Health and Fitness Studio Pilates Performance Series: Triathalon 13 June 2018 rachael dodds Improve your speed, strength, endurance + recovery A combination of speed and endurance is the cornerstone of successful triathlon performance. But getting your personal best times down does not necessarily equate to more time on the road or in the water. Like triathlon training, Pilates is a whole body workout, and it can deliver powerful cross training benefits to assist your athletic performance, including speed, efficiency, strength and endurance. This makes it the perfect triathlon training complement, whether your focus is fitness based, competitive or for technical development. Studio Pilates delivers intense, 40 minute workouts on Pilates reformers in a small group environment that feels more like a personal training session, with our world class instructors modifying your moves for maximum gain. Each class is scientifically designed by physiotherapists, to ensure safe and considered movements sequenced in a particular way to give you the results you want, fast! We work your body on all planes of movement – sitting, lying and standing – so that the muscles are worked from many different directions, producing a uniform and very deep strength and tone, even without using heavy weights. Pilates also helps develop mental fitness and can reverse some of the problems that specialised sports can create. Triathlons are, by far, one of the most physically demanding sporting disciplines to train for and to compete in. All the hours logged on the bike, on the track and in the surf or pool – with the body being pushed to its limits – are notorious for creating unwanted postures and movement mechanics which can lead to injury and affect your ability to stay competitive. Many elite triathletes have used Studio Pilates as their “fourth training discipline” to improve their speed, strength, power, and endurance, to help with flexibility and mobility, to focus their breathing, and to correct muscle imbalances. Pilates also offers an excellent active recovery session, shifting toxins and lactic acid. Performance benefits Core: A strong core is the anchor of your technique for swimming, cycling and running. It makes every movement more powerful, as it is coming from the centre, or ‘powerhouse’ of your body. Any weakness in the core means the limbs must work harder. During a triathlon, this can cause compounding fatigue during each leg of the race. Studio Pilates has a substantial focus on strengthening and conditioning the transverse abdominis (TA). This not only produces a strong abdomen and obliques, but powerful stabilising muscles in the mid back, lower back, spine, chest and glutes, allowing the body to maintain better alignment, stability and responsiveness for longer periods, even when fatigued. A strong core will benefit your running, with leg muscles better able to absorb the impact from constant pounding on unforgiving surfaces. More power to the pedals will be delivered to your cycling. Your swimming will benefit with a higher, stronger body position in the water and by preventing ‘snaking’ movements when swimming freestyle, at a fast pace, or when under fatigue. Hip joints: A stable pelvis creates efficient movement that minimises exertion, and leads to faster race times. Triathletes generally train the primary muscles (flexors/extensors) of the hip, often overlooking the supporting hip musculature (abductors, adductors and rotators), which can lead to many training injuries in the lower back, hips, knees, shins and even feet. Shoulders: Pilates teaches the correct activation of the vulnerable muscles in the shoulder blades and upper back, for unhindered swim performance. Knees: Your knees take a hammering from regular training. Pilates strengthens the quads and hip abductors, which support the knee and hips when you run, and provides greater running power. Postural alignment and muscular conditioning: Repetitive movements in training mean that existing weaknesses or imbalances result in certain muscles being overused, taking all the force and impact, resulting in a variety of issues from lower back pain to hip and knee problems. Cycling, for example, can cause shortened hamstrings, and tight calves, hip flexors, iliotibial band and lower back muscles. Learning how to recruit the appropriate muscles and use precision of movement results translates into a host of benefits for a triathlete, such as even distribution of force when running, and improved stroke mechanics (eg shoulder rotation and kicking), and improved posture for better balance in the water, when swimming. Pilates can also help by lengthening tight muscles, activating lazy muscles, and creating better aligned movement patterns from feet through to neck. Mobility and control: Pilates works the body through a greater range of motion than other forms of resistance training, increasing your functional strength specific to triathlons, and reducing strain on ligaments and joints. Flexibility helps with endurance, since a tense muscle will get tired faster than one that is engaged but elongated. Better kinaesthetic awareness also helps conserve energy and shave race times due to more efficient and powerful movement.