Base Training for Triathlon

Below is a list of the essential components to a balanced multisport sport base training program. Many of these elements are best addressed during the winter months when we’re not competing. As you look over the explanations of the different components and phases of training consider how each might be applied to your own training to help you successfully achieve your training goals.

General Prep/Base Building Phase is a phase of training that can last anywhere from 3-6 months and sets the tone for all the training you%u2019ll do over the course of a year. One might argue that the training done during these weeks is the most crucial to the successful completion of your annual plan. This phase forms the foundation upon which all subsequent training is built. Effective base training prepares you to achieve higher performance peaks greatly reduces the risk of injury during higher intensity training. At this time of year you should be focusing on efficiency practice and keeping overall intensity very low.

Incorporating drill work into training sessions is an excellent way to train the nervous system to swim/bike/run even more effectively and efficiently. Training your body to maximize every ounce of expended energy will help you race your best once fitness has peaked. Training the body to move more efficiently also helps to reduce risk of overuse injuries resulting from poor bio-mechanics. The following are some ideas for training objectives during your base training phase and some drills to help you achieve them.

Swimming by its very nature is a technical activity, so try to focus on these key points.
-Improve in-line stabilization of your core.
-Keep your head neutral (like when you%u2019re standing) and rotate your head and body together as a unit when you breathe.
-Flatten your lower back by squeezing in your abdominal muscles toward your spine.
-Improve your kicking capacity.
-Work your legs by doing more aerobic leg work.
-Leg training precedes aerobic swim training.
-Establish your technique at slow speed.
-Practice specific drills that train your feel for the water (ie; sculling/fist swimming).
-Establish a balanced body position without flotation aids or kicking.

Once you’ve established a good “aero” position the bike is often considered pretty non-technical, well here are some training objectives that will not only help you ride a faster bike split, you%u2019ll feel better when you get off the bike as well.

Build you leg speed.
-Practice “spin ups” by increasing your cadence to the point you can no longer spin under control and then immediately relaxing back into a comfortable pedaling rhythm.
-Practice riding downhill in your small chainring. Try to keep your wheel engaged in the smallest gear possible.
-Develop a smooth/round pedal stroke.
-Utilize rollers and one leg drills to develop a feel for the smooth round pedal stroke
-Visualize pedaling in a square so that you%u2019re pushing your toes forward in your shoe at the top of the stroke, and wiping your shoes backward at the bottom. (the rest will happen too quickly to control)

-Work with a professional familiar with appropriate bike fit.
-Conduct a power test in multiple positions to confirm proper ratio of power:aerodynamics.

Running is something most of us just do without any thought of incorporating much in the way of specific technique. If you weren%u2019t fortunate enough to have a background in track or cross country you might not even realize that it is possible to become a more efficient runner. Focus on the following objectives for a few weeks your body will begin to perform differently during that last portion of the triathlon.

-Develop a naturally smooth and efficient arm swing.
-Focus on maximizing trunk strength by incorporating core work into your training.
-Stand in front of a mirror with light hand weights and practice running arm motion (3 sets of 50 reps)
-Incorporate upper body resistance training to improve muscular strength.
-Develop a compact and efficient foot recovery.
-“Power marching” drill keeping foot in flexed position.
-“Power skipping” over cones maintaining flexed foot position.
-Power skipping to short accelerations keeping flexed foot position.
-Develop fluid and efficient running stride.
-Utilize skipping drills. (skip for length, speed skipping, bounding)
-Add accelerations to skipping drills.
-Progress to lactate threshold or tempo running to maintain focus on preserving good form at higher intensity.

You probably already know that resistance training is an important part of your overall training plan, but do you know why? Below are three primary and compelling reasons to utilize resistance training beginning with your base phase.

Stabilize joints (reduce your risk of connective tissue injury)
-Perform multi-joint exercises at moderate intensity that focus on sport specific muscles especially around knees and shoulders.
-Periodize resistance training intensity to avoid plateaus. (base, hypertrophy, muscular endurance, muscular peak)
-Strengthen highly utilized muscles (reduce your risk of muscular overuse injury)
-Perform single joint exercises at moderate intensity that focus on sport specific muscles such as the hamstrings, quadriceps and calves.
-Periodize resistance training intensity to avoid plateaus. (base, hypertrophy, muscular endurance, muscular peak)

Increase sport specific explosive power.
-Swim – deltoids, lats, abdominals
-Bike – quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves
-Run – calves, hams, glutes, quads, torso

By incorporating some of these concepts into your base training phase you’ll be setting the groundwork for a solid season of training and racing.

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