Functional Strength Training
Functional strength training is an important part of your preparation for your triathlon. It may sound esoteric, but it is just a series of exercises that involve more than one muscle or joint and often are designed to replicate the movements you use in one or more of the three triathlon sports.
Your primary aim as you complete the exercises is to improve your flexibility and stability. While there may still be some weight training involved, most of the exercises recommended in this book do not require dumbbells or machines. Rather, they involve pushups, sit-ups, and squats, which provide the strength training you need without weights or machines.
Can yoga help with my strength training?
Yes it can. Yoga trains the entire body and is ideal because it is a low-impact activity with great benefits. Regular participation in a yoga class can vastly improve your balance, and you will definitely reap strength benefits.
Many triathletes have issues with their hips. Runners especially are prone to weak gluteus medius (hip) muscles. The upshot is the kind of imbalance that results in injuries. The problem is that runners, unlike soccer or tennis players, rarely engage in any lateral movement; they always run straight ahead. The result of the imbalance is often iliotibial band syndrome or lower-leg problems such as shin splints.
Swimmers often experience problems with their rotator cuffs (shoulders) because of an imbalance between pectoral and upper back muscles. Functional strength training will address these imbalance issues and help avoid the injuries that will have you on the sidelines instead of in your race.
You can strengthen your rotator cuff by using the seated rowing machine. In the absence of a rowing machine, you can lie on each side and pull your arm up and across your body with a weight of three to five pounds. You can do the same drill standing up with a stretch band that you pull across your torso. Also, take three to five pound weights in each hand and let your arms hang at your sides. Slowly lift the weights outward from your body so that your arms are parallel to the floor.
For all exercises, do two sets of twelve repetitions three times a week.