If you, like most of the world, watched the Tokyo Olympic Games this year, it’s likely you entertained a conversation with friends while watching the sporting action unfold onscreen. The subject of such conversation: which of the sports demands the most fitness? It’s hard not to look at the marathon and see it as the ultimate test of endurance, but then you have the 400m freestyle swimming event, feats in gymnastics that require explosive power and strength, or something like high-jump with its focus on range of motion, speed and power. For fitness influencer and bodybuilder Matt Morsia though, otherwise known to his fans as MattDoesFitness on YouTube, he wanted to see if the gains made in the gym were transferable (fitness wise) to a sprint triathlon.
Matt decided to attempt a sprint triathlon with no practice or training, something most would never recommend. Even Matt admitted before the challenge that he may have bitten off more than he could chew. “I’m actually terrified. This could end quite badly for me,” he said.
The challenge was simple: a 750m swim, followed by a 20km bike ride and then a 5km run to finish it all off. As anyone who has done a triathlon before can attest, on their own such distances might seem relatively easy, but when you piece them altogether in a competitive setting, things get far more challenging. For Matt though, it was the run he was most fearful of, admitting that he has the “cardio of a 90-year-old lawn bowls player.”
To fuel his sprint triathlon, Matt eats a bowl of Coco Pops and then joins mentor and hybrid athlete, Fergus Crawley. He takes on the swim challenge first and from there, things start heading south rather quickly. Matt admits that he can’t front crawl for longer than 30 seconds without struggling to breathe, but manages to complete the swim. Due to the choppy waters, he even goes further than the necessary 750m, adding about 238m extra. “At one point I was swimming, and I was pretty sure I was going backwards,” Matt says.
The cycle also poses its challenges for Matt as Crawley explains that they are cycling into a bad headwind, one he describes as the worst “experienced in my entire life.” Matt still makes it through the entire 20km cycle, but explains his quads are “absolutely wrecked” upon finishing. Still, he has to do the run next and already his body is starting to protest against any movement. His legs are failing, but with some encouragement from Crawley he manages to complete the 5km in just over 27 minutes. As he crosses the finish line, he just yells “QUADS” before collapsing.
It’s a commendable effort, and just shows that whilst you can have all the gains you want in the gym, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have the fitness or stamina to tackle cardio challenges like a sprint triathlon. But perhaps things are just beginning for Matt, as Crawley says he’ll be back to help him complete an Olympic and Ironman triathlon which are no joke. Honestly, we’d love to see it.