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Balance and flexibility

Balance is an overlooked training attribute for many triathletes. Improving your balance can decrease the use of your lateral stabilizing muscles during each stride you take, greatly reducing the amount of energy you expend over a run. To improve your balance and make your swimming, cycling, and running more efficient, try balance exercises using your body weight, cables, plyometrics and balance for the core.

As endurance athletes know, optimal performance isn’t about aimlessly accumulating mileage but rather organising training in a strategic way for improved fitness. A perfect example of this can be seen in a recent study that compared a group of highly trained runners with a group of recreational runners. When they looked at muscle strength in the participants’ legs, in addition to running economy, they found that while the recreational runners actually had stronger muscles, they demonstrated lower running economy. Conversely, while the highly trained runners had less strength, they proved to have better balance in quad-to-hamstring strength, which translated into higher running economy.


Balance and Flexibility Training Exercises

Balance and stability are key drivers of athletic performance. They increase your center of gravity, allowing you to produce greater force and strength and make more precise movements. Without them, you cannot expect to perform at an optimal level or make gains in your sport.

Following are key balance exercises that will stabilize your muscles helping to reduce the amount of energy while doing a training for a triathlon.

Squats are great for strengthening the glutes, quadriceps and core. Adding weight and performing them on a BOSU ball will increase your strength, balance and stabilization in those areas even more. This will transition to the field, making you more efficient.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side up and the round side touching the floor.
  2. Add weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  3. Step onto the BOSU ball and adjust your footing until your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  4. Perform a standard Squat, lowering yourself to 90 degrees, keeping your back, knees and toes straight and your core tight.
  5. Sets/Duration: 3x30 seconds.

This exercise forces you to focus on maintaining balance while resisting movement, which is beneficial for in-game situations, because unless you're a goalie, you rarely stand in one spot without moving. This will also increase your upper-body and core strength.

How to Perform:

  1. Set up battle ropes by rapping them around a pole or post.
  2. Place a BOSU ball in front of the ends of the battle ropes with the flat side up and the round side touching the ground.
  3. Step onto the BOSU ball and adjust your feet until they are shoulder-width apart.
  4. Pick up the battle ropes, one rope in each hand.
  5. Get into a partial squat position, about 45 degrees.
  6. Alternate moving the battle ropes up and down using your arms and core, while maintaining your balance.
  7. Progress to single leg as you get stronger.
  8. Sets/Duration: 3x30 seconds.

These combine movement with balance primarily in the lower body. They are very popular among downhill skiers, because they train the legs to be strong and balanced when resisting hills.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side up and the round side touching the floor.
  2. Step onto the BOSU ball and adjust your feet until they are shoulder-width apart.
  3. Squat down to about 90 degrees.
  4. Press one foot toward the floor, then quickly raise it as you lower your other foot.
  5. Repeat rapidly, counting both feet as one repetition.
  6. Sets/Duration: 3x30 seconds.

The Lunge is an all-around great exercise. When you elevate your leg, you increase the difficulty by requiring more stabilizer muscles to activate. This will increase your balance and quadriceps strength.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a bench or plyometric box behind you about knee-high.
  2. Add weight with dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  3. Lift one leg up and place it on the bench or box behind you.
  4. Perform a Standard Split Squat, keeping your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.
  5. Sets/Duration: 3x30 seconds.

This exercise targets your quadriceps. It also activates the core and just about every other muscle in the lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings and calves. It is great for triathletes.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a BOSU ball in front of you with the flat side up and the round side touching the floor.
  2. Step onto the BOSU ball with one foot in the center of the ball.
  3. Stand holding your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level, parallel to the floor.
  4. Perform a standard Squat to 90 degrees, making sure not to let your knee cave in or out.
  5. Progress by adding weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  6. Sets/Reps: 3x10 for each leg.

This exercise requires great balance and quadriceps strength, because your foot is on a slick surface. The Lunge is an overall great exercise for strengthening the r core, which is essential for maintaining balance.

