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Triathlon - Foundation Strength Phase


Marjaana Rakai MSc Sports Sciences, NASM PT, Community Trained Triathlon Coach Triathlon Canada

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5 Weeks

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Plan Description

The Foundation Strength Program can be performed 2-3 per week. It is recommended that the program is performed in a “fresh” state, meaning the athlete has recovered from the previous exercise at least 6 hrs to ensure athlete doesn’t carry too much neuromuscular fatigue when performing the balance exercises. A good idea would be to place this program as the AM workout followed by easy aerobic intensity workout either immediately after or as PM workout.
Exercises for the Foundation phase are selected to improve main muscle groups used in triathlon. The exercises in this program build a solid foundation to further progression to exercises in the following strength training phases. One of the main goals in the Foundation phase is to improve fundamental movement patterns and muscle coordination to ensure injury-free progress into heavier weights.
Exercise selection focuses on anatomic adaptation, including improving muscle imbalances, core stabilization, preventing tissue overload by preparing muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints for upcoming imposed demands of training, and establishing proper movement patterns and exercise technique. This phase also improves muscular endurance, increasing neuromuscular efficiency of the core musculature and improves intermuscular and intramuscular coordination.
Progression through this 3 to 6-week period is done by increasing the proprioceptive demands of the exercises, meaning exercises will become more unstable and challenge the athlete’s ability to maintain proper balance and posture.
Exercise Progression Continuum:
In order to make this general program to work and challenge most athletes, the following guidelines can be used to make exercises easier/harder.
Challenging balance aspect: move from stable to unstable by changing the ground contact from the floor, to a beam or even tape on the floor, foam pad or Bosu Ball. Remember it is important that balance is controlled and only further challenged (by progressing the exercise) IF the athlete can perform 2 extra reps on 2 sets with PERFECT FORM.
Increasing intensity of the exercise by moving on from two-legged stance to staggered stance (feet closely aligned with each other to single-leg stable to two-legged unstable to staggered stance unstable to finally single-leg unstable.
Specific to upper body exercises, the intensity progressions follow two-arm- alternating arms-single arm to single arm with trunk rotation.
When to progress an athlete to the next difficulty level: The 2-for-2 Rule suggests that if an athlete can perform 2 extra repetitions on 2 sets with perfect form, then they should be progressed. If an athlete is clearly struggling with balance, immediately make the exercise easier for safety concerns.

Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Strength x2
2:30 hrs 1:00 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
2:30 hrs 1:00 hrs

Training Load By Week

Marjaana Rakai

Be Sisu Fit Inc.

Marjaana believes as an endurance athlete, you need to be able to move better and the roadmap is via deliberate strength and mobility training. All endurance athletes benefit from not only moving better but building stronger muscles to withstand the repetitive movements during our day-to-day training and achieve efficiency to maximize our capacity.
Her services include endurance, strength and nutritional guidance which complement each other so that you can perform at your best!

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