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Warm up and stretching:

It is extremely important to keep the body at its optimum, during rest, training and performance to prevent injury and to be effective with the least amount of energy consumed.


Before any form of training begins a warm up followed by stretches must be performed. This will then allow the muscles and tendons to function at their best due to them being warm and at optimum length. This will allow the muscle to produce a much stronger and more efficient contraction when it is required and over a prolonged duration.


Before stretching warm the muscle by performing general and specific exercises to the sport you are about to perform. Within the triathlon - general exercise would be jogging and light swimming. Currently there are no guidelines to how long the warm up should last for but the athlete is looking for a mild sweat without fatigue. The effects of the warm up will last for about thirty minutes so it is important that during a competition that this is not performed too early.

After the warm up has been completed stretches should commence.

Please see below for optimum stretches that should be performed.


This should be followed in reverse post training or competition by a cool down. Again a general exercise for example a jog followed by stretches.

Training methods:

Specificity – Make sure your training is appropriate to what event you want to compete in. For example if an athlete was going to run 20km the focus will need to be on endurance not sprinting. However this athlete will also need strength so a form of strength training will need to be incorporated.


Progression – The body will adapt to become stronger and more efficient within time. Therefore training modalities need to be changed to avoid the body becoming used to the workout.


Overload – This is where the athlete will perform work at a greater intensity or volume of work given or decrease the recovery time given in between efforts of a given volume of intensity. This will allow the body to become stronger, fitter, improved endurance and work as an effective machine.


Do you need to be training aerobically or aerobically?
For a triathlon both aspects of training will need to be considered.


Strength and power training 
This is critical to allow

  1. a single muscular contraction to be effective with the least amount of energy consumed

  2. to be able to perform the maximum amount of work in a given time.


Speed and Cross training – The triathlon athlete will benefit from this as all three events can be utilised in the training programme again which will give optimum performance with minimal effort and prevent injury.


The athlete may also want to consider a sports massage. This will give great benefits to performance by:

  • Improving blood flow to the muscles
  • Improve the muscle and surrounding soft tissue extensibility and elasticity
  • Stretches the muscle sheath and surrounding tissues
  • Breaks down scar tissue formed during injury or from past injuries
  • Helps to prevent injury
  • Increase tissue permeability
  • Prevent loss of range and mobility
  • Boost performance

The past few pages have given a brief insight to the importance of warm up and stretching, training techniques and injury prevention. If you have any questions on the information that you have just read, or feel that you would like to come in for a chat, assessment or have any worries on injuries Please call: 01245 234045 where our friendly team of physiotherapists will be more than happy to assist you.


The stretch position should be assumed gradually and gently and held for about 30 seconds. During this time no discomfort should be felt in the stretched muscle. At the end of the 30 seconds come back to the baseline position and perform the same stretch again. Due to the physiological benefits that take place during stretching each stretch you should be able to go a little further. Each stretch should be repeated three to four times for a 30 seconds hold.


Soleus and Gastrocnemius ( Calf)

Place the stance leg in front slightly bent and the stretch leg behind bent. Then gradually move your trunk backwards, as if you were going to sit. You should feel a stretch in the lower calf into the ankle. Make sure your knee is over your foot and foot pointing forwards.

Place the stance leg in front bent and the stretch leg behind straight. Make sure your foot is pointing forwards, knee is over the foot and heel on the floor. Slightly increase the weight that is applied through the stance leg. The stretch should be felt in the mid calf towards the ankle.


Place the foot of the leg to be stretched on the wall and gradually bring your body over the foot. The stretch should be felt in the upper calf, below the knee.



Grip the foot of the leg you wish to stretch and bring it towards your bottom. At this position, slightly tilt your pelvis forwards and t

try to keep your knees together. Try to make sure that during the stretch you do not twist your pelvis or trunk.



Bring the stretch leg out in front keeping it straight and the stance leg bent. Gently lean into the stance leg keeping your back straight and sticking your bottom out and upwards

Place the stretch leg on a beam bar or bed, keeping it straight. Then gradually tilt forwards from the hips ( not the back) till a stretch is felt in the hamstrings



Laying on a flat surface, bring your stretch leg up into your chest and slightly across to the opposite shoulder till a stretch is felt in the buttocks. Try to make sure that your pelvis does not twist or that your back comes off of the surface.

Lay onto a flat surface, bring the stretch leg up so the knee is over the hip and rotate outwards, then bring the stance leg up to meet the ankle of the stretch leg. Grasp the back of the stance leg and pull in towards your chest so the stretch is felt in the buttocks


Hip flexors

Begin in the kneeling position; place the stance leg out in front so the knee and hip are at right angles and the stretch leg behind. Then gently tilt your pelvis backwards and push the hips forwards. A stretch should be felt at the top of the leg


Lay on a flat surface close to the edge. Allow the stretch leg to hang off the side of the surface and bring the stance leg into your chest. A stretch should be felt at the top of the leg. Try to make sure that your pelvis does not twist or your back comes off of the surface.


Adductors (Groin)

Stand with your feet slightly further then shoulder width apart. Then gradually lean towards the side you would like to stretch, making sure your knee is over your foot and the foot is pointing forwards. The stretch should be felt in the groin.


Iliotibal band

Place the stretch leg behind the stance leg and turn the foot of the stretch in. Then gradually lean onto a surface and push the hips out to the opposite side. The stretch should be felt along the lower back at the side, hips and down the outside of the leg.


Posterior shoulder and upper back

Place the stretch arm across the body (at about nipple height) with the other arm gently pull the stretch arm into towards the body. A stretch should be felt at the back of the shoulder.

Bring both arms in front of the body at shoulder height, turn your palms outwards, tuck your chin into your chest and gradually push your hands away from you. A stretch should be felt across the back.


Pectoral girdle.

Bring both arms behind the body, so the hands sit into the small of the back. Then gently try to squeeze the shoulder blades together and try to make the elbows meet. The stretch should be felt across the chest.


Faye Patterson - Chartered Physiotherapist



Khan, K., Brukner, P., et al., 2006, Clinical Sports Medicine 3rd Edition

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