Training Zones explained

March 2, 2021

POWER WITH A SMART TRAINER

In order to remain competitive, we must remember to vary the intensities during training.

Power is a method of training that allows you to vary intensities. All of your efforts are adjusted into Training Zones, these zones target your bodies energy systems so we can improve Speed, Endurance & Fitness for "A" level events.

Split into 7 separate zones of varying intensity, each serves a specific purpose.

THE 7 POWER ZONES

Power zones are calculated based on your (FTP) — the maximum power you can sustain for 60 minutes. Each of the 7 zones are defined as a percentage of your FTP. This ensures it’s unique to you while also allowing for easy comparison with others.

ZONE 1: ACTIVE RECOVERY (<55% OF FTP)

One common mistake many cyclists make is to ride too hard on their recovery rides. Riding below 55% of your FTP encourages recovery without placing additional stress on the body. Riding here is easy and can be sustained indefinitely. For many however, it becomes all too easy to ramp up the intensity and start stressing your system further when you should be recovering.

ZONE 2: ENDURANCE (56% – 75% OF FTP)

Many Professional cyclists spend a lot of time training in the endurance zone. While it’s not so useful for short criteriums or road races, trained cyclists should be able to ride here for 3-6 hours with proper refuelling. Those putting in big miles during winter base training will invariably spend a lot of their time in this zone. While during the season, many riders will add on several hours of endurance riding once the high-intensity intervals are complete.

ZONE 3: TEMPO (76% – 90% OF FTP)

Commonly seen as a “dead zone” by many, there are few benefits for road cyclists who spend considerable time in zone 3. It’s an in-between zone. It’s hard enough to ensure we tire quickly, but not intense enough to bring about the required adaptations to excel in road racing or time trialling. Stay away from extended periods of training on this Zone.

ZONE 4: LACTATE THRESHOLD (91% – 105% OF FTP)

Every road cyclist must spend considerable time training at threshold. It’s a tough place to hang out, and by definition, you should only be able to maintain your threshold power for 60 minutes. Your threshold defines the remaining power zones, so it’s important to monitor your threshold as it increases with training.

ZONE 5: VO2 MAX (106% – 120% OF FTP)

The amount of time riders can spend in the Vo2 max zone varies between 3 and 8 minutes. Anyone competing in road races should be targeting this zone in their training. Repeated intervals here are both intense and short-lived. They simulate the hard efforts in road racing where you attack or close a gap at crucial points in a race. It’s easy to overtrain in this zone, and a close eye should be kept on the accumulated training stress. Ample recovery should be allowed for and Vo2 max intervals should only be attempted when a rider feels fresh.

ZONE 6: ANAEROBIC CAPACITY (121% – 150% OF FTP)

Most athletes dread training their anaerobic capacity zone. Targeting this zone in training involves short but intense efforts of between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Most cyclists say that the first 30 seconds feels manageable before the efforts become harder. Ample recovery of 5-6 minutes should be allowed for between efforts. A well-honed anaerobic capacity will enable you to launch a stinging attack that no one can follow in a race.

ZONE 7: NEUROMUSCULAR POWER (>150% OF FTP)

The shortest, but most painful intervals that a cyclist can do lie in this red zone. There’s no specific wattage to target, it’s simply a question of pushing as hard as you can for between 5 and 30 seconds.

Used to hone your sprint, this all-important zone is neglected by many cyclists due to the sheer discomfort of training it correctly. Those who embrace the pain can expect to greatly enhance their kick as they approach the line. Every well-rounded road racer with the goal of victory must complement their abilities with a solid sprint. Where a strong Vo2 max system will allow you to get off the front in a race, any lack in the neuromuscular zone will quickly be exposed in a sprint finish.

Go out and enjoy your next training session!!!