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Cross Train Triathlon

Strengthen your hips to combat injuries and boost performance

By increasing glute and hip strength, the stability of the pelvis improves boosts propulsion and power. Image from
By increasing glute and hip strength, the stability of the pelvis improves boosts propulsion and power. Image from

When you increase glute and hip strength, the stability of the pelvis improves, which is the main mover when it comes to propulsion and power. If you’re looking to combat injuries and improve performance, increasing your hip strength will give you plenty of bang for your buck.

Here are five of professional triathlete Donna Phelan’s favourite strength exercises to keep you healthy and fast:

1. Hamstring Ball Curls: Lie on your back with your legs extended and your heels on top of a stability ball. With your hips held in the air, slowly roll the ball towards your body until your feet are flat on top of it. Roll back out and repeat 15-20 curls.

2. Single Leg Squats: With your arms held out in front of your body for balance, stand on one leg with the other leg extended out. Carefully squat down, making sure the knee of your standing leg doesn’t go over the toes of that foot. Stand back up and repeat on each side 15 to 20 times.

3. Sideways Band Walking: With a Thera-Band around your ankles, walk sideways, keeping your knees straight with each step. Take 20 steps to the right and 20 steps back to the left. Repeat 2-3 times.

4. Russian Twists: Lie on a stability ball holding a 5 to 10 pound medicine ball. With your arms outstretched toward the ceiling, alternate rotating your upper body to the left and then the right. Repeat 30 times.

5. Single Leg Deadlift: Stand with your legs straight and a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand. With your right leg firmly planted, lean forward, lowering the dumbbells to the floor and raising your left leg straight out behind your body. Once you reach the floor, return to a standing position and repeat 15 times on each side.

Dr. Alice Holland, a physical therapist and director of Stride Strong Physical Therapy in Portland, says that when one area of the body is weak, another group of muscles picks up the slack, which can lead to injuries.

“Hip strength plays a huge role in supporting the running motion,” explains Holland.

“In running, the body and brain always choose to utilize muscles that are the strongest to determine a strategy for running.” For instance, if the glutes or hip extensors lack strength, you may unknowingly overuse your quads. This excessive use results in the knees taking more of a beating with every step.

“Increasing hip strength allows a runner or triathlete to attenuate the landing forces better by acting as a very powerful shock absorber,” says Holland.

“With the glutes taking the brunt of the force, this would lessen the impact forces on the ankle and the knee, both comparatively more delicate joints than the pelvis.”