Functional Fitness for Triathletes

Triathletes use just about every muscle head to toe, but certain muscles and movements can super-charge performance and prevent injury. Functional training for triathletes focuses on spot strengthening these critical muscles.

Successful Ironman athletes like Mark Allen and even Team USA attribute improvement to mixing in weight lifting with their cycling, running and swimming workouts. The trick? Make sure your weight lifting is done in service of your tri goals. The way to do that is to focus on functional training.

Strength training should be done one 1-2 non-consecutive days with at least 1 day of rest in between for the muscles to recover. Aim for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise. The weight should be heavy enough that for the final few reps you struggle to maintain proper form. If you can't hit 8 reps with proper form then go down in weight. Also, it should be noted that unlike distance swimming, running or biking, strength-training is not an endurance activity. Each strength training session shouldn't exceed 60-75 minutes at the absolute most. Sip a protein shake with a scoop of BCA's for an added boost.

Functional Training for Swimming

Functional training for your swim focuses on upper body conditioning and power moves for the lower body.

  • Plank
  • Cable Row
  • Physio Ball Jackknife
  • Pull Up
  • Lateral Lunge
  • Chest Press
  • Banded Clamshell
  • Squat Jump
  • Deadlift
  • Kettlebell Armbars
  • Functional Training for Cycling

Functional Fitness for Cycling

When it comes to cycling, functional training is all about building endurance and power in your legs, and strength in your core and arms for support. Isolated (single-leg) lower body movements will help balance your strength. This can not only make you stronger but also help you prevent injury.

  • Lunge
  • Plank
  • Squats
  • Single-Leg Deadlifts
  • Lateral Step-Ups
  • Single-Leg Bridge
  • Plank with Row
  • Triceps Dips
  • Functional Training for Running

Functional Training for Running

Functional and strength training for running can be a game-changer. Running - especially distance running - tends to tax certain muscles heavily while others get tight or even atrophy. Weight lifting supplements that to keep you balanced (read: injury prevention) and make you more powerful when you lace up your sneaks.

  • Plank
  • Back Extension
  • Squats
  • Overhead Press
  • Physio Ball Jackknife
  • Physio Ball Hamstring Curl
  • Single-Arm Row

There is a fair amount of overlap in these categories, so you can mix-and-match to calibrate to your unique needs. You can go for whole-body functional training or tailor moves to the component of the race in which you need some extra help. Incorporate these moves into 1-2 cross-training days per week with the moves below to help bring your performance to the next level.


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