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Training zones, Intensity, etc..(11 posts)

Training zones, Intensity, etc..James1
Aug 30, 2001 10:15 PM
I've been riding for two years, and just started training seriously about 3-4 months ago on the road. My resting heart rate is currently 48 BPM, while max is 189.4 and I'm riding about 100-125 miles a week.

I'm a litle confused/unsure if I am training at the proper intensity, based upon some advice I've been given and how I feel while I am training. I feel that my intensity and training zones are too low. I initially used just a simple percentage calculation of my MHR and plugged in the common percentage values I've seen for Zones 1-5:

60-65%= Z1
65-70%= Z2
70-80%= Z3
80-85%= Z4
85-MHR= Z5

Which gives me the below Zones for training:
---------------------------
113.6 - 123.11 Zone 1 60-65%
123.11 - 132.58 Zone 2 65-70%
132.58 - 151.52 Zone 3 70-80%
151.52 - 160.99 Zone 4 80-85%
160.99 - 189.4 Zone 5 85 +

Basically I've been using that for all of my training. I mix it up in pretty much the usual ways consisting of the following: one or two long endurance rides, one interval session, one recovery day, and one day for specific work on one area below Zone 4.

The next method is another one based upon my MHR which is close to what I am doing already:

95-114 Zone 1
114-133 Zone 2
133-152 Zone 3
152-170 Zone 4 Anaerobic Threshold
170-189.4 Zone 5

MBA ran an article this month advocating LT/Threshold training over the usual percentage of MHR zones and this is what mine look like using that method:

resting - 138.07 Zone 1
139.77 - 150.00 Zone 2
151.7 - 158.52 Zone 3
160.2 - 170.46 Zone 4
172.1 - 180.6 Zone 5

Holy Crap batman that is way higher!!! I tried a couple rides using those calculations and it feels WAY fast and too intense for me, but then I've been training well below that. My thoughts are that because my resting heart rate is at 48, my starting rate for Zone 1 should be higher than what I would get by the simple percentage method and be a better starting point for me. Does that make sense? I came across yet another site which let me input age, weight, MHR, and RHR and got the below Zones:

133.4-147.3 Zone 1
147.3-161.2 Zone 2
161.2-168.2 Zone 3
168.2-175.1 Zone 4 Lactic threshold
175.1-189.4 Zone 5

What to make of all of this information? Any advice or guidance is greatly appreciated.

TIA

J
re: Training zones, Intensity, etc..Bruno
Aug 31, 2001 8:23 AM
I have about the same resting HR and max that you have. The first set of values are way too conservative. I use the ones recommended by Friel's book and they match the last set that you mention. Mine are:

Less than 145 - Zone 1
145-157 - Zone 2
158-167 - Zone 3
168 - 176 - Zone 4 LT
176 and higher - Zone 5

I believe you will find higher values in publications for serious training athletes. The values recommended, for example, at the Polar website are very conservative because they are for the general public.

During a normal training ride I stay in Zone 2 but during race pace training rides I have spent up to 45 minutes in Zone 4. I have never spent more than 5 minutes during a ride in Zone 5. You just have to adjust the time you train in each zone but I would say that the higher values that you mention are the right ones to use.
re: Training zones, Intensity, etc..Jon Billheimer
Aug 31, 2001 8:45 AM
James,

You've opened a real can of worms! Without going into too much detail, I'll give you my thoughts on HR-based
training. First of all, resting heart rate gives you a general idea of how fit you are. Don't base training zones on
that. Within genetically prescribed limits as you gain fitness your heart's stroke volume will increase and your
resting heart rate will fall. All well and good.

Exercising heart rate is an indirect indicator of how hard your body is working. So zones based on max. HR
are statistical generalities with respect to work being produced and the probable energetic systems being
called upon at various work intensities. Zone 4, for instance, usually encompasses work efforts related to
lactate threshold intensities where the body increasingly switches over to anaerobic energy production. Zone 1
normally refers to active exercise recovery. For most fit riders LT work happens when the heart rate is in a range
of about 85 to 90% of maximum. But this varies greatly from individual to individual and according to your
progressive fitness level. Generally, recovery riding should fall at or below 65% of MHR.

So HR zones based on % of max. are useful but not precise. A more accurate way to gauge training intensities
is to calculate Zones based on lactate threshold heart rate. First of all, of course, you have to determine where
your LT is. Then calculate your zones accordingly. This is the methodology I would recommend. The best known
published source for this type of training is Joe Friel. If you can, purchase his book, The Cyclists Training Bible.
In it he describes how to pretty accurately identify LT heart rate and then gives HR zone tables based upon that
measurement.

In the meantime, as a gross generality, 65% and under is recovery territory, 65% to80% is aerobic training area,
80 to 85% is tempo intensity (upper end of aerobic zone), 85 to 90% lactate threshold training, and above 90% very
intense VO2 max training, anaerobic power training, speed-endurance training. Also, don't ignore your rate of
perceived exertion. How you feel can be a very good intensity guide. For recovery, ride easier than you think
you should. And to increase aerobic capacity and anaerobic power go much harder than you ever thought you
could. But train in this area sparingly. Good riding. Hope this helps.
P.S.Jon Billheimer
Aug 31, 2001 12:03 PM
A couple of other good resources for heart rate based training are Precision Heart Rate Training, ed.
by Dr. Ed Burke. Interestingly, the chapter on cycling is written by Joe Friel! And The Heart Rate Monitor
Guidebook to Heart Zone Training by Sally Edwards. Sally also has an interesting article posted on the
internet regarding how to determine your max hr. There's some interesting and useful information
there. It's at www.heartzone.com.
re: Training zones, Intensity, etc..James1
Aug 31, 2001 9:42 PM
Hey Jon,

I know I opened a can of worms, and I was just scratching the surface! Thanks very much for your detailed response. You've cleared up several things for me. I do think that I've been training at a too low intensity.

