Zwift Academy Phenotypes

by Zwift
on November 05, 2021


You did it! The Baseline Ride, 6 workouts, 2 recovery rides, and the Finish Line Ride were no match for you. Hopefully, you feel the difference that consistency and a solid block of training can make in your fitness, but how do you interpret your results, and how can you use them to inform what’s next? Let’s get stuck in…

Why 3 Segments?

Because they correspond to the 3 main energy systems in the body:

With this data, you can better understand what’s “under the hood”, figure out where your strengths and limiters are, as well as provide better content recommendations.

If we can get nerdy for a moment, the energy currency of the body is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short. Each of the energy systems produce ATP at varying rates and also for varying durations of time. Each energy system will be more, or less dominant, depending upon the length, and intensity, of an effort. Let’s take a look at them more in-depth.

Phosphagen System
The Phosphagen System, or adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and phosphocreatine (PC) system, or ATP-PC system, is indicated by the red line in figure 1. This system is significant because it creates the highest amount of ATP, but for the least amount of time. It lasts for between 1 and 20 seconds.

Anaerobic System
The Anaerobic System, or Glycolytic System, is indicated by Orange Line in figure 1. This system features moderate ATP turnover and for medium duration efforts between 20 and 120 seconds.

Aerobic System
The Aerobic System, or Oxidative System, is indicated by the Green Line in figure 1. This system has the lowest rate of ATP turnover, but can also be maintained virtually indefinitely.

Remember, all of these energy systems work together to meet the energy demands of the body. So, don’t think they work in a sequential manner even though I listed specific durations.


Interpreting Your Results

Okay, hopefully, you’re still with me here - let’s get to the exciting stuff! The big thing you’ll notice in your post-graduation email is what phenotype you are. We are using 3 phenotype categories for this year which include:

Developing explosive power is not only needed for those wishing to be pure sprinters, but for anyone wanting to improve their general fitness. Sprint training adaptations increase neuromuscular power, which taps phosphocreatine, the most rapidly available energy source found within the body.

By enhancing your sprint, you will develop a higher peak power for short durations and reduce overall fatigue generated from small explosive accelerations that happen during a group ride or race.

The short segment of the Baseline and Finish Line events provided insight into your phosphocreatine energy system as you pushed it on the sprint sections! If you are strongest here, relative to the other segments, you fit the Sprinter phenotype.

Most of the energy needed for short, intense efforts comes from the anaerobic energy system, the oxygen-less system you tap into for high bursts of power.

You’ll use this system when attacking a climb, accelerating to jump on a fast-moving group of riders, or tackling hard technical sections on your MTB.

Building your ability to generate high-powered efforts not only enhances your peak powers but also improves your readiness to repeat similar efforts during a workout or race.

The medium segment of the Baseline and Finish Line events provided insight into your anaerobic energy system as you crushed it up the Titans Grove Reverse KOM! If you are strongest here, relative to the other segments, you fit the Pursuiter phenotype.

Time Trialist
On a basic level, the aerobic energy system is the predominant system we use when we cycle or exercise. This system generates energy by using fats and carbohydrates in the presence of oxygen and helps us go for long durations.

If you want to improve on longer climbs, perform well in a Time Trial, or build your ability to push the pace in a fast group ride, developing your aerobic energy system is essential.

The long segment of the Baseline and Finish Line events provided insight into your aerobic energy system as you flew up the Epic KOM or Volcano KOM! If you are strongest here, relative to the other segments, you fit the Time Trialist phenotype.


Applying Your Results

Now that you have a basic understanding of how and why we tested your segment performance, what energy systems are involved, and who you are based on the resulting phenotype, we can apply them to either improve your strengths further or work on your limiters.


Sprinters are great at, you guessed it, sprinting! To further improve this strength, focus on short and sharp intervals, do some off-bike strength training, and work on your technique.

The long game is where sprinters tend to fade quickly. To work on that limiter, focus on longer rides at easy intensity (e.g. zone 2), and more focused work near your FTP, like sweet spot training, to lift your staying power!


Pursuiter’s can absolutely hammer it for medium durations and tend to possess a naturally high VO2 max. The “Pursuiter” phenotype was coined from the event on the track called the pursuit. VO2 max training is your focus as a pursuiter if you want to continue to reak havoc for around 5 minutes.

Short and sharp as well as long and steady tend to be the kryptonite for the pursuiter. So, focusing on a combination of sprint-focused work as well as FTP-focused work will prove worthwhile if you’re looking to become more well-rounded.

Time Trialist

As the name suggests, time trialists can keep the power up for a long time without fatigue. To further this ability long easy rides and FTP-focused work are a must.

The sprint is every time trialist’s nemesis. To lift your sprinting ability, focus on short and sharp intervals, do some off-bike strength training, and work on your sprint technique.


Wrapping Up

There you have it! Hopefully, you learned a little more about yourself with this year’s Academy, gleaned some insight into what you excel at and what could be improved, and more importantly, understand what to focus on depending on the results you want to achieve! Knowledge is power and feeling empowered is a key to success when it comes to becoming the athlete you want.

Until next year, Ride On!