Core strengthening to improve your triathlon

Working on your core for faster triathlon times

It's hard to imagine how much strength and conditioning will help you in triathlon until you actually do it. When you swim, ride and run it's obvious that you're improving, because you're out there putting time into the three sports and getting fitter and fitter.

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.


In training core work and strength and conditioning will always take a back seat because it's not one of the sports. However let me tell you that as soon as I got bullied into doing my core work, my performance suddenly leaped up as my technique, coordination and ability to hold my form got better and better. I think one of the main reasons why Mo Farah made that jump to double Olympic champion was also because he worked hard in the gym and strengthened his core as well as other weights work. 

The good thing about core work is it can be pretty much free. It's not very time consuming at all and it's only the core you're working so no chance of you putting on extra weight or making your muscles tired for your other training sessions. However when you start lifting weights in the gym you do have to accept that your legs will be tired afterwards and that will have a knock on effect on all the other training you will have to do. 

The core is the general area around your abdominals and giving yourself strength, stability and control here will mean that you can maintain a solid body position in the water. On the bike it means you'll be able to keep your body still which turn will isolate your legs and provide a solid platform to push from. It’s the same with running because you'll be more able to keep your hips up and forward when you start to get tired. A solid trunk will allow you to transfer power to your glutes and hamstrings for efficient technique. 

Many of the standard gym exercises work your core so if you already work hard in your weights in the gym then you'll be using them quite a lot in most of your exercises. I like the TRX the most for core work. The TRX allows you to suspend your legs in the air while you perform things like knee tucks, hip raises, press ups, planks and runners etc. This gets your core fired up very quickly so it's an amazing piece of kit. However your standard 'do in front of the TV' exercises can also go a long way to making you stronger. One my favourite exercises is the front and side plank holds and you can push your ability by trying to increase the amount of time you can hold that position. I often find that you'll feel the benefit of core work straight away, even the night before a race from a muscle activation stand point. Here are some core exercises that might be worth looking at. Best of luck.

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