Strength Training Improves Exercise Economy in Triathletes During a Simulated Triathlon

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: The completion of concurrent strength and endurance training can improve exercise economy in cyclists and runners; however, the efficacy of strength training (ST) implementation to improve economy in long-distance (LD) triathletes has not yet been investigated. The purpose of this study was to investigate physiological outcomes in LD triathletes when ST was completed concurrently to endurance training. Methods: A total of 25 LD triathletes were randomly assigned to either 26 weeks of concurrent endurance and ST (n = 14) or endurance training only (n = 11). The ST program progressed from moderate (8–12 repetitions, ≤75% of 1-repetition maximum, weeks 0–12) to heavy loads (1–6 repetitions, ≥85% of 1-repetition maximum, weeks 14–26). Physiological and performance indicators (cycling and running economy, swim time, blood lactate, and heart rate) were measured during a simulated triathlon (1500-m swim, 60-min cycle, and 20-min run) at weeks 0, 14, and 26. Maximal strength and anthropometric measures (skinfolds and body mass) were also collected at these points. Results: The endurance strength group significantly improved maximal strength measures at weeks 14 and 26 (P < .05), cycling economy from weeks 0 to 14 (P < .05), and running economy from weeks 14 to 26 (P < .05) with no change in body mass (P > .05). The endurance-only group did not significantly improve any economy measures. Conclusions: The addition of progressive load ST to LD triathletes’ training programs can significantly improve running and cycling economy without an increase in body mass.

Luckin-Baldwin, Cripps, Merrells, and Hoyne are with the School of Health Sciences, and Bulsara, the Inst for Health Research, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, WA, Australia. Badenhorst is with the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, College of Health, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand. Landers is with the School of Human Sciences, Exercise and Sport Science, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia.

Luckin-Baldwin (kate.baldwin@nd.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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