Sprint workout benefits for triathlon

Hi, everyone

Can someone explain me what are the benefits of sprint workouts such as berryessa for triathletes?


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Hi, I think it’s generally accepted that training all systems is good for endurance athletes. And just because you spend 99%+ of a race using aerobic systems doesn’t mean you don’t use anaerobic system at all - we are not binary switches, we’re human. Maybe an overtaking move, the last bit of a tough climb or a sprint down the finisher carpet.

Anaerobic efforts can often be good for form too.


thanks a lot!

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It’s also a low impact low overhead way of doing strength training.

Respectfully it isn’t strength training at all. Low cadence spins can be useful but I wouldn’t confuse it with strength training.

Like Chad said above though, it’s good to train all systems. Having all of the systems sharpened helps your power production at all levels. Structured training gives you a plan for focusing on one at a time so that you can make gains over the long run


Chad/Joe, I get confused sometimes too :wink:


All forum members look alike to me too. :wink:

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:rofl: someone respectable


I know we’re talking about bike sprinting here, but you just need to look at the last few races where Lionel Sanders and Ben Hoffman both had sprint finishes. I’d like to think there was some crossover there…

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Well if you were up against the Brownlees on the Rio Olympic bike course doing those hills you’re definitely touching zone 4/5 before T2!

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No idea if this holds up under scrutiny, but I’ve heard something about increased muscle fibre recruitment as well.
Personally I don’t find they do much for me, but I also know other triathletes who think they’re great. Probably no harm in giving them a shot particularly early in the season.

Also trainer z2 is boring as hell, which I suspect may have some bearing on their inclusion in the TR plans. That’s not intended to disparage, either- a bit of focus and variety can go a long way in building consistency and volume, which Is your ultimate goal in a general sense, but more specifically a focus during base.


From the notes to Berryessa:

The goal is primarily to increase the amount of force riders can apply to the pedals. In the interim, a fair amount of aerobic Endurance riding is accumulated making aerobic efficiency a secondary aim.

By working at very high outputs for only brief periods of time, your muscles experience the type of work that encourages improvements in capacity, anaerobic capacity, in this case.

By effectively increasing your ability to drive the pedals, one half of the strength-endurance combination is satisfied paving the way for higher power during short efforts as well as a higher FTP due to greater muscular capabilities.

At 200% of FTP, these efforts are certainly anaerobic, but are short of an all-out sprint (typically 300-500% of FTP). This is more about force production, than about true sprinting.

Many tri courses have not just corners but full U turns in them, and you may well be accelerating at 125-150% out of them to get back up to speed. My last sprint tri had 6 u turns.


Sounds like strength training to me :person_shrugging:

This doesn’t sound like much of an argument because you only do like 2 or 3 of those and it’s way back in base phase, so by the time you race whatever adaptation you had is going to be gone.

Not sure who you’re referring to, but that isn’t what I’ve seen. Intensity goes up, volume goes down as you approach event.

LV HIM plans only seem to have them in the base phase. I think it was the same in MV Olympic. Maybe on MV or HV plans there’s more? But regardless, given that they’re in the LV plans, they can’t be there for the claimed adaptation if they’re so far away from the event.

This my understanding of the evidence to support doing 5-20 second sprints during an endurance session:

  • sprints under 20-seconds don’t generate much lactate, and therefore don’t interfere with the endurance work (aerobic development of muscles)
  • muscle fiber contraction requires two things: a nerve signal and an energy source
  • short sprints focus on neuromuscular development
  • neuromuscular improvements are believed to increase the number of muscle fibers that can be recruited, the efficiency of neural signals and muscle contractions, and maximal force production

As a triathlete you do care about efficiency and ability to recruit more muscle fibers.


I guess that explanation 100% applies to doing Strides during Base runs too. Which are pretty universal among running training programs.

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Yeah, my understanding is that it’s less about the practical applications of sprinting, and more about the downstream impacts on later, more race-specific workouts.

Granted I have not closely followed research in this vein given I usually can’t be bothered sprinting anyway. :turtle: