Why Low Cadence for Triathlon?

Why Low Cadence for Triathlon?

Strength training – low cadence, big gear hill reps for Trisutto camp athletes in Cyprus.

Even after all these years, and all the results I’m still asked by athletes about bike cadence. How come I’m such a proponent for ‘non-biker’ trained athletes to use low cadence? Athletes sit at home and watch the cycling on TV and question why don’t I recommend such spinning.

Let me put it in perspective for you.

Many pro cyclists train from 750km to say 1200 km per week, and do so for 10+ years prior to you watching them on the TV. Many still don’t find the magical feel on the pedals that the top small percentage do. If riders who are pro and spend 6 days a week training a minimum of 4 to 5 hrs a day can’t find ‘a feel for the pedals’ then how can someone with no background, who can only put in a maximum of 200 km a week find it? Yes there will be exceptions. But how many do you think? I don’t train for the exception but instead make adjustments when they do come along every generation or so.

Many field and lab tests have been done to attempt to show spinning is more efficient to the newcomer than just pumping the big gear, or as we call it stomping. These tests results don’t get aired much because the end results nearly always bore out the different conclusion than what the cycling fraternity were looking for in the test. Confirmation could not be given. In fact, most if not all tests showed that subjects who were not trained produced more power and sustainable speed at cadences between 60 (yes you read right) between 60 and 70 cadence. Any higher and the efficiency was lost. I’ve read studies from USA, Australia , England , and even France, and all come with the same conclusion, that over 70 cadence the subjects watt to power endurance was significantly less than the under 70 cadence group. The same riders under the same conditions lost as much as 10% of their vital scores.

In all cases heart rate began to climb at the various cadence levels, and once the riding novices were asked to hold 100 cadence, not only did their performance diminish greatly, but also their heart rate rose to levels approaching 15% below max for the entire tests. Again, across all data, I saw this was universal, and I would hope to any reasonable person not a debatable point.

Low Cadence and Total Body Force riding

So keeping in line with the specific requirements of our sport, I considered that when training for Triathlon:

a) We have to train three disciplines, not one. So our hours are limited for bike training compared to cyclists.

b) Most if not all athletes that I come in contact with are not ex-professional bike riders with an already wound in innate feel of the pedals. Thus ‘spinning’ may be detrimental to them riding to the best of their ability.

c) The race is not over once we hop off the bike. So, riding with an elevated heart rate close to ones anaerobic threshold would not be advisable if one wanted to run at a reasonable pace after the bike.

Yes these were assumptions back then when I formed my opinions, and I would think based on sound principles. Over the years experience has taught me that this judgment was indeed one of my better ones as all riders in the age group classes I have helped have made rapid and sustainable gains on the bike.

I’’m about function over form. What works for the individual is what is right. Watching a 90kg or 198lb athlete spinning down the road at 100 cadence makes me depressed, as does watching a certified level coach teach a 50kg or 110lb   5′ 2″ female to swim like Michael Phelps, who is 6′ 6″ or 185cm and looks like an aircraft carrier. It makes me cry and want to have these coaches certified in another way.

If you are not exceptional or you don’t have an innate feel for the pedals, take my tip: if you want to run to the best of your ability off the bike, and get the most out of it when you are on it, then lower cadences will produce results for you.


Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton and his squad at training Camp in Cyprus in April, 2018 for insights into the Trisutto Coaching and Training methodologies.

Article Photo Credits: Mokapot Productions

Welcoming Coach Declan Doyle

Welcoming Coach Declan Doyle

As our Trisutto family continues to grow, I am very pleased to welcome coach Declan Doyle.

I have known Declan for more than 10 years, and during that time I have been able to observe his outstanding exploits as an athlete, while he continued his career in teaching. As a skilled educator, with athletic and coaching ability, I have asked Declan many times if he was interested in using his skills to help his fellow triathletes. This year Declan graduated from our Trisutto Coaching Certification course and showed to all in the Trisutto administration why I have pushed so hard, to see him join our team.

