A Weighty Question

Triathletes and trainers are mixed on the benefits of extensive weight-training in preparation for an event.

Patrick O’Connor, a Georgia exercise scientist and marathoner, points out that comprehensive weight-lifting studies are few, and each has examined a different regimen or group of subjects — trained athletes, sedentary people, recreational athletes – so it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions.

Some athletes continue, or even ramp up, their lifting regimens in the months before an event. O’Connor, on the other hand, says he stops lifting weights as he begins preparation for a marathon.

Professional triathlete Jeff Paul, 29, of Le Claire, Ia., doesn’t let the lack of consensus sway him.

The 8th-grade history teacher and former collegiate distance runner says he monitors the website slowtwitch.com to glean triathlon training tips, and “most of what I read is very negative on the benefits of weight training for triathletes.”

But Paul, who earned professional status with his finish at a ½ Ironman in Texas last fall, says he incorporates vigorous weight training into all his pre-event workouts.

“Most of the opposition to weight lifting comes from people who say triathletes are better spending the extra time running, swimming, or biking. They say that the movements in weight lifting are not the same as the movements in swimming, biking, or running, thus it is a waste of time,” he said. “It is my belief that by weight-training, I am building my maximum power output, especially for swimming and biking. I believe that as I get stronger I am able to produce more watts on the bike per pound of body weight. More power equals more speed.”

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