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What’s anaerobic training?

We explain how anaerobic training differs to aerobic training, and why it's beneficial to include some in your workouts

Credit: Corey Jenkins / Getty Images

Anaerobic training is short, high-intensity activity, where your body’s demand for oxygen supply exceeds the oxygen supply available. When it can’t get the oxygen it needs your body turns to energy sources stored in the muscles (anaerobic metabolism).

Anaerobic training uses fast (Type 2) twitch, which fatigue quickly, provide short bursts of speed and use anaerobic metabolism for fuel.

What’s the difference between slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibres?

How can you tell if you have fast, or slow, twitch muscle fibres?

All triathlons, right down to sprints, are almost entirely aerobic in nature, however that doesn’t mean you should ignore anaerobic training as a small amount will help boost muscular power. Former international runner and coach Shaun Dixon explains how running anaerobically is worth including in your training.

“If you do very fast work, you’re moving more ballistically and it contracts your muscles and makes them much more explosive, which improves strength and power. Another benefit is that it improves technique. When you’re running faster you’re using more muscle groups that become part of your arsenal, and the brain will improve its communication with those muscles.”

Why run speed work is important for endurance athletes

How to gauge if you’re running aerobically or anaerobically

What muscles do you use when running?

In humans, anaerobic power is only available as short bursts of energy for no more than around 2mins.

For triathletes this might mean a final sprint, a push on the bike, or a last effort in the swim. With the correct training anaerobic power capacity can be increased to improve athletic performance.

What is overspeed run training?

How to improve your aerobic capacity

How does endurance sports affect your lungs and respiratory system?

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The 220 Triathlon team is made up of vastly experienced athletes, sports journalists, kit reviewers and coaches. In short, what we don't know about multisport frankly isn't worth knowing! Saying that, we love expanding our sporting knowledge and increasing our expertise in this phenomenal sport.