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Objective: To analyze the influence of different swimming intensities on the subsequent cycling and running sectors and overall sprint triathlon performance. Methods: Seven sub23 and senior triathletes (height 1.74 ± 0.04 m, weight 70.82 ± 6.76 kg, age 23.42 ± 3.25 years, VO2 max 63.54 ± 5.23 ml • kg-1 • min-1) participated in this study. They carried out three complete triathlons at different swimming intensities (70%, 80% and 90% of a previous 750m test). Heart rate and lactate were measured at the end of each sector and after completing the whole triathlon. Results: The 90% swimming intensity obtained the best final performance. Lactate and heart rate in the swimming sector for this condition increased significantly, without differences in the following sectors. Conclusions: Based on the sample studied, the final performance in a sprint triathlon seems to be conditioned by the swim intensity, being 90% the best intensity observed in moderately trained triathletes.
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Barragán, R.; González-Ravé, J.M.; González-Mohíno, F.; Yustres, I. y Juárez Santos-García, D.
(201x) Efectos de la intensidad de nado en el rendimiento del triatlón / Effects of Swimming
Intensity on Triathlon Performance. Revista Internacional de Medicina y Ciencias de la Actividad
Física y el Deporte vol. (*) pp. *. Http://cdeporte.rediris.es/revista/___*
ORIGINAL
EFFECTS OF SWIMMING INTENSITY ON TRIATHLON
PERFORMANCE
EFECTOS DE LA INTENSIDAD DE NADO EN EL
RENDIMIENTO DEL TRIATLON
Barragán, R.1; González-Ravé, J.M.1; González-Mohíno, F.1,2; Yustres, I.1;
Juárez Santos-García, D.1
1 Laboratorio Entrenamiento Deportivo, Facultad Ciencias del Deporte, Universidad Castilla-La
Mancha, Toledo (Spain) rubenbarragancastellanos@hotmail.com,
josemaria.gonzalez@uclm.es, inmaculada.yustres@uclm.es, daniel.juarez@uclm.es.
2 Facultad de Lenguas y Educación, Universidad Nebrija, Madrid (Spain)
fgonzalezmohino@nebrija.es.
Spanish-English translator: Inmaculada Yustres, inmaculada.yustres@uclm.es
Código UNESCO/UNESCO code: 2411 Fisiología del Ejercicio / Exercise
Physiology.
Clasificación Consejo de Europa / Council of Europe Classification: 6.
Fisología del Ejercicio / Exercise Physiology.
Recibido 15 de enero de 2019 Received January 15, 2019
Aceptado 25 marzo de 2019 Accepted March 25, 2019
ABSTRACT
Objective: To analyze the influence of different swimming intensities on the
subsequent cycling and running sectors and overall sprint triathlon
performance. Methods: Seven sub23 and senior triathletes (height 1.74 ± 0.04
m, weight 70.82 ± 6.76 kg, age 23.42 ± 3.25 years, VO2 max 63.54 ± 5.23 ml •
kg-1 • min-1) participated in this study. They carried out three complete
triathlons at different swimming intensities (70%, 80% and 90% of a previous
750m test). Heart rate and lactate were measured at the end of each sector and
after completing the whole triathlon. Results: The 90% swimming intensity
obtained the best final performance. Lactate and heart rate in the swimming
sector for this condition increased significantly, without differences in the
following sectors. Conclusions: Based on the sample studied, the final
performance in a sprint triathlon seems to be conditioned by the swim intensity,
being 90% the best intensity observed in moderately trained triathletes.
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KEYWORDS: endurance, performance, training.
RESUMEN
Objetivo: Analizar la influencia de diferentes intensidades de nado en los
sectores de ciclismo y carrera a pie y en el rendimiento final del triatlón sprint.
Métodos: Siete triatletas sub23 y Absolutos (altura de 1,74 ± 0,04 m, peso de
70,82 ± 6,76 kg, edad de 23,42 ± 3,25 años, VO2 max de 63,54 ± 5,23 ml·kg-
1·min-1) participaron en este estudio. Realizaron tres triatlones completos a
intensidades de nado diferentes (70%, 80% y 90% de un test de 750m previo).
Se midió la frecuencia cardíaca y el lactato al finalizar cada sector y el triatlón
completo. Resultados: La intensidad de nado del 90% obtuvo el mejor
rendimiento final. El lactato y frecuencia cardíaca en el sector de nado para esta
condición incrementó significativamente, sin diferencias en los sectores
siguientes. Conclusiones: Basándonos en la muestra estudiada, el rendimiento
final en un triatlón sprint parece estar condicionado por la intensidad de nado,
siendo el 90% la mejor intensidad observada en triatletas moderadamente
entrenados.
