An Athletic Core Routine

During triathlon training season, I perform this killer core routine after a forty-five minute series of anaerobic threshold hill climbing on the bike. But you can do it anytime, and receive huge benefits with a strong cross-over effect to triathlon: coordinated strength between the arms, legs and torso for the run, amplified hip power for the bike, and abdominal/low back endurance for the swim.

To focus on form, just perform this routine once the very first time you do it. Eventually, work up to three times through.  The key to the routine is to maintain constant core tension by performing each repetition in a smooth and controlled manner. My favorite way to do this is a 3 count up, 3 count down for each rep. Do 10 reps of each exercise (per side for the single side exercises) before moving on to the next exercise with little to no rest.

  1. L-Pullups: perform a pull-up with the body shaped like an “L”, meaning a 90 degree bend at the hip, with the legs held straight out in front of the body. If you can’t do a pull-up, do 10 lat pulldowns followed by 10 hanging, straight leg raises (hang from a bar and raise the legs).
  2. One Leg Romanian Deadlifts: Hold a weight in one hand and stand tall on one leg. Now hinge forward, keeping the back completely straight and allowing a very slight bend in the knees. Your leg that is off the ground should extend behind the body in a “laid out” position. Looking forward and keeping the rib cage pushed out, return to the starting position.  That’s one rep.
  3. One Leg, One Arm Rows: Hinge forward at the waist again, but this time stabilize yourself with one hand on a bench or other supporting object. One leg should still be out behind you, with your body weight supported on the other leg.  Hold a weight in on arm and complete 10 rows, utilizing a “starting the lawnmower” motion.
  4. Split Squat – Hold a weight in each hand and get in a lunging position, with one leg out in front of the body and one leg back behind you. Place the foot of the leg behind you on a bench or other supporting object that is about 3-4 feet off the ground. Keep all your body weight over the front leg, and bend it to 90 degrees, then back to the starting position.
  5. One Arm Overhead Press – Stand tall, suck the bellybutton in towards the spine, and press a weight overhead 10 times, with one arm. Switch the weight to the other hand and repeat.
  6. Woodchopper – Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, holding a weight with both hands and outstretched arms in front of the body. Rotate the entire torso to the right while simultaneously squatting down and bringing the weight to the outside of your right shoe. Now stand and rotate the entire torso as far as possible to the left, swinging the weight to the outside of the left shoulder. Remember to keep the arms straight.

If you feel any pain in the low back during this routine, stop and make sure you’re keeping your back completely straight.  If your core is unconditioned, it is likely that low back fatigue will set in very quickly during this workout, so listen to your body! For complete triathlon coaching, visit

Until next time, train smart,

Ben Greenfield

For a FREE newsletter and weekly audio podcast from the author of this article, simply visit

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply