Grundlagentraining im Triathlon

Winter time = basic time. This training wisdom is well known and is rarely implemented correctly. So what is “foundation” in triathlon?

As part of the year-round training periodization , the basic training in preparatory period 1 is the basis for all training phases that build on it. As the name suggests, the aim is to lay the foundation for the optimal mold build-up. But all too often, "basic" is equated with monotonously racking up miles of training at a low to moderate intensity level. But "basic" means much more than just that. In sports science, the term "condition" not only includes endurance abilities, but also strength, speed and mobility.

It's all about this:

Basic training includes a comprehensive approach that aims to improve general performance requirements:

  • with an improved fat metabolism you start the specific training at a much higher endurance level
  • Improved trunk stability helps you achieve a more stable position in the water when swimming, a more effective sitting position when cycling, and a more efficient running technique when running
  • A well-developed muscular corset stabilizes the passive musculoskeletal system and relieves the pressure on bones, joints, cartilage and ligaments
  • Good shoulder mobility harmonises your swimming technique, thereby preventing compensatory movements that negatively affect your position in the water
  • Improved sensorimotor skills increase your basic speed, you can break through "motor barriers" that arise due to the monotonous movement structures in the individual disciplines
  • A normal flexibility and the resolution of muscular shortening are the key to pain-free and efficient movement in all disciplines.

All in all, you will get better by raising your general basic athletic level to a higher level and thus the following specific endurance training:

  • can be better implemented and made more effective
  • are less prone to injury

Important to know: Basic training is sustainable! Much more sustainable than "scrubbing intervals" for example. Intervals are short-term performance boosters - the effect wears off after a short time. With basic training, however, you create a basis from which you will benefit for months and years. Therefore, the basic training is a constantly accompanying and recurring process.

So: right now in winter you shouldn't just devote yourself to pure endurance performance, but also to technique, strength, speed and coordination skills. For this we will now show you the objectives for each area:


In basic training, the overarching goal is to improve fat metabolism and movement economy. This improvement occurs primarily at a low to moderate intensity level. But training shouldn't just be reduced to long, quiet endurance runs. The addition of technique and speed elements breaks through the monotony of movement and also ensures differentiated stress stimuli. Example of a long endurance run: I integrate 3x100m increase runs every 20 min, run up stairs or inclines with pressure, do 6x30m running ABC exercises at the end of the run.

Strength and stabilization training

"Muscles are heavy and slow you down" is a common argument against strength training, but that's not the point. As part of strength training, there are two aspects that you should focus on: 1.) General athletic/stabi training - we have already presented the positive effects above. 2.) Development of specific musculature (muscular endurance) for the individual disciplines (e.g. pull rope training as a supplement for swimming) - it is always important to train the muscular opponents (antagonists) in order to prevent imbalances. The strength training can therefore be designed in many different ways: at home on the yoga mat, in the gym, outdoors, with your own body weight, with additional weights...

speed training

Speed ​​training is a very important aspect and is given far too little attention in triathlon. Here, too, it is not primarily about setting new sprint records, but above all about improving your motor skills. Due to the constantly repeating movement cycles, many athletes can no longer get out of their monotonous movement. Through speed training, your body learns to break through motor barriers and move at a more dynamic activation level. Short sprint exercises are also very valuable for improving running technique (active foot strike, dynamic foot strike & ground contact, knee lift, etc.). On the bike, sprints and cadence intervals train the complex muscular interaction in the leg and thus the round step. When swimming, short maximum sprints (10-25m) help you to better coordinate arm and leg movements and to achieve a significantly higher level of muscular activation.

flexibility training

Now hand on heart: do you stretch regularly? After the training sessions, do you give your muscles the opportunity to reduce their tone and relax? Most athletes do this infrequently, rarely, not at all. "No time for this" is the most common excuse. BUT: muscular shortening and/or restricted joint mobility are performance-limiting factors - increased risk of cramps, restricted movement, higher risk of injury. So take your time - that's what the basic training is for.

Mobility is made up of joint mobility and the ability to stretch. A lack of stretching has severe limitations on many movements:

  • Shortened hip flexors (poor running technique)
  • Shortened back muscles (bad/painful sitting position)
  • Poor shoulder and ankle mobility (poor swimming technique)

It is therefore advisable to "follow up" longer and/or more intensive training sessions, to reduce the high muscle tone and to relax the glued fibers. Important for this: stretching positions should be held for at least 45 seconds, only then the activation is released and the muscle relaxes. This significantly increases the quality of training and also significantly promotes regeneration. In addition, the use of the Blackroll is recommended.


Basic training is varied, you prepare your body comprehensively for the following training loads. You build the foundation of your performance - not just for one season, but in the long term.

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