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1. What are Cycling Zones?

 

Are created for athletes base on power or heart rate and describe a specific level of intensity. Duration should be customized for everyone individually.

2. Cycling Heart Rate Zones

 

Cycling Heart rate zones are not based on 220 – age rule anymore. Thanks to people like Joe Friel we have much more precise methods for setting up training zones. The best way is to set up zones base on your Functional Threshold Heart Rate or Functional Threshold Power. Those methods describing your “form” in the best way. Below you can find a table with the zone’s ranges and time of typical intervals or continues training in each of them.

I got great pleasure to meet Joe Friel in person and learn more about cycling training zones.

Cycling zones base on heart rate

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Cycling Heart Rate Zones















1 - Recovery: 0 - [item-117_price]

2 - Endurance: [item-118_price][item-119_price]

3 - Tempo: [item-120_price] - [item-121_price]

4 - Sweet Spot: [item-122_price] - [item-123_price]

5 - Threshold: [item-124_price] - [item-125_price]

6 - VO2 max: [item-126_price] - [item-127_price]

7 - Anaerobic Capacity: [item-128_price] - [item-129_price]

8 - Anaerobic Capacity: Max

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3. Cycling Power Zones

 

The best investment for every cyclist is Power Meter. Swimmers or runners don’t have the possibility to be as precise as a cyclist can be with the power meter and power zones. It was total “game changer” in cycling training, I strongly recommended the article about Functional Threshold Power (FTP)how to rest it and increase it for those of you who want to dig deeper into setting their own FTP. Below you can find ranges of power zones.

Cycling Zones base on power

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1 - Recovery: 0 - [item-100_price]

2 - Endurance: [item-101_price][item-102_price]

3 - Tempo: [item-103_price] - [item-104_price]

4 - Sweet Spot: [item-105_price] - [item-106_price]

5 - Threshold: [item-107_price] - [item-108_price]

6 - VO2 max: [item-109_price] - [item-110_price]

7 - Anaerobic: [item-111_price] - [item-112_price]

8 - Neuromuscular Power: [item-113_price] - >

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4. Cycling Zones Description

 

• Zone 1 – Recovery

Intensity: < 81% of your FTHR, < 55% of your FTP. Duration: 30 – 90 min.

“Easiest” zone, workout at this zone, we could colloquially call “coffee ride”. The main goal is to recover your body after hard efforts like intervals, increase blood flow in your legs to let oxygen “clean” your muscle from fatigue. Workout in this zone should be done at least once a week.

• Zone 2 – Endurance

Intensity: 82% – 88% of your FTHR, 56% – 75% of your FTP. Duration: 60 – 300 min.

The relatively easy zone where you increase your aerobic capacity and learn your body to use fats like a source of energy. You should be spending time in this zone but remember to move to zone 1 if you need recovery or to zone 3 if you need to get ready for racing and group rides. Workouts time in this zone can get up to 6 hours.

• Zone 3 – Tempo

Intensity: 89% – 93% of your FTHR, 76% – 90% of your FTP. Duration: 60 – 120 min.

This zone is very good preparation for racing and more intensive intervals like sweet spots and threshold workouts. It is necessary to spend time in this zone during the Base period.

• Zone 4 – Sweet Spot

Intensity: 94% – 97% of your FTHR, 91% – 97% of your FTP. Duration: 20 – 60 min.

Sweet Spot zone is a very good place to be to increase your FTP, get ready for time trials and long climbs. Do at least 6-8 sweet spot workouts before moving to the next zone.

• Zone 5 – Threshold

Intensity: 98% – 102% of your FTHR, 98% – 105% of your FTP. Duration: 8 – 20 min.

Most important zone with zone 4 where we “push” our Functional Threshold Power and you are going over it to prepare our body to really high-intensity workouts.

• Zone 6 – VO2 Max

Intensity: 103% – 105% of your FTHR, 106% – 120% of your FTP. Duration: 3 – 8 min.

The very hard zone where you can’t stay longer than a few minutes in the row. Very good for shorter uphills or long finishes. Intervals up to 8 minutes.

• Zone 7 – Anaerobic

Intensity: 106% – 110% of your FTHR, 121% – 150% of your FTP. Duration: 30 sec. – 3 min.

Your ability for long finishes, short uphills. Hard to breathe.

• Zone 8 – Neuromuscular Power

Intensity: N/A – N/A of your FTHR, 151% – Max of your FTP. Duration: 8 sec. – 12 sec.

In this zone, you can spend only about 8-12 sec. It takes about 2-3 min. to recover. The most important part of intervals in this zone is to go as hard as possible for about 8-12 sec. and then go as easy as possible for about 2-3 min. Zone 8 improves your maximum power, very useful at finishes and short fast accelerations.

Coach Damian

Coach Damian

Damian is a head coach and founder of Cyklopedia, which was created with one goal to help everyone be faster cyclists by structured training plans, healthy recipes, and nutrition plans. Damian is racing and coaching for over 10 years, working with athletes all around the world.

10 Comments

  • Avatar Szymon Łukasiewicz says:

    When in practics the zone 5b or the 5c are being used?

  • Coach Damian Coach Damian says:

    Mostly during short races like a criterium, on track, also during breakaways, attacks or finishes.
    It is very important to improve your possibilities in those zones.

    • Avatar Szymon Łukasiewicz says:

      But not too often during trainings, yes? tommorow im going to practise some intervals riding uphill. Should i apply some of these zones? Or Just ride in 5a zone at most?

  • Coach Damian Coach Damian says:

    It really depends, what is your current level and what are your goals. You should not go longer than 8 min in VO2 max and about 3 min max in Z5c.
    The most important zones are Z4 and Z5a but still, you cant do it too much do avoid overtrain.

    • Avatar Szymon Łukasiewicz says:

      Ok thanks for tips, today i have actually so bad weather so unfortunatelly no riding for today… but i will start as soon as it possible and checking my heart rate, i think i need time to enquire something about my rate and after it start planning my trainings more precisely. But it is good to know that i should not go longer than 8 minutes in VO2 MAX etc.

  • Coach Damian Coach Damian says:

    No problem, this is a very useful test https://cyklopedia.cc/cycling-tips/what-is-ftp-in-cycling/ than you can set zones and start a training plan.

  • Avatar DeeDee LaTurtle says:

    Slightly confused, by definition Max fH is the top achievable Max heart rate. How can one be at 103% or 110% of that? Additionally if subthreshold is 100% of fH, how can that be sustained for up to 60 mins? Second, a similar question fro VO2 Max, having administered tests, when we observe max effort, we are not seeing an increase in heart rate or lactate uptake beyond that point, we regard this as VO2 Max, but in these training zones, we are assuming that increases in power and effort can be achieved above that. Could you please explain? Much thanks.

    • Coach Damian Coach Damian says:

      Hello DeeDee, let me explain, so it is not a maximal heart rate. Functional Threshold Heart Rate (FTHR) is a maximal average heart rate from the test (https://cyklopedia.cc/what-is-ftp-in-cycling/) it will be always lower than your max heart rate.
      At this point, it is possible to go 103% or 110% of your FTHR.
      VO2 Max is a zone where you can stay for about 3-8 min, and it needs to be harder than your FTHR or FTP to give proper stress to your body and be able to develop this zone. Let me know if you have more questions.

  • Avatar Danny Browne says:

    Is there a way of transferring your workouts to Garmin/training peaks?…. or do you have to build them manually into either???

    • Hi Danny, yes you can download .fit files from TrainingPeaks and upload them to Garmin under “Workouts” folder. You should see your workout under the workout under Training > Workouts> Workout Title. Let me know if it helps.

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