Monday, 15 October 2012

This time it's personal

Just over nine months ago I found myself taking part in some personal training sessions at the gym. Obviously inspired by my new dedication to the triathlon club Mrs Trihard had signed up for some highly intensive one to one sessions each Monday only to discover that she was expecting Baby Trihard. As they were already paid for I reluctantly stepped into the fold. I was already doing a fair amount of exercise with my training sessions at EGTC, mainly at the weekends, so wasn't looking forward to starting my week by humiliating myself in front of everybody else in the gym. I also didn't see how gym work would benefit my progression as a triathlete.

How wrong I was. I found the sessions so helpful that I immediately signed up for more once the I'd got through those Mrs Trihard had paid for. My personal trainer (who wishes to remain anonymous so as not to upset his employers but said I can refer to him as Mr Fitnessbugg...) not only taught me numerous different exercises, using a variety of equipment, so that each session was never the same but also pushed me to work out at an intensity I'd never reached in the gym.


The sessions weren't cheap so it's not something I've managed to maintain on a constant basis but it got me into the habit of going to the gym on a Monday and pushing myself harder than I previously would have. But rather than me wittering on Mr Fitnessbugg has kindly answered some questions. So we have a very first for the blog, someone who actually knows what they are talking about, giving expert advice on how the gym can help improve your triathlon performance!

If someone is doing triathlon training why should they need to do gym/weights work?

There are a few reasons for this. To start with it will provide you with a stronger framework and better posture in order to withstand the stresses of long endurance events while minimising the risk of injury. Secondly the muscles will simply be able to withstand greater stress for longer on event day enabling you to continue at desired speeds for longer. Finally weights work speeds up the body's metabolic rate and if performed at the correct intensity, can also improve cardiovascular fitness. 

What are the benefits of personal training rather than just going to the gym?

Many people lift ideas from fitness/tri magazines/sites and base their training solely on what they read. This is a very generic approach and above all neglects the persons ability there also the appropriate intensity. A Personal Trainer should always look to address the clients weaknesses and also look to make the process fun and varied while tailored towards each individual.

What are the muscle groups that a triathlete should work on in order to improve their performance?

I would always look to strengthen legs, back and core as much as possible, and as each individual becomes more confident. I would look to progress to multi-part (functional) movements as all three facets of triathlon require different body parts to work/stabilise together. Most Kettlebell and ViPR exercises incorporate this very well.

What are the benefits of strengthening the core muscles?

Again this would provide a stronger support for your overall framework and help develop functional movement both in the gym and on race-day. As well as aiding balance, although people sometimes make the mistake of de-stabilising themselves so much, that it severely affects their capacity to work with any intensity.

What exercises can a triathlete do at home if they don't necessarily have time to get to the gym on top of their triathlon training?

I would start with body weight exercises such as Squats, Lunges, and core exercises such as Planks, Glute bridges, mountain climbers and Crunches. It is difficult to replicate upper back exercise without equipment. If you wish to use external load a start point would be to load a (strong) bag with food tins. I've used this word a lot but intensity can be increased by either more reps or less rest. I tend to work "as hard as possible for as long as possible" and usually find 30-40 minutes to be plenty.

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