The western world is gradually listening to, receiving and applying simple, primitive and more efficient training methods from the archives of the eastern bloc. Kettlebells (KB’s) have already become the tool of choice for ‘informed’ strength and power athletes. Joint Mobility (JM), a combination of Qigong and dynamic stretching, has also become one of the most effective warm-ups for any athlete. How can the rebirth of these two timeless protocols benefit triathletes?
Triathletes are a special population due to the fact that they are training for three events simultaneously, namely swimming, cycling, and running. Efficiency is of the utmost importance, especially for Ironman competitors, 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run ALL IN ONE DAY! Therefore, there are many problems that these athletes run into throughout their training programs. The most common problems are overtraining, core weakness, tight hip flexors, lower back, and stress fractures primarily in the lower leg and small bones of the feet.
This article will address some specific protocols that have been used effectively to correct some significant strength and flexibility imbalances in a current client. He is 33 years old and has competed in two Ironman triathlons, as well as many shorter races. When we started working together, nine weeks before her second Ironman, she was recovering from a femoral head stress fracture, a major quadriceps / ham imbalance, rotator cuff problems (past injuries from swimming with a college scholarship ) and tight hip flexors.
Through a combination of JM and KB exercises, he was able to effectively overcome many of these weaknesses in nine short weeks. Each session started with a minimum of ten minutes of head-to-toe joint mobility and then went back specifically to problem areas. Check out Super Joints (book or DVD) for these exercises: Belly Dance, Cossack, Extended Cossack, Bootstrappers, and Split Switches. After a general mobility warm-up, emphasis was placed on the Wall Squat, essential for the recovery and progression of imbalances, weaknesses and mobility of the hip / lower back region. In two weeks, his squat depth had improved four inches due to increased flexibility and relaxation of the hip flexors. This almost immediate improvement led to relaxed bike pedal power, a relaxed ride, and an overall increase in power and efficiency.
The remainder of each training session revolved around KB training. The fundamental movements apply to triathletes as well as to any athlete. Five main KB exercises were used. A healthy dose of swings, cleanings, outbursts, renegade rows, and windmills were the focal point.
Swings teach you to shoot your hips and hamstrings. Most programs forget to teach athletes in general how to neurologically program their hamstrings, which leads to efficiency when cycling and running.
Cleanses and re-teaches the hips to shoot while also relaxing the shoulders … crucial during a grueling multisport run.
Snatches are an extension of the swing and help to “rewire” the CNS to fire on demand and also increase overall efficiency.
Renegade Rows is a basic full-body workout that teaches the abs to stabilize in a state of ‘relaxed tension’ rather than mindlessly rowing. This movement transfers to more effective hip stabilization in triathletes while building a solid core.
Windmills work the core while stretching the glute / hamstring complex while maintaining upper body mental awareness, once again engaging the WHOLE body to work as a unit vs. a collection of body parts.
These five exercises revolve around everything a triathlete is looking for: increasing core strength without increasing muscle mass and increasing work capacity while maintaining aerobic efficiency (relaxed tension).
Treating the body as a ‘unit’ vs. a collection of body parts, leading to greater efficiency, is crucial for triathletes. Kettlebells fill the gap where traditional strength training lacks, effective strength workouts in minimal time. Ask any triathlete: their last priority is strength training. However, all triathletes are interested and understand the benefits of “basic” training and the Party knows which is the MOST EFFECTIVE basic training tool: kettlebell. Help your fellow triathletes by showing them these intricate Party Protocols. They will surely thank you!