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Thread: Zone 3 Training

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    Zone 3 Training

    Background - most of my races are crits or shorter road races (40-80 miles) and occasional ITTs.

    In general, I have what would be considered a high heart rate. My absolute peak that I've measured is 237; however, as I tend to stay more fit, 200 seems to be a very realistic peak. As such, I'm working off the assumption that somewhere around 150BPM is close to my zone 3.

    Having read a lot about different training zones, including this article:
    Joe Friel - Should You Train in Zone 3?
    which I think has some decent info, I've thought of a few questions.

    I attempted a pure zone 3 session last night on the computrainer (using Zwift - which is super cool BTW). I averaged 189 watts over 15 miles with my average HR at 151 and a peak of 181 (going for a sprint on one lap). The 15 miles went by fast and was very easy. Afterwards, I felt great and really ready for some hard riding. However, I was slow in comparison to my norm and was down in the standings of the other riders.

    Given that I ride mostly short races, is there any value in continuing this type of training or would I be better suited focusing on zone 5 training?

    What is an appropriate amount of time to worry about training in zone 3?

    Should I expect to see my zone 3 wattage increase by spending more time in zone 3? How about zone 5 wattage?

    There seem to be no end of sports nutrition and training articles on the subject, many of which contradict each other. I'm looking for people who have done this type of training and have real world experience and advice.

    Thanks!

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    You have watts. Ditch the hrm. It's archaic and can be very misleading.

    Get an idea of your ftp by either testing or something else (I use NP from 45-60 min crits) and base zones off that.

    Much more accurate, even if your ftp isn't completely dialed in.

    Then start training. Lots of regular, steady riding + a workout or two a week. Maybe substitute a hard group ride or race.

    Some tempo stuff is good: 30-60 mins steady. Some threshold stuff is good: 2-3x 10-20 min steady efforts. And some VO2 stuff is good. 4-5x5-8 min hard...

    Very generic but frankly, generic works really well if you does it halfway decently.

    And to answer your question, assuming z3 is right around tempo range; I don't train in this range in season except for the occasional 60-75 min steady tempo ride. Very occasional.

    Off season, however, I'll do this and threshold stuff multiple times a week for a few months. Time and place for everything. September, though, is the end of the race season for most. So...eh. Do what you want!

    *Edited
    Last edited by pedalbiker; 09-07-2015 at 06:49 PM.

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    Aw, that hurts. I know how to use the HRM. Besides, the watt meter is only on the trainer, not on the bike. Besides, I can correlate the watt output to HR in a real race.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pedalbiker View Post
    You have watts. Ditch the hrm. It's archaic and can be very misleading.
    Rubbish!

    HRM's are extremely useful, if you know how to use them properly. Further, in spite of attempts to determine that either one leads to a better training outcome, there remains NO evidence that either a HRM or power meter is superior for training purposes (see this study and this one too).

    Each has its advantages and its limitations. The top cycling pros use both, and only cycling can use a power meter at all. The best is to use both, but you need to know how to use both. They separately tell you different things. An insightful guide on how to use both concurrently can be found here.

    As far as how to best train -- pick your school and go from there. Develop a plan based on proven methods, and then stick to it. All will lead to improvements. It remains debated which is best. You can read the results of a recent study that compares different training approaches here, and another here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ibericb View Post
    Rubbish!

    HRM's are extremely useful, if you know how to use them properly. Further, in spite of attempts to determine that either one leads to a better training outcome, there remains NO evidence that either a HRM or power meter is superior for training purposes (see this study and this one too).

    Each has its advantages and its limitations. The top cycling pros use both, and only cycling can use a power meter at all. The best is to use both, but you need to know how to use both. They separately tell you different things. An insightful guide on how to use both concurrently can be found here.

    As far as how to best train -- pick your school and go from there. Develop a plan based on proven methods, and then stick to it. All will lead to improvements. It remains debated which is best. You can read the results of a recent study that compares different training approaches here, and another here.
    Great articles, thanks man!!
    If I knew then what I know now, I woulda done it anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corenfa View Post
    Aw, that hurts. I know how to use the HRM. Besides, the watt meter is only on the trainer, not on the bike. Besides, I can correlate the watt output to HR in a real race.
    Really? Because most people's hrs are quite a bit elevated in race situations. Plus, how about hot days? Do you account for higher heat and humidity? That has an enormous effect on hr.

    How about cardiac drift? Do you account for that, too? Do you account for variances due to training versus freshness (I've seen 10-15 bpm swings depending on whether or not I'm mid week versus weekend and the correlating fatigue/freshness).