Coach Declan joins the Trisutto Coaching Team

An expert educator he knows Triathlon from the inside, and has attended training camps long before my Trisutto days. An Irish sense of humor brings to the table a unique set of skills that I believe will enhance every athlete he works with.

If you are considering a coach, getting in contact with Declan will be a far more practical investment in your Triathlon than any tech gadget on the market.

Declan, I wish you the very best in your choice of moving to the other side of the fence. I am truly confident you will make an excellent coach.


Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton and his squad at training Camp in Cyprus in April, 2018 for insights into the Trisutto Coaching and Training methodologies.

Bahrain Brilliance

Bahrain Brilliance

Daniela lays it on the line at Bahrain 70.3. Photo Credit: TrimaxMag

Now the dust has settled from last weekends race, we can make a clear analysis of both the race, and of the season.

Firstly, hats off to an absolute brilliant return to top level racing for The Captain Matty Trautman. Just a brilliant return from spinal injury, with two titanium rods in his back. Our saffa proved he could be the next man of steel. His best ever non wetsuit swim, a decent if not spectacular bike to be in T2 in 10th, before grinding out a run to find his rhythm and finish in 5th place. Just incredible.

Captain, on behalf of every member of the Trisutto family, I want to publicly say how proud we are of your race, and how pleased  that you are already near your very best.

Matty exits the water with the front pack. Photo Credit: TrimaxMag

Moving on to the race by the Angry Bird, Daniela Ryf.  This was the final race of her brilliant season.

The question of the Triple Crown and could she pull off the million dollar slam has been answered. While many saw this as a foregone conclusion coming into last weekends race, few considered the realities of what is involved. Without her injury in the early part of the year, Dani may have had the opportunity, however once the rehabilitation became too long, there were decisions to be made.

I was honest with her and said, ‘it’s either the triple crown, and we forget Kona and Ironman training, as we can win 70.3 Worlds, and take Bahrain. However if we go for 70.3 Worlds, then back up with Kona, I do not think we have done the earlier work to be able to go to the well 3 times’.

Well, I was wrong, as the bird did go to the well, and did herself proud. She toed the start line, and when the gun went off, so did the bird. For 85% of the race, she stood tall, flew very high, and gave it everything.

Chasing out of the water, and on the bike before forcing a gap and leading into T2, it took the quality athlete that is the previous years World Champion to overcome her. It was apparent this wasn’t the usual free flowing bird, discovering her limits as Kona caught up with her. However she didn’t go down without a fight, tucking in on the run, before the quality athlete that Holly Lawrence is claimed the win.

This was a real fight. I couldn’t be more proud of Dani, who produced one of her best ever performances. Without Holly there it would have been a very different race.

I’m also proud of her for a second reason. When given the choice of Kona or the money, she never hesitated. ‘I want to win the 70.3 Worlds, and do a 3 peat in Kona. We go after these two goals, as the history of the sport is on the line. I want to be a 3 time winner at Kona.’

So congratulations Daniela Ryf, it has been a wild ride.

What is next for the bird? If she is training with me, she will now have a very long rest. I will (once again) personally ask Ironman the same question most of the top pros and former winners of Kona have attempted to change. That the podium finishers should not have to pre-qualify for the next seasons event. It is no coincidence that the champions of the modern era have a shorter shelf life than those that came before them.

So while I try one more time to get some positive solutions to the sport burning out our very best, Bird will be on a very long holiday. This part of her career has now come to a close.

Daniela Ryf closes out a brilliant year. Photo Credit: TrimaxMag


Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton and his squad at training Camp in Cyprus in April, 2018 for insights into the Trisutto Coaching and Training methodologies.

