders and enjoyed the Eildons, I found I was quite good at it. I also loved the feeling of running to beat someone or beat a time. What you get from running, both training and racing, is adrenaline, challenges and of course the rush from completing your training or a race! But I don't think you can beat the feeling of a good race, and striving to get a PB each time - whatever the outcome.

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

    My favourite race to date is probably Scottish Schools cross country 2018.  I came in 17th out of a large and very competitive field. I was also struggling with a small but persistent foot injury, so I think I was so happy because I had absolutely no expectation of myself at all. I was less than a minute away from qualifying for Scotland. I just remember feeling great whilst running, even though we were running in a blizzard! It was amazing to pass loads of people at the end, sprinting for the line.

    And your proudest achievement?

    My proudest achievement would probably be between selection for Scotland East in the lower year of U15, and then taking 9 seconds off my 1500m PB to gain 10th in Scotland during the season. Both of these were very special moments for me.

    Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?

    Yes, I've had some pretty amazing racing disasters. I had one around 3 months ago while doing the first real cross country of the season - a particularly difficult course. I was already battling a foot injury and ended up in pain right through the middle of the course, but I didn't want to give up. I had to walk up one of the hills, I just felt really sick. Then 5 metres from the finishing line I fell forward, had a seizure and got carried off to the hospital for check ups and blood tests. Definitely not my best race!

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I'm happy to admit that I am actually quite a negative person, so sometimes I really struggle with all the injuries I've had. But I keep setting myself new goals, even if they are small things, like I just to finish a race and cross the line.

    I am learning to understand that set backs can act as a motivation for me to push myself harder in training. You treat them like obstacles to overcome. Focusing on short term goals is my main way of dealing with setbacks. You can't give up, you have to keep fighting.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

    A couple of things. First off - training hurts if you want to see real improvement. Secondly, race-wise I wish I'd been told more about tactics! At the start I always went off too fast or too slow in races, I couldn't find the right balance, and I struggled in national races especially knowing where to settle in the pack. Going right to the front isn't always the best way to run a race, but luckily I know that now!

    What are your goals for 2019?

    For 2019 I would just love to get a full track season under my belt again. Getting fully fit back and building my strength from injury is number one priority. Obviously Scotland East and full National selection is my main aim, which with a little bit of luck and some hard work around my GCSEs could be achievable.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    As I am currently living in Scotland, it is probably no surprise that I take a lot of inspiration from Laura Muir. She was a lot like me when she was younger, even her times were pretty similar. I look up to her as an athlete because of all that she has accomplished and her attitude, she wasn't always the most talented, but she worked harder than everyone else to make herself the best runner.

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    The main attraction - without a doubt is that you are "ethically made". The clothes all look amazing and cover the gear I need. It's really hard to find clothes that are ethically made, especially gym wear so I love how that's really unique about the brand. I especially love the gym leggings, they look very comfy and breathable.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Scott Laidler Personal Trainer

    personal trainer

    Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?

    I was always an active child with football, swimming and karate but I made the distinction toward fitness in my early teens where I would work out with a light pair of dumbbells. I then joined a gym in my local area, which I ended up working at as my first ever fitness job, that's where it all began.

    What are your training goals now?

    I feel like for a long time I was trying to get my body to a level of size and conditioning that I would be happy with, which I achieved around the age of 30, now at the age of 34 my main goals are to stay within 80% of the range of my peak in all areas simultaneously, so staying all-around athletic whilst investing in my long term health by keeping stress and inflammation low and spending plenty of time on mobility and movement.

    Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:

    My background is in Psychology, before fitness this was my academic pursuit which has really been useful in fitness, actually many of my fitness clients have gone on to request more of a holistic life coaching relationship which I've always welcomed.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

    I wish I had been told about inflammatory foods earlier on in my life, I spend a lot of time having a war on body fat that was unnecessary, given that with the diet I have now I could have been in the condition I wanted to be in with about half of the sacrifice.

    Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?

    I'm not overly concerned with caloric intake at the moment, I understand the value of it but I'm quite in tune with my body and consisted with what I eat so I stay pretty balanced in my approach. I keep a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol running, avoid grains, breads, alcohol, dairy and other inflammatory foods when i make my own food and allow these guidelines to be a little more lax socially unless i am training for something in particular. The intermittent fasting was born out of being very busy as a trainer and not having much time to eat, my schedule is more within my own control now, but eating two meals per day really helps me stay productive and virtually ensures I stay lean year round so it's been a good system.

    What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?

    I always say that the motivation was there before we met, that's the reason someone reaches out to a coach in the first place. So the way I see my role is to provide the road map and the accountability along the way. I do this by helping my clients prime their environments and daily routines to help facilitate behaviour change one new healthy habit at a time.

    1. Find a powerful why, in moments of challenge if your will to achieve is not stronger than your temptations you won't follow through.

    2. Prime your environment and routines ahead of time to facilitate the successful adherence of your goals .

    3. Dream big and set lofty goals for yourself, but reverse engineer their completion to smaller bite-size tasks and plans. 

    4. Celebrate your wins. 

    Talk us through your training regime.

    I spend the majority of the year switching between cycles of HST (hypertrophy-specific training), GVT (German Volume Training), Strong Lifts and hybrid training cycles.

    I typically train in a gym three times per week, go to the track once for sprints and stay active on other days with cycling and hiking. I also aim to spend at least 30 minutes each day in a deliberate movement or mobility practice, which could include Pilates or yoga. 

    How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

    I like to read a lot, my new membership platform also has literature reviews as a feature so my colleagues and I are always catching up with the latest research. Alongside that I have a podcast where I get to interview some of the biggest names in the sports and fitness world so whenever I have a question on my mind, I'm fortunate enough to be able to pick brains on a world level.

    What are your top 3 trainer tips?

    1. Remember that everyone has their own narrative, listen to what someone is telling you but also understand what they aren't saying too, sometimes that's where the true motivations are and if you can tap into those you'll ignite a fire that will help your clients see their goals through to culmination.

    2. Stay up to date, go to festivals, network with your peers and geek out on the latest research, a small distinction or insight can make the world of difference to your clients

    3. Make sure you rest. It's exciting to fill your boots when you first see success, but don't become a martyr; you need to practise the balance you preach and stay sharp mentally, you aren't just a trainer you are a coach and you ought to embody that.

    If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Probably oatmeal cookies.

    What do you like about Sundried and what's your favourite bit of our kit?

    I like the ethics behind the brand, I think we are moving to a stage post-consumerism so brands that actually have a net positive impact on the world are the only ones I want to align with.

    I like the Matterhorn quilted hoodie as my favourite piece of kit. 

    Favourite fitness quote:

    "Just Start" - Professor Greg Whyte OBE, from my 'Healthy Ambition' podcast.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Declan Heaslewood Personal Trainer

    personal trainer

    Declan is a personal trainer who practises what he preaches. He talks to Sundried about training and motivation.

    Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.

    I used to play county squash, competing in national events and representing the South West as well as winning the county championships twice at junior level. I’m now really enjoying CrossFit and am looking forward to getting into competing after I finish my Masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology.

    Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?

    I played all sorts of sports growing up – anything with a racket was my favourite! I got into training in the gym as a way of improving my squash performance and loved it. I have since moved away from playing squash to CrossFit and weight training.

    What are your training goals now?

    To enjoy every session that I do. I’d also like to be able to do handstand walks, they’re pretty cool.

    Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:

    I trekked to Everest Base Camp when I was 18 and absolutely loved it.

    What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?

    Make sure you’re doing something you enjoy and don’t worry too much about the outcome, that’ll take care of itself.

    Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?

    I don’t follow a specific plan but do have some things I try to stick to;

    I fast everyday between 8pm and midday the following day, so I don’t have breakfast. I like doing this because it makes me feel sharper in the morning and has a balancing effect on my insulin levels.

    Aside from that, I try to get as much of my energy from plant-based sources, but try not to be too controlling around what I eat. I’m also pretty partial to chocolate, so I think my diet would be best classed as ‘trying not to eat chocolate three meals a day’.

    What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?

    I work with clients to find out what works best for them and help them to build regular exercise into their lives. I believe that if you’re enjoying it, that will take care of the motivation side. Whilst you’re finding what you enjoy, think about why you’re training, whether its to look better or feel better mentally, and let that motivate you to create some good habits!

    Talk us through your training regime.

    I train in the gym around 6 times a week, which will often involve different types of squats, deadlifts, pull ups and some pressing movements at least once per week. On top of that, some interval and circuit training and walking as much as I can, which is great active recovery and just a really nice way to get around.

    How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?

    I’m lucky enough to have access to academic articles so I read them whenever I have time, which I feel keeps my knowledge up to date. I also like to try new things myself, which keeps my ideas and approaches fresh and interesting.

    What are your top 3 trainer tips?

    Do anything, as long as you’re enjoying it.

    If you can, focus on the functional side of training. Not only will it make you feel and look better, it will help you with the rest of your life outside of the gym and make you feel more prepared for what the world has to throw at you.

    Mix things up often! Keeping things interesting makes training much more enjoyable than slogging away at the same routine over and over again.

    If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Yogurt coated banana chips (it’s technically a fruit, right?)

    What do you like about Sundried and what's your favourite bit of our kit?

    I love Sundried’s take on activewear; good kit that doesn’t damage the earth. The fact that they support good causes as well as being environmentally friendly is brilliant and it’s lovely stuff to wear.

    My favourite bit of kit is the Olperer T-shirt – it’s comfy, looks great and is made from recycled coffee grounds which is really cool. The coffee grounds in the material means that it doesn’t hold on to smells too, which is a massive bonus.

    Favourite fitness quote

    "Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for something you've eaten."

    Posted by Alexandra Parren