Triathlon training: Are you really 'lean enough?'
July 14th, 2011
02:45 PM ET

Triathlon training: Are you really 'lean enough?'

Since January, we've been tracking the training of Dr. Sanjay Gupta and six iReporters as they prep for the August 7 Nautica New York City Triathlon. Now we're adding expert advice from our friends at Triathlete.com

Swiss exercise scientists recently focused their attention on 42 recreational female runners who participated in a half marathon. They quizzed the runners on their training habits and also took various anthropometric measurements and then attempted to correlate this data with their race finish times.

The researchers found that body-fat percentage was among the best predictors of race finish times - an even better predictor than training volume.

This finding isn’t too surprising. We all know that being lean is critical to running performance.

We also know that fitness is critical to running performance, and as fitness goes up, body-fat percentage tends to come down.

Among recreational runners, there tend to be large differences in leanness, and it’s only to be expected that the leanest recreational runners will perform best in races.

Among elite-level runners it’s a different story. All elite runners are very lean, and the small differences in body-fat percentages have little correlation with differences in performance.

Within the special population of elite runners, it’s small differences in VO2max, maximum speed, and running economy that determine who wins and who loses.

Learn how to get lean for peak performance with Matt Fitzgerald’s "Racing Weight" video series on CompetitorTV.com

Except that nothing I said in the previous paragraph is true.

Believe it or not, differences in body-fat percentage predict races times as well in elite runners as they do among recreational female runners. This was shown in a 2009 study involving 24 elite runners in Ethiopia.

Skinfold measurements were used to estimate body fat percentage in 12 male and 12 female athletes. These estimates were then compared to the runners’ individual race performances.

The researchers found an 80% correlation between skinfold measurements and race times in the men and a 78% correspondence in the women. All of these runners were very lean and very light, but the leanest among them were the fastest.

At every level of the sport, leanness is as important as aerobic capacity, speed, and running economy. And even at the elite level, it seems, some runners could get faster by getting leaner.

A good case in point is Chris Solinsky, who made a quantum leap in performance last year when he broke the American record for 10,000m (26:59.60) and lowered his 5000m PR from 13:18.41 to 12:55.53.

That leap coincided with a visible leaning out that was widely commented on at the time. While it’s impossible to separate the direct effect of Solinsky’s fat loss from those of the training that contributed to the fat loss on his performance, I think it’s reasonable to speculate that the fat loss did have a direct effect.

Many high-level runners who look very lean assume they are “lean enough,” but there is cause to believe that some of these runners could perform better by getting even leaner.

What is certain is that leanness is critical enough to performance that every serious runner should monitor his body-fat percentage as closely as he monitors his training.

Naturally, there are right and wrong ways to get leaner. Eating too little is definitely the wrong way.

Not only will it fail to make you leaner by causing you to lose muscle along with (or even to some degree instead of) fat, but it will also sabotage your training by leaving your muscles under-fueled for maximum performance.

The right ways to get leaner are to sensibly increase training volume, add more high-intensity running to your training, lift weights and clean up your diet.

The last of these measures probably has the greatest potential to yield results in most cases. A lot of runners think they’re “lean enough” when they actually aren’t because they assume their diet is “good enough” when it’s actually not.

If you look closely at your diet, you will probably find some flab that is very likely keeping a little extra flab on your body. Even small improvements could yield a small reduction in your measured body fat percentage, which may in turn result in your own Solinsky-style breakthrough.

soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. 샌즈카지노쿠폰

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through issues with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    February 21, 2021 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 메리트카지노


    February 23, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. https://www.sfweekly.com/uncategorized/best-cbd-oil-near-me-buy-cbd-oil-online/

    You have actually covered this subject professionally.


    February 23, 2021 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 메리트카지노쿠폰

    I blog quite often and I really appreciate your content. The article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    February 24, 2021 at 01:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 메리트카지노쿠폰


    February 24, 2021 at 08:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Garth Gasch

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I'm hoping to provide one thing back and aid others such as you helped me.


    February 24, 2021 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. boiler grade steel pipe Distributors

    Hi-ya, well put together site you've going here.


    February 25, 2021 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. does the water freedom system really work

    you've gotten an excellent weblog right here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?


    February 25, 2021 at 07:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. boiler grade steel pipe price

    You're an extremely valuable internet site; couldn't make it without ya!


    February 26, 2021 at 02:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Visit Website

    naturally like your web-site however you have to check the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to inform the reality however I’ll surely come back again.


    February 26, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. vreyro linomit

    Hi, Neat post. There's a problem with your site in internet explorer, would test this?K IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a large portion of other folks will miss your magnificent writing because of this problem.


    February 26, 2021 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 007카지노


    February 26, 2021 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. CBD for Pets

    Specifically the kind of content that enriches the web. Many thanks!


    February 27, 2021 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 007카지노

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the most useful websites on the net. I most certainly will highly recommend this blog!


