With the fundamental principles of core strength and stability, almost any Pilates exercise can be beneficial to triathletes. But there are certain variations that target specific areas of the body that are critically important for triathletes. Note that many of these have names that sound like something you do in a swimming pool or perhaps an avian mating ritual, but don't worry -- all are designed to be done on solid ground. Here are some examples:
- The swan -- The swan is a classic Pilates exercise that strengthens the muscles of the arms, buttocks and back, while stretching the muscles of the abdomen and hips. This is a great exercise for each of the triathlon activities since the buttocks are used to propel you through every leg of the race [source: Pilates Digest].
- Swimming -- Swimming is a Pilates exercise that strengthens the muscles of the buttocks and back and is an excellent way to train for the swim portion of a triathlon. The movements are essentially simulated swimming, so it's important to coordinate your breathing with each stroke.
- Arm reaches and pulls -- These are called scapular stabilization exercises, and they're ideal for improving stability in the shoulder girdle. Arm reaches and pulls encourage increased muscle control and tension release in the upper back and shoulder, which makes them great exercises for all triathlon events, especially swimming.
- Scissors -- The scissors exercise is another great Pilates workout that benefits all aspects of triathlon, especially running and cycling [source: Taylor].
- Plank -- Plank is another classic Pilates exercise that strengthens the core and upper body and is particularly helpful in training for the cycling portion of a triathlon.
- Side kicks -- Sick kicks are an excellent exercise to improve your running posture and stamina.
You may find that certain Pilates exercises are best suited to your individual training goals. If so, stick with what works. Just keep in mind that whether you're a novice triathlete or a seasoned professional, practicing Pilates can give you the competitive edge you need to make the most of your triathlon experience.