Tips and tricks to get better, faster for triathletes


Here is a series of exercises, postures, techniques and general advice in order to get more efficient, less prone to injury and most importantly faster when swimming, biking and running in triathlon.

Swim

• Important to have good thoracic (middle back) rotation when swimming.

Exercises:

1. Standing (better sitting as keeps your pelvis still) cross your arms across your chest, rotate your trunk one way and then the other.
2. Sitting with one leg crossed over the other, rotate around pushing against opposite leg (see picture).

3. Bow and arrow – lying on side arms out straight and together, open up top arm to behind you keeping hips still.
4. Foam rolling your mid back can also help increase thoracic mobility (see picture).

• Scapular (shoulder blade) activation is really important at the start of the pull phase to help us use the bigger, stronger muscles in the stroke.

Exercises:

1. Arms up above your head, shoulder blade set one arm at a time.
2. Arms above, shoulder blade set and then a lat pull down, can use a band for this to add resistance.
3. Same as 2 but in an all 4s position to mimic swimming.

• When we rotate in the water our bodies should move as one and not trunk rotate, then pelvis then legs. We need a strong core for this.

Exercises:

1. Plank rolls moving as one.

• A key fault in lots of swimmers is lack of glut activation in the kick. Using your gluts to give you a more propulsive kick is a huge advantage but it also encourages a better glut firing pattern in the bike and run to come.

Exercises:

1. Glut squeezes left and right.
2. Leg raise on stomach with a glut focus (see picture). Try not to use other muscles or arch your back too much.

Bike

Bike fits are important but you need to be able to set yourself up on the bike to start with. If you are set up right then you will be able to recruit the correct muscles in order to be more efficient and more powerful. For some people it may be hard to be set up “perfectly” due to restriction in joints or reduced muscle length. But this is something you can work on with a therapist, self-stretching, yoga etc.

Good set up:

1. Neutral pelvis
2. Shoulder blades down and back
3. Peddling with heels down
4. Driving with the glut not calf

It might be worth doing some lumbar extensions on the bike in the last 1k in order to prepare for the run phase, especially in a longer race when you have been static in a bent over position for a long time!

Run

We all run slightly differently and we don’t what to fix what isn’t broken! However there are a few things worth changing to improve performance.

• High cadence
Doing a light task more often is much easier than a heavy tasks less frequently. Higher cadence means we spend less time in contact with the ground and hence less likely for things to go wrong in the stance phase (over pronating, knee falling in etc).

• Keeping the hips level
We lose a huge about of energy when the hips starting going side to side with fatigue at the end of the race. “Glut med” is the key muscle here. Hip hitching is a great exercise to work on this.

• Upper body posture
If you look down you will go down. Try looking straight ahead with breastbone high.

• Be light
Triathlon is all about conserving energy. Being light on our feet is a great way to conserve energy.

Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will help you in the upcoming season. If you struggled with anything or want to us to have a look at anything then get in touch. Remember tri club members get their initial assessment with us for free!!!

Sarah Walker & Emily Kendrick

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