PALABRAS CLAVE: resistencia, rendimiento, entrenamiento.
INTRODUCTION
Triathlon is a multidisciplinary sport that involves three successive disciplines:
swimming, cycling and running. At the same time, the triathlon has different
ways of competing, such as sprint, Olympic and long distance, which are
characterized by different competition distances. Related to the research of this
sport, the vast majority of performance studies in triathletes focus on the effects
of the use of neoprene (1,2,3), the use of drafting in swimming (4,5,6,7, 8,9),
drafting in cycling (16,17,18) and also in the effect of the cycling sector in the
subsequent running race (10,11,12,13).
In triathlon, the discipline of swimming is important because the final result will
be influenced by the performance of the triathletes in this sector. Landers et al.
(14) found that the winners of different triathlons finished the swimming sector in
the first group in 90% and 70% of the competitions in men and women,
respectively. Cejuela et al. (15) showed that the swimming discipline
corresponds to 16% of the total triathlon time. Also, the final order during the
swimming discipline (14) correlates with the final position of the triathlon (r =
0.49 and 0.39, women and men, respectively). Therefore, we can assume that
the swimming sector is very important for the final result of the triathlon, and,
ultimately, analyzing the optimal rhythm of this sector can influence the final
result.
However, Vleck et al. (16) found that low performance in this part, causes a
higher effort in the cycling sector and, ultimately, influences the running race. In
addition, Peeling and Landers (17) emphasize that the energy used and the
final position during the swimming sector is important in determining the final
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success of the entire triathlon. In this sense, the intensity at which the swim is
carried out has been little studied in the scientific literature. For example,
Peeling et al. (18) carried out a study in which the triathletes performed three
sprint triathlons under laboratory conditions at 80%, 90% and 100% intensities
of a swim test of the same sprint distance (750m). These authors found that the
80% swimming intensity reduced the frequency of swimming cycles, the blood
lactate and the total time of the triathlon was lower than the rest of the
intensities.
Considering therefore the importance of optimizing the intensity at which the
swimming sector is carried out for the final performance of a triathlon, the
objective of this study is to analyze the influence of different swimming
intensities (70%, 80% and 90% of the STT swim test) in the subsequent
performance in the cycling, running and total triathlon sector.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Subjects
Seven male triathletes of sub23 and Absolute, moderately trained categories
(height of 1.74 ± 0.04 m, weight of 70.82 ± 6.76 kg, age of 23.42 ± 3.25 years,
and VO2 max of 63, 54 ± 5.23 ml · kg-1 · min-1) participated in this study. Prior
to the study, the subjects were informed of the tests to be performed, of the
possible risks and had to sign an informed consent. The data were obtained
and treated at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), between the
months February-March 2018, anonymously, to protect the identity of each of
the subjects evaluated. This study was carried out according to the principles of
the Declaration of Helsinki.
Procedure
The research was carried out during five sessions involving an incremental test
of VO2 max, a test of 750m (STT) and three sprint distance triathlons (TRI)
separated by at least 72h of rest, and they were all carried out at the same time
of the day. The subjects were informed that they should not perform intense
exercise 24h before each test. All the swimming tests were carried out in an
indoor pool with six lanes, 25m in length and under the same temperature
conditions (27º). The incremental test of VO2 max and the cycling sector of
each triathlon were performed in the Laboratory under the same conditions
(550m altitude, 20-25º temperature and 35-40% relative humidity).
In the first session, an incremental test on a cycle ergometer (Lode Excalibur
Sport, Groningen, The Netherlands) to determine VO2 max was performed. The
test started with 5 minutes of heating at 75W and then the load was increased
with 50W increments every minute until exhaustion, following the protocol of
Craig et al. (19)
After 48 hours of recovery, in the second session, a 750m swim test (STT) was
performed in the indoor pool after 200m of warm-up. Afterwards, the subjects
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were required to swim 750m as fast as possible. The total time, peak heart rate
(Polar FT1, Polar Electro, Kempele, Finland), and blood lactate (Scout lactate
analyzer, SensLab GmbH, Leipzig, Germany) were measured.
In the following sessions, three TRI were performed at different swimming
intensities. A standard 200m warm-up was completed before the start of each
swim section of each triathlon (750m at 70%, 80% and 90% of the STT test
speed), in a random order. In order to properly control of the swimming rhythm,
an aquatic metronome (Finis Tempo Trainer) was placed inside the swimming
cap near the swimmer's ear.
