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Triathlon Warm-Up: Dry-Land Exercises

Warming-up prior to a race, let alone a training session, is incredibly important. After all, if your muscles are not warm and loose, it should come as no surprise that the subsequent performance will not measure up to par. Not to mention proper warm-up is necessary for injury prevention tactics. However, there are the races that don’t allow for warm-up swimming for one reason or another; the Ironman 70.3 Oceanside and Escape from Alcatraz are good examples.

Plunging into frigid water with cold muscles surely won’t lead you to your next personal best, but with the following dry-land exercises, you will hopefully be more prepared than your competition.

Assuming you do not carry swim bands in your transition bag, I will omit those exercises and focus on movements that do not require any equipment.

Arm Circles

To get the blood flowing, begin your warm-up with arm circles. Starting slowly, pick one arm and swing it back and around as if you were doing backstroke. As your arm moves back, your upper body will rock back and forth with the stroke; just as if you were swimming.  After 15 repetitions, repeat with your other arm. Go through the set once more, but swing your arms forward this time.

Side-to-Side Twist

Extending both arms straight out and standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly swing from side to side, pivoting on your rear foot. Build the tempo as you go and allow your arms to bend at the elbow as your arms swing out and are pivoting on your back leg. Alternate swinging your arms at shoulder and waist level to loosen up your back and arms that much more.

Shoulder Roll

In a bent-over position with a straight back, let your arms hang straight down. Choose one arm to focus on and slowly swing it around (clockwise with the left arm; counter-clockwise with the right). As your hand swings in, drop that shoulder as if you were reaching on your stroke entry. When circling back out, raise that shoulder; again mimicking the natural roll of a swim stroke. A slow steady pace is all that is necessary. Aim for around 15 repetitions and repeat with your other arm.

Mock Swim Stroke

In that same bent-over position from before, go through your swim stroke motion. Focus on keeping high elbows and initiating a good catch. As for the turnover rate, do what feel comfortable; just as if you were in the water.

Dynamic Quadricep Stretch

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, draw one leg back and catch your foot your hand just behind your buttocks. As soon as you catch your leg, let it go and repeat with the other leg. In essence, this is a “walking in place stretch” as you are continually moving to warm up your muscles.

Jumping Jacks

Although this incorporates no swim specific movements, it does get your heart rate up. A good indication that your body is warm and ready to go is perspiration.

Once you have gone through the motions and are feeling slightly sweaty, get in your wetsuit. The wetsuit will help keep your body warm and ready for the start. If you are facing a non-wetsuit legal swim, grab a jacket and continue to move about until it is go time.