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A Speed, Power & Core Workout For Triathletes

A Speed, Power & Core Workout For Triathletes

A challenging speed/plyometric/core course is a great way to introduce some spice and variety into your triathlon training program, giving your mind a mental break from the long base training sessions and giving your body a chance for force and power development sets, an often neglected portion of multi-sport training.

This particular workout begins with several dynamic stretching and warm-up exercises, which is a necessity for any type of high intensity training. While gentle stretching may sometimes be sufficient for a slow endurance run, more ballistic stretching is beneficial for explosive training. After a dynamic warm-up, you will move on to power and plyometric box training. Force application potential will be highest early in the workout, which is why you perform these sets prior to the speed sets. Your speed work will focus on two primary characteristics of fast runner: a center of gravity that continually “rolls” forwards and a high leg turnover rate. Finally, your last set will include several triathlete specific core exercises, designed not only to improve buoyancy potential in the water, but also pelvic and abdominal stability for the bike and run.

Dynamic Stretching

Lumbar Circles – relieves head/neck tension and improves low back mobility.

To perform lumbar circles, stand as tall as possible with feet in neutral position. Bending to the side with the trunk, allow the body to “fall” to the side, keeping the arms hanging at the side and the body limp like a rag doll. Circle the torso in front of the body, keeping the head and arms relaxed, and back around to the other side. All movement should originate from the spine, not the head. Perform 5 repetitions, or “circles” in each direction.

Scorpion – improve hip joint mobility, relax thoracic spine, stretch hip flexors.

Lie on the stomach with both arms in a “T” shape out to either side. The head rests on the ground, facing to the right. Lift the right leg off the ground and move it across and over the body towards the left hand. When you do this, you will feel your hip “open” and the knee naturally point up towards the sky. Hold 15-20 seconds for each side. Repeat for the opposite side.

Cobra – improve low back mobility, stretch inspiratory muscles around rib cage.

Lie on the stomach with feet pointed “shoelaces down” and the hands planted in a pushup position. Keeping the hips as close to the ground as possible, push the arms into extension. Look forward and keep your breathing relaxed. Hold 15-20 seconds.

Cross Legged Stretch – stretch IT band, hip abductor muscles and glutes.

Lie on your back and cross your legs like you are sitting in a chair (outside of right foot on top of left knee. Reach through the triangle that is produced by the right thigh/shank, and left thigh. Hold onto the left thigh. Pull on the left thigh, causing the right leg to open into the stretch. Hold 15-20 seconds. Repeat for the opposite side.

Hip Twist

Lie on your back with both arms in a “T” shape out to either side. Keeping the left leg straight, bend the right leg to about 90 degrees and move it across the body towards the left side, while trying to maintain the “T” shape with the hands by pushing the right shoulder into the ground. Hold 15-20 seconds. Repeat for the opposite side.


Power Skip – improve ground reaction force, hip extensor mobility, and elastic recoil.

Perform a regular “playground” skip, but push as hard as you can against the ground with one leg with driving the other leg as high as possible, so that you achieve a bounding motion with each skip. 1 set of 30-40 yards.

Bounding – improve ground reaction force and elastic recoil.

Run with a bounding motion, driving the foot as hard as possible into the ground, and driving with the arms like a sprinter. You should feel like you are running as fast as possible with a “pause” in mid-air. 1 set of 30-40 yards.

Carioca “Grapevine” – improve inner/outer thigh mobility and lateral ground reaction force.

Facing one direction, move the right leg out and away from the body, then drive the left leg across the right leg. Push off the left leg as hard as possible while swinging the right leg out to the side again. Travel 30-40 yards in one direction, then repeat in the opposite direction, this time leading with the left leg and swinging the right leg across the body.

Long Low Backpedal – improve hip flexor mobility and ground reaction force.

Bend forward at the waist to almost 90 degrees. Then run backwards, maintaining a “low” bend at the waist and pushing as far out behind as possible with each leg. 1 set of 30-40 yards.

Plyometrics – 1 set of each

Jumps Onto Box

Choose a box or platform that is elevated 15-20 inches. Swing arms and jump up onto box with both feet. Land as softly as possible, then step off, and repeat. Perform 30 reps with both legs. For a more challenging workout, raise the box height, or jump with one leg rather than two. If jumping with one leg, perform only 15 reps per side.

Lateral Jumps Onto Box

Using the same box, jump with both feet sideways. Use your peripheral vision to ensure a safe and soft landing, then step off and repeat. Complete 15 reps for each side. For increased difficulty, jump with one leg.

Fast Feet

Lower the box height to about 2 inches above ankle level. Facing the box, “scissor” the feet on and off one at a time, moving as fast as possible, and swinging arms in a running motion. Complete 40 fast feet.

Lateral Ski Hops

Stand facing sideways, with one foot on the box and one foot off. Maintaing a quarter squat position, with the knees bent and torso slightly forward, jump over the box in a lateral direction, switching feet so that the opposite leg is above the box. Reverse and jump the other direction. Complete 20 repetitions.

Speed – 4 sets of each


Stand as tall as possible. Slowly let body fall forward until your center of gravity “pulls” one leg out in front to catch your body. Immediately break into a 20 yard sprint, maintaining a forward lean and mid to front forefoot strike.

Mountain Climber Sprints

Get into a pushup position. Drive your right knee up towards your left elbow, then your left knee up towards your right elbow. Repeat 5x for each side. On the last knee drive, push against the ground and into a 20 yard sprint.

Heel-to-Butt Fast Feet Turnover

“Bounce” for 20 yards with a very small stride length and as high a turnover as possible, attempting to touch the heel to the butt with each stride. Swing the arms in a normal running pattern.

Core – 3 sets of each

Dead Bug

Lie on back with right knee bent up towards chest, right arm fully extended back behind you, and head/upper shoulders up “looking at bellybutton”. Your left arm should be extend at your side and your left leg fully extended. The abs should feel tight. Switch sides, extending the right leg, bringing the extended right arm to the side, and flexing the left leg and bring the left arm overhead. Complete 10 reps to each side.

Single Leg Bridge

Lie on back with one leg bent and one leg “hovering” above the ground. Arms should be resting at the side, palms facing down. Push through the foot of the bent leg so that your hips/torso move up towards the sky. Extend as far as possible, so that if feels like your butt cheeks are squeezing together. Complete 10 reps for the right side, then switch legs.

Side Plank Holds

Lie on your left side with legs fully extended and right foot stacked on top of left foot. Left arm should be bent at 90 degrees with your body weight on the upper left arm between the shoulder and elbow. Press the side of your body that is facing up (your right side) up towards the sky. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.

Specialized sets to make you a blazing fast multi-sport athlete are also included with the triathlete training package at Pacific Elite Fitness. If you have more questions about speed, power, agility, core, or other facets of specialized training for triathletes, it’s time to start training smart at http://www.pacificfit.net