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Art and Science of the Triathlete

Triathlon is a very unique sport. Not only does it place a high demand on the mental aptitude of its athletes (being an individual sport at race time), but it also constantly requires a high level of performance in training across three separate sports, which include the swim, bike, and run. The physical and mental feats that come with the achievement of goals in the varying distances of triathlon from sprint distance to Ironman distance are only accomplished in racing through proper periodization, muscular development, corrective exercise, joint and ligament demand adjustments, and mobility training. What may have been missing from that bunch of athletic endeavors? Well, it was the swimming, biking, and running. Stick with me now, as we explore the developmental process of a triathlete and how The Frog can play a crucial role in the building process.

The well-built Ironman triathlete will be able to maintain a solid structure throughout his or her season, relying on a core foundation of bone, joint, aerobic, and muscular support. This is what is referred to, as the “base” of a training cycle and it’s something an athlete can always fall back on. This cycle begins at various stages, depending on the athlete and the goals set in place, but in any manner, EVERY well-balanced athlete (professional and amateur) will begin by building or reviving (more for professionals) a solid base. It can take 3 years to do this properly, but once it’s done the aerobic capabilities are considerably higher from where an athlete has come, noting that endurance athletes can take up to 7 years to reach their true potential. So where does The Frog fit into base phase? I’m glad you asked! Since base phase is full of aerobic workouts that don’t tend to place extreme stressors on the body, just those that will help to make slow and continual adjustments to physiology (some faster than others), it’s a great time to incorporate a strength training program. Beginning with muscular endurance, which is [an] initial phase of base training that includes high repetition exercises and low weight, slow adjustments, paired with corrections, can be made as an athlete advances in his or her season. The Frog is a great tool for identifying movement inefficiencies in this initial phase, as exercises like the squat with The Frog can help identify any improper knee movement patters, forward leans, or back arches, for example. Even if these are assessed and undefined, showing that an athlete is strong, balanced, and needs no correction; the squat is a critical full body exercise perfect for the endurance athlete. As the season continues, the squat can be increased in resistance to carry into low repetition, maximum strength training late in the base phase…as the resistance can be adjusted on The Frog to fit multiple training criteria.

Core training plays an immense role in a triathlete’s strength training routine. “Core Killers” are something that can be sprinkled throughout the season and used at various resistances as well, depending on if an athlete is in a base or build phase. As a matter of fact, all of the moves that can be safely conducted on The Frog engage the core in some way, shape or form, which is perfect for building muscles affected in unpredictable and predictable situations, such as those that are brought by a complex and ever-changing sport. I should also briefly explain that a build phase usually occurs when an athlete is working into a key race or building towards peak fitness levels. This phase usually includes mobility to prevent injury, explosive power, and maintenance, while avoiding heavy weights and too much time in the gym, which can lead to unnecessary fatigue because intensity is increased across all three sports in this phase, something The Frog has no issue adjusting to. Back on track with core training, maintaining an upright structure for several hours on the run and an “aero-friendly” position in Ironman is critical to longevity and efficiency of the triathlete. Often triathletes get very wrapped up in the swim, bike, and run aspects of training, but using tools like The Frog for core training at proper times within their schedule can help build the solid foundation on which they may swim, bike, and run. It’s named core for good reason! Squats, Leapers, Core Killers, and even squats…they all stabilize…and they’ll all have your core thanking you later.

On a final note, before I sum up this very brief calamity of words about triathlon programming, mobility is one of the most important aspects of sport from my coaching view. There are very advanced demands placed on athletes across all sports. Athletes that are able to move through complex and even simple ranges of motion will find themselves in a camp with the least risk of injury, best quality of life, and highest levels of personal performance. The ability of The Frog to allow the triathlete’s body to reach full hip range of motion, ankle flexion (commonly “locked up” with athletes!), and eccentric movements of the shoulder, is a free and critical aid that comes with almost any usage of The Frog, not allowing for restriction or reversely helping identify where restrictions exist. Personal trainers and coaches will rejoice when identifying these movement patterns as they help their athlete move forward in performance. The fascia is an amazing piece of the human body and taking care of it’s health is just as important as swimming, biking, or running…arguably even more important, depending on an athlete’s goals.

As the multitude of uses The Frog has continues to grow, I believe that the everyday and advanced triathlete has everything to gain from using this incredible tool. Whether it be in the beginning phases of training with high repetition and low weight exercises or the explosive and short build phase exercises, the complex movements that The Frog offers the whole body, through several ranges of motion, is bar none for available exercise equipment and aids at the moment. The Frog brings forth muscle activation at its finest. The consistent use of a Frog in the triathlete’s yearly plan has the potential to spur advancements in performance across all three sports. Edge-up the competition, train with a Frog.

Best in Training, Racing, and Health,

Guest Blogger, Mike Otwell

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