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The H Word

Managing  Training
& Expectations

by Ben Dandy
Ben is well known in North West Powerlifting as one of the most jacked men in existence, and none of us are even slightly jealous of his popping abs or immaculate moustache. Here Ben is talking about his experience of pursuing multiple sports simultaneously; having competed at high levels as a triathlete as well as a powerlifter.
 
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I’ve never really considered myself hybrid. The term is being bandied about a lot at the moment and I can see the attraction. Getting stronger has always been a passion of mine, well, more like a life’s work now I’m thinking about it. I’ve dipped in and out of competitive powerlifting for years, from attending Army events circa 2006, to more recently with the GBPF in 2018, so lifting has always been the backbone of my training. Having said all of the above, I‘ve always held my fitness in high regard. Those that know me will have observed how I’ve stayed lean most of my powerlifting career.

I do feel genetically more blessed when it comes to fitness. I swam to a high level in my youth, then of course the Army thing, so fitness has always been a big part of my life. Admittedly, I’ve stepped it up a notch over the past 12 months partly because of lockdown and now I’m writing this, maybe influenced subliminally through the recent hybrid trend... Damn.

I started adding a few runs a week into my lifting regime, pushed it more, got injured and pulled my calf. Lesson learnt. I started again but treated it more like my powerlifting program and did the old progressive overload. It worked a treat. I signed up to running league, a point-based system, where points are awarded for distance, elevation and speed. I won a £100 Amazon voucher, so I bought new running trainers. I kept improving and this spurred me on to hire a coach… a triathlon coach. This was great, I was fully involved now. I’d competed in triathlons in the army, plus I had a swimming background. I thought this should be easy enough.

 
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The biggest shock was the training volume. Don’t get me wrong. I knew it was going to involve all three disciplines, but It was apparent that my lifting was going to be put on the back burner whilst I built a good base of fitness, and started to get used to the training load. Fast forward to now (or you add however many years/months it's been) I’ve got a sprint triathlon in April, which includes a 400m swim, 20km cycle and a 5km run. In preparation for this I’m following Jim Wendler’s 531 for my lifting. I’m cycling 4 times a week on a static bike following a progressive training program. I’m also running once a week and swimming once a week at the moment, nothing too strenuous, just 30 mins at low heart rate or an hour in the pool. This will ramp up towards the event and the weight sessions will be reduced. I think of it like a pendulum.

The difference between a good swim and a bad swim for me will be about 60 seconds so I’m better using my time elsewhere at the moment. It’s probably obvious to the majority of you that I’m better off building strength and being more efficient on the bike as that’s the biggest chunk of a triathlon. Imagine if you scored more points on the bench than you did squats and deadlifts. You’d bring your bench up to give yourself that advantage. Thank the lord that’s not the case!

That pendulum I was talking about before will swing the other way after the race and I’ll push the weights again. I’ll keep the cycling in, because I like it and the low impact cardio has been so beneficial, and the hybrid bandwagon will keep on rolling.

 

I seem to have found the right balance with regards to strength and fitness training. I’m very conscious that the pendulum will, and must swing from one to another if you really want to excel in one sport, but out of season or months out from competition, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the benefits of being a fitter lifter or a stronger endurance athlete.

 

Hope this has been a worth while read, I doubt I’ll ever get subliminally influenced into any other type of training or lifestyle changes ever again.

 

Stay safe primals, liver king out.

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