If we polled triathletes, my guess is that the majority of experienced triathletes would agree that strength and conditioning exercises are important for injury prevention and sports performance. Yet a good percentage of those athletes neglect to regularly include S&C in their training.....until they get injured. Then eventually they visit a physical therapist, do enough of the exercises to get rid of the injury symptoms, and slowly regress into neglecting S&C until the next injury rears its ugly head. Ah and the cycle continues. But it doesn't have to be this way.
The off season is a good time to break this cycle by incorporating exercises into your routine that address muscle weaknesses and imbalances that tend to plague most triathletes. The result...a more resilient body that can better withstand the rigors of multisport training. Disclaimer: You need to do the exercises on a regular basis for it to work.
For this post, I will focus on the gluteus medius, a broad, thick muscle that plays an important role in stabilizing the pelvis and lower extremity when a person is standing on one foot while running or walking.
Now you may be thinking, "I am a triathlete. I crosstrain. How could I have a weak muscle anywhere, especially in my butt?" Unless you have been doing functional strength training on a regular basis, you probably have a whole bunch of weak muscles and muscle imbalances because swimming, biking, and running are done in the sagittal plane (moving forward). Triathletes can make significant gains if they include some training done in the frontal (lateral movements like a crab moving sideways) and transverse (like a golf swing) planes. I'll cover those types of exercises in future posts; for now we'll focus on that butt muscle.
The best way to address weak gluteus medius muscles is to start with very basic exercises and progress from there. I know. There's a heck of a lot more satisfaction in completing a long run or popping off some squats with a couple of big plates on the bar. But that's not going to help this critical muscle and might even hurt you. Here are two exercises that will allow you to isolate and strengthen your gluteus medius: (1) the clam exercise, and (2) the hip bridge.
(1) The Clam Exercise
(2) The Hip Bridge
The total time to do both these exercises is about 10 minutes. So just 10 minutes, three times a week would give you the benefit that you need to strengthen a muscle you may never have known existed but that may have been contributing to your injuries.