Training zones & terminology

Today’s corner is all about Training Zones and the terminology associated with them.

The body has two clear energy systems, aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen). Anaerobic is divided into two. PC (Phosphate Creatine) which is about dynamic power / speed for 2-10sec. The second is LA (Lactic Acid) which is about sustained power / speed for 10 – 60sec. You’ve heard of lactic acid as its the bi product produced by the body due to the lack of oxygen in the body for the working muscles.

At certain points when you work harder, you will cross from one energy system to the next, this is known as a threshold.

What are the Zones? And what do they stand for? There are 7 recognise zone which are designed to guide the athlete and ensure that they are working to the correct intensity to develop the bodies ability to operate efficiently.

Zone 1 – Recovery: used for warm ups or cool downs as well as those runs or rides when you need to activity aid the body to recover from exercise. This helps flush out any remaining toxins in the body and stimulate muscle & energy repair.
Zone 2 – Endurance. 2-3hrs: the foundation to developing a strong endurance base which is sustainable for long periods of time.
Zone 3 – Tempo 1-2hrs: this is often used to to develop the bodies ability to work at below race pace effort but at an intensity where the reduced levels of oxygen within the body encourages the body work harder. Therefore begin to raise the threshold at this point.
Zone 4 – LA. 10-60mins: within this zone you will be working at / to above race pace efforts. Working in this zone helps raise the threshold so that the athlete can eventually sustain a higher level of intensity and a lower perceived rate of effort.
Zone 5 – VO2. 3-8mins: the first of H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training) where you are working for short periods of time with minimal levels of oxygen in the body
Zone 6 – Anaerobic. 30sec – 2mins: H.I.I.T designed to raise the upper limit of the individuals power / speed. Used by sprinter on the track, velodrome etc
Zone 7 – Max. 3-10sec: pure power – 100% anaerobic

How to use the zone? Well the are two ways you could use the above zones
Watts: perform either a 3min or the standard 20mins FTP (Functional Threshold Power). From that test you can calculate precise watts per zone. Therefore when you want to work in a set zone you can focus on the numbers knowing that you are in the correct zone.
Heart Rate: working out your working heart rates (WHR) you can then look to stick to a heart rate for the required zone. This however is a poor solution as HR is reactive i.e. fluctuates to stress, illness, stimulates such as caffeine so you can have a high HR but still be still down! Some people struggle to get their HR high enough or even low enough. Therefore not the best guide