The triathlon season is now in full swing – and while cardio will no doubt have formed part of your winter training, it doesn’t mean you should neglect it now that summer is here.

If you have been unable to do as much training as you’d like during the winter, perhaps due to injury, you can still hone your racing performance over the coming weeks and months. With cardio improvements playing such as major part in maximising speed and endurance, GB triathlete Samantha Gardiner, explains how you can make the most of peak-season training.

Whether you’re planning to take part in your first sprint triathlon, or going long with an iron distance event, it pays to ramp up the cardio training at this time of year. A strong cardiovascular system means that your heart can pump more oxygen to the muscles, helping you to sustain the distance and push hard when it counts. Although all three triathlon disciplines offer a great cardio workout, there are times when work and family commitments, not to mention poor weather, make it difficult to fit in longer sessions.

This is where short but high intensity gym sessions can be hugely beneficial, especially if you are able to do fit them in before work or during your lunch-break. Instead of sticking to traditional machines like the treadmill, try something that is specifically designed to improve cardio fitness, such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or the Versaclimber, which offers a full body workout.

The fact that cardio exercise helps to shift excess body fat is another reason why top-performing cyclists dedicate so much time to it. A 30-minute Versaclimber session, for example, can burn as many as 800 calories, making it a highly-efficient means of tuning performance.

Low body weight is said to have contributed to Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome’s Tour de France wins, giving them an edge on those mountain stages. Striving for this level of weight loss is not advisable at an amateur level, even if you take part in competitions, but shed those winter pounds and you’ll be flying in no time. It is always worth speaking to your doctor and a qualified trainer or coach beforehand whenever you are attempting weight loss.

Cycling may be a low-impact sport compared to running, but that doesn’t mean you are immune from injury or muscle fatigue. Sitting in the same position for long periods of time, and working the same muscles, can take its toll on your quads, neck, back, hands and buttocks – but unlike pro racers, amateur cyclists do not have the luxury of on-demand sports massages.

Taking a break from cycling or running to concentrate on another form of exercise gives tired muscles the chance to recover, while adding a more variety to your regime. During the triathlon season, try incorporating this 60-minute Versaclimber session into your cardio training:

  • Warm up: Spend 10 minutes warming up, building a steady rhythm.
  • Main session: Alternate 15 seconds of power climbing, speed climbing and lower limb climbing as many times as possible, with an active recovery climb in between each one. During recovery, you should reduce the pace so you reach 60 per cent of your maximum heart rate.
  • Cool Down: Ease off the pace for the final five minutes of your session, bringing your heart rate down to its resting rate.


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