VIDEO: Strength Training at Home

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A quick and easy 20 minute at home strength training workout. This is a freeweight workout, so only a few dumbbells are needed.

Meeting, errands, bad weather, tired...the list goes on forever. When it comes to strength training, the gym is the last place you go when you have a million things on your mind.

As you approach the off-season of triathlon, enjoy your cross training activities but don’t forget about strength training. Strength training (also known as weight lifting) is a necessary component of your triathlon routine. Including an increase in metabolism due to an increase in metabolically active muscles, strength training improves power, stamina and endurance for all types of triathletes.

When it is time to strength train, there is no “absolute best way” to lift weights. Perhaps you prefer stability balls, BOSU’s, resistance bands or a group exercise class. For many people, the basic machines make for a quick and moderately intense workout for the beginner or person in a hurry. Free weights, on the contrary, require strength, balance and a major emphasis on form. While many people prefer local gyms and exercise facilities, the location of your strength training is up to you.

In less than 30-minutes a day, you can develop power and strength in your own home. All you need are 3-4 sets of dumbbells.


In order to find the correct set of weights, find 2 weights which you feel comfortable performing one set of 20 bicep curls. Starting from that pair of weights, incrementally choose 2-3 more sets of weights (each 2-5 lbs. heavier than one another) until you find a set of weights which you can barely finish one set of 5 bicep curls. Now you have a complete set of heavy and light weights. While you can always go and buy more weights, a few sets of weights, in varying sizes will enable you to perform and endless number of exercises. For abdominal and on-the-floor exercises, you can opt for a yoga mat or abdominal mat for extra floor padding.

*Recommendation for weight sets:
Beginner lifter: 5 lbs, 10 lbs, 12.5 lbs, 15 lbs
Intermediate lifter: 10 lbs, 15 lbs, 20 lbs, 25 lbs
Advanced lifter: 10 lbs, 20 lbs, 25 lbs, 30 lbs
Experienced/Veteran lifter: You already have what you need

*Always check with your doctor before you begin any type of exercise program.

20 minute strength training workout:

5-10 minutes warm-up
*Walk/Jog - 5 minutes
*Jumping Jacks/Modified jumping jacks – 2 x 20, rest 30 seconds
*Football Shuffle – 3 x 30 seconds w/ 30 sec. rest

1-2 sets
15-20 reps (repetitions)
Light weight

2-3 sets
12-15 reps
Weight should be heavy enough to allow you to comfortably complete 50% of the reps for each set so that you begin to struggle with the remaining 50% of the reps.


1) Bench Press

  • Flat on back

  • Elbows don’t drop below shoulders

  • Exhale as you push up, inhale as you bring weight down

  • Lift legs to help lower back and strengthen abdominals

2) Dumbbell Row

  • Knees slightly bent

  • Arms form circle in front of body w/ bent elbows

  • Use upper back to pull elbows up and back

  • Exhale as you pull weights, inhale as you bring weight back to front

3) Lateral Raise

  • Light weight

  • Arms do not lift past shoulders

  • Exhale as arms raise, inhale as you lower weights

4) Frontal Raise

  • Light weight

  • Arms do not lift past shoulders

  • Exhale as arms raise, inhale as you lower weights

5) Bicep Curl

  • Alternating or together

  • Do not rock your body

  • Keep elbows close to body

  • Exhale as you curl weight, inhale as you lower weight

6) Dips

  • Hands on bench or ground

  • Straight legs to increase intensity

  • Elbows point behind you

  • Finger tips face your back

  • Exhale as you lower, inhale as you raise


1) Squats

  • Knees does not pass over your ankles/feet

  • Weight in each hand for more intensity

  • Keep face and chest up

  • Lean bottom back as if you would sit in a chair

  • Exhale as you lower, inhale as you stand

2) Lunges

  • Alternating or single-leg sets

  • Knee does not pass over your ankle

  • Weight in each hand for more intensity

  • Back knee almost touches floor before resuming starting position

  • Exhale as you lower, inhale as you stand

3) Leg Raise

  • Toe points forward, same direction as chest

  • Contract core

  • Ankle weights for more intensity (optional)

  • Steady breathing

4) Butt lift

  • Contract abs

  • Relax and keep flat back

  • Lift foot and keep shoe flat

  • Ankle weights or light dumbbell for more intensity (optional)

  • Steady breathing


1) 15-25 - Leg Drops

  • Hands under lower back or hold under couch

  • Steady breathing

  • Ankle weights for more intensity (optional) or grab partners ankles (by your head) and have him/her throw down feet. Raise feet
    when they almost hit the floor

  • Steady breathing

2) 25-50 - Bicycle

  • Shoulder to knee

  • Slow bicycle for more intensity

  • Ankle weights for more intensity (optional)

  • Steady breathing

3) 25 – 30 - Crunches

  • Your choice or standard crunch

  • Lift chest to sky

  • Elbows back so that you cannot see them

  • Steady breathing

*Perform exercises slowly. 1-3 seconds for each rep
*Rest 20 sec. – 1 min. between each set
*Optional: use ankle weight for abdominal exercises
*Perform full-body workout 3x/week
*Perform abdominal exercises 5-6 days a week

About Marni - See all Articles - Custom Nutrition Program
Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. Certified sports nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition.  Spinning class teacher and CPR certified. 2006 Boston Marathon, 2006 IMFL, 2007 Ironman World Championship finisher and qualified for the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
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date: December 4, 2007