A strong core is essential for success in all three disciplines of triathlon. Lucy Young, a personal trainer and former mid-distance track runner for McGill University, shares her top five essential core exercises to incorporate into your gym routine.
This exercise is great for strengthening the upper and lower abdominals, as well as the obliques. It will also engage the hip flexors, which are crucial if you want to increase explosive power in sprints.
Start sitting and lean back slightly. Draw up one knee while crossing and lifting the opposite hand towards the knee (keeping the elbow at 90 degrees). Lean back placing both arms in the center and legs straight. Lean back in, and repeat the first part of the exercise with the opposite arm and knee. Remember to keep your back flat, make sure your knee and arms are at 90 degrees and bring your hand to your knee each time.
Do 3 x 12 sets.
An upgrade to the conventional plank. This exercise is best performed with small towels under your feet so they slide as you pull your body on your forearms. This exercise is great for triathletes because it targets your entire midsection (back, obliques, upper and lower abdominals).
From basic plank, lift one elbow and drop it in front of you while your feet to drag behind. Repeat on the other side. Move forward and backward three times (elbow touches the ground three times in each direction). Remember to keep your head, back and glutes in line. Don’t let your back drop.
Do five sets.
Start in a high plank position (on your hands) with your hands shoulder width apart directly under your shoulders. Jump your feet to either sides of your hands and then back down into the plank. This exercise can be modified by stepping your feet to either side of your hands, and stepping them back into the high plank. Maintain a straight back throughout.
Do 3 x 20 sets.
This one strengthens your hip flexors and works your whole midsection. It also targets your lower abs, an area easily forgotten with many ab exercises.
Start with your body in a straight line. Lift your legs to 90 degrees and back down. To modify, lift your knees to your chest if lifting straight legs is too difficult. Perform this exercise slowly to avoid swinging. Hold yourself up without collapsing your head/neck into your shoulders
Do 3 x 10 raises.
These require that your upper and lower body to come up off the floor at the same time as you balance on your sit-bones when your hands and feet touch. Knee-sits are a good modification. Avoid relying on the momentum of the exercise. Look up without craning your head forward and keep your head in line with your back.
Do 3 x 12 sets.
Lucy Young is a certified personal trainer who recently launched her business Lucy Young Fitness in Montreal. She has a background in competitive track and field and years of coaching experience that can help triathletes achieve their goals.