Developing the tools for success

Developing the tools for success

Happy to be back racing – Matt Trautman back in action at the Half Iron Distance, winning the Race 2 Stanford. Photo Credit: Oakpics.com

Step-by-step, Matty Trautman continues to inspire as he took on his first Half Distance this weekend at home in South Africa, executing a very Professional performance. Hurry Slowly

Congratulations Nini on a great race at Laguna Phuket!

Nini Ruttanaporn was back in action racing at home also, at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon; making me very happy as she starts to realise some of the secrets for her continued improvement and success.

Race Recap from Coach Perry Agass:

Super strong on the bike; looking great Carmen!

This weekend saw Zee (Carmen Macheriotou) take on the brutal Olympus Man in Cyprus, it’s a Middle Distance race, but once out the swim the 90k bike is a brutal on going climb up to around 1850m then the half Marathon continues up to 2000m. Training has been going great for Zee, the progress is now starting to show bit by bit, and this race for me was all about showing she had some metal, finding out more about herself as an athlete and that she did. Zee crossed the line 1st Female but 2nd overall, just 30sec behind the overall male winner, an amazing result for this athlete who is continuing to show progress , well done

Race Recap from Coach Bella Bayliss:

Fourth place for Kate in Laguna Phuket. Photo credit: AsiaTri

Kate Bevilaqua came 4th at Laguna Phuket Triathlon a 1.8km swim, 50km bike, 12km run in the heat and humidity of Thailand. After Kate’s 2nd place at Ironman Taiwan last month she is finding her speed again before racing this weekend at Phuket 70.3.

Race Recap from Coach Susie Langley:

3rd place for Els at Hervey Bay. Photo Credit: What’s On Fraser Coast

Els Visser had her first taste of racing in Australia with a solid hitout at the Hervey Bay 100 in Queensland. Back to work now for Els as she prepares for her first season as a Professional athlete.

Race Recap from Coach Christian Nitschke:

Fantastic first ever podium for Martin!

Martin Kasten raced the Laguna Phuket Triathlon this Sunday. He knows the course since he already raced there last year. Martin already had a long season starting in Lissabon in May. I was excited to see how he will perform under hot and humid conditions after a preparation that went very well. Martin had a great race and achieved his first ever agegroup podium with a patient pacing! The crazy steep hills are waiting at the end of the ride and it once again showed that it is very wise to save some energy for those 18% ascents. He also had a very good run in the heat and finish just seconds behind 2nd place in the 40-45 AG.

Alexander Orlov ran another local run race last Sunday. His result is really remarkable because he finished the 11km run after 47:17min. This was an improvement of his 10k personal best from just 6 weeks ago in Kiew by almost 5min! Consistent training led to a massive improvement.

Marco Schönmann won the 50m freestyle in 28s during his Tri club championships on Saturday. This is a very fast time considering that Marco usually just swims twice a week!

Race Recap from Coach Carson Christen:

Finishing the run strongly on the sand…, well done Erick!

Erick Meier took place in the Paracas Half-distance race this past weekend in Peru. A good season ending race showed the hard work that Erick has put in the past few months in the squad, and showed off a great day, coming 2nd place in his age-group. A great effort all day allowed Erick to save some energy for the very hard half-marathon to finish which included many kilometers on the beach sand! Way to finish the season, Erick!

A fantastic day for Jasmin in Arizona 🙂

Jasmin Schulze flew to Arizona to compete in her first every Iron-distance race under the eye of family and friends! Jasmin came to the squad earlier this year and she has put in great training and had very solid races in Luxembourg and Zell am See. I knew she was going to produce a good race, we just had to set a good race plan, and then race that plan! And that is exactly what Jasmin did! On a course that can cause athletes to ride too hard, she did what she had to and made sure to take care of the two most important parts (Food/Hydration) on the bike, setting her up for a solid run. In the end, Jasmin finished just over 12 hours (12:02) in her first ever race. I am so excited to see where we can go from here! Congrats again, Jasmin, and enjoy your break!

Paul Broaderip took part in a team 12-hour MTB race in Arizona this past weekend, coming in 2nd overall! Great work to the team, Paul!

