Strength training was something I neglected up until earlier this year. I would always read and hear about the benefits of weight training for runners and triathletes, but it felt like it was something extra I would struggle to fit into my schedule. I wanted someone to help me with a gym routine as I was unsure of the exercises and equipment, but Personal Training always seemed like an expense I couldn’t justify.
When PT John ‘Clarky’ Clark offered a great deal on training sessions to my triathlon club, I jumped at the chance to get started. He works with several runners and triathletes and was able to tailor the programme to support my running, cycling and swimming. This really appealed to me as I was looking for something specific to triathlon, rather than a general fitness programme.
In my first session, Clarky assessed my posture, balance, strength, agility and endurance. He noted that whilst my squat technique is good, I do lean slightly more into my left knee. I tend to do this when I’m running and is likely to be the cause of the knee pain I experience occasionally. He also noticed that my lateral muscles are stronger on my left side, which again shows up in my swimming, as I tend to have a stronger pull with my left arm. The training sessions would focus on addressing these muscle imbalances and making sure my body is working symmetrically.
He also showed me how to foam-roll my calves, quads and IT band correctly. I’ve been using a foam-roller for a while, but it turns out I haven’t had the technique quite right. Now that I’m foam-rolling properly, it hurts so bad! It actually makes me feel slightly sick!
I’ve been training with Clarky for 10 weeks now and noticed big improvements already, which have been reflected in my running, swimming and cycling. The exercises are generally all variations on squats, lunges and step-ups incorporating equipment such as medicine balls, the BOSU and a step. We target my quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, shoulders and back- the main muscle groups used in triathlon. Core and ab work is also incorporated in each session, which is my least favorite part!
I’ve certainly lived up to the name of my blog with the amount of lunges I’ve been doing!
There is a big focus on technique and posture during each set. I’m always reminded to concentrate on pulling in my abs, squeeze together my shoulder-blades and stand tall- an “uncomfortably smart posture” as Clarky calls it! The exercises are fairly simple, but definitely not easy. I’m always so aware of my form and range of motion, particularly when I’m fatigued and want to rush to finish the set!
When doing squats, I focus on pushing equally through each leg and driving from my heels, rather than leaning into my toes. I think about this when I’m out cycling, as I would have a tendancy to use my stronger leg more when I’m pedalling and let the lazy left leg slack off. This leg-press machine with BOSU makes it really easy to identify and correct any imbalance in leg strength.
I also try to think of Clarky’s posture pointers when I’m running. It’s easy to slouch and let my shoulders hunch forward, when I’m tired. I try to remember to engage my core and stay upright, letting my abs and glutes do the work. My knee pain seems to have disappeared since I started strength training, so it definitely must be helping!
The training is also mixed up with bursts of cardio including squat thrusts, burpees and intervals on the cross-trainer. These are great for building endurance and also mental strength to get me through tough times when I’m racing. I’ve been doing the circuits he set for me at the gym on my own using a gym day pass.
I look really miserable in all of these photos! It’s the concentration on the exercises, and at least I’m working hard instead of posing like some people at the gym! I’m enjoying it really!
PT Clarky is based at Fitness First in Romford, get in touch via Facebook to arrange a session- I’d definitely recommend it!
Have you ever had Personal Training? How did you find it?