5 indoor triathlon training tips

Triathlon training indoors

If you're training for a triathlon, you can't use a bit of bad weather as an excuse to miss a session. Here are 5 amazing tips on how you can effectively train for a triathlon indoors.

Will Clarke

Written by Will Clarke

Will is a British triathlete. He's a former U23 World and European Champion, competed at Beijing 2008 and has twice been British national champion.  He now competes on the World Ironman 70:3 circuit.

Try rowing  

If you’re short on time and the weather is bad outside, rowing always translates very well towards cycling performance. I’ve not tried it myself but coming from Cambridge, a city where the sport is very popular, you notice many ex-rowers excel at cycling once they have those first few rides under their belt. Rowing is a very physically demanding sport and you'll certainly find yourself struggling after a very short period of time, so it’s probably one of the best workouts you can do if you have limited time. It requires great leg and hip strength and therefore it translates wonderfully towards cycling. 

5 indoor triathlon training tips

Get strong in the gym

I think the gym is often over looked by triathletes as a place where you can actually make big performance gains.  I think the primary and most important reason to use the gym has to be from a stability and injury prevention perspective. The un-impressive looking work on the core, gluts, lower leg and stabilising muscles will enable you to stay injury free and also help you hold good form during the swim, bike, running. This is something every athlete should do in my opinion.  Then there are the more impressive exercises with heavy weights that actually help you make gains in your capacity and overall strength, which would take a long time to get from conventional training alone.  I’m currently working on weighted single leg deep leg presses to help me get more power out of my legs during my Time Trials.

Treadmill sessions can be very effective

Treadmills are certainly a useful tool for improving your running.  The nature of it forces you to concentrate on your leg speed, so you can set it at the exact pace you want. That means it’s measurable each time, which makes you mentally tough because it’s motivating seeing the countdown clock signaling the end of the session. I’d never bother running easy on the treadmill because that can be done outside, but it’s great if you have a specific session planned. One that I like is a block of 6k at 18.5 kph and then 1k at 20kph and 1k at 17.5, rolling through that usually 2/3 times. The 6k at the start gives you tired legs and then the 1k above and then below threshold, tests and pushes your capacity. It feels much like triathlon running when you’re doing it and if you can get through that without touching the sides or holding on to the front, then you’re in good shape. That session used to be so hard for me that I used to keep cracking and holding on to the front when my coach wasn’t looking. That was until he made me pay him £1 every time I touched the side, then all of a sudden, I never cheated again! 

Specific gym training for swimming  

I’m really into using the gym to help improve your swimming.  I think that unfortunately for triathletes, running and cycling can strip down your upper body strength, because it’s relatively redundant in those disciplines. For this reason I think it needs to be supplemented with gym work to keep hold of your swimming strength. Exercises like pull ups, lat pull downs, bar bell pullovers and all swimming specific cable weights, are all useful to maintain and improve your swimming technique. Not to mention your upper body will look better on the beach come the summer! 

Specific bike to run sessions  

Indoor training can be boring but so long as you can get your head around that, it can also be very effective. And you may actually end up making great use of having the time indoors to do a very specific triathlon workout. Depending on how well your local gym is equipped, you normally have access to some sort of turbo trainer/ Wattbike or something similar.  So complete an intense workout on the bike such as 6 x 5 mins with a few minutes recovery in between each repetition, before jumping on to the treadmill where you can do a similar session; like 5mins, 4mins, 3mins, 2 mins, 1 min and back up to 5 minutes with half the interval recovery each time.  That’s a very tough session for anyone and because you’re in a controlled environment, there is no opportunity to slack off and you can compare your speeds to the next time. 

As always, please adapt the sessions I mentioned to your ability level, but if you would like to have a crack at my session, do let me know how it goes!

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