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The Best Triathlon Training Apps

The Best Triathlon Training Apps

Did you know that participation in triathlons has tripled in the past ten years? This sport is growing leaps and bounds in popularity. Are YOU training for a triathlon this year? If so, check out our list of triathlon training apps that will help you go the distance when race time hits.

TrainingPeaksApp #1: TrainingPeaks

Whether your an amateur or a pro triathlete, TrainingPeaks is a must have app for logging runs, swims, and cycles. This app is compatible with a variety of fitness trackers and will help you assess your performance by analyzing things such as peak heart rate and pace. Get all the info you need to push yourself farther and faster.


FulGazApp #2: FulGaz

Are you starting to train for triathlons while the weather is still questionable outside? FulGaz is your source for bringing the experience of the outdoors inside to your indoor trainer. Be transported to iconic rides with HD videos and pair with many trainers to automatically adjust video speed and resistance to match your effort. Push yourself further and get ready to kill those hills.


StravaApp #3: Strava

This app is well known for a reason - it is simply one of the best for tracking your runs, walks, rides and more. In addition to the important metrics like heart rate, distance, route, and pace, you can also add notes and images to your workout. And because we're all motivated by competition, work to get yourself on the app's segment leaderboards. Now you can win even at your training.


App #4: Active

This app, simply put, helps you get active. It helps you not only discover, but register for events and activities. Find out what races are happening nearby, as well as activities to add to your training regimen. Get maps and driving directions, as well as motivation from fitness articles, tips and training guides.


App #5: Couch to Triathlon

Are you just starting out in the world of triathlons? Then Couch to Triathlon may be just what you need! This app has a big promise for you - it can take you from sitting on the couch to sprint tri ready in twelve weeks. This training app has two levels - one for complete beginners and one for more seasoned athletes. You'll have guided workouts that will help get you fit almost as well as a personal coach.


App #6: TrainerRoad

Are you looking to become a faster cyclist? This app promises it can help you get there. Take advantage of three phases of guided fitness to take you through the whole season. This app will guide you from early fitness to peak performance just before race day. You can even pair your indoor trainer should to the app should you be unable to hit the road outside. This is the perfect companion for both new and veteran athletes.

Do your genes determine your strength?

Do genes determine your muscle strength?

Do your genes determine your strength?

Is it taking you a long time to build muscle strength? It might be genetic. A new study has identified, for the first time, genetic variants linked to muscle strength.

You’re well aware of the best way to get stronger: log time at the gym and put in the work. Of course, it always seems to be easier for some people to get cut—a fact that can be incredibly frustrating when it isn’t you. But new research has found a possible reason behind that: Some people just have strength in their DNA.

That’s the takeaway from a new Nature Communications review, which identified for the first time common genetic factors that influence a person’s muscle strength. For the review, researchers used data on hand grip strength from more than 140,000 people from the UK Biobank study (a major source of health data) and added 50,000 more subjects from the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, and Australia. In their analysis, the scientists ID'ed 16 common genetic variants linked to muscle strength.

Most of the variants were located in or near genes related to muscle function, including ones that determine the structure and function of muscle fibers and how the body’s nervous system communicates with its muscle cells. Single mutations in those genes are known to cause muscular conditions and, scientists discovered, may also determine how strong people are. The researchers say they hope their findings could help prevent or treat muscle weakness in the future.

Of course, it’s important to point out that the review looked at hand grip strength and not, say, someone’s ability to bench their body weight. But good hand grip strength has been linked to a bunch of positive health outcomes like a lowered risk of mortality and heart disease, in addition to general strength.

So, next time you’re stuck flipping car tires while your gym partner is working his way through the tractor-sized version, don’t get frustrated—it may be a genetic advantage, and you’ll get there eventually.

This article originally appeared on Bicycling.com.

Sleep tracking: Helpful or Harmful?

Sleep tracking: Helpful or Harmful?

Sleep Tracking: Could it Be Making Your Sleep Worse?

