The Pro Triathlete Body

  • By Julia Polloreno
  • Published May 31, 2013
  • Updated Jun 30, 2015 at 12:05 PM UTC
Heather Jackson. Photo: Erik Isakson

You’ve marveled at their chiseled abs, on glorious display in finish-line photos. You’ve gawked at their taut physiques at races, often as they blow right by you. They are our pro contingent, and they are damn fit. But they weren’t born that way. It’s not just the countless hours of swimming, cycling and running that’s morphed them into their enviable form—they also hit the gym for some serious strength training. Here, some of the sport’s fittest bods reveal, in their own words, how they got that way.

Heather Jackson
Two-time Wildflower Champion

It’s really a balance for me—getting in the strength work but not trying to put on that extra muscle weight.

This past winter, the entire focus for me was the swim. I was doing double swim days, and, on top of that, plyos—walking lunges, box jumps, step-ups and a ton of abs just to help with the swim. Six to eight weeks out [from a goal race like the Ironman 70.3 world championship] we get back into two to three weeks of building back up with the weighlifting and plyo work: more squats, lunges, box jumps and core work.

In terms of core training, I do a lot of planks, sit-ups and work with medicine balls. I have about 10 exercises, and I’ll do around 50 repetitions each, three times through.

Before, I never thought about the importance of engaging stomach muscles while swimming. That’s why [coach] Cliff [English] brought core work in for me. It really helps with your rotation in the water. My legs sink, so I am constantly evaluating if I’m using my core to lift my legs up. Also on the run, you want to use your core to keep good body position and lift your legs.

It’s been a process, but this has been a part of my overall shift in body tone and shape. Last year I was doing a lot heavier lifting in the gym a couple times a week. I found that it would help on the bike but my legs felt heavier running. It’s really a balance for me—getting in the strength work but not trying to put on that extra muscle weight.

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FILED UNDER: Features / Injury Prevention / Training

Julia Polloreno

Julia Polloreno

Julia Polloreno is the editor at large of Triathlete magazine. A Stanford University graduate with an award-winning track record in publishing, Polloreno is a two-time Ironman finisher and has been a competitive triathlete for more than a decade.

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