Three smarter ways to improve your triathlon performance

Great Britain pro triathlete Tom Bishop provides three top tips anyone can follow to get better at swim, bike and run

Team GB Triathlete Thomas Bishop about to dive into water

Yes! Just these three tips will make you a better triathlete! Well, these plus some dedicated training, good quality sleep, adequate rest between sessions, and following a balanced diet…

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1. GET A BIKE FIT

Your body is the biggest drag that reduces speed on a bike, so while it can cost a little bit of money, a bike fit will save you a lot of time – and because your hip flexors won’t be so tight, you’ll run better too.

I have bike fits twice a year to make sure all the angles are right and as well as comfort, the aerodynamics saves a few extra watts. It’s either free time or saved energy, depending on how you view it.

If you’re experienced and don’t feel you can add many more watts through extra training, it’s also time to consider some simple aero upgrades, such as an aero helmet or deeper rimmed wheels.

But if you’re just getting into the sport and making good gains with training, I’d hold off until you’re a bit further down the line.

2. ADD MORE FREQUENCY

While it’s often true that with more volume comes a greater risk of injury, overtraining or fatigue, I’m still a big believer in a high frequency of training, including running.

But this doesn’t have to mean greater intensity. If most triathletes just add an extra 3 x 30mins runs every week, I strongly believe they’ll see improvements straightaway.

One intense run session per week is enough, and consider slowing some of the sessions right down, adopting more of a polarised approach.

3. INGRAIN SIMPLE REHAB

It doesn’t have to be longer than 15-20min a few times a week, but regular strength and conditioning exercises will help you stay injury-free.

Below are three exercises I’m particularly fond of that all help to strengthen the posterior chain, from calves to hamstrings to glutes.

These areas are particularly important because the hamstrings and glutes can be stretched when aero on the bike, yet need to be strong and robust for both cycling and to drive your forward momentum on the run.

Isometric calf holds

  • Stand with your heel off a step and hold the position for 5sec per leg
  • Repeat 4-5 times changing angles to work slightly different lower leg muscles
  • Hold weights/wear a heavy rucksack as tolerance increases

Bridges

  • Lie on your back with legs bent and knee angle slightly greater than 90 degrees
  • Do a controlled lift tightening your glutes as you raise into the bridge
  • The more your draw back your heels, the more the glutes will take over from the hamstrings
  • Try single-leg bridges as you build strength

Single-leg squats 

  • Stand alongside a table or work surface to hold for support
  • Lower yourself on one leg. Make it controlled, so the knee doesn’t turn in nor extend too far past the toe.
  • Go as low as comfortable then bring back to standing and switch to other leg.
  • Repeat 4-5 times.

Tom Bishop runs the coaching outfit 99triathlon.com alongside fellow triathletes, his twin brother David and Josh Daniels.

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Top image: Ryan Sosna-Bowd/Getty Images