After swimming, the subjects moved to the laboratory to perform the cycling
sector (located 50m from the pool). The subjects pedaled on the cycle
ergometer (SNT Medical CardiGroup, Bikemarc Sport Technology, Barcelona,
Spain) a distance of 20km in the best possible time. The cadence and average
power were measured. At the end of the cycling sector, the subjects ran outside
the Laboratory a distance of 5km in the shortest possible time. The peak heart
rate, blood lactate and time were measured after each sector, and at the end of
the complete triathlon.
Statistical analysis
The results are expressed as mean and standard deviation. The Shapiro-Wilk
test was used to check the homogeneity of each variable (p> 0.05). An analysis
of repeated measures (ANOVA) was initially performed to identify the
differences in the study variables. The effect size (ES) was calculated to
evaluate the magnitude of the changes, which was interpreted as small (<0.3),
moderate (≥0.3 and <0.5) and large (≥0.5). The analysis was performed using
SPSS (version 21.0, IBM Corp, New York, NY, USA) for Windows. Statistical
significance was established at p <0.05.
RESULTS
The results are expressed as mean ± SD and are shown in Table 1. In turn, the
contribution percentage of each of the sectors is shown with respect to the total
time in Figure 1.
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Total time of the triathlons
The average time of the triathlons at 70%, 80% and 90% of the STT was
4364.14 ± 253.52, 4290.57 ± 241.92 and 4179.85 ± 226.17 seconds. The time
spent in performing the triathlon in the 90% STT swim condition was lower
compared to 70% and 80% STT (p <0.05).
Swimming sector
The total time of this sector for the three triathlons was 953.14 ± 170.46, 849.28
± 124.29 and 744.28 ± 117.57, in the conditions of 70%, 80% and 90% STT,
respectively. The blood lactate after carrying out this sector was 2.21 ± 0.59,
3.22 ± 0.72 and 5.44 ± 1.97, under conditions of 70%, 80% and 90% STT,
respectively, being superior in 90% STT (p <0.001) compared to 70% and 80%
STT. With regard to heart rate, this was significantly higher (p <0.05) in the 90%
STT condition (144.85 ± 13.32, 120.14 ± 16.64 and 132.28 ± 25.95 beats per
minute) compared to 70% and 80% STT, respectively.
Cycling sector
The total time of this sector for the three triathlons was 2227.71 ± 132.69,
2246.71 ± 136.70 and 2192.57 ± 149.55 seconds, in the conditions of 70%,
80% and 90% STT , respectively, without showing differences between groups.
The blood lactate remained without significant differences between conditions
(5.88 ± 3.95, 5.12 ± 2.57 and 4.85 ± 3.07, mmol l-1 respectively). In relation to
heart rate, it remained unchanged in the three conditions (155.71 ± 23.31,
161.42 ± 21.61 and 152.57 ± 19.87 beats per minute, 70%, 80% and 90% STT,
respectively). Regarding the parameters of power and cadence in this sector,
they remained without differences between conditions.
Table 1. Results of the variables analyzed according to the swimming intensity
Variables
70% (mean ± SD) 80% (mean ± SD) 90% (mean ± SD) Sig. ES
Triathlon total time (seconds) 4364.14 ± 253.52 4290.57 ± 241.92 4179.85 ± 226.17 0.045* 0.403
Swimming time (seconds) 953.14 ± 170.46 849.28 ± 124.29 744.28 ± 117.57 0.0001** 0.896
Cycling time (seconds) 2227.71 ± 132.69 2246.71 ± 136.70 2192.57 ± 149.55 0.56 0.092
Running time (seconds) 1185.14 ± 66.56 1194.85 ± 87.84 1225.42 ± 65.39 0.115 0.303
Swimming lactate (mmol l-1)2.21 ± 0.59 3.22 ± 0.72 5.44 ± 1.97 0.0001** 0.742
Cycling lactate (mmol l-1)5.88 ± 3.95 5.12 ± 2.57 4.85 ± 3.07 0.725 0.052
Running lactate (mmol l-1)8.04 ± 4.21 7.38 ± 2.57 6.12 ± 2.40 0.07 0.357
Swimming heart rate (beats/min) 144.85 ± 13.32 120.14 ± 16.64 132.28 ± 25.95 0.046* 0.401
Cycling heart rate (beats/min) 155.71 ± 23.31 161.42 ± 21.61 152.57 ± 19.87 0.222 0.222
Running heart rate (beats/min) 165.28 ± 13.05 154.71 ± 17.65 160.14 ± 17.47 0.287 0.18
Power (watts) 171.71 ± 24.87 165.28 ± 23.69 171.71 ± 28.65 0.784 0.04
Cadence (rpm) 98.71 ± 8.77 99.57 ± 2.93 99.43 ± 3.60 0.947 0.009
* Significant differences for p< 0.05; ** Significant differences for p< 0.01; ES, effect size (d Cohen)
% Swimming intensity discipline
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Running sector
The total time of this sector was 1185.14 ± 66.56, 1194.85 ± 87.84 and 1225.42
± 65.39 seconds, under the conditions of 70%, 80% and 90% STT, respectively,
without showing differences between groups. With regard to blood lactate (8.04
± 4.21, 7.38 ± 2.57 and 6.12 ± 2.40 mmol l-1, under the conditions of 70%, 80%
and 90% STT, respectively) no significant differences were found (p = 0.07), but
a small effect size (ES = 0.35) was found. Finally, the heart rate remained
unchanged in the three experimental conditions (165.28 ± 13.05, 154.71 ±
17.65 and 160.14 ± 17.47 beats per minute, under the conditions of 70%, 80 %
and 90% STT, respectively).
