Yes, You Can Be A Triathlete
Tackling a triathlon can be daunting, even for fitness buffs, but it’s not as hard as you think.
With our training plan for swimming, cycling and running a sprint-length race, you’ll earn bragging rights (not to mention a lean, hot body) in just 12 weeks.
Triathlons used to be the domain of elite athletes. Not anymore. The number of people stepping up to the starting line is on the increase; in fact, 30 percent of the triathletes in the Western Cape are women. “Triathlons are the fastest growing sport in Europe at the moment, and they’re taking off in a big way in South Africa too,” says Steve Attwell, triathlon coach at Embark and chairman of ATC Multisport.
It’s no mystery why: the swim-cycle-run combo combats workout boredom and practically guarantees weight loss. Plus, the popular sprint distance (700m swim, 20km cycle and five-kilometre run) eliminates intimidation. “The three sports within the discipline strengthen your body and allow you to work out regularly,” says Attwell. Just be forewarned: the feeling of accomplishment coupled with body-sculpting effects can be addictive!
Watch any triathlon and you’ll see lean legs, flat abs and sculpted arms whizzing by – all thanks to the one-two punch of endurance and resistance exercise. “Conditioning your body to plug away at three back-to-back disciplines builds muscle endurance,” says triathlon coach Lesley Mettler.
“The resistance comes from pushing yourself through water, which is thicker than air, and cycling up hills or into wind. Triathlon training is very balanced – it’s whole-body training.”
And it shows. When you focus exclusively on one sport, you often end up strong in some areas and soft in others. Triathletes get body benefits from all three sports and are lean and fit from head to toe. Plus, the constant cardio can result in serious weight loss.
But all that cardiovascular action is good for more than just dropping a few kilos: a recent study in Radiology found that triathletes have larger, healthier hearts and a 17 percent lower heart rate (fewer beats means your ticker is so strong it doesn’t have to work as hard) than other athletes.
Your joints, tendons and muscles will thank you too. “Overuse injuries like tendinitis and stress fractures often result from weakness elsewhere in the body,” explains sports medicine specialist Dr Jordan Metzl, an eight-time Ironman finisher. “Because of the amount of cross-training, triathletes build stronger muscles around all of their joints, which reduces their injury risk,” he says. “Think of it as building scaffolding around a building.”
A stronger body and better health starts with this step-by-stroke-by-pedal plan.
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