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Power Training Zones: What they are and why you need to know yours

Heart rate is used most commonly to estimate exercise intensity. Heart rates are often used to define and monitor training zones. For example, the low intensity zone or “fat burning zone” is usually defined as 60-70% of maximum heart rate, and the “threshold zone” is said to be 80‑90% of maximum heart rate. Runners often use pace to define their training zones and cyclists who have a power meter attached to their bicycle can monitor power as they ride.

Power-based training zones are more effective and accurate because they never change. While heart rate can fluctuate from day to day depending on changes in your body, your power zones remain static. For this reason, using power to define your training zones is the definitive method of creating training programs when you want consistent strength and endurance gains.

Training zones are designed to help you systematically manage your training sessions. This allows you to train at the right intensity each day in order to meet your specific goals. Wattbike Training Zones are calculated using a percentage of your maximum minute power (MMP) and maximum heart rate (MHR). MMP is determined with a 3-minute power test and as the name describes, you are pushing out your maximum power for 3 minutes. Wattbikes are able to calculate your specific MMP depending on how long you can sustain your maximum power over that 3 minute period. MMP will vary over time and you should periodically retest your MMP as your fitness and power levels increase over time (or the opposite-  if you go through a period of no training and your fitness decreases). If you stick to your training zones and a personalized training program, you are less likely to over train or under train.

How to calculate training zones

Calculating your training zones on a Wattbike is easy. Firstly, you’ll need to complete a test – we recommend the maximum minute power test OR the FTP (functional threshold power) test. Once the test is complete, the Wattbike Performance Monitor will automatically calculate your training zones. There are 8 zones when training on a Wattbike; these zones help you to train at an intensity that is right for you. When you stick to your specific training zones, even if you’re in a group class, you are training at YOUR intensity which makes it a personalized workout in a group setting.

Below is a breakdown of the Wattbike Training Zones. You do not need to memorize your zones. Once you have completed your test, your zones are automatically loaded onto your personalized profile and your Wattbike will ‘tune in’ to your zones and profile when you login and ride.

  Goal Physiological adaptations How this helps How you’ll feel 
Recovery Zone Regeneration and recovery Increase blood flow to muscles to flush out waste products and provide nutrients Promotes recovery and therefore training response Very relaxed. Able to carry on a conversation.
Zone 1 To establish base fitness Improves fat metabolism, gets muscles/tendons/ligaments/nerves used to cycling. Increases economy More efficient use of energy. Prepares body for harder training, works on technique/skill Relaxed. Able to carry on a conversation.
Zone 2 To improve efficiency Improves the ability to use oxygen, produce power and increases efficiency Able to produce more power with the same level of effort, works on technique/skill Working. Feel warmer. Heart rate and respiration up. May sweat.
Zone 3 To improve sustainable power Improves carbohydrate metabolism, changes some fast twitch muscle to slow-twitch Improved sustainable power, good for all cycling events Hard work. Heart rate and respiration up. Carbon dioxide build-up. Sweating. Breathing hard.
Zone 4 To push up threshold Improves carbohydrate metabolism, develops lactate threshold, changes some fast twitch muscle to slow-twitch Improved sustainable race pace, useful during tapering or pre-competition periods: too much time in this zone can cause staleness Stressed. Panting. Sweating freely.
Zone 5 To sustain a high percentage of maximal aerobic power Develops cardiovascular system and VO2max, improves anaerobic energy production and speeds turnover of waste products Improved time trialling ability and resistance to short-term fatigue Very stressed. Gasping. Sweating heavily.
Zone 6 To increase maximum power output Increases maximum muscle power, develops cardiovascular system and VO2max, increases threshold Sprint speed, ability to accelerate away from a group and tolerate lots of hard work, such as mountain climbing Heavily stressed. Gasping. Sweating heavily.
Supra-maximal To increase sprint power output Increases maximum muscle power, develops neural control of pedalling at specific cadence Develop race-specific skills at race pace, starting power, sprint speed, and the ability to jump away from the bunch Extremely stressed. Gasping. Sweating heavily.

 

 

 

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