Core Strength Training for Triathletes

author : Manny
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Train your core! The following program is designed for an in-season triathlete, can be done anywhere and with no equipment.

Manny Escalante, Jr. MA, ATC, CPT
Crucible Fitness Associate Coach

Core strength is a hot topic in the fitness industry. Athletes and trainers are beginning to understand the importance of this factor after years of ignoring it, or underestimating it. The time constrained triathlete cannot afford to exclude this part of their training, nor can they necessarily afford the time to research exercises, put together a program, go to the gym, blow up their physioball, and train their core. We become lazy because when it becomes too difficult or time consuming, we skip it.

Core muscles are composed of the abdominal muscles (both superficial and deep), the lumbar region, or lower back, and the thoracic and cervical region of the spine (mid and upper, respectively). These areas serve to provide stability, support, and a solid base for the rest of the body to function maximally. Think of a strong tight core as a solid foundation through which power generated in one region of the body is transferred to another. The body roll of swimming is initiated at the core, so that the legs and shoulders rotate in unison. An engaged core will transfer the power of your upper body down to your pedals as you climb. A strong core will help prevent injury on long downhill runs.

In physical therapy, when patients are asked to engage their core muscles, the patient merely holds their breath. They feel an increase pressure in the “core region” and associate the feeling with engagement of the core. When engaging the core muscles during exercising, perform the talk test. Engage your core, and then talk. If you cannot talk and keep the muscles engaged, you were merely increasing the abdominal cavity pressure. If you can talk and maintain that pressure, your core is engaged. Beneficial results will be seen when the core is engaged during all activity, and it is important to train these muscles with a focused core training program.

  • The following program is designed for an in-season athlete, can be done anywhere and with no equipment. As you adapt to the exercises, the program may be completed in about 15 minutes.
  • Coordinate the exercises within your training week. Go easier on a day when you feel tired and try to push yourself on your easier days. Begin the program conservatively; it is better to realize you could have gone harder then to wake up too sore to move.

Weeks 1 & 2 : 3 sets 15 repetitions. 3 exercises.
Weeks 3 & 4: 4 sets 15 repetitions. 3 exercises.
Week 5: 3 sets 20 repetitions. 4 exercises.
Week 6: 4 sets 20 repetitions. 4 exercises.

 

ExerciseDescriptionNotes
Twist CrunchKnees bent/feet flat on floor. Fingertips behind your ears. Lead your right shoulder towards your left knee. Keep your head neutral. Your shoulders will only come off the ground a few inches. Do not come down too fast. Do not lead your elbow to your knee.
Sky ReachKnees bent/feet flat on floor. Bring arms up even with your chest, reaching up towards the sky. Keep arms straight. Pick a point above and reach for it. Your shoulders will come off the ground a few inches. Come back slowly.Variation: Keep heels on the ground, but toes off the ground.
MarchingLay face up. Knees bent. Feet flat on the ground. Hands on the ground extended by your side. Lift your hips/butt off the ground. Lift one leg off the ground and extend the knee. Then bend the knee and return to starting position. Repeat with the other leg. Be sure to keep your hips neutral; do not let them rock to either side.Variation: Bend your elbows and point fingers up, or straighten arms and point entire arm up.
QuadrupedBegin on your hands and knees. Engage the core muscles. Lift the right arm straight in front. At the same time move your left leg straight back (not up). Hold for one to two seconds and return each limb to its starting position. Repeat on other side.Your hips should not rock to one side. Keep the core engaged the entire time.
Lunge and TwistStep out with your left foot and assume a lunge position. While facing forward, bring your arms out, shoulder level, parallel to the ground, hands clasped. Twist at the trunk to the right side until your shoulders are completely turned. Imagine your arms have moved from twelve o clock to three o clock. Remain in the lunge position, but bring arms back to starting point.Finish one set, then switch to the other side.
Clap OverheadSit and balance yourself so that your legs can come off the ground. Extend your right arm overhead, next to your ear. Extend your left arm to the side at shoulder level. Bring your left arm up to meet your right hand (simulating an overhead clap). Keep your left arm overhead, bring right arm down to shoulder level then back up to meet the left, and repeat. One repetition equals left arm meets right, right goes down then back up, left goes down. The clapping motion may be done quickly. Keep your legs off the ground entire the entire time.
Double leg raise (straight leg/leg tuck)

Lay face up, feet straight in front of you. Place your hands either under the small of your back, or at your sides. Keeping your legs straight, bring them up until the soles of your shoes face up. Under control, bring them down. Before they touch the ground, bend your knees towards your chest, then extend your legs and repeat. You may need to let your heels touch the ground between each raise/tuck combination.

Work yourself from raise-tuck-touch ground repeat to raise-tuck repeat. The raise and tuck together are considered one repetition.
Side bridge leg/arm upLay on your right side. Prop yourself on your right hand, and balance on the side of your right foot. Bring your whole body off the ground (only contact points are the hand and foot). Once balanced, lift your left arm so that it points straight up. For more of a challenge lift the left leg so that there is separation between the left and right leg. As you master this skill, combine the leg raise and the arm raise. This exercise should be done for time. Begin with 20-25 seconds and work up to 1 minute. Easier Variation: Bend your legs back towards your butt, and balance between your hand and knee while keeping the body off the ground. Also try balancing on your elbow instead of your hand.

 

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date: March 21, 2005

Manny

My goal is client success and education. Having shed 50 pounds and 20% body fat, I understand the potential physical and mental challenges. I been competing in triathlon for several years and have successfully completed every distance, from sprint to Ironman, and continue to race in pursuit of faster times. I am a graduate of the University of La Verne (BS Athletic Training) and of Chico State University (MA with honors, Sports Medicine).

avatarManny

My goal is client success and education. Having shed 50 pounds and 20% body fat, I understand the potential physical and mental challenges. I been competing in triathlon for several years and have successfully completed every distance, from sprint to Ironman, and continue to race in pursuit of faster times. I am a graduate of the University of La Verne (BS Athletic Training) and of Chico State University (MA with honors, Sports Medicine).

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