Wednesday, May 13, 2015

6 TRX exercises for triathletes

For multi-sport events like triathlons, many athletes follow a strictly endurance-based training regimen, meaning that they spend all their workout time running, cycling and swimming.

One of the main reasons for this is that triathletes must very strictly manage their schedule (family, work, training) and simply run out of time to do anything else. There is no time left in a busy schedule to get to the gym so therefore core and overall strength training is often neglected.  Consequently, triathletes tend to miss out on the huge performance benefit of functional core and strength training. And most importantly triathletes become more prone to injury.

Due to the high volume of repetitive movement placed on the joints, minimizing the impact can help prevent injury and lead to better performance.  TRX is a great form of low impact strength training as there is no external load (weight) placed on the joints other than one’s own bodyweight. 

Because of all the running and cycling, triathletes need strong core muscles to maintain good running posture and to prevent getting a sore back from being in an aero position for many hours.  TRX training can also help improve a triathletes’ balance, agility and stabilization of the spine during certain movements.There is no doubt that for triathletes, functional core and strength training is a must to improve performance as well as prevent injury.

For triathletes it’s important to focus on exercises that engage the core, the posterior chain (muscles in the back of the body), the hips, and the powerful muscles of the lower body, back and shoulders. This will boost your training efficiency and race performance.

For most triathletes, however, the benefits of core and strength training are outweighed by the fear of gaining too much bulk and the loss of flexibility. In addition, most fear that if they aren’t swimming, cycling or running then they are not making progress in their training.

If you have several triathlons on your schedule this season, spending a few short sessions on the TRX can help you improve your time and allow you to still be racing in September after a long season. 

Here are six TRX exercises (two for each discipline) that will help you become a stronger triathlete and improve your performance.  This entire workout can be completed in about 30 min.

(1) TRX 1-Arm Power Pull
Stand with feet hip-width apart, facing TRX, holding one handle in right hand, keeping right elbow at shoulder height. With feet flat, lean torso back, bending knees so body forms a tabletop position and strap is completely taut with right arm extended; reach left hand toward floor directly behind you as low as you can, looking behind you as you lean back. Using right arm, pull body up to start position, keeping right arm close to ribs; reach left hand toward the anchor and slightly rotate your torso to activate the obliques. Do 15 reps; switch sides and repeat. Do 2 sets.
***For an advanced version of this exercise, have a partner stand in front of you and as soon as your arm reaches towards the anchor, have them push your arm down. 

(2) TRX Swimmers Pull
Stand with feet in offset position, front foot flat and back foot on toes.  With hands beside your hips and palms facing backwards, lean back keeping arms straight and straps tight.  Rock back onto the heel of your front foot and flat on your rear foot.  As soon as your arms are extended fully, push down on handles keeping arms straight and push yourself back to starting position.  Do 5-8 reps, switch feet position and do another 5-8 reps.  Do 3 sets

(1) TRX Hip Press

Lie on your back with knees bent, feet in lower loops, hands on floor beside hips. Lift your hips toward the ceiling, pressing into your heels until shoulders, knees and hips form a straight line. Hold for 10 sec, then slowly lower your hips to the floor. Repeat 5 times.  Do 2-3 sets.
***For an advanced version of this exercise, lift your arms off the ground and place them above your chest with your hands towards the ceiling.

(2) TRX Pistol Squat
Hold onto the TRX and lift one leg straight out in front of you. Drop into a single-leg squat, keeping your knee and toe facing forward.  Squat down as deep as you can and make sure to push through your heel as you return to the starting position.  Do 10-15 reps; switch sides and repeat.  Do 2-3 sets.
***For an advanced version of this exercises, try adding a hop and switching legs

(1) TRX Crossing Balance Lunge
Stand with feet hip-width apart, elbows bent, and hands holding TRX straps in front of chest. Cross right leg behind left, stepping right foot out to left, and then bend both knees about 90 degrees to lower into a curtsy lunge with rear foot touching ground. Return to start; switch legs and repeat. Do 20 reps, alternating sides. Do 3 sets.
***For an advanced version of this exercise, keep the rear leg off the ground and add a hop with the front leg.

(2) TRX Sprinter Start
Stand facing away from the anchor point at a 45 degree angle with the handles underneath your armpits.  Step back into a reverse lunge with right leg.  Keeping the chest lifted, push off the right foot and drive the right leg forward lifting foot off the ground and pause for 1-3 sec., then return to a reverse lunge.  Do 15-20 reps; switch sides and repeat.  Do 3 sets. 
 ***For an advanced version of this exercise, try adding a plyometric hop to each rep.  As you drive your rear leg forward, slightly hop forward with your front foot and then immediately hop back, and then step back into a reverse lunge. 

If you are a triathlete and don’t have access to a TRX or don’t know how to use a TRX, contact me and I will be happy to take you through a performance training session.