6 (Sneaky) Ways to Maximize Your Efficiency

Here’s how to sneak some key exercises into an already full day for an extra edge.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Training, packing gear, pumping tires, checking Strava for kudos and doing laundry for three sports requires serious time-management skills. Here’s how to sneak some key exercises into an already full day for an extra edge. 

While you’re: Brushing your teeth

Sneak in: Balancing on each leg for 60 seconds

Balancing challenges key muscles that support your spine. If you have trouble balancing for 60 seconds, imagine how hard your brain and body are working to keep you upright while pounding out miles. Joshua Grahlman, a doctor of physical therapy and founder and athlete mechanic at Clutch Physical Therapy in New York City, says if balancing on one side is harder than the other, you have an asymmetry that can lead to injury over time. Target your weaker side with single-leg squats off a bench or side-stepping with a resistance band.

While you’re: Waiting for the shower to heat up

Sneak in: Planks

90 seconds of planks (30 seconds front, 30 seconds each side) each day will boost core strength and improve stability, which means fewer injuries from breakdowns in form and faster splits in all three sports. Your six-pack gets all the attention, but your power comes from your obliques, transverse abs and glutes. Planks get all of those firing. A strong core allows you to transfer power through your full pedal stroke and arm pull, and will set you up to hold off fatigue on race day.

While you’re: Sitting on the train or at a restaurant

Sneak in: Hip opener

Triathletes’ hips are often tight, which manifests as decreased range of motion, shortened stride length, back and knee pain, and ultimately, less speed. And many of us blow off stretching. Grahlman advises sneaking in hip openers whenever you’re in a seated position. Pick up one leg, cross your ankle to the opposite knee, pull your shoulders back, engage your abs, tip your pelvis forward and press down gently. Aim to align both knees, take a few breaths (because it probably won’t feel awesome), then switch sides. Do 30 seconds on each side, three times a day—morning, noon and night.

While you’re: In line at Trader Joe’s or waiting for the train

Sneak in: A posture check

Slouching creates the wrong kind of muscle memory that throws off your center of mass, leads to over-striding on the run and significantly decreases your power. Better posture means better muscle recruitment, which leads to better performance in every sport. It’ll also make you look taller and more effective at your job. Probably. So unlock your knees, tuck your tailbone and lift your chest to engage your core and glutes. You won’t suddenly have better posture on a run if it’s not a habit all the time.

While you’re: Living the dream

Sneak in: Ambidextrous movements

Reach for your coffee, grab your backpack, swipe your Metro card or use chopsticks with your non-dominant hand. It’ll challenge your brain and improve balance and skills on the bike. You should be able to grab a bottle from a cage or handle your bike with either hand. Just in case.

While you’re: Behind the wheel

Sneak in: Back pain prevention

Driving with laid-back posture might make you feel in control, but it causes tightness and pelvic misalignment that’ll decrease your range of motion and cause faster fatigue, particularly in aero. Translation? You lose power, and your lead on the pack. Grahlman recommends checking the position of your left leg. Extend it with your knee slightly bent and align your left foot as closely and safely as possible with your right to keep your pelvis aligned and protect your back.

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.