Read this before you turn to your activity tracker for the secret to better shut-eye

Knowledge is power—and when it comes to sleep, many of us assume the more we know about our habits and patterns, the more power we’ll have to improve our ZZZs. But measuring the quality of your shut-eye isn't quite so simple. After all, the accuracy of data collected by sleep trackers isn't necessarily accurate—and even if it was, that doesn't mean it would help you optimize your sleep.

Earlier this year, a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine examined the real-world effects of using sleep trackers. In a series of case studies, the researchers found trackers were unlikely to help people achieve better sleep. In most cases, they actually seemed to make things worse. “It’s clear some people take it too far, and become a little obsessed with making their sleep perfect,” says Kelly Glaser Baron, PhD, first author of the study and an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at Rush Medical College in Chicago. In her study, Baron and her colleagues wrote about one man who felt that if he did not log eight hours of sleep each night on his tracking app, he would likely be wiped out and unable to function properly the following day. The man was averaging 7:45 hours of sleep each night, but the stress of trying to hit his eight-hour goal seemed to be doing more harm than good, Baron says. “He was lying in bed even when he wasn’t tired, and doing other things that really weren’t helpful,” she says.

Can You Trust a Tracker's Data?

While sleep trackers are getting better and more accurate all the time, Baron says several studies suggest many tracking apps and wearables make mistakes. “Most can’t tell the difference between light and deep sleep,” she says. “People come into the lab with data saying they’re not getting any deep sleep, and that’s not the case based on what we see in their EEG readings.” (An EEG, or electroencephalogram, is a test that measures electrical activity in your brain in order to shed light on behaviors like sleep and conditions like epilepsy, says the Mayo Clinic.) In fact, Baron says, many trackers “don’t come close” to accurately measuring sleep—often because they misinterpret small wrist movements as signs of light sleep or wakefulness. “Movement detection at the wrist can’t [determine] what’s going on with brain waves,” she adds.

Even If The Data Is Accurate, Is It Helpful?

To date, there is no evidence that using a sleep tracker improves a person’s sleep. A 2015 study in the journal Sleep found “a critical absence of supporting evidence for the advertised functions and benefits in the majority of the devices.” Especially for those who already struggle to fall asleep or who feel anxious about getting enough rest at night, a sleep tracker may exacerbate that anxiety, Baron says. In her study, she writes that trackers may “reinforce sleep-related anxiety or perfectionism for some patients.” Some may argue that healthy sleep patterns are more likely to develop when you're not focusing so much on it. Overanalyzing sleep could lead you to think about it more when you climb into bed, which in turn could lead to problems drifting off. “Overall, I think a large number of people need to sleep more, so I’m glad people are getting interested in improving sleep,” Baron says. But, she adds, it’s not clear what sort of person would benefit most from using a sleep tracker. “I think your average, stressed out, over-worked person who doesn’t pay enough attention to the amount of sleep they’re getting could benefit if a tracker helped them realize they needed more,” she adds. “But again, there’s no data on that.”

A Better, Cheaper Option

There’s no doubt that many Americans need more sleep. A recent National Safety Council report found that half of Americans are sleep deprived. But rather than carefully tracking our sleep habits, most of us need to focus on improving them. “I think setting a consistent bedtime, and giving yourself time to transition before bed without a screen is helpful,” Baron says. “Not watching that extra show so you can go to bed 15 or 30 minutes earlier is probably going to help.” Some of these sleep tracking apps offer ways to record your pre-bedtime habits—what you ate or drank, or watched or read, right before bed on nights when you slept poorly. That could help you recognize stuff you're doing that messes with your sleep. Baron also recommends talking to your spouse or partner about wanting to get more sleep, and turning the light off a little earlier. She adds, “I don’t think you need another piece of electronics to help you with sleep." The article Sleep Tracking: Could It Be Making Your Sleep Worse? originally appeared on Prevention and Bicycling.com

It's always bike trainer time

It's always bike trainer time

Have you always hesitated to get a bike trainer because you feel like its season of use is too short? It's true, bike trainers are excellent to have on hand for staying in shape during the severe heat or the cold. But bike trainers are incredibly useful during all seasons. Check out our list of the top five reasons bike trainers are useful year round!