How to Perform:

  1. Place a slide board behind you, or use a towel on a slick surface.
  2. Add weight via dumbbells, weighted vest, barbell or EZ Curl Bar.
  3. Get into a lunge position with your front foot off the slide board and your back foot on the slide board.
  4. Perform a Reverse Lunge, making sure to keep your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.
  5. Use your forward leg to bring yourself back up, with minimal assistance from your back leg.
  6. Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg.

This conveys the same benefits as the previous exercise, but the Press focuses on strengthening the shoulders and triceps.

How to Perform:

  1. Grab a dumbbell or kettlebell that is a challenging weight.
  2. Hold the weight in your left hand and stand on your right leg at the same time.
  3. Perform a Romanian Deadlift, making sure to keep your back, knee and toe straight and your core tight.
  4. At the top of the RDL, pause and perform a Single-Shoulder Press.
  5. Perform another RDL.
  6. Progress by performing the exercise on a BOSU ball as you get stronger.
  7. Sets/Reps: 3x10 on each leg


Here is an additional video of a short Yoga sequence to strengthen the abs and core. For beginners as well as advanced. This yoga practice is to stabilize the deeper core muscles at the back of the belly. Strong inner core muscles make a huge difference in your life and will make your yoga practice go deeper, yoga poses will be better accessible. Do this for two weeks and you will have a different body!




Flexibility is conforming; it increases with a regular program of stretching exercises and it decreases with inactivity. Stretching increases the length of your muscles and tendons, which leads to an increase in your range of motion or movement. With increased range of motion your limbs and joints can move farther, limiting the chance of injuries such as muscle tears. The safest and most effective type of stretching technique is static stretching. With static stretching, each muscle is gradually stretched and held from 10 to 30 seconds.

If you need a more complete stretching routine, visit our Stretching Section by clicking here.

  • Calf Stretch. Assume a push up position with one foot on top of the other. Walk your hands toward your feet. Keep your heel flat on the ground as you walk your hands back. The stretch should be felt in the back of your lower leg.

  • Front Pull
  • Triangle Stretch. Take a large step forward and slightly to the side for balance. Keep both legs and back fairly straight. Bend at your waist over your front door. The stretch should be felt in the back of the thigh and behind the knee of the forward leg.

  • Rear Pull
  • Quadriceps and Hip Flexor Stretch. Take a giant step forward and assume a kneeling position. Keep your back straight, exhale, and slowly lean forward. Make sure you can see your toes when looking over the knee of your forward leg. The stretch should be felt in the front of the thigh of the leg, and the back of the thigh in the front leg.

  • Front Pull
  • Butterfly Stretch. Sit upright on the floor. Bring the bottoms of your feet together, and slide them toward your body. Keep your back straight and push your legs toward the floor. The stretch should be felt on the inside of the thigh.

  • Front Pull
  • Pretzel Stretch. Sit upright on the floor with your legs straight out in front. Cross one leg over the other, then slide your leg toward your body. Reach across your body with the opposite arm, and place on the outside of your bent leg. Push back on your knee with your opposite arm, and twist. The stretch should be felt on the outside of the hip, and in your lower back.

  • Front Pull

    This video will help you stretch your full body before and after any training session. Stretching is key to keep your body flexible and recovered after any activity you make. Here are a few poses to help open the Side of the body so your breath becomes deeper and joy can find its way in!


    Flexibility will make you better triathlete!

    To be a good triathlete, you need to have strength, speed and endurance. And if you choose to race off-road, agility becomes another important skill. Agility is a combination of coordination, flexibility, power and speed that allows a trail racer to pick his way through technical terrain quickly and efficiently. What many athletes are missing when they move to off-road racing is adequate flexibility to allow them to stay loose while reacting to terrain.

    New research has shown that stretching might be less effective in improving flexibility versus using strength training. This is a glowing recommendation for Pilates and yoga, as both combine exercises using bodyweight to challenge muscular strength while leading the body through movements that will also lengthen muscles.

    However, hyperflexibility is not the goal; in triathlon functional flexibility is most valuable. Focusing on having a loose and relaxed body at rest that can spring into action when engaged is important. Strained or damaged muscles and ligaments from overstretching are certainly not good for performance. Do not go beyond what is comfortable in any of these movements.


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