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The Importance Of Core Strength In Triathlon

Dave Elgar joins us to impart training and nutrition tips as part of the INCUS | TRIBE expert team. Having worked for Virgin Active and Pure Gym, Dave now runs Wolfpack Fitness, being both a fully qualified PT and Nutritionist, as well as Ironman triathlete.  We caught up with Dave to get him to explain the importance of improving your core strength and a workout that anyone can undertake to reach this goal.
 


Why train your core
 
when training for Triathlon sports?

 
Core training sometimes gets passed by as that extra workout, or that horrible section at the end of a training session by a lot of athletes, in and out of the gym. The core muscles play a pivotal role in all endurance sportsand can help push an athlete to the next level.
 
Looking first at the swim component of a triathlon, no matter your stoke, there is a lot of core work involved. Typically doing freestyle or front crawl, you have torso rotation through your recovery phase as well as biomechanically getting into the best extended position ready for the catch phase. Whether you are sprinting through a 400 metre swim for a super sprint triathlon or a 2.4 mile swim for your full iron distance triathlon, core strength and endurance will add to your stroke. With flexion and extension occurring through different muscles throughout the stroke a balanced and strong abdominal muscle group will provide power to your stroke.

 
 

On the bike leg, keeping an aerodynamic position requires great core strength in a fixed position, so unlike swimming and the run, there needs to be a balanced approach to your core training to build dynamic and static strength. As well as holding a fixed body position throughout the majority of the bike leg, the power an athlete can exert in the cycle benefits from a strong and stable core. For example, as the ball of the foot drives the pedal, power should be generated from the hips instead of having this energy dissipated throughout the body with a poor technique. A weaker core, which often results in more body movement on the saddle, dissipates this energy instead of driving it through and into the pedal stroke. It’s common when fatigued that your core weakens further, there’s more movement on the saddle, and that energy is less efficiently transferred into speed



 

Similar to your cycle phase, during the final run phase, the core is stabilising your upper body so that you can run efficiently and in a good posture. It also helps dampen the impactful nature of running, so that your body can take the strain of the final run, creating a reduced chance of injury through the last metres or miles of exertion.

 

Overall the core may be something that isn’t considered as important as putting in the miles when training for endurance races, but being able to move efficiently and keep your body in good position throughout your training and races can make noticeable differences to your times and how fatiguing you find your training. This all means that when you come to the next session you will feel ready to push to the intensity you need to.

 

A great short core workout with a mixture of static and dynamic movements gives a balanced session:

 
Inchworm: 2 sets of 10 reps
 


Hollow Body Hold: 3 sets of 40 seconds+
 


Body Tuck: 3 sets of 20 reps


 
Side Plank Rotation: 3 sets on each side of 15-20 rotations


 
High Plank – Toe Touch: 3 sets of 20+ reps



Russian Twist: 3 sets of 20+ reps


 
Plank To Failure: 2 sets of maximal hold