The principle of specificity states that triathletes must dedicate substantial training time to swimming, cycling, and running. Yet spending all your training time in these pursuits is a recipe for overuse injuries. This is where supplemental strength training becomes an indispensable tool in the triathlete’s repertoire.
Functional strength work can help triathletes of all levels overcome muscular imbalances en route to becoming stronger, more efficient, and less injury-prone.
And the best news is that even a little supplemental work can go a long way. Time-crunched athletes need only dedicate an extra 10 minutes several days a week to make a difference. If you can’t spare any extra time before or after your swimming, cycling or running sessions, then consider squeezing in that 10 minutes before breakfast in the morning (a great way to start the day and get the blood flowing), while taking a break from work in the afternoon (a great way to alleviate the stress of sitting at a desk), or while watching your favorite television show in the evening (use the commercials as training intervals).
Here are two versions of a functional core workout that can be done in as little as 10 minutes (performing the sequence once through) or expanded to 30 minutes (repeating the sequence three times). Begin with the four exercises in the introductory level workout, then gradually work towards the two combined exercises in the advanced level workout. Aim to incorporate the routine into your daily activities three to six days per week.
See the accompanying videos for demonstrations of the exercises.
Core Strength Training Sequence: Introductory Level
Perform each core exercise for 30 to 60 seconds, moving from one to another to complete the sequence. For a short workout, perform the sequence once. For a longer workout, repeat the sequence two or three times with 15-30 seconds of rest between sets.
- Front plank
- Side plank (left and right)
- Lying hip abduction (left and right)
- Glute bridge single leg (left and right)
Core Strength Training Sequence: Advanced Level
Perform each core exercise for 60 to 120 seconds, moving from one to another to complete the sequence. For a short workout, perform the sequence once. For a longer workout, repeat the sequence two or three times with 15-30 seconds rest between sets.
- Front plank with straight leg extension (left and right)
- Side plank with lying hip abduction (left and right)
Remember, a strong core is essential to everything the multisport athlete does. As you perform these exercises, think quality. Always do each exercise with proper form, and only progress to a harder exercise if you can do so without losing form. Be patient. Progression will occur with consistent, quality practice.