Race Recap from Coach Dan McIntosh:

6th place and a 15 min IM PR for Reece in Arizona.

Reece McGregor, in his first year with coach Dan McIntosh, has been spent the last 11 months developing new tools from the Trisutto philosophy. While owning several strong performances this season, his hard work culminated in back to back break out performances. Last weekend Reece took on strong competitions in hot and windy conditions at the USA Long Course National Championships. Used as a chance to build in last minute form before Ironman Arizona there was a minor taper and subsequently fought fatigue in the final kilometers of the run but came away as National Champion in the 35-39 AG. After the race, it was a quick trip to his home in Colorado then back on a plane to Tempe Arizona for his final race of the season. Ironman Arizona is a fast course but there is no such thing as an easy day in Ironman, therefore, the race plan was set aggressive enough to deliver a PR but conservative enough to allow for variability and adaptability.
Starting with a 55 min swim and strong ride, Reece was in prime position to run an Ironman PR, how much would depend on his will to fight, especially in the later stages where he had yet to be able to run strong off the bike, something coach Dan had prioritized 11 months earlier. While there were moments of darkness all athletes experience, Reece’s used his inner strength to push on and earned a 15 minute Ironman PR and 6th place in the competitive 35-39 AG. Overall this was an outstanding Trisutto rookie season for Reece but carrying on the momentum from the last two weeks, 2018 will be even more impressive.

Race Recap from Coach Michelle Barnes:

Craig crushing his Age Group yet again!

Awesome day for my athletes at Hervey Bay 100! First Craig started the weekend with the Barge to Beach Open Water Swim the Day before and came 2nd overall and only 25 min behind an Olympian. He finished the weekend off with an AG win the following day at Hervey Bay.  Craig is one of the most consistent trainers out there so deserves every inch of his success! Little break for Craig now then we start training for Ultraman Aus!!

PB’s all round for Amy in Hervey Bay! (right)

In the same race Amy Ellet had the race of her life with a PB swim, PB bike including another fastest AG bike split and a PB run to cross the line 2nd in her AG!!! So glad Amy’s talent is showing with some consistent training over in Australia- so proud of her!!!

Too fast for the camera.., go Nat!

Nat Kerr also raced Hervey Bay. After breaking her toe a few weeks ago from stubbing it on the treadmill, we weren’t sure how the race would go. We’ve been water running & running on the Elliptical to prepare. The plan was to swim & bike hard and if she had to run slow of pull out to not risk further damage. Well thanks to some tape Nat was able to jog her way to 2nd after a crushing swim & bike!!!

Race Recap from Coach Ed Rechnitzer:

Lisa Lipari scored a 7th place AG finish at 70.3 Los Cabos. After a PB swim she set out to hunt down the 6 ladies in front, managed to real in 4 of them and then with a swift transition popped out first from T2. The going was good for about 4k and then a previous injury reared its ugly head at the most inopportune time forcing a considerable slow down in pace. Nevertheless, feisty Lisa persevered in the blistering heat and still managed to earn her best standing yet at the 70.3 distance. Coach is pleased as we only started working together 7weeks prior and the potential is certainly there for further gains in 2018.

Same day Todd Hawkins raced IM Los Cabos. Todd’s training leading the race had gone exceptionally well, never been stronger. Our biggest concern would be the heat which has always been a struggle. Todd led his AG out of the water with sizzling 51:11 (6th overall) and then the heat indeed was quick to take its toll. According to his bike data temp averaged ~32C with a max of 38C, which in the end simply proved overwhelming. He nevertheless kept his head in the game, raced smart, persevered and still managed a 16th AG place finish.


Congratulations to all athletes competing this weekend.

Trisutto.com online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here...

