Functional Strength Training for The Endurance Athlete
Being an endurance athlete requires a strong core. Here’s the rub: swimming, biking and running do little to develop one. If you invest some time to improve your core strength, you will see your performance improve and it can help you remain injury free. This is not about bulking up in the gym. Big muscles are heavy. This is about functional strength training that produces explosive power and lean muscle mass.
Developing your core encompasses much more than working your abdominal muscles. If you include full body movements that are performed in an unstable environment, you will challenge the little stabilizing muscles that are so important for balance and coordination.
Group Fitness classes are an excellent way to add functional strength training to your schedule. A good instructor will be able modify exercises for your specific level of fitness and safely introduce progressions as your core strength improves. Here are two classes that will give you a big bang for your buck:
TRX-This exercise craze was invented by Randy Hetrick. He came up with the idea when he was a Navy Seal trying to maintain his fitness while living on a cramped submarine. TRX is an exercise apparatus. It is an adjustable suspension cable system that is connected to an anchoring point. The variety of exercises that can be performed is virtually endless. A typical class not only targets your core but it will strengthen every muscle group while challenging balance, coordination and flexibility.
Tabata-Was named after the doctor who discovered the format while he was doing research involving speed skaters at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. He found this formula to be most efficient for boosting anaerobic capacity. This high intensity interval program combines 2 exercises for 4 minutes at a time. For example: 20 seconds of jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest, 20 seconds of burpees, 10 seconds rest. During a 1 minute rest before the next time sequence begins, a new combo is introduced. A 40 minute class will have 8 cycles of 8 Tabata’s giving you a combination of up to 16 different exercises.
Because these classes are high intensity, it is recommended that they are done on your “hard” training days so that you can recover on your “easy” days. The good news is that once you learn the formats and have developed good proprioception, you can do either TRX or Tabata on your own. The equipment is minimal and easy to pack if you travel. If your fitness club doesn’t provide these classes and you want to learn more, contact Coach Vicky.
Vicky Tate is a USAT certified Triathlon Coach and certified Group Fitness Instructor with Experience Triathlon. As leaders in the endurance services industry, Coach Vicky and the Experience Triathlon staff help athletes of all ages and abilities achieve success in training, racing and life. Learn more about Coach Vicky and Experience Triathlon at www.experiencetriathlon.com.