Heart Rate and Power Training Zones
Heart rates are measured by connecting a heart rate monitor to the Wattbike (coded Suunto and Garmin and uncoded Polar [HR receiver required for Polar]).
We have adopted the British Cycling methodology for calculating heart rate and power training zones. This methodology has been expanded to include a table of recommended Wattbike cadence and air resistance settings to achieve the heart rate and power zones required.
The training zones are based on the results of a Wattbike test to find or estimate your maximum minute power and maximum heart rate.
In general a workout where heart rate is 50 beats below maximum heart rate is recovery or base endurance. 30 to 50 beats below maximum is endurance training, 15 to 30 beats below maximum is intensive training and 0-15 beats below is very short high intensity interval training.
Once you have carried out a Wattbike test or used an estimated method to calculate your maximum heart rate you will be able to work out your personal Wattbike air resistance and cadence settings that apply to each of your heart rate and power training zones using the table provided in this guide.
The key measures you should use to establish (or estimate) your heart rate and power training zones are:
- Heart rate [bpm]
- Watts [W]
- Cadence [r/m]
This means that it is possible to train with the correct heart rate, power, cadence and air resistance for a training session of known duration/distance and intensity (training zone). You can choose to train by any combination of heart rate, power, cadence and air resistance setting.
Training zones are determined by percentage of maximum heart rate, percentage of maximum minute power and duration. Each training zone has a different purpose as defined in the following table:
|Training Zone||Purpose||% MHR||%MMP||RPE (1-10)/How you feel||Duration|
|Recovery||Regeneration and Recovery||< 60||< 35||1 Very relaxed. Able to carry on a conversation.||< 60’|
|1. Basic||Establish base endurance||60-65||35-45||2 Relaxed. Able to carry on a conversation.||90’-360’|
|2.Basic||Improve efficiency||65-75||45-55||3 Working. Feel warmer. Heart rate and respiration up. May sweat.||60’-240’|
|3.Intensive||Improve sustainable power||75-82||55-65||5 Hard work. Heart rate and respiration up. Carbon dioxide build-up. Sweating. Breathing hard.||45’-120’|
|4.Intensive||Push threshold up||82-89||65-75||6 Stressed. Panting. Sweating freely.||30’-60’|
|5.Maximal||Sustain a high percentage of maximal aerobic power||89-94||75-85||7 Very stressed. Gasping. Sweating heavily.||14’-40’|
|6.Maximal||Increase maximum power output||> 94||85-100||10 heavily stressed. Gasping. Sweating heavily.||4’-10’ intervals|
|Supra-maximal||Increase sprint power output||N/A||> 100||10 extremely stressful. Gasping. Sweating heavily.||Short intervals|
Note that the maximum duration times are those applicable to highly trained elite cyclists with the range designed to reflect beginners to elite cyclists; the durations recommended in the Wattbike training plans reflect the purpose of each particular plan and the amount of time it is sensible to spend on a Wattbike.
The following table summarises the purpose and physiological adaptation of each of the training zones.
|Training Zone||Purpose||Physiological Adaptations||Race fitness|
|Recovery||Regeneration and recovery||Increase blood flow to muscles to flush out waste products and provide nutrients||Promotes recovery and therefore training response|
|Zone 1||Establish base endurance||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|
|Zone 2||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|
|Zone 3||Improve sustainable power||Improves carbohydrate metabolism, changes some fast twitch muscle to slow-twitch||Improved sustainable power, good for all cycling events|
|Zone 4||Push threshold up||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|
|Zone 5||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|
|Zone 6||Increase maximum power output|
|Supra-maximal||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|