    I can give more examples, but anyway.

    While 237 sounds extremely unlikely, there's a huge difference between that and 200. Your hr doesn't just change over 10% depending on whether or not you're fit. So huge problem right there starting out.

    *Edited
    Last edited by pedalbiker; 09-07-2015 at 06:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibericb View Post
    Rubbish!

    HRM's are extremely useful, if you know how to use them properly.
    So we all said 10 years ago to justify not investing in an SRM.

    Like I said, archaic and wrought with daily variance that has to be accounted for.

    Rubbish? Yet compare hrm use to powermeters. There's a reason, ya know?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corenfa View Post
    Background - most of my races are crits or shorter road races (40-80 miles) and occasional ITTs.
    So skip zone 3 entirely.

    Training-intensity distribution during an ironman season: relationship with competition performance.

    Training and the competition were both quantified based on the cumulative time spent in 3 intensity zones: zone 1 (low intensity; AnT).
    AeT is a conversational pace, low Friel zone 2 heart rate. Polarized zone 3 starts at FTP which is high Z4 or the Z4/Z5 split depending on whose zones you use. Z3 tempo is in polarized zone 2.

    Significant inverse correlations were found between both total training time and training time in zone 1 vs performance time in competition (r = -.69 and -.92, respectively). In contrast, there was a moderate positive correlation between total training time in zone 2 and performance time in competition (r = .53) and a strong positive correlation between percentage of total training time in zone 2 and performance time in competition (r = .94).
    While athletes perform with HR mainly in zone 2, better performances are associated with more training time spent in zone 1. A high amount of cycling training in zone 2 may contribute to poorer overall performance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corenfa View Post
    How about zone 5 wattage?
    No.

    There seem to be no end of sports nutrition and training articles on the subject, many of which contradict each other. I'm looking for people who have done this type of training and have real world experience and advice.
    Switching to a mostly (I can't resist a weekly 1:15 - 1:30 threshold ride) polarized plan made me faster over longer distances and power didn't increase any slower than with two hard days a week and multiple tempo rides.

    It was better for weight too - instead of plateauing with a lot of extra fat I need to eat more than necessary to sate my hunger in order to maintain weight. Separation in my upper pair of abs and oblique vascularity is good; ab vascularity is a bit too much. 5'9.5", 136-137 pounds
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 09-06-2015 at 02:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pedalbiker View Post
    Really? Because most people's hrs are quite a bit elevated in race situations. Plus, how about hot days? Do you account for higher heat and humidity? That has an enormous effect on hr.

    How about cardiac drift? Do you account for that, too? Do you account for variances due to training versus freshness (I've seen 10-15 bpm swings depending on whether or not I'm mid week versus weekend and the correlating fatigue/freshness).

    I can give more examples, but anyway.

    And I said you don't have a clue because your entire hr training seems to be based off numbers you think are right. While 237 sounds extremely unlikely, there's a huge difference between that and 200. Your hr doesn't just change over 10% depending on whether or not you're fit. So huge problem right there starting out.
    Right... I forget sometimes that cycling is the only endurance sport in the world and every other athlete that runs, XC Skis, rows or whatever is an idiot and can't possible develop a viable training plan to improve their outcomes. Those variations are insurmountable. And that's why biathletes are chumps that somehow master human exercise physiology better than everyone else combined? Go XC Ski race and stop to shoot bumble bees with a .22. Posers, that's what they are.

    That said, 237 is nuts.
    If I knew then what I know now, I woulda done it anyway.

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    Just because they don't have a more accurate means of measuring workload doesn't mean that they couldn't measure training more optimally with something other than hr (none of that is to say they could or would train more optimally, because at that level... yeah, they're probably doing just about all they can do, regardless of how it's measured).

    Why are you going on about other sports, anyway? Absolutely massive strawman you're creating, there.

    HR doesn't hold a candle to power based training for umteen amounts of reasons.

    Same thing with running, which is why everyone (good) uses pace!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    So skip zone 3 entirely.

    Training-intensity distribution during an ironman season: relationship with competition performance.



    AeT is a conversational pace, low Friel zone 2 heart rate. Polarized zone 3 starts at FTP which is high Z4 or the Z4/Z5 split depending on whose zones you use. Z3 tempo is in polarized zone 2.








    No.



    Switching to a mostly (I can't resist a weekly 1:15 - 1:30 threshold ride) polarized plan made me faster over longer distances and power didn't increase any slower than with two hard days a week and multiple tempo rides.

