We all know that success is rarely defined by who logged the most volume or by who is objectively “the strongest,” but rather who has the greatest efficiency from start to finish. While foundational strength and endurance developed in early season training are critical for performance, a subtle shift in strength work to specifically activate and sequence your central nervous system (CNS) can keep the timing and balance of your muscle contractions executing efficiently. This can help minimize both injuries and that dreaded deterioration of performance at the end of a race.
In addition to overall resilience, a few specifically targeted moves each week are the perfect complement to tri training that can help hone speed, strength, and coordination. These moves are designed to make you feel lighter, faster, and more connected via basic agility, light plyometrics, and power-based activation to help put some “ping in your spring.”
1. Plyometric Step-Ups
Highly efficient runners spend less time on the ground—think about accelerating stride to stride from the powerful foot strikes in this movement.
Stand in front of a knee-high box, placing the right foot on top. Driving the arm upward in tandem with a powerful press from the foot, quickly switch positions of your feet in the air landing softly with your left foot on top.
Do 2-3 sets of 12-16 reps.
2. Single-Leg Deadlift to Jump
Contraction, stabilization, and coordination are all vital training components for a highly responsive central nervous system (CNS)—worked perfectly in this deadlift variation.
Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent. Hinge forward at the hips allowing your right leg to float up behind you (much like a drinking bird) until your chest is parallel to the ground. With an exhale, swing your right arm forward driving your chest upwards while exploding off the ground with your left foot. Your right knee should drive upwards toward the chest as you return to a fully vertical position.
Do 2-3 sets of 6-8 explosive reps.
3. Box Drill
This movement is a perfect combo of quick feet coupled with soft landings to control acceleration/deceleration while running.
Stand on your right leg with a soft bend in the knee. With arms loose, jump around the corners of an imaginary box. As you get more proficient, focus on increasing speed more than distance. Be sure to switch jump directions prior to switching feet.
Do 2 sets per foot with 4-6 “boxes” in each direction.
4. Med Ball Slams
With a connected core, a swimmer can dramatically improve the strength and power of their pull. As you perform this movement, think about those first hard opening strokes in the water when swimming fast.
Standing tall, curl and press a medicine ball or sandbag overhead. Raise up onto your toes while engaging your core tightly, and slam the ball to the ground as hard as possible, exhaling powerfully and using your lats. Your arms should pass downward and behind your body due to the effort. Squat down with a long spine to retrieve the ball and repeat. Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 slams.
5. Lateral VIPR Shuffle
The active, engaged gluteus medius featured in this movement is critical to maintaining hip stability on the run, preventing injuries when our bodies are most fatigued.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart directly behind a ViPR placed vertically. Grabbing the top of the ViPR with the right hand, shuffle two quick steps to the left, tipping it to the ground by dropping your hips into a squat. Reverse direction, tipping the ViPR on its opposite side as you squat into your right hip.
Do 2-3 sets alternating sides for 12-16 total ViPR ground taps.