Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The 'Power' to Push - Strength and Con for Ironman

Lengthen before you can strengthen
Increasing your muscular range of movement should be a number 1 priority when training for triathlon.
It helps to reduce the risk of injury and increases your ability to hold correct technique over all three disciplines.
It also aides in developing a more aerodynamic position on the bike whilst retaining power in the aero position.

Developing a routine
Regular dynamic stretching after your aerobic warm up and prior to your main set is key for preparing you for the upcoming workout. Exercises like leg swings, butt kick, step overs, ankling are a great example of dynamic drills.

Post session static stretching (30sec to 2mins) of the major muscles also helps you recover more effectively from it.
Doing this at every session will help you further ingrain your routine of stretching.

There is no use trying to strengthen a short muscle, create the ROM first, then look at muscle strengthening   

Strength and Conditioning  - auxiliary program
2types  - Muscle Balance and Recruitment

Drive phase in Red

Muscle activation exercises like The Clam exercise for hip flexors or Single Leg Squats for glutes are a great way to create muscle balance and activation for the driving phases in your swimming, cycling and running. Generally these will be as body weight exercises.
Recruiting more muscles into the drive phase of say a pedal stroke will develop more power in the action for less effort, increasing your efficiency over time

Injury Prevention
If you are over activating certain muscles like the TFL (hip flexors) and not engaging others like the Glute Medius in the driving phase, what can happen is overloaded muscles tighten up and shorten, creating common strains like ITB Friction Syndrome.

Muscle balance and activation should be used by every athlete. An athlete screening by a reputable physio will highlight areas you need to work on. I send all our athletes for a screening as a priority at the start of the season, and develop a dry land body weight program to create a balanced injury free athlete.

Let me use the Vastus Medialis / Lateralis as an example. Primary driving muscle in the propulsive pedal phase in cycling. Ain't no use doing high reps, low weights with this puppy.
You achieve all the endurance you need with your cycling. If you are looking to increase your power, low reps, high weights are the key. This logic should only be used for the primary driving muscles such as the VM and VL in cycling.
Adaptation - Problem here is that this type of gym workout takes alot out of you and you need to factor in adaptation time post and be fresh prior to the workout. So choosing times when your overall training workload isn't high is the best time for this type of gym workout.

TIP - Remember, only do this type of power training if you have alot of endurance on the bike. New riders should only be concerned with Bum on the seat until they develop a high level of endurance, which can take years.

The Forgotten Muscle - Most athletes lack calf strength and flexibility. Check your's out.

Stretching, Massage and Muscle Activation should be a priority program element for any athlete.
Power training in the gym though should only ever be as an auxiliary program to the main core training of actual swim, bike and run training.

For more info on our Ironman and Sprint strength and conditioning program, pop us an email at Fluid Movements Triathlon

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