Did you know that strengthening your core is one of the best ways to improve as a triathlete? Besides making you a more efficient swimmer, cyclist and runner, a strong core reduces risk of injury in other areas.
Greg Lehman, a physiotherapist and strength and conditioning specialist, recommends core exercises that work the lower body as well. He explains, “We have strong research that lower body resistance and plyometric training can help improve performance. All athletes should be doing some regular squats, one-leg squats and deadlifts in addition to specific core training.”
For optimal results, Lehman recommends adding core work into your training three to five times per week. Perform the workouts to failure, meaning stop when you are fatigued and your form is compromised.
This exercise is a variation of the common plank and can be modified depending on your current level of core strength. Begin with either your hands or forearms on the ground and raise your legs so that your feet are positioned on top of the ball. Hold for as long as possible. If this is too easy, you can increase difficulty by incorporating crunches. Guide the ball in with your feel so your knees come towards your elbows.
2) Table top hip bridge
Support yourself on your forearms with navel to the sky. Knees bent should be bent and feet on the ground. Lifts your hips up and walk their feet outwards. As you get stronger, do this with their legs straight. This exercise is great because it works all of the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes and spinal muscles).
3) Hollow Rocks
Lie on your back with arms raised above your head and legs stretched out. Simultaneously lift your legs and upper body so that your hands and feet meet as close as they can over the centre of your torso. For added difficulty, use a weighted medicine ball (between ten and twenty pounds). Pass the ball from your feet to hands and back again as you keep your core engaged.
4) Pushups with hand walkouts
Starting in a push up position, walk your hands out in front of the top of your head or even farther. While doing this, gently contract your abs so that you almost feel like you are performing a mini curl-up. Avoid letting your back “sink’ or arch inwards.
Lie face down. In this exercise you alternate arm and leg raises, each for as long as possible. Once comfortable with single raises, add in alternate arms and legs lifted at the same time. For an advanced modification, raise all limbs at the same time for as long as possible.
This is the perfect core exercise for triathletes! A variation of the common abdominal crunch, this workout works your obliques because as your lift your upper body you will incorporate a twist. Begin by keeping knees bent and feet off the ground. With hands behind your head, Lower one elbow to the opposite knee. Repeat on the other side.