Reason #1: Maximize training

We're all working with limited time to work out. Bike trainers help to maximize and prioritize that time. A bike trainer allows you to hop on the bike with little preparation, and allows a continual workout without having to stop for stop lights or traffic. A bike trainer allows you to pursue highly targeted and specific intervals that will up your training regimen. It's hard to be as precise with intervals when you're riding outside.


Reason #2: Effective warm-up & cool down tool at races

If you do any racing - from a race for fun to a highly competitive race - you're going to need to warm up and you're going to need to cool down. And there's no better tool for a precise pre-race warm-up, or a safe cool down than a bike trainer.


Reason #3: Smart trainers can simulate your race

This is one of the cool features of the latest technology. You can now upload a specific race course to your trainer and face exactly what you will on race day. This is one way to get a sure leg up on your competition.


Reason #4: You're not limited by the outdoor environment

Whether it's being limited by too high of temps, rain, or hours of sunlight, there are lots of limiting factors when it comes to outdoor cycling. A trainer allows you to get your ride in regardless of the conditions - or light - outdoors.


Reason #5: Avoid distracted and/or angry drivers

Does your family worry about you when you head out for a ride? One thing that can't be denied is that the safety of your rides takes a sharp increase when you hop on a bike trainer. You don't have to worry anymore about that texting teen or the guy who had one too many drinks.

Cyclocross training for the busy cyclist

Cyclocross training for the busy cyclist

Is there anything more fun come fall than joining the local cyclocross series? Are you hesitant to join in the fun because you just don't know how to fit cyclocross training into your busy schedule? We understand; the prospect can appear daunting when there's work, kids, and countless other commitments. However, you don't have to find THAT much time to train - you just have to train efficiently. Read our cyclocross training guide to learn how to get in competition shape in just 6 hours of training a week - whether you're just a beginner when it comes to cyclocross, or you've been racing for years.


Competition happens on the weekends, so allow Monday to be your rest and recovery day. For some, this will mean leaving the bike in the garage. For others, an easy 45-minute recovery ride will be just the ticket.


On Tuesday, beginners and intermediate riders should start out with a 20-minute run in the morning or during lunch. Throughout the season you should increase the time of this run - increasing in increments of 5 minutes is what we recommend. Later in the day, you may want to do some combined running and riding. For example, see if there's a cyclocross training route nearby that allows you to ride on road and run on a trail. However, if you're still feeling the weekend race, make sure to take it easy on Tuesday. Training while tired will only lead to over-training. Believe it or not, with something as intense as cyclocross, recovery can be more important than training.


On Wednesday, kick it up a notch. Do two rides at race pace with a rest period in between. We suggest 20-25 minutes with 10 to 20 minutes of rest in between. Consider doing pyramid intervals for this training session. This style of training starts out with 1 minute work / 1 minute rest, then builds to 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, and finally 5/5 before descending to 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1. However, make sure you don't train more than 3 hours, and no more than 1 hour at max intensity.


If you've got a race on Saturday, or both Saturday & Sunday, this should once again be a day of rest for you - with at most a 45 minute recovery ride. However, if you're only racing on Sunday you can consider repeating the training regimen from Tuesday. If you're a beginner or intermediate cyclocross racer, you may actually benefit from skipping the fitness workouts on Tuesday and Thursday and instead working on skills development like transitions, cornering, and sand riding. One day of intense fitness training a week is plenty for those starting out in the sport.


Racing on Saturday? Do a couple of high-cadence openers. Openers are two to three five minute efforts with rest in between. Work at high cadence to get your cardiovascular system working without overtiring your legs. The time for this training should be about an hour. If you're racing on Sunday, take today as a rest day.


Sunday racers will do their high cadence openers today. Racers should be on the course an hour before race time for a warm-up. Complete 2 laps of the course at 85% effort as a warm-up and bike check. Make sure to finish these laps fifteen minutes before the race starts, and consider downing an energy gel. If you're racing the next day as well, post-race consider going for a 20-40 minute spin.


If this is your second day racing, get things moving again with a 20 minute spin before heading out to the race, and then use the same warm-up as the previous day.

Remember - rest is key! Don't overdue it and you'll watch your fitness steadily improve throughout the cyclocross season.