Those road trips that don’t allow for swim, bike or run training sessions are often seen as lost fitness days, but they are great opportunities to catch up on the areas that are wasting away and demanding attention. Everything we do in triathlon: swimming the crawl, cycling and running are all done moving forward and backward in what’s called the sagittal plane. There is no side-to-side or lateral motion in our day-to-day workouts. A triathlete can be fit enough to go under 10 hours in an ultra-distance triathlon but if he or she plays soccer with some grade-schoolers for even a few minutes the triathlete is wrecked.
The most important strength exercises we triathletes can do are those that prevent injuries. The top two areas that deserve attention are hip stabilizers and back of the shoulder. Both of these spots can be maintained with an exercise band that is roughly five feet in length and five inches wide.
Elite Triathlon Academy athletes Dillon Nobbs and Katie Gorczyca demonstrate these exercises.
Rear Deltoid RaisePosition the middle of the band around a solid and low anchor like the leg of a bed or dresser. Stand facing the anchor with one loose end in one hand and step back just far enough to put a slight tension in the band when arms are full extended. Bend forward at the waist and pull the band toward your upper torso. As you pull let your elbow bend, lead the pull and stop at or before your elbow is level with shoulders. Do this slowly at first and feel the back of the shoulder doing the work. Do 10 lifts per arm. Start with just 2 sets and increase to 3 after eight sessions.
Monster WalkTake the two ends of the band and knot them together to make a loop. Step into the loop and raise it up to knee height. Step wide enough to put some solid tension in the band. Bend at the knee and the waist and raise your arms out front for balance. This might resemble a monster’s attack pose. Now walk sideways; stretch the band wide and then maintain tension on it as you step slightly closer together. Do 10 side steps in both directions. Start with 2 sets and increase to 3 after eight sessions.
Core work requires constant vigilance for all of us. Here are two key exercises that can be done on the floor of any hotel room.
Figure XLie face down on the floor and to make sure your spine is in alignment. Allow your forehead and nose to touch the floor. Stretch your arms out straight above your head and then widen them to point to where 10 and 2 would be on a clock face. Stretch your legs out straight and widen them to 5 and 7 o’clock.
Round one: Lift and lower the right arm, then left leg, then left arm, then right leg. Lift each limb about six inches and then lower. Do it slowly and under control. Do all four limbs 10 times.
Round two: Lift and lower the right arm and left leg together then left arm and right leg together. Do each set 5 times for 10 lifts total.
Round three: Lift both arms, forehead and nose slowly, and unweight your chest slightly and lower. Lift both feet and knees slowly, and unweight your thighs slightly and lower. Do 5 reps of each.
Final round: Slowly lift all four limbs off the ground and slightly unweight chest and thighs and lower.
Start with just 5 of these and as the weeks roll on add another rep till you get to 12.
Roman TwistsSit on the floor with knees bent at 45 degrees and lean back slightly. Take any object in both hands (could be ice bucket or pillow) and twist the object over to the right side and touch the floor beside your hip, then twist it over to the left and touch the floor. That’s 1 repetition; do 10 of those. If this isn’t challenging enough, lean back farther, lift your heels off the ground and balance in a near V shape while you twist and touch. Start with 2 sets of 10 rep and add another set after eight sessions.
Try to keep some variation of these four exercises in your routine so you work them twice a week. During travel you can do them every day in addition to basic squats, lunges and pushups to keep strong and stable.
Ian Murray is a USA Triathlon Level III Certified Coach and host of the Triathlon Training Series.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.