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.
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.”
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.