I've heard so many recommendations for Friels book I think that I am going to go ahead and get it.

I actually purchased Lance & Chris Carmichaels book a while back and find it pretty basic and of limited use. The workouts seem fine, but there is very little explanation of LT and determination of training zones.

Looking forward to getting my new whiz bang S510 HRM to hopefully be able to get an even better idea of where I am fitness wise and to gather the data on the pc later.

Thanks again!
re: Training zones, Intensity, etc..Will
Sep 3, 2001 11:37 PM
Jon

This is really interesting. Could you give a brief rundown on the Friels method of determining lactic threshold, plus any of your own comments about this method?

Will
re: Training zones, Intensity, etc..Jon Billheimer
Sep 5, 2001 8:39 AM
Will,

Friel's method involves doing time trials of various lengths and observing one's average heart rate.
This will correlate to your probable Lactate Threshold Heart Rate. This method is based on clinical
observation and trial correlated with lab data. For example, if you do a 40K TT as a race your
average heart rate will be pretty much bang on to your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate. Done as a
workout, it'll be about 97% of LTHR for motivational reasons. A 20 K TT as a race yields an Av. HR of 105% LTHR, and
done as a workout 101% of LTHR. A 5K TT as a race yields 110% LTHR, and done as a workout
104% of LTHR.

I've used this method myself and both from a rate of perceived exertion perspective and the
predicted difference between LTHR and Max HR it seems pretty accurate. Also, my Ex.
Phys. prof from a course I took a year ago and a Cat 1 racer who's also a doctoral candidate in
Exercise Physiology at the Univ. of Alberta both endorse this approach. It sure beats getting your
fingers poked for blood every two minutes during a ramp test while you're dying from exhaustion!

As an aside, Chris Carmichael uses a combined average heart rate from back to back 3 mi. time
trials done with brief recovery intervals between.

Just a caution, results will vary according to your state-of-training (e.g. fatigue, etc.), weather, and
preparation. This is because the body's lactate threshold is not a static event but is one's response
to stress and workload under a variety of conditions. So for best results make sure you're well
rested, refueled and hydrated, you've done a proper warmup with several race-intensity jumps, and
the weather is preferably in the low to mid-seventies. Heart rate will be somewhat lower in cool
or cold conditions and higher in very warm conditions due to thermoregulatory demands of the body.

Hope this helps. For more info., read the book!
Why go anaerobic sparingly?Packrat
Sep 22, 2001 11:59 AM
This statement is made all the time. (i just wish my high school track coach heard it!)

but seriously - around here if you club ride, you go anaerobic 3x per week all year round. I'm going to follow a slow plan methodical plan this year (Friel, sleamaker dawes, etc) but I sort of think if i'm stronger in 2002 than I was in 2001 it will be due more to the ride frequency they recommend than to anything else. Which may be the answer, if you go anaerobic on tues you skip Weds when you should get an hour each day. But I think if I were to club ride Tues (with 10-15 mins time in the red zone) and LSD Weds for 90 mins (repeat adnausium (thurs,Fri, sat, sun) I'd be stronger still.
jamescurious
Sep 3, 2001 9:38 AM
could you post a link to the website that you mentioned? The one that lets you put in age, weight, MHR, and RHR to determine zones. Thanks in advance.
re: Training zones, Intensity, etc..skip work to ride
Sep 16, 2001 7:38 PM
I also read the MBA article and have spent some time training with Friel'sbook. I am quite pleased with the base line suggestions.

I record every race and plot the data on 1 minute intervals. I used this to determine my LT threshold. The Zones have increased from my previous guesses. But I think the new zones accurately reflect racing performance. Additionally, mentally I have gained since the zones are assuring confidence in being at a higher heart rate for training purposes. I now do intervals at the higher pace and can feel the difference.

I will use these new zones to train for the last two mountain bike races of the season. Then we'll see the results.

The key to the MBA thing and with Friel is to religously train hard and rest hard. Anything else would waste both efforts.

Try the MBA version if you have the race data or knowledge. Determine what your goal(s) are see if the new zones fit into the total program. Use it for three to four weeks and then race/test yourself.
re: Training zones, Intensity, etc..skip work to ride
Sep 16, 2001 7:44 PM
I also read the MBA article and have spent some time training with Friel's book.

I am using the MBA race data suggestion.

I record every race and plot the data on 1 minute intervals using an Exel spreadsheet. I used this to determine my LT threshold. The Zones have increased from my previous guesses (220-age, time trials, etc.).

The new zones more accurately reflect racing performance. Mentally I have gained from the confidence in knowing I should be at a higher heart rate for training purposes.

I will use these new zones to train for the last two mountain bike races of the season. Then we'll see the results.

The key to the MBA and Friel advice is to train hard and rest hard. Anything else would waste both efforts.

Try the MBA version if you have the race data or knowledge. Determine your goal(s) and see if the new zones fit into the total program. Use it for three to four weeks and then race/test yourself.

Does anybody know of a HRM that allows you to program multiple zones and record the data for post workout plotting.