Unless you are lucky enough to be racing overseas these months, you are well and truly into your off-season – yay!

In the last article in this series, we looked at not only why it is important to include strength & conditioning in your off-season training program, but also three specific exercises you can do to improve one of the main causes of lower leg injuries in triathletes – instability & weakness in your hips.

This time we turn to look at a part of your body that most of us want to improve – our core. Whether it is because you want to improve how good it looks in your

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swimsuit or tri suit, or because you recognise that having a weak core increases your risk of injury, having a strong and stable core is high on the list of priorities for many triathletes like you.

What is my “core”?


Without boring you to tears with the details, I’ll keep the explanation short. As you probably know, there is a difference between your “abs” (the superficial “six pack” we yearn for, whether on ourselves or others) and our “core”. By way of comparison, think about an apple.

The skin of the apple and the soft tissue under it is the equivalent of your abs; juicy & delicious!
The core of the apple on the other hand is hidden deep within the apple and is the structure that gives the apple its foundation and shape. Your “core” has a similar role and function. It consists of many muscles and other tissues deep inside your body which run from your chest, through and around your torso, your vital organs and spine, and all the way down into your legs.

Why is a strong core important to a triathlete?


Having a strong core is important for 3 main reasons –

• It can prevent injury – Like the foundation of a building, when it is strong and stable it can withstand a tremendous amount of force and load. But if the foundation isn’t particularly strong or if it is has a weakness in it, cracks (in the form of niggles and injuries) can appear. So a strong core is absolutely essential if you are to remain injury free.

• It can make you faster – A solid foundation (in the form of a strong core) makes you a more efficient athlete. Look at any photo of a professional triathlete compared to a ‘mid/back of pack’ age grouper. The difference in posture and form is unmistakable.

A strong core means all the power generated by your arms and legs is transferred into forward momentum and propulsion. So the more power you can channel into forward propulsion, the less energy (speed) is wasted.

• And finally,

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let’s face it. A strong core looks damn good!


What are 3 great core exercises for triathletes?


As your “core” and “abs” have different roles in your body, it makes sense that they need to be trained differently.
Crunches are a great exercise for your “abs”. So if you want to improve your looks, by all means crunch away to your heart’s content (but be prepared for a back injury – that’s a whole separate topic!).
But if you want to improve the health of your body, improve your speed and reduce your risk of injury, focus on true “core” exercises.

 
SUPERWOMAN
Often referred to as the ‘superman’, I’ve decided to rename this exercise in honour of witsup.com!

I see this exercise done incorrectly in the gym ALL. THE. TIME.
Very few people are able to do this exercise correctly; so make sure you concentrate on only lifting your leg as high as you can without the position of your lower back changing. Think about pushing the heel of your foot out behind you (rather than lifting it as high as you can).

SIDE PLANK

The muscles along the side of your whole body contribute to the stability of

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your torso and hips when running. So improving the way they respond to movement is crucial. This is the basic exercise I do with my clients before moving onto more challenging ones like….

 

STANDING HIP DRIVE

Another variation to this exercise (not shown in the video) is to twist or rotate your upper body from your left hand side to your right hand side (keeping your hands parallel with the ground).

 

ANKLE CORE

This exercise was included in Part 1 of this series.
The key here is to make sure you try and stay stable through your torso during the whole exercise. Don’t swing your upper body or arms in an effort to stay upright and stable.

These are 3 basic core exercises perfect for anyone who

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hasn’t been doing much core work in recent months. Now as triathlon doesn’t take place laying down (except for the post-race collapse after the finish line), I like to progress my client’s quickly to doing their core exercises while standing upright. So stay tuned for an upcoming post about that!

About The Author

Jen Brown

Registered Fitness Professional

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2 Responses

  1. Grace

    Perfect timing for this article, I was just told last night at track that I needed to improve my core strength.. Thanks for the exercises :)

    Reply

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