Rolling hills, blue skies, and picturesque paths — is it any wonder that Los Angeles, CA athletes love taking their training outdoors?
If you’re a triathlete, you already know the importance of running, biking, and swimming to keep yourself competitive. Though it’s crucial to spend those sunny days outdoors training (and enjoying the view), it’s equally important to support your overall health — body and mind — with supplementary exercise. That’s where Pilates comes in. The principles of Pilates can help triathletes develop the flexibility, range of motion, circulation, and mindfulness they need to succeed. Let’s take a closer look.
The Triathlete Trend
“By all means, never fail to get all the sunshine and fresh air you can.” — Joseph Pilates
The Legacy Triathlon in Venice Beach, the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, the Pasadena Triathlon & Angel 5K — endurance events are popping up all over LA County. Los Angeles’ gorgeous year-round weather definitely contributes to the popularity of outdoor athletic events, but culture plays a role, too. After all, Los Angeles is regularly ranked as one of the healthiest cities in the U.S., and the city has the combination of swimming opportunities, biking trails, and running paths that every triathlete needs.
Triathlons aren’t the only extreme athletic event moving into town. With the popularity of triathlon events and tough obstacle course races like Rugged Maniac, Tough Mudder, and Spartan race on the rise, more and more Los Angeles, CA triathletes are seeking the best way to up their game, keep strong, and stay focused on training.
How Pilates for Triathletes Classes Support Athletic Endeavors
Triathlons and obstacle courses put pressure on all your bodily systems — your muscles, your joints, and your cardiovascular system. In addition, extreme athletic events require you to tap into your breath and develop your focus. Here’s how Pilates, created by Joseph Pilates as a comprehensive body-mind approach to fitness, can help you support your body and mind:
- Control. Joseph Pilates referred to his method as “Contrology,” and was dedicated to helping people develop controlled movements that target specific muscle groups.
- Core strength. Arguably one of the most important elements of a Pilates practice, all exercises are done with the concept of core strength and stability in mind.
- Breath. Engaging fully with the breath is of key importance in Pilates. Instructors generally advise students to coordinate breath with movement and engage with deep, full breaths throughout the practice.
- Balance. Pilates focuses on coordination and balance, supporting stability through balancing postures and strengthening postural muscles.
- Focus. The focus on alignment and breath all come together in a Pilates practice to help practitioners develop greater concentration and connection between the mind and the body.
Let’s look at how these principles can connect to a better, more efficient practice for triathletes:
Address Muscle Imbalances to Avoid Injuries
In many cases, overuse injuries in triathletes originate from muscle imbalances. When one muscle is significantly weaker than the others, surrounding muscles must compensate to achieve results, which leads to strain and injury. To avoid overuse injuries, it’s important to strengthen compensating muscles. For example, strengthening the core and hip muscles can help prevent patellofemoral pain (also known as runner’s knee).
Pilates supports strength holistically, with specialized equipment like the Pilates Reformer providing a comprehensive, full-body workout that doesn’t strain your joints. By working on the strength of surrounding muscles — instead of just focusing on major muscles like the hamstrings and glutes— you’ll keep address muscle imbalance and improve your overall efficiency as an athlete.
Increase Flexibility & Range of Motion
For triathletes, it’s important to balance strength training with flexibility. Stretching improves circulation throughout your body, helping flood your muscles with oxygen and flush out toxins. Without a focus on stretching, your joints won’t have the range of motion (ROM) needed to extend, contract, and move your limbs to the best of their ability. Superior range of motion is vital for every aspect of a triathlon:
- Swimming. For competitive swimmers, range of motion in the shoulders is pivotal for a smooth, controlled stroke — and better performance.
- Running. While you’re running, your joints and muscles work together to create a smooth and orchestrated gait. Emphasizing flexibility and range of motion in your ankles, for example, can help you improve your “kick,” which supports running form and efficiency.
- Bicycling. Mobility and range of motion in your hips can boost your efficiency and strength while staving off stiffness and increasing comfort.
Throughout your Pilates session, your instructor will work with you to emphasize flexibility and range of motion in your joints, balancing core exercises with lengthening and stretching sequences.
Improve Posture, Stability, and Balance with Core Strengthening
Obstacle races, biking, and running all require triathletes to maintain excellent stability and balance — both of which go hand in hand with posture. Take bicycling, for example. Good balance helps you stay upright on your bicycle, and is heavily dependent on strength and stability in your trunk and glutes. In running, a constant interplay of muscles keep your body upright and your posture perfect as your center of gravity shifts with each footfall. And in obstacle courses, a constant barrage of challenges require excellent balance and stability.
Pilates addresses all these elements — posture, stability, balance — through a focus on core strength. Throughout a Pilates session, you’ll probably hear your instructor talk about pulling the naval towards the spine. This simple adjustment helps realign your posture with each exercise, strengthen your abdominal and core muscles, and help you stay balanced and stable in standing poses and planks.
Foster Focus Through the Breath
“Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit” — Joseph Pilates
Triathlon training goes far beyond the physical: it’s an intense event that requires focus, dedication, and a clear mind-body connection. Without that connection, it’s nearly impossible to push yourself to the limits necessary to succeed. Going to the gym for a simple strength-training workout may be useful in some circumstances, but it doesn’t offer a way to make a deep connection between your physical body and your strength of will.
Pilates offers a simple but powerful way to connect your body and mind: the breath. Though breathing is in most cases an unconscious and involuntary act, a Pilates practice requires you to engage more deeply. For example, you might learn how to coordinate your breath with your movements throughout the practice, a skill which helps you keep you grounded and connected with each exercise. Working on deep diaphragmatic breaths throughout a Pilates session can help you:
- Release tension in your shoulder and postural muscles.
- Bring in extra oxygen to your body tissues.
- Support your cardiovascular tone.
- Help you relax, concentrate, focus, and connect.
Best Pilates for Triathletes in Los Angeles, California
For the majority of your training as a triathlete, you’ll want to be biking, swimming, and running your way to success. However, incorporating Pilates into your routine can have enormous benefits in your focus, strength, range of motion, and core stability.
If you’re ready to explore how Pilates for triathletes classes can strengthen your triathlon-training, the experts at Sheppard Method Pilates can help. Our experienced instructors can help you work with your breath, improve your focus, tone and stabilize your core, and address any muscular imbalances that may be holding you back. Ready to get started? Please get in touch with us today.