All About Zwift Academy Tri 2021

All About Zwift Academy Tri 2021

Registration is now open for Zwift Academy Tri 2021 (sign up here, or in game). Here’s a complete look at this year’s program including changes from the previous year, workout details, graduation requirements, schedule details, and more!

Intro to Zwift Academy Tri

Now in its third year, Zwift Academy Tri is an annual event that serves two purposes. First, it’s a global training program for triathletes of all levels. Secondly, it’s a worldwide talent ID competition to determine the six members of this year’s Zwift Academy Tri Team (more on that below).

New for 2021

Each year ZA Tri evolves to improve on its dual goals of building an inclusive training community and spotting talented athletes. Here’s what’s new for ZA Tri in 2021:

Orientation Workouts

Designed especially for new Zwifters and/or first-time Academy participants, these short, nonrequired events explain the basics of structured training and introduce you to the overall ZA Tri program. They will be available on the event calendar as group workouts starting October 5th, but also available (along with all Zwift Academy Tri workouts) in the Zwift Academy Tri 2021 folder in your on-demand workouts menu.

Baseline + Finish Line “Progress” Rides and Runs

Baseline/Finish Line tracker in Companion

Understanding your progress over time is a key aspect of training effectively. It also inspires us to greater fitness! That’s why this year’s ZA Tri program includes “progress” rides and runs at the start and finish of the program.

Both the rides and runs are all-out races, so give it all you’ve got in order to set accurate benchmarks!

Note: athletes going for a ZA Tri team spot need to complete the advanced versions of the Baseline and Finish Line rides and runs.

Progress Tracking in Companion App

New features in Zwift’s Companion app will let you track your overall Academy progress, as well as stats on your PRs for the Baseline and Finish Line events.

Run Workout Updates

The year’s program includes 5 fresh run workouts. New for 2021, participants have a choice between a short or long version of each workout.

Additionally, these workouts include two new features never before seen in Zwift Run:

  • Run/walk recovery sections where participants can choose their pace
  • An incline indicator in the HUD

Graduation Requirements

To complete Zwift Academy Tri 2021, participants must complete a total of 14 events:

  • 1 Baseline Run event
  • 1 Baseline Ride event
  • 5 Zwift Academy Tri run workouts (group workouts or individual, your choice)
  • 5 Zwift Academy Tri bike workouts (group workouts or individual, your choice)
  • 1 Finish Line Run event
  • 1 Finish Line Ride event

 All requirements need to be completed between October 18th and December 13th.

Athletes aspiring to the Zwift Academy Tri Team have additional requirements – see below for details.

Bike Workout Details

#1: Full-Distance Specific

Available for group workouts Oct 18-28

Designed to improve aerobic threshold—which for most people is around Ironman pace—this session leans a little into long-distance triathlon with intermittent 30-sec bursts meant to induce extra fatigue. This variable intensity has been proven to be effective at pushing thresholds up. 

#2: Strength Endurance/Threshold Combo

Available for group workouts Oct 28-Nov 7

Combining endurance and threshold riding makes this workout an impressive challenge, with quick changes in specific cadence between sets to keep you on your toes. 

This session dials in strength and threshold power with the changes in torque—ideally boosting your FTP. This session is great when done in ERG mode.

#3: 70.3 Development

Available for group workouts Nov 7-17

This session is typically known as an up-and-under session, where you perform efforts at slightly over and then slightly under your 70.3 race pace power. Not only is this a great way to get more comfortable at your 70.3 pace, it tends to improve that number! 

#4: Short VO2 Intervals

Available for group workouts Nov 17-27

A one-stop shop for boosting your anaerobic, aerobic, and neuromuscular systems, short intervals are key to any training plan. By manipulating the work-to-rest ratios, we’re able to target each of these three factors to a greater extent. 

#5: Long VO2 Max

Available for group workouts Nov 27-Dec 7

Threshold is the point at which the powerhouse of the muscThreshold is the point at which the powerhouse of the muscle cell (mitochondria) can no longer produce energy (ATP) aerobically. So, to build this, we perform repeated high intensity efforts—somewhere around 7-8 out of 10 in terms of perceived intensity. 

Run Workout Details

#1: Strength Endurance

Available for group workouts Oct 18-28

Just like cycling, working on specific strength in running is a great way to improve your running off the bike, specifically in long distance triathlons. 

#2: Full-Distance Specific VO2 Max

Available for group workouts Oct 28-Nov 7

Running at a long-distance pace while fatigued isn’t easy, but the gains you reap are well worth it. It’s also a perfect chance to see how much the middle portion of the workout might fatigue you, as you pick up speed after dishing out an Ironman pace effort. 

#3: Progressive Tempo

Available for group workouts Nov 7-17

As we fatigue, one of the first things to deteriorate is running form. So maintaining proper form while running at high speeds with some fatigue is an essential skill to train. This session is designed to help hone in on that. An ascending pace tempo session, Workout 4 aims to progressively increase the pace every few minutes to just above threshold. 

#4: Speed Booster

Available for group workouts Nov 17-27

We’ll begin at an aerobic tempo effort before moving into faster intervals. Each rep will get faster than the previous one. The goal is This session has you building top end speed with some fast 400m reps sandwiched between endurance-based 400m reps. These faster paced runs are great for boosting neuromuscular coordination and mechanics.  

