In-Season Strength Series: Race Week

Perform this strength workout during your race week to keep your muscles activated and primed for the race.

Doing a strength workout during your race week will keep you sharp and conditioned. Ryan Kohler takes you through three exercises that can all be done with a kettlebell and target lower-body stability and leg drive as well as core strength and upper-body mobility. These moves will maintain your fitness through a taper and have you ready for your competition.

Before getting started, be sure to go through the Warm-Up routine first.

Race week workout at a glance

Kettlebell Lunge: 2 sets of 4 to 5 repetitions per leg

Single-Leg Kettlebell Squat: 2 sets of 4 to 5 repetitions per leg

Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Halo: 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions per side

Jump to the other weeks in our series:

In-Season Strength: Post-Race Week

In-Season Strength: Normal Week

In-Season Strength: Recovery Week

Video Transcript

Ryan Kohler  0:02

Athletes can often be afraid to go into the gym and do strength workouts during race week, but there’s some great benefits to that. So one is maintaining your intensity that you’ve already gained in previous weeks. Two is help keep those muscles activated. Finally, help offset some of that sluggishness that you might get from a taper week. So with that, let’s go ahead and get started.


The Kettlebell Lunge is great for race week, because it’s a specific lower-body exercise that focuses on that leg drive. So whether you’re cycling, running; flat, or uphill, it’s a great way to prioritize that movement. So we’ll start by grabbing a weight, can be a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, whatever you like. And we’re going to go into a lunge position and then drop our hips straight down and drive off this front leg. We’ll come down. Try to keep that knee nice and neutral. Don’t let it wobble too far in or out. And then drive back up strongly. With this exercise, one thing to keep in mind is the intentionality of the movement should be fast. Remember, this is race week, so we’re going for high force output: quick, sharp movements. So as you drop down, don’t just crawl back up to the top. Rather, come down and then drive strongly off that leg so you feel that powerful contraction happening.


The Single-Leg Kettlebell Squat off the box is a great way to activate your glutes and work on that strong leg drive to develop unilateral force and power. So, start with your kettlebell here in one hand. I generally keep this opposite of the leg that I’m stepping onto the box with. So we’ll come up here, stand up, and find our balance point. From there, we’re going to just use this left leg and stick our butt back over the heel so we can come down, just letting that leg touch, and then drive back up. One thing to avoid is when you come to the bottom: Don’t weight that free leg, because it’s tempting to push off of it. Come down where it just touches and use that planted foot to drive off strong.


The Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Halo is a great core and rotational exercise, but also excellent for race week, because it allows you to work on your shoulder mobility. So you can take a kettlebell and hold it like this. And what we’re going to do is slowly start by bringing the kettlebell behind our head, allowing it to pull us back a little bit so we can work on that shoulder mobility, and coming back down to the start. Then we reverse this in the other direction, over the head, back, and down. So repeat this on both sides. You can even switch which leg you kneel on, and complete your reps.


All right, thanks for joining me on that race-week session. Hopefully you have some exercises now that make you feel stronger and more powerful and ready to go for your race. So thanks for joining us and we’ll see you again.