If you are viewing or browsing any triathlon resources out there online, you must have heard about triathlon training zones.
There are seven cycling power zones that you can use which can relate to your FTP and how you can incorporate it in your training to make sure that you are going hard on hard days and easy on carefree days.
It gives you very measurable metrics that you can use to set out your entire workout, your entire triathlon training season.
For beginners, what is FTP stands for? It is Functional Threshold Power. It is where these power training zones start.
Here are the seven cycling power zones you must try:
It is about as manageable as it gets. It is called active recovery.
The relation of this to your FTP is, it is 55% of your FTP number and lower. You do not want to be in level one because it is so easy that it is not doing a whole lot for your cardiovascular system and it certainly is not making you stronger.
The only time you want to be on level one is when you start a workout, right after the workout, or in between robust sets when you need to recover.
This is your endurance zone. This is the zone that you can pedal at for hours and hours.
If your purpose is to have a smooth ride for hours with friends in a conversational pace and you are not stressed, and it feels like it is so hard that it is taking too much out of you, then this is zone level two.
It is a zone that is perfect for training for half Ironman, full Ironman, century rides, and long endurance races.
How is it related to your FTP? It is 55% to 75% of your FTP number.
This zone improves your cardiovascular system, endurance, mitochondrial connections, and all those little blood vessels that have to carry oxygen to your muscles, the slow twitch muscle fiber. What it does is to make your engine efficient.
It is the start of a more difficult zone.
How was it related to your FTP numbers? It is about 76& to 90% of your FTP. This is a tempo race. This is a pace that is going to be quite hard for you to sustain for longer than 15 to 20 minutes. This is starting to get into good strength categories.
This is a zone that is not doing a lot to your cardiovascular system. It is also not tough enough that it is extreme. You use tempo pace for warm-up periods or in the middle of a set in between an easy work and hard work. It’s a transition.
It is like a gray zone. It is not doing anything for your strength or endurance. Be careful with this tempo pace.
In this level, it is around 91% to 105% of FTP, that is 5% over your FTP numbers.
In this zone, it is best for taxing your strength to make you stronger. It is a tough zone. Which means, you can not do much in this zone. It is used for bursting speed and gradually increase the amount of time that you can spend doing that.
You start incorporating zone level four in the middle part of the training season, not regularly and not in huge volumes, right in the middle of training season because it takes a lot out of you.
As race season comes around, you want to back off and make this zone have intervals a little bit shorter to remind your legs how to go fast. It is good to have in like three or four months out of your races.
This is around your VO2 max and around 106% to 120% of your functional threshold power.
This is a tough zone. We only take this zone for like a minute or two occasionally. This zone is outright strength, like weight lifting for your legs and your cycling muscles.
An excellent time to incorporate these is as early as the training season starts. When you are building a bit of strength, and you are not worried about beating down your muscles because you’ve got a race coming up that you need to be well-recovered. These intervals will make you strong.
In zone six, we’re talking 121% to 150% of your FTP.
This is where you do as hard as you can go — 30 to 60 seconds maximum.
This where you do anaerobic which means you are exerting the maximum amount of power that your muscles can put out without failure.
Think of this as an eight to ten rep bench press max. As if your muscles are going to fail, and your legs are going to be wobbly, but you are going to get a lot stronger, and you are going to feel a fair bit beat up after.
This is the most insane zone. This is 151% and over your FTP rates. This is your neuromuscular capacity.
In this zone, you will exert the maximum amount of power with the maximum amount of speed that your legs can go. You can not hold it for more than fifteen seconds.
This is the zone where you go beyond your limits. You do not care how fast your pedals are going or how hard your heart is pumping. And you are allowed to do this for a few seconds.
There is no reason to incorporate this in the training because it is off the charts. It does not necessarily translate well to long endurance events.
You can use this in your training to guide you where you should be because these zones are perfect.
Go easy on your easy on your easy days and easy in your easy sets; hard on your hard days, hard on the hard sets.