Swim Challenged

Swim Challenged

After two successful training camps where our visiting coaches were impressed with the improvement in swim strokes and times of the athletes attending, I now sit on the plane reflecting on a pertinent point that was raised at the end of our camp debrief:

How was it that improvements observed in nearly every athletes swim were achieved not from swim specific drills, but directly upon jumping in the water after the swim lecture? One coach added ‘I got in the water after the talk and have to say I had the most enjoyable swim I’ve had in ages.

At the lecture we did not discuss swim technique at all. Instead I opened the minds of athletes, that the marketing and proliferation of ‘established best techniques’ can effect everyone, including the best athletes in the world;  even after they have achieved remarkable success.

With complexity stripped away, swimming gets easier, more enjoyable and faster. However maintaining this is a struggle. In society in general, and triathlon in particular, we operate in a community where ‘Keep it Simple’ principles are viewed condescendingly. I point this out, as many of our age group athletes having made swim breakthroughs will now return home and bit by bit, under the guise of friendly advice will start the process of complicating their strokes all over again. The temptation to return to ‘proper’ swim techniques can effect even the best athletes in the world, even after they have achieved unbelievable success.

At training camp we had Barb ‘Pepper’ Riveros, who already has had podiums at ITU World Cups, and a 5th place finish at the last Olympics in Rio. I believe to be on the podium at the next Olympics she needs to improve her bike and run. To do this she needs to change her swim stroke.

We invested a month to achieve the stroke I believe is right for her. Barb then went traveling and racing, with a vacation in Hawaii where she collected a 2nd place in the XTerra World Champs, before arriving back in camp.  The difference? A return back to the old techniques, old stroke, old drills. So I thought this was a great example to share of elite level coaching.

I’m not changing her stroke to make her a faster swimmer. I’m changing her stroke to make her a more superior triathlete.

My method of trying to get her to ‘buy in’ to the new technique is to sell her the results of Nicola Spirig. I have changed Nicola’s stroke many times over the years, from the most ‘technically correct’ six beat, high elbow, bi-lateral breather which was beautiful to watch; into the straight armed, no kick whirlwind seen at the last Olympics. That stroke allowed her between two Olympics to go from 1 minute 10 seconds behind the leaders in a wetsuit swim, to being in the front swim pack in Rio, in a non wetsuit swim.  This was the key to her Rio Olympic Silver medal.

However, here is the point I want to make. Even after her success, Nicola still pines for her old swim stroke!!  As we now make another change in swim technique for the Tokyo games, which will be her fifth Olympics, I still hear on a daily basis ‘I used to swim 50m and 100m so much faster. People used to complement me on my stroke, now they laugh at it.’

I will add that Daniela Ryf, now 3x Hawaii Ironman World Champion, was also given a new swim stroke when she joined. Yet she too, despite such success wants to keep changing back from her 2 beat to her 6 beat kick, as ‘I’m so much faster swimming with 6 beat‘;  It makes me sick to my stomach when she keeps adding swim drills, and other things into her swim workouts, which only serve to hinder her progress.

I try to breakdown these protests by making 3 points:

  1. Your bike and run has been the beneficiary of these changes. You are much faster triathletes.
  2. Your distance swimming has improved greatly, and at top speed you now develop way less lactate. And finally, when I can see that the above is not convincing enough, I remind them:
  3. At least your bank manager enjoys the new stroke!

Which usually breaks the deadlock.

Here is the point for challenged swimmers – ALL three of the above athletes, if they left and were coached by someone else, they would change back to their old swim techniques in a nano second.

So I understand completely how hard it can be for age group swimmers to hold the line, and to use a technique that is not trying to copy a Michael Phelps!

To my challenged swim friends, I can only say to you that you will improve and results over thirty years have proved it. But the real challenge is in ‘hold the line’ against the opinions and instinct to complicate,  as your Triathlon will be so much better for it.


Join Trisutto Head Coach Brett Sutton at his training camps in 2018. Spots still remain for Gran Canaria in February and Cyprus in April.

Article Photo Credits: Mokapot Productions