Triathlon is a full body workout. It requires the muscles of our upper and lower body to function effectively, which allows us to move forward and transition between each sport.
When we swim, primarily our middle back muscles (latissimus dorsi) are used. These contract to pull the water and propel us forward with each stroke. The upper back muscles, the deltoids, are then responsible for rotation around the shoulder joint and positioning the hand for correct entry into the water.
When we cycle and run, we mostly use the lower body muscle groups – the gluteal, hamstring and quadricep muscles. The gluteal muscles generate a significant amount of power and force when we cycle. When we run, the glutes help stabilise the pelvis and control flexion of the trunk. For both cycling and running, the hamstrings flex the knee and the quadriceps are involved in knee extension.
The core and gluteal muscles play a pivotal role in all three sports and should be a focus in any strength programme. Ideally, we want to strengthen all the major muscle groups so that all muscles fire evenly and our body works in sync. However, this can be difficult to achieve as certain groups are usually more dominant than others. So it’s important to identify these weaker areas before it leads to imbalances and injury.
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