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Training tips for triathletes in the gym

Written by Matt Westenburg

With more than 18 years of experience as a certified public accountant, Matt has helped companies develop & validate business models, raise capital and provide management expertise. He enjoys working with entrepreneurs who are passionate about achieving their goals and bettering the community. He was voted the Silicon Prairie “Service Provider of the Year” and has been recognized multiple times for his contributions to the local entrepreneurial community.

Although it’s not ideal, it is possible to train for a triathlon from the comforts of your favorite gym. Using just the equipment available, you can get your body into triathlon shape, especially if you’re a beginner triathlete. When you can’t access a pool or the weather limits your outdoor training, combine these exercises into a great triathlon workout. A big part of triathlon training is getting used to performing three different cardio exercises within close succession of each other. Keep that in mind as you’re training in a gym or with limited equipment available.

Improve your swimming on dry land

Spending a few minutes on a rowing machine will prepare your body for the swimming portion of a triathlon. The pulling motion and energy exertion are similar, even though you won’t experience the shock from cold water or the jostle from other competitors. Battle rope exercises are another way to replicate the arm motions involved with swimming from outside of the water. Alternating waves with the rope while you’re on land builds muscle and endurance that will improve your swimming performance in the water.

Biking and running practice

Biking machines are a necessary evil of triathlon training. The pedal motion replicates your experience on an actual bike. Make sure to increase and decrease resistance levels to engage your leg muscles, raise your heart rate, and practice biking hills. After biking for several minutes, transition quickly into running. The rapid shift in activity is important practice for the actual triathlon event. Improve your distance running from the gym by fluctuating the treadmill incline as you go. Try and keep your speed under control while powering uphill and cruising back down.

Whatever the reason, keep your training on track and take advantage of these exercises in your local gym.

Core strength exercises

Core strength is fundamental for triathletes. Working on abdominal strength with leg lifts, planks and bicycles will help you become a more efficient runner, especially if you’re running any kind of distance race. Focus on overall core stability, not just abdominal strength. Crunches target your abs, for example, but side planks with a single leg lift engage several of your core muscle groups at once.

Build power in your leg muscles

Having a solid level of overall fitness will help you be more prepared to finish a triathlon. This includes leg exercises like squats, lunges and lateral hops. Adding additional weight to these exercises increases difficulty and takes you to the next level. Spending time on a stair stepper is another way to effectively target your leg muscles.

Workout classes that will benefit triathletes

If you want to mix up your training routine, attend a pilates class. These workouts are designed to strengthen and stabilize muscles groups. Pilates movements effectively correct any muscle imbalances that can develop during triathlon training. CrossFit classes are another good option for triathletes to incorporate strength training into their workouts. Attending a spinning class won’t replace training on an actual bike, but it will help you focus your exercise on the deeper muscles and encourage you to push yourself harder on hills and sprints.

It can be difficult for triathletes to access water to practice swimming or an area where you can practice a long-distance bike ride. Sometimes the weather is bad. Sometimes the facilities aren’t available. Whatever the reason, keep your training on track and take advantage of these exercises in your local gym.

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