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Training in January: Flexibility (Part 4 of 4)

As you go through the early weeks of your training year the volume is going to be about at its lowest. However, since you are getting back in shape the impact on the body is often the most dramatic.

Fitness gains come very quickly. And with that recovery, soreness and tightness can be a lot even for seemingly low volumes of training. And that’s why flexibility work can also have the most dramatic impact right now!

Your muscles are adapting and rebuilding. There is a lot more micro damage to the tissue now per minute of training that will happen later in the season when the cells are fortified and fit. Tightness can happen much quicker from a training session than you’ll experience in the summer. It’s the ideal time to do a flexibility survey of your body and work on improving range of motion in the areas that are calling out most.

All areas in the hips and glutes are great places to focus on for cycling flexibility.

Flexibility work is important for all three sports. However it’s going to have it’s biggest impact in swimming and running.

Cycling uses a fairly limited range of motion when going through the pedal stroke. However, there is still room here to gain some free time by doing flexibility work. That means targeting all the cycling muscles. Those are glutes, quads, hips and the lower back.

For running each of these same areas are perfect points to gain more flexible in. Then also add in hamstring, calf, and psoas flexibility work to ensure a free, loose and efficient stride.

For swimming it’s all in the shoulders, and then some in the hip rotation.

In swimming, it’s shoulder, shoulders, and more shoulders! Then of course there’s some rotation at the hips, the ability to arch the back freely and ankle flexibility if that is an issue for you. If you find it completely exhausting to do the butterfly stroke where both arms are coming out of the water at the same time, you will gain huge amounts of free time in freestyle if you can get your shoulder rotation to become more flexible. This will take time, but it will pay off!

Okay, there’s your micro roadmap for the first weeks of the season: Fitness, Form, Functional Strength and Flexibility.

See you at the races.

Mark Allen

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