    It was better for weight too - instead of plateauing with a lot of extra fat I need to eat more than necessary to sate my hunger in order to maintain weight. Separation in my upper pair of abs and oblique vascularity is good; ab vascularity is a bit too much. 5'9.5", 136-137 pounds
    Drew, (sorry to threadjack) I'm interested in your polarized training plans? What does a week, or series of weeks look like?
    If I knew then what I know now, I woulda done it anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    Drew, (sorry to threadjack) I'm interested in your polarized training plans? What does a week, or series of weeks look like?
    Polarized training is divided up over the course of a season into an 80/20 percentage of intensity. Meaning 80% of your sessions are easy (like Z2ish) training, and 20% are hard, hard training (like vo2 max and above). It's yet another of many ways to skin the proverbial cat. Not overly impressed by it, especially if you're doing lower hours (even though it's claimed that it still triumphs over time-crunched versions).

    What I've seen multiple times from the internet crowd, however, is that a lot of people trying to follow it don't know what they're doing and try to do 20% of their training hours at a high intensity and all and end up killing themselves.

    At the end of the day, if you want to get better, you go ride more. Period. Throw in a day or two of workouts or challenging group rides and STICK WITH IT over the course of a year (x5) and you will get better. Almost undoubtedly.

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    For insights about polarized training, try these (some are duplicates, previously noted in this thread):

    Presentations:


    Research Reports:

    “Intervals, Thresholds, and Long Slow Distance: the Role of Intensity and Duration in Endurance Training”
    Sportscience 13, 32-53, 2009

    “What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes?”
    International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2010, 5, 276-291

    “Training Intensity Distribution”
    Chapter 4 in Endurance Training: Science and Practice, 1st ed., Vitoria-Gastiez, 2012.

    “Adaptations to aerobic interval training: Interactive effects of exercise intensity and total work duration”
    SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF MEDICINE AND SCIENCE IN SPORTS, AUGUST 2011


    Compared to other training protocols:

    “Lactate Profile Changes in Relation to Training Characteristics in Junior Elite Cyclists”
    International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2010, 5, 316-327

    “Six weeks of a polarized training-intensity distribution leads to greater physiological
    and performance adaptations than a threshold model in trained cyclists
    ”
    Journal of Applied Physiology Published 15 February 2013 Vol. 114 no. 4, 461-471

    “Does Polarized Training Improve Performance in Recreational Runners?”
    International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2014, 9, 265 -272

    “Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity or high volume training”
    Front. Physiol., 04 February 2014

    “Training-Intensity Distribution During an Ironman Season: Relationship With Competition Performance”
    International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2014, 9, 332-339
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    Quote Originally Posted by pedalbiker View Post
    Really? Because most people's hrs are quite a bit elevated in race situations. Plus, how about hot days? Do you account for higher heat and humidity? That has an enormous effect on hr.

    How about cardiac drift? Do you account for that, too? Do you account for variances due to training versus freshness (I've seen 10-15 bpm swings depending on whether or not I'm mid week versus weekend and the correlating fatigue/freshness).

    I can give more examples, but anyway.

    And I said you don't have a clue because your entire hr training seems to be based off numbers you think are right. While 237 sounds extremely unlikely, there's a huge difference between that and 200. Your hr doesn't just change over 10% depending on whether or not you're fit. So huge problem right there starting out.

    Well, my cardiologist would disagree with you. And I can happily show you my data where I've hit 237. However, when I'm at my fittest, hitting 200 is the top of my range. And my overall heart rate lowers throughout the range.

    I'm sorry - what exactly are your qualifications?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corenfa View Post
    Well, my cardiologist would disagree with you. And I can happily show you my data where I've hit 237. However, when I'm at my fittest, hitting 200 is the top of my range. And my overall heart rate lowers throughout the range.

    I'm sorry - what exactly are your qualifications?
    Data, huh? I can show you data where I've hit 64 mph up a hill and data showing a 2,100 watt sprint, too. And yes, I think I even have polar hr data from 13 years ago showing a 230+ hr. Read between the lines, there, about "data".

    My qualifications? I'm someone that's answering questions about training instead of asking them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corenfa View Post
    Well, my cardiologist would disagree with you. And I can happily show you my data where I've hit 237. However, when I'm at my fittest, hitting 200 is the top of my range. And my overall heart rate lowers throughout the range.
    I must be misunderstanding you. It seems to me you are saying that when you are less fit you MHR is 237 but when you are at your peak fitness your MHR drops to 200?

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    Answering them with erroneous information. Wow. Helpful and insightful.

