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PT brief for Triathletes

By November 21, 2016 No Comments

Triathletes get muscular endurance and aerobic fitness in the field through aerobic, threshold and sprint interval training.

Time in the gym needs to be focused on force development, functional strength and core stability. Force to build muscular capacity as a foundation for power. Functional strength to improve biomechanical stability and efficiency, and core stability to support  effective posture and gait especially when fatigued.

Sessions will be short, sharp focused. Total time in Gym should be 45 min or less. Duration on the main sets after warm-up should be 20 minutes.

Force development 

Force development should focus on the primary power muscles for run, bike and swim. The focus is to develop muscle capacity though maximal strength reps. 3 sets of 6 reps where the where the weight / resistance is all the athlete can handle for six. If the athlete can reach eight reps after a few sessions, it’s time to increase the weight.

Machine or free weights with a buddy spotter recommended.

Muscles groups should include calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, triceps and lats

Examples include quad extensions, weighted calf raises, hamstring curls, leg press, lat pulls, box jumps and pull ups

Functional strength

Functional strength exercises focus to developing the stability and balance to support efficient biomechanics. The focus should be on alignment and balance rather than weight / resistance, 12 to 15 reps maximum.

Examples include single leg squats, romanian single leg dead lifts, lunges.

Core Stability

Core stability focuses mainly on abdominal stability, lateral and cross over.

Examples include round the world core, planks, press ups

Warm up

Warm up is essential. Treadmill, bike or elliptical trainers are fine. I recommend following up with a low resistance rowing routine before getting into resistance as rowing engages the full extension of most primary muscles and engages lower back.


  • Pre-base Phase – 6 to 8 weeks (After A race transition, before base phase)

Force development session every 3 to 4 days, functional strength once per week, core once per week.

  • Base Phase – 8 to 12 weeks ( before build phase)

Two sessions a week rotating through the three type of sessions e.g. Week 1: Force and Core, Week 2: Functional and Force, Week 3: Core and Functional.

  • Build Phase – 4 to 8 weeks ( before peak phase)

Two sessions a week alternating between Core and Functional.

  • Peak Phase – 10 to 18 days ( before A race)

No strength sessions, focus on rollers!

Key Points

  • Focus on the primary objective of the session, don’t mix it up e.g. doing functional exercise with heavy resistance.
  • Focus on execution excellence, get your PT to assist with technique.
  • Keep main set to 20 min or less and get out the gym!
  • Full time in gym should be maximum 45 min including warm-up



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