#5: Threshold Development

Available for group workouts Nov 27-Dec 13

Threshold is the point at which the powerhouse of the muscle cell (mitochondria) can no longer produce energy (ATP) aerobically. To build this, we perform repeated high intensity efforts—somewhere around 7-8 out of 10 in terms of perceived intensity. 

Set Your Paces!

To ensure the best results from your structured training, you’ll want to start your ZA Tri running workouts with accurate pace settings. If you don’t know the run paces you’re capable of, take the Zwift 5k Test. Make sure you are rested before completing the test for best results!

The same goes for the cycling workouts – make sure you have an accurate FTP setting before starting the workouts. To quickly find your FTP, try taking the Ramp Test.

Key Dates/Schedule

  • ZA Tri in-game registration opens Sep 20
  • ZA Tri orientation group workouts available Oct 5-17
  • ZA Tri begins Oct 18
  • Baseline events are available Oct 18–Nov 13
  • Makeup events available during the final week of the program (all events of the program will be available this week)
  • Finish Line events are available Nov 14-Dec 13
  • ZA Tri ends December 13, 2021
  • ZA Tri Team applications accepted from 150-200 selected participants Dec 14, 2021-Jan 15, 2022


Participants will unlock new kit as they progress through the program:

  • ZA Tri Socks
  • ZA Tri Backwards Running Cap
  • ZA Tri Cycling Kit
  • ZA Tri Running Shirt and Socks
  • ZA Tri Helmet

Zwift Academy Tri Team Selection

Many ZA Tri participants will be aiming for one of six spots on this year’s ZA Tri Team whose goal is to qualify for and compete in the 2022 Ironman World Championship.

To be eligible for team selection, athletes must:

  • Graduate the Zwift Academy Tri program
  • Complete the Advanced versions of the Baseline & Finish Line Bike (40km) TT and Run (10km) events
  • For bike events, use a smart trainer, heart rate monitor, and cadence sensor
  • For run, use cadence sensor, heart rate strap, and complete the long Run workouts
  • Be an amateur athlete

What else will Zwift use in order to determine who makes the 6-member Zwift Academy Tri team? See the full terms and conditions, which include a detailed “Selection Process/Team Participation” section. Specifically, it states:

… performance potential, previous race results, ability and availability to meet the Team training schedule, availability and willingness to participate in any scheduled Team training events and camps, ability and willingness to race at the 2022 Ironman World Championship and any necessary qualifying races and the triathlon related presence and activity on social media as well as within the triathlon community.


This year’s ZA Tri coach is Dr. Dan Plews, a world-class coach and athlete with a PhD in exercise physiology.

He’s worked with 25 World Champs and Olympians in triathlon, rowing, and sailing. Long course triathlon is his passion, having coached athletes to numerous 70.3 and long course wins as well as several sub 8-hour performances. On top of all that, Dan holds the Kona course record—8 hours and 24 minutes—for the fastest ever age-grouper.

Ready to Get Started?

Sign up in-game, or do it online at

Questions or Comments?

Post below! We’ll do our best to answer any questions, and may reach out to Zwift HQ if you have queries we can’t answer.

About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Fabio (@fabio-mussi)
22 days ago

is that color for the specialized shiv unlockable?

22 days ago

What if I don’t have a treadmill – any chance to participate?

19 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

How do you do the runs outside and track? You are on your own to do the workout as best as you can as described? I have had trouble with the foot pod.

Carrie A Matczynski
Carrie A Matczynski
18 days ago
Reply to  Carrie

How do you do the runs outside and track? You are on your own to do the workout as best as you can as described? I have had trouble with the foot pod.

22 days ago

do you have to do the run in order to get the bike unlocks or just the bike to get the bike unlock

Liangfang Zhao
Liangfang Zhao
3 days ago
Reply to  Eric Schlange

More elaboration on the bike item unlock conditions please? It only says “unlock as progress” in the post but didn’t specify what exactly progress are needed for unlocking.

21 days ago

Is the incline indicator in the HUD going to be actual treadmill incline from bluetooth connection, or just the recommended incline for the interval? it would be nice if they start to include some climbing workouts or races where zwift can actually tell if you have your treadmill set correctly. i could see an Alpe running race where it can tell you have your treadmill set to 8% or whatever, and flags those who don’t.

19 days ago

Is it possible to unlock the hat doing only bike events?

Carrie Matczynski
Carrie Matczynski
19 days ago

Can you point me to how to do the run part of the ZA Tri program, and even the ZA Run program. I have a treadmill, but my foot pod doesn’t work (get a new one?), or how do you do the workouts outside? Carry you phone and use companion app and try to do what the workout says in terms of speed/intensity? I have only run a course with the foot pod

15 days ago

So I registered for both Road and Tri Academy. I would like to unregister from the last one, any idea how I can do that? My second recovery ride from Academy Road is not registering, and I feel it’s due to overlapping events, maybe…

5 days ago

Is it possible to download (To say my Garmin watch) or do the run workouts out on the road and not on a treadmill? Seems like a lot of people have this question.

Butler Phillip
Butler Phillip
2 days ago

I do not see the baseline ride llisted as an option to choose in my events calendar. I see bike work out 1. I completed then baseline run already.

Butler Phillip
Butler Phillip
2 days ago
Reply to  Butler Phillip


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