Physiological predictors of short-course triathlon performance

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The purpose of this study was to investigate if selected physiological variables were related to triathlon performance. Eighteen male and seven female triathletes competed in a short-course triathlon (1 -km swim, 30-km cycle, 9-km run) and underwent physiological testing within 14 d. VO2max and ventilatory threshold (VT) were measured on a cycle ergometer, treadmill, and tethered swim apparatus. Leg flexion and extension strength were measured on a Cybex II isokinetic dynamometer. Multiple linear regression did not improve the prediction of triathlon performance over that provided by simple correlations, Swim performance was related to relative swim VO2max in both males (r = −0.48) and females (r = −0.93) as well as the resistance pulled at swim VT (r = −0.81) and absolute leg flexion strength (r = −0.77) in females. No physiological variables were significantly related to cycling time in either gender. Running time was related to relative VO2max (r = −0.88) in females and velocity at run VT in both females (r = −0.88) and males (r = −0.73). Relative swim VO2max, (r = −0.98), velocity at run VT (r = −0.89), and absolute leg flexion strength (r = −0.80) were related to overall performance in female triathletes. The only significant predictor of overall triathlon time for males was velocity at run VT (r = −0.78). It therefore appears that in short-course triathletes physiological variables in swimming and running are important to overall performance. Differences in sample size, group variability, and level of performance between males and females may account for the reported differences in the physiological predictors of performance between genders.

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