Cycling Heart Rate Zones and Power Zones


  1. Heart Rate Zones
  2. Power Zones
  3. Zones Description 
  4. How to set FTP?

1. 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.

ZoneLower Range*Higher Range*Intervals Time
Zone 1 – RecoveryN/A< 68 %30 – 90 min.
Zone 2 – Endurance69 %83 %60 – 300 min.
Zone 3 – Tempo84 %94 %60 – 120 min.
Zone 4 – SubThreshold95 %100 %20 – 60 min.
Zone 5a – SuperThreshold101 %105 %8 – 20 min.
Zone 5b – VO2 max106 %> 106 %3 – 8 min.
Zone 5c – AnaerobicN/AN/A30 sec. – 3 min.
Zone 6 – Neuromuscular PowerN/AN/A8 – 12 sec.

*percentage of FTHR (Functional Threshold Heart Rate)
Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan. (2010) Training and racing with the power meter. Boulder, CO, pp. 48.

2. 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.


ZoneLower Range*Higher Range*Intervals Time
Zone 1 – RecoveryN/A< 55 %30 – 90 min.
Zone 2 – Endurance56 %75 %60 – 300 min.
Zone 3 – Tempo76 %90 %60 – 120 min.
Zone 4 – SubThreshold91 %100 %20 – 60 min.
Zone 5a – SuperThreshold101 %105 %8 – 20 min.
Zone 5b – VO2 max106 %120 %3 – 8 min.
Zone 5c – Anaerobic121 %150 %30 sec. – 3 min.
Zone 6 – Neuromuscular PowerMaxMax8 – 12 sec.

*percentage of FTP (Functional Threshold Power)
Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan. (2010) Training and racing with the power meter. Boulder, CO, pp. 48.

3. Cycling Zone Description


• Zone 1 – Recovery

“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

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

The very active zone between 76% – 90% of your Functional Threshold Power, very good preparation for racing and more intensive intervals like sweet spots and threshold workouts.

• Zone 4 – SubThreshold

More know like a “Sweet Spot” zone. A very good place to be to increase your FTP, get ready for time trials and long climbs.

• Zone 5a – SuperThreshold

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

• Zone 5b – VO2 max

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. Zones range from 106 to 120 % of FTP or > 106 % of FTHR. Intervals up to 8 minutes.

• Zone 5c – Anaerobic

Your ability for long finishes, short uphills. Intervals from 30 sec – 3 min. Hard to breathe.

• Zone 6 – Neuromuscular Power

Using ATP (Phosphocreatine) you can source your maximum effort just for about 8-12 sec. It takes about 2-3 min. to restore it. 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 6 improve our maximum power very useful at finishes and short fast accelerations.


  • Avatar Szymon Łukasiewicz says:

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

  • Cyklopedia Cyklopedia says:

    Mostly during short races like criterium, on track, also during break aways, 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?

  • Cyklopedia Cyklopedia 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.
    Most important zones are Z4 and Z5a but still you cant do it to 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.

  • Cyklopedia Cyklopedia says:

    No problem, this is a very useful test https://cyklopedia.cc/functional-threshold-power-ftp/ than you can set zones and start a training plan.

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