by Matt Fitzgerald
Triathlon training is time consuming. There’s just no way around it. After all, you have three separate disciplines to juggle. It’s no wonder that so many triathletes are resistant to adding strength training to the mix. But it’s important that you do—and it can be done in a time-efficient manner that doesn’t over stuff your already jam- packed schedule.
The following workout takes less than 20 minutes to complete and can be done in the comfort of your home with minimal equipment: just a stability ball and a resistance band. Do each exercise one time and do the full circuit two to three times per week. This minimal commitment to strength development will be rewarded by reduced injury risk and better performance in the water and on the roads.
Stand with your right foot resting flat on a 12-18-inch platform (such as an exercise bench) and your left foot on the floor, so that your right knee is moderately bent and your left leg is straight. Shift your weight onto your right foot and straighten your right leg, raising your whole body upward. Pause briefly with your left foot suspended next to your right foot and then bend your right leg again, lowering your left foot back to the floor. Complete the designated number of repetitions, then switch legs. For a greater challenge, do this exercise with a weighted barbell braced on your upper back or holding dumbbells in your hands.
Lie face up on the floor and draw your knees to your chest. Hold a short stick, rope, or rolled-up towel between your hands (About 15 inches apart) with your arms extended straight toward your toes. Try to reach the stick past your feet by contracting your abdominal muscles and pulling your chest toward your knees and your knees toward your chest (i.e. curling into a ball). Pause briefly with the stick on the far side of your feet and then relax. Complete 10-15 repetitions.
Assume a standard push-up position with your feet together, your body forming a perfectly straight line, and your palms position slightly more than shoulder-width apart on the floor. Extend your neck so that you’re looking forward instead of downward. Bend your elbows and smoothly lower your chest to within an inch of the floor. Immediately press back upward to the start position. Repeat until you feel a good burn in your chest and triceps. If you have difficulty doing a full push-up, do a half push-up, bending your elbows only to 90 degrees before pressing upward.
Stability Ball Hamstring Curl
Start in a bridge position, face up, with your head and shoulders on the floor and your heels resting on top of a stability ball, your body suspended in a straight line between these points. Now contract your hamstrings and roll the ball toward your rear end. Pause briefly and extend your leg, rolling the ball back to the starting point. Don’t let your hips drop. Complete 10-15 repetitions.
If this exercise is too easy, do the advanced version, which involves working each leg individually. Start in the same position but lift your left leg a few inches above the ball and hold it there while you roll the ball back and forth 10-12 times with your right leg. Then repeat the exercise with your left leg.
Lie on your right side with your ankles together and your torso propped up by your upper arm. Lift your hips upward until your body forms a diagonal plank from ankles to neck. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, making sure you don’t allow your hips to sag toward the floor.(Watch yourself in a mirror to make sure you’re not sagging.) Switch to the left side and repeat the exercise.
Stability Ball Walkout
Start in a modified push-up position with your palms flat on the floor and your upper thighs supported by a stability ball. Start walking forward with your hands and continue until the ball us under the tops of your feet. Don’t arch your back or let your hips sag. Now walk the other way until the ball is again underneath your upper thighs. Continue walking back and forth for 30 to 45 seconds.
Eccentric Heel Dip
Balance on one foot on a sturdy platform with the ball of the foot resting on the edge of the platform so that the heel is unsupported. Rest your finger tips against a wall or some other support for balance. Lower you heel toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles, then raise your heel back to a neutral position. Do 8-16 repetitions and then switch feet.
Stability Ball Trunk Rotation
Lie face up on a Swiss ball with your arms extended straight overhead and a medicine ball, dumbbell, or other weight pressed between your palms. Keeping your arms extended, rotate your upper torso to the right and swing the ball toward the wall on that side of the room. Go as far as you can comfortably and then return to the start position. Now rotate to the opposite side. Rotate 8 to 10 times in each direction.
Inverted Shoulder Press
Start from a pike position with your feet on a stability ball, your palms on the floor,and your rear end elevated so your body is in the shape of an inverted V. Now bend your elbows and lower your head toward the floor between your hands. Go as far as you comfortably can; it’s okay if it isn’t very far. Now press back to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions.
Loop a half-inch or one-inch resistance band under both feet and stand on top of it. Your feet should be roughly 12 inches apart at the start. Cross the ends of the band to form an X and grasp one end in each hand. Pull your chest up and shoulders back and keep tension on the band throughout the subsequent movement.
Take a step to the right with your right foot. Now take an equal-size step to the right with your left foot, resisting the band’s tendency to make the movement quick and jerky. Make sure that you keep the hips and shoulders level, and don’t deviate forward or backward as you go to the side. When this exercise is performed correctly, you’ll feel the movement in your glutes. Complete 10 steps to the right and then 10 more in the opposite direction.