Triathlon is a single sport that involves 3 disciplines: swimming, biking, and running. Each discipline has its own movement patterns, techniques, and nuances. Therefore, different forms of strength and control are required to be proficient throughout the entire sport.
To achieve proficiency in triathlon, we need to address the following: pelvic stability, hip extension, hip flexion, and trunk / rotary stability. Pelvic stability is needed to transfer power from your legs into a pedal or into the ground. More stability translates to more power. Hip extension helps drive your leg backwards and down and is one of the biggest factors when it comes to running economy. Most of us are familiar with power measurements related to cycling, so it should be relatively easy to understand that our legs also put out power in each run stride. However, run power will be minimal if it is not coming through our full hip extension and strong gluteal muscles. Hip flexion helps pull our leg upwards and forwards. Triathletes spend more than half of their race hunched over in an aero position on the bike. The ability to generate power efficiently in an aerodynamic position is impacted largely by limited hip flexion. Trunk and rotary stability describe the connection between your shoulders and hips relative to how your core controls movement. Many triathlons can last well over 5 hours. During this time, your trunk and rotary stability allows you to maintain posture and proper biomechanics. A lack of stability translates to a “leakage” of energy.
We can improve our performances in all disciplines of triathlon with key exercises that specifically improve our range of motion and control. The following exercises are explained in detail on the Peak Athletic Coaching YouTube Channel.
1. The Ground Up Squat (Goblet Squat)
This exercise improves multiple movement qualities: pelvic stability, hip flexion, and trunk stability. When performed correctly, all movement patterns are being taxed simultaneously, helping us generate power via extension. This exercise is hugely beneficial to cycling and running proficiency. See an explanation of this movement here.
2. The Star Lunge
This exercise forces you to control hip extension and flexion, trunk stability, as well as the transfer of weight and balance. The multiple planes of motion used force your brain to dial in your body control. The key to the star lunge is to move slowly and control each phase of the exercise. See an explanation of this movement here.
3. Lat-Pull to Triceps Extension
This exercise is executed by kneeling in front of a cable resistance machine, using a triceps rope. With a slight forward lean, start overhead and pull down into a triceps extension. The forward lean forces you to use your trunk (hips and core) to stabilize while you perform the full pull-down movement. Connecting your hips to your shoulders through core strength translates to benefits for cycling, swimming, and running. See an explanation of this movement here.