All three disciplines of triathlon require core stabilization and strength. Strong core musculature helps you keep your body streamlined in the water, maintain a comfortable bike position, and complete an efficient run.
Core strength also assists with generating, absorbing and stabilizing forces that occur during your bike and run. Moreover, increasing your core strength will help decrease your risk of overuse injuries, such as low back pain and IT band syndrome. Your core is your foundation, and without it, your form will collapse and suffer. If your form collapses, your chance of injury increases.
Unfortunately, most athletes avoid or limit core exercises during their endurance training. After a long workout, resistance training or core work is the last thing on your mind. The great thing about core exercises, however, is they can be done in your home, at the gym or in your office.
The following exercises are designed to increase deep abdominal and back strength and stabilization. These muscles are key for proper hip and spine alignment. Perform these exercises at least two days per week. They can be added to your off day and your other light training day during the week. Again, a healthy core musculature will pay huge dividends during your long season of swimming, biking and running.
Core Exercise #1: Plank With Repetitions
As you perform the plank, make sure you keep your elbows at ninety degrees and looking down. As you lift your hips up, pull your belly button in to activate your deep abdominal muscles (touch your belly-button to your spine). Focus on keeping a straight line from your ears through your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
The biggest mistake made with this core exercise is allowing your hips to sink or raise. This will cause pain in the low back and place pressure on the spine, so be sure to maintain proper spine alignment.
After lifting your hips and extending your legs, pause for two to three seconds and then slowly return to the starting position. Perform 12 to 20 repetitions without sacrificing form. And don't forget to breathe.
More: Master the Plank