    February 27, 2021 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 더킹카지노

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Cheers!


    February 27, 2021 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. 더킹카지노


    February 28, 2021 at 05:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Kalyn Seegars

    I appreciate, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You've ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye


    February 28, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. accident pain clinics of miami gardens miami, fl

    I will right away grab your rss as I can't find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.


    March 2, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Health Insurance Leads

    whoah this blog is great i like reading your posts. Keep up the great work! You realize, lots of persons are searching round for this info, you could help them greatly.


    March 2, 2021 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Safe Mutual Fund

    I liked as much as you'll obtain performed right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nevertheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you would like be handing over the following. sick indisputably come further before again since precisely the similar just about very ceaselessly within case you shield this hike.


    March 2, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 바카라사이트주소

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    March 3, 2021 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Breaking News

    Hey very cool blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I'll bookmark your web site and take the feeds also…I'm happy to find a lot of useful info here in the post, we need develop more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .


    March 3, 2021 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 바라카사이트


    March 3, 2021 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Kent Fontan

    Encontre as Melhores Ofertas e Cupons no Os10Melhor. Reunimos promoções de Smartphones, TVs, Moda e muito mais. O menor preço nas melhores lojas.


    March 4, 2021 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Jerrie Elm

    Encontre as Melhores Ofertas e Cupons no Os10Melhores. Reunimos promoções de Smartphones, TVs, Moda e muito mais. O menor preço nas melhores lojas.


    March 4, 2021 at 08:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 바카라사이트


    March 4, 2021 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 바카라사이트

    Hello! I could have sworn Iíve been to this website before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím certainly pleased I found it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!


    March 4, 2021 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Luke Auyeung

    Confira nossa seleção de cupons de desconto das principais lojas da internet. Para que encontre apenas códigos válidos, nossa equipe verifica cada cupom.


    March 5, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. microsoft office home and business 2019 price

    Oh my goodness! a tremendous article dude. Thank you Nonetheless I am experiencing problem with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting identical rss problem? Anyone who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx


    March 5, 2021 at 08:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 먹튀검증


    March 5, 2021 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Link

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this web site wants rather more consideration. I’ll most likely be once more to read rather more, thanks for that info.


    March 5, 2021 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. grill parts

    Hi are using WordPress for your blog platform? I'm new to the
    blog world but I'm trying to get started and create my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

    March 6, 2021 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. 먹튀검증


    March 6, 2021 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. windows 10 home product key price

    Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed! Extremely helpful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.


    March 6, 2021 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. windows key purchase

    You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.


    March 7, 2021 at 07:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. windows 10 pro upgrade price

    I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Superb work!


    March 8, 2021 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dr. Driving 2 Hack Online

    Today our team is proud to declare that we've finally developed the perfect game hack that will certainly help you to obtain infinite resources completely free. We are certain that our game hack is the best option for you.!


    March 8, 2021 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. 사설토토사이트

    I love it when folks come together and share opinions. Great blog, continue the good work!


    March 8, 2021 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Fast Approval Home Loan in Pune

    I appreciate, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You've ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye


    March 9, 2021 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. shredder grates

    There is a huge distinction in between stainless-steel and chrome


    March 9, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. bit heroes hack tool

    Our game hack online is used to acquire free endless resources in a quick and easy way by following a several easy-to-follow steps. The procedure for acquiring free unlimited resources is really pretty straightforward if you follow our basic steps of using our game hack tool.


    March 10, 2021 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Domain Authority

    I am so happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that's at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.


    March 10, 2021 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. API 5CT Casing pipe Distributors

    Steel Tubular Products high quality domestically created basic & line steel pipeline products for the energy, pipeline, building, and petrochemical sectors.


    March 11, 2021 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. tried powder and liquid BKF on my kitchen stainless steel sink.

    Hello there, You have done a great job. I'll certainly digg it and personally recommend
    to my friends. I am sure they'll be benefited from this site.

    March 12, 2021 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. welding wires in spanish

    Grainger has a range of MIG as well as flux core welding cable alternatives. Our 24/7 customer support can assist you locate the right welding cable for your job.


    March 13, 2021 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. laweekly.com

    Your way of addressin this topic is both fantastic and inspiring.


    March 13, 2021 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 안전놀이터

    Everything is very open with a precise description of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is useful. Thank you for sharing!


    March 13, 2021 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. 안전놀이터

    This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    March 13, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Bad Piggies Hack 2021

    Our game hack tool is designed to get free unlimited resources in a simple and convenient way by following a couple of simple steps. The process for obtaining free infinite resources is actually pretty straightforward if you follow our primary steps of utilizing our game hack tool.


    March 13, 2021 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. 먹튀검증커뮤니티

    I wanted to thank you for this very good read!! I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have you book marked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    March 14, 2021 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.