Understanding Your Training Zones
Through planning structured training effectively you can really transform yourself as a cyclist. When a coach is planning your training they will determine each athletes unique training zones and then work out what zones they need train at to make progress. Your coach will take in consideration, your level of fitness and the goals you are currently working towards.
How do you work out your zones
We can determine your zones by 2 methods either by Heart Rate or by power. You will need to do a test where we would put you to the max to find out either your FTP (functional threshold power) or your threshold heart rate.
Your power is measured in watts and you would need a power meter to do the test or most smart trainers can also measure your power. To work out your heart rate zones you just need a heart rate monitor, the chest straps are the most reliable.
Things to consider are that your heart rate is personal to you. Your watts can change based on your performance. As you get stronger you should be able to hold more watts.
Here is an outline of your 7 training zones, from 1, the easiest that you can maintain for the longest duration of time to 7, the most intense.
Zone 1: Recovery
This should feel like you are putting in very little effort and no pressure on the pedals. You should be able to ride at this pace forever, the only issue is that it could be uncomfortably slow and you get quite bored. Riding in zone 1 is good for warming up and cooling down and also between hard days of riding to avoid your legs feeling too stiff.
Zone 2: Endurance
You probably do most of your general riding at this zone. When you initially start riding your goal will be to be able to cycle for long periods of time and build up your endurance or time on the bike. It's very important to build a strong base so you can recover well when your training does get tough. It's a great goal to work towards that you can ride for 3 hours at a time at an easy pace without feeling too tired by the end. Going for club rides is a great way to build up your endurance in a social setting, provided that the group is an adequate pace to your level.
Zone 3: Tempo
For this pace you would be working a little harder, you wouldn't be able to ride at this pace forever, let's say that you could string together a few words but struggle to talk easily. Depending on your level of fitness you could ride at this pace up to an hour or so.
Zone 4: Threshold
This is what we measure your FTP with through a 20minute test. It's the maximum you can go for for periods of around 20mins. You certainly cannot have a conversation and your legs would start to feel tired. By training at this intensity you will be improving your strength on the bike.
Zone 5: Vo2 Max
At zone 5 you will be breathing heavily and gasping, this is because you will be working on increasing your lung capacity. You will only be able to maintain this intensity for 1 - 5mins. As you improve your fitness you will be able to manage a longer durations and less time for recovery between intervals.
Zone 6: Anaerobic
This is training without oxygen. So the period you can maintain this intensity will be short, maybe just 10 seconds, but you want to train yourself to last for longer of up to a minute for example.
Zone 7: Neuromuscular Power
This is your explosive power, so 5-10 sec sprints, it's really how quickly you can change the pace a produce high levels of power. Unless you are road racing or a track cyclist you probably don't need to use this zone, but it can help you become a more dynamic cyclist.
We understand that cycling can be very complex. That's why our coaches are very straight talking and break down the instructions so you just have to do the training required to develop as a cyclist. To talk with one of our team about your goals Book a Free Discovery Call