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    .....
    Last edited by pedalbiker; 09-07-2015 at 06:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    I must be misunderstanding you. It seems to me you are saying that when you are less fit you MHR is 237 but when you are at your peak fitness your MHR drops to 200?
    Yes. That's correct. The doc says that it's basically because my heart gets better conditioned with work. The higher max heart rate is a factor of being out of shape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corenfa View Post
    Yes. That's correct. The doc says that it's basically because my heart gets better conditioned with work. The higher max heart rate is a factor of being out of shape.
    I'd find a new doctor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corenfa View Post
    Yes. That's correct. The doc says that it's basically because my heart gets better conditioned with work. The higher max heart rate is a factor of being out of shape.
    Do you see a cardiologist for a specific reason? I am no doctor or cardiologist but I have been an endurance athlete for 35 years. What you are saying is to me (and others) very unusual. Can you clarify why you see a cardiologist? That may answer some questions
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    I must be misunderstanding you. It seems to me you are saying that when you are less fit you MHR is 237 but when you are at your peak fitness your MHR drops to 200?
    Yes, that's what said. The effect is well known, and has been described in sports med literature, although the magnitude of the change the OP cites is larger than has generally been suggested as typical. It's another one of the details that needs to be understood in using HR for training.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ibericb View Post
    Yes, that's what said. The effect is well known, and has been described in sports med literature, although the magnitude of the change the OP cites is larger than has generally been suggested as typical. It's another one of the details that needs to be understood in using HR for training.
    I feel that your use of the word "larger" really fails to depict what's happening.

    What is that, like a 16% decrease? That's not large, that's...dysfunctional.

    Or, as I so heavily alluded to earlier, the OP has some data corruption.

    And man, are there ever a ton of details that need to be understood to use hr for training! I genuinely feel that in five years, conversations like this won't exist because everyone will finally let go of the last vestiges of this hr rubbish and move on to something that doesn't have 14,000 qualifiers attached to its data.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    Drew, (sorry to threadjack) I'm interested in your polarized training plans? What does a week, or series of weeks look like?
    Monday - 10 minute intervals as hard as I can sustain which works out to about 110% of FTP for me. That seems to work and in retrospect matches Seiler's studies - his intervals are as hard as sustainable, he opined on slowtwitch.com the sweet spot is 7-10 minutes, and his published study showed bigger power improvements at VO2max/LT4 using 4x8 versus 4x4 or 4x16. Number increasing with fitness - 2x10, 3x10, 4x10. Rest between intervals decreasing with fitness - 10 minutes starting, 5 minutes, 4 minutes. Seiler used 2 minutes RBI in his studies. Enough zone 2 getting to and from someplace outdoors suitable. Except every second week of each mesocycle I skip that in favor of an FTP test plus another ten or twenty minutes past threshold.

    Tuesday - shorter endurance ride, 1.5-2 hours, high heart rate zone 2 which matches subjective descriptions of my aerobic threshold, that varies with training from high Coggan/Friel zone 1 to high zone 2. Could reach low Z3.

    Wednesday - recovery ride, 1.5-2 hours. Z1. There isn't anything left in my legs and I feel happier riding than not.

    Thursday - another short endurance ride switching to a not polarized Z4 ride. 1:15 - 1:30 at 95% of FTP.

    Friday - recovery ride following a threshold Thursday, short endurance otherwise.

    Saturday - longer endurance ride. 3-4 hours.

    Sunday - I don't ride Sundays.

    Plus an easy 30 miles weekly bicycle commuting Z1.

    One rest week in four. Endurance rides replacing Friel/Coggan Z4/Z5. No time increase. Stress balance going positive.

    I broke my collarbone in June, missed three weeks of any riding, and 1:15 six days a week is where my patience ends for trainer rides so I'm back to where I was at for power and volume in March.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 09-07-2015 at 06:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pedalbiker View Post
    I feel that your use of the word "larger" really fails to depict what's happening.

    What is that, like a 16% decrease? That's not large, that's...dysfunctional.

    Or, as I so heavily alluded to earlier, the OP has some data corruption.

    And man, are there ever a ton of details that need to be understood to use hr for training! I genuinely feel that in five years, conversations like this won't exist because everyone will finally let go of the last vestiges of this hr rubbish and move on to something that doesn't have 14,000 qualifiers attached to its data.
    All of the points cited as typical or normal are for large groups or pools of people. There are always outliers, and the OP may just be one.

    If you have data or facts, please bring 'em. Otherwise your points would appear largely baseless.
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