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A Strength Workout for Triathletes That Won’t Leave You Wrecked

This simple routine is designed to complement your key swim, bike, and run workouts and ensure you’re moving well.

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In the buildup to any race, the key sessions are always going to be your swims, bikes, and runs, but integrating strength—at all times of the year—is important as well. This strength workout for triathletes is designed to fit in with the training you are already doing to keep engagement throughout your body and ensure all of your muscles are balanced, active, and supporting your posture. This essential circuit can involve some lighter weights and resistance, but should not affect your key workouts.

RELATED: Strength Training for Triathletes

Strength Workout for Triathletes

1. Contra-Loaded Reverse Lunges

Contra-loaded reverse lunge
(Illustration: Oliver Baker)

WHY: The beauty of this exercise is forcing your body to resist excess rotation—i.e., to anti-rotate. By putting extra weight on the side that is moving in space, your trunk has to stabilize in order to stay neutral and not lose balance. Paired with some strength building on the opposing leg, this is a key exercise to maintain great posture while biking or running.

HOW: Use a lighter kettlebell for weight, holding it on the same side as the leg that is performing the reverse lunge. Focus on balance in the stable leg, loading the hips, and then finishing the move with stable and tall posture. Do not start the next rep if you are off-balance. Do 3 sets of 8–10 reps per leg.

Video Demonstration

2. Banded Scarecrow Pulls

Banded scarecrow pulls
(Illustration: Oliver Baker)

WHY: This is not a heavy exercise, but it can be challenging to do it correctly. Swimming and riding can force our shoulders to live in a protracted and internally rotated position. This exercise is the antagonist for that constant tension and pressure, and helps you to avoid that hunched, weak posture. It is a great trigger for your posterior chain, where our power and posture live, making this an excellent addition to any strength workout for triathletes.

HOW: Using an elastic band, attach it to a low anchor point. Position yourself in a tall, athletic stance with your hips and knees slightly bent for balance. Keep your elbows high, pull on the band to lift your palms so they face outward, externally rotating the shoulder. Then return to the starting position slowly. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Video Demonstration

3. Hollow Body Rocks

Hollow body rocks
(Illustration: Oliver Baker)

WHY: To keep a complex exercise very simple, the hollow body rocks connect your upper body to your lower body through the most important part of the chain: your trunk and your hips. The hollow body rock is a key exercise to prevent hyperextension through the spine, which is incredibly inefficient to athletes and over time can be damaging as well.

HOW: Find the connection between your ribcage and your pelvis and hold that position. Try to maintain that sturdy core while you reach your hands and your feet as far as you can without losing that engagement. If you can maintain the position, rock back and forth keeping the feet and hands outstretched. If you can’t yet, simply hold that position for 15 seconds and repeat. Once proficient, work toward 3 sets of 15–20 rocks with 45 seconds rest between sets.

Video Demonstration

4. Banded Glute Kickbacks

Banded glute kickbacks
(Illustration: Oliver Baker)

WHY: One of the most classic, non-negotiable activation exercises that endurance athletes can do, this is the most controlled setting to practice perfect hip extension with a stable core. It keeps your glutes active and balanced, and can prevent other muscles from taking over when they’re not supposed to, making it an essential move in any strength workout for triathletes.

HOW: Place a mini band on your feet while on all fours. Focus on keeping your spine flat and shoulders stable. Push back with one foot at a time, completely extend the leg and slowly bring back to the start. Do 3 sets of 12–15 reps per leg.

Video Demonstration

5. Hamstring Shearing Roll

Hamstring shearing roll
(Illustration: Oliver Baker)

WHY: This is a great self-care exercise for the majority of triathletes. The hamstrings are a true focal point of stress and wear from swim, bike, and run. By shearing the skin over the muscles, we can slowly work on making sure those muscles slide as freely as intended, and not get tied up or knotty.

HOW: Start the foam roller at high hamstring, then wiggle side to side as you slide the roller down toward the knee. Repeat this and spend some time finding any sensitive or troubled areas. Do it for a few minutes until you feel the muscles moving freely without any pain.

Video Demonstration