Long course triathlon is a sport in which significant physical improvements occur over looooong periods of time. It takes years of consistent training for an athlete to reach his or her endurance potential. However, there are a few ways I know of to really improve some components of your triathlon fitness very quicky.

1) Lose weight and gain energy: Simple. After dinner, don't watch TV and don't snack. Just engage in some relaxing activity (reading, shower, light stretching, etc.), wind down, and go to bed. You'll save yourself from mindless snacking, and you'll get to bed earlier. More sleep and less food means you'll have less weight and more energy.

2) Increase your flexibility: You can increase your hamstring flexibility in as little as one minute. Try this: Bend down and try to touch your toes. Make a mental note of how far you made it. Then, take a tennis ball, and roll in under one foot at a time for 30 seconds each, as shown below. Apply as much pressure on the ball as you can handle (it will be painful!):
Now, try to touch your toes again. I guarentee you'll get much closer the second time. The reason? Tight plantar fascia. It's amazing how your entire kinetic chain is effected by one tight muscle - in this case, the whole posterior chain tightens up because of tight plantar fascia.

3) Gain 20 lbs. Of Muscle: Granted, this one will take some time. However, follow this advice and it will take you significantly less time than if you try to do this on your own. When lifting, do twice as many exercises for your 'back' muscles as you do for your 'front' muscles. That is, do twice as many (squats, deadlifts, heavy rows, good mornings, calf raises, step-ups, back extensions, etc.) as you do (bench press, bicep curls, quad extensions, crunches, etc.).

Most athletes focus their efforts on the muscles they see in the mirror - the chest, abs, biceps, quads. Focus your efforts on your posterior chain, the hamstrings, calves, back extensors, lats. You can keep banging away at your "mirror muscles" in hopes of gaining strength, or you can accelerate your results by working your underdeveloped posterior chain. As a bonus, you will become a much more healthy, functional, injury-resistant athlete.

Conclusion: Because endurance improvements occur over a very long time, many athletes think that all fitness gains occur imperceptably slow. You see this from the people who train the same way, day after day, year after year, expecting their fitness to slowly improve yet never really seeing a change in their fitness or body composition. With a focused techniques, you can make very quick, noticeable changes.


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