DISCUSSION
The objective of this study was to analyze the influence of different swimming
intensities on the subsequent performance of cycling, running and the total time
of a sprint triathlon, as well as its effect on heart rate and blood lactate. The
most outstanding result was that the 90% STT swim intensity was the best
result obtained in the total time to complete the triathlon. Our result differs from
the results found by Peeling et al. (18), whose authors found that the intensity of
80% STT was the one that obtained the best final performance. These
discrepancies may be due to the level of the sample (highly trained vs
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moderately trained as in our study). Unlike other studies, this study analyzes
lower intensities that have not been previously shown by Peeling et al. (19) and
Vleck et al. (16), as is the intensity of 70% of a swim distance test in a sprint
triathlon (750m).
On the other hand, according to the conclusions of Peeling et al. (19), a low
swimming intensity would influence a better subsequent performance in the
cycling and running sector, although in our study the same thing did not
happen. We did not find significant differences between conditions in the total
times of the cycling and running sectors. In turn, the conclusions of Peeling et
al. (17, 18) differ from those found by Vleck et al. (16). According to this author,
it seems that a lower performance in swimming, can result in a great physical
effort at the beginning of the cycling sector, and could influence the subsequent
running sector. In spite of this, in our study we did not find significant differences
in time and blood lactate in the race, although the moderate effect size (ES =
0.303 and 0.357, respectively) in these variables indicates a tendency that, at
higher intensity of swim, the triathlete is not able to deploy his best performance
in that sector. Perhaps with a greater number of subjects, this tendency would
have been significant. Our results showed a direct relationship between the time
in the running race sector and the resulting blood lactate, since the subjects
when swimming at a lower intensity (70% TRI), were able to run the sector
faster on foot, and, therefore, blood lactate was higher, although not significant
(ES = 0.357), showing this tendency.
In relation to the results during the swimming sector, significant differences
were found in blood lactate and heart rate. The 90% TRI condition reached a
higher value in blood lactate and heart rate. Previous studies have shown a
high correlation between blood lactate and heart rate, showing that, at a higher
intensity, lactate and heart rate increase in the same proportion (20,21).
Our results show that the final time in the triathlon is improved when the
swimming sector is faster (90% TRI), conversely to the results found by Kreider
et al. (22) and Peeling et al. (18), who showed that a low relative intensity in the
swimming sector could imply an increase in the performance of the cycling and
running sectors. Other authors have shown how not only the intensity of the
swim influences the final performance of the triathlon, but also the swim
strategy used, with the positive strategy being the one that best performs at the
end (23). However, in our study we did not find significant differences between
swimming intensity conditions in the cycling and running sectors, although the
average time of the 90% TRI condition in the running sector was slightly higher
compared to 70% and 80% TRI, but without being significant (p = 0.115). The
moderate effect size (ES = 0.303) may show a tendency that a higher intensity
in the swimming sector could reduce the performance in the race sector. Taking
this into account, the time gained in the swimming sector when performed at a
higher intensity (90% STT), is sufficient to obtain a better total triathlon time,
despite the loss of time in the running race sector for moderately trained
triathletes. In this way, in trained triathletes, the optimal swimming intensity
would be between 80-90%, according to our results and those previously shown
by Peeling et al. (18)
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CONCLUSIONS
The present study concludes that the swimming intensity is determinant for the
final performance of a sprint distance triathlon in the studied sample. However,
additional studies with a larger sample and in triathletes of a higher
performance level are recommended.
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