Physiological responses of triathletes to maximal swimming, cycling, and running

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1987 Feb;19(1):51-5.


The objectives of this study were to: (a) develop a physiological profile for a group of trained triathletes and (b) determine whether multiple modes of training result in general or specific adaptations. VO2max of 13 trained triathletes (mean = 29.5 yr) was measured during treadmill running (TR), cycle ergometry (CE), and tethered swimming (TS) over a 6-wk period encompassing a half-triathlon (1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run). Most subjects performed two tests in each mode. Since test-retest reliability coefficients for TR, CE, and TS VO2max were 0.97, 0.93, and 0.97, respectively, results were averaged: formula; see text The mean TR VO2max indicated that the subjects were well-trained, but not of elite caliber. Mean CE VO2max was 95.7% of the TR value, which is greater than the value typically found in non-cyclists (88 to 92%) but less than that of highly trained cyclists (98 to 105%). Mean TS VO2max was 86.6% of the TR value. As in cyclists, this percentage is greater than that of recreational swimmers (78 to 82%) but less than that of elite swimmers (93 to 95%). Running and cycling times in the triathlon were significantly (P less than 0.01) related to the corresponding VO2max values (r = -0.68 and r = -0.78, respectively), but swimming times were not (r = -0.50). It is concluded that these triathletes were well-trained in all events, but not to the same extent as athletes who train in only one sport. Running and cycling performance were associated with VO2max.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Respiration
  • Running*
  • Sports*
  • Swimming*