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Dean Downing On The Pitfalls Of Guessing Your Training Zones

Wattbike Ambassador Dean Downing is finally back in the saddle after a long spell off the bike whilst recovering from an injury. In this guest blog, Dean talks about how hard it is to get back on track and why you should never guess your training zones. 


Having time off the bike, whether it be due to injury (as is my case) or due to an end of season break, is not nice. Getting back on track is hard work, as I found out today! 


I’ve ridden out on the road over the last couple of weeks with a few of my mates and it was a nice feeling to be riding again, but my Heart Rate was all over the place. So today I thought I would jump on my Wattbike and do a good structured Zone 2 and Zone 3 session, nothing crazy, 20 minutes Z2 and 10 minutes Z3.


Having not ridden in my zones for a long time, I had a look back at some of my best test results. My top Maximum Minute Power (MMP) was 430, not bad for me as I was never too fussy about power values. I also did a 3 minute test in January of this year and got a MMP of 400.


To get started, I thought I would have a guess at my MMP, so synced my Wattbike and Garmin and put my MMP at 370. A long way off my best, but hey, I had just had 4 months off with injury. My heart rate max is always going to be around 173 BPM so I left that there.


I did a nice easy warm up, Zone 1 and started the 20 minute block of Zone 2 power. My heart rate was steadily rising above Zone 2 and into Zone 3, towards the end it was into Zone 4. Hard work that’s for sure! Back into my 10 minutes of Zone 3 power, I was struggling to hold 230/240 watts for the 10 minutes, but my HR was into zone 5 , 15-20 beats off my Max.


Basically, my fitness is very low at the moment and my training zones are all over the place after my time off and guessing the zone values made my session horrible and way too hard for this time of year.


I’m going to have to test myself again to establish some accurate zones so that I can at least get back to some form of structure of training through the winter months. Each month I will be training out on the road with some wattbike sessions thrown in when it’s bad weather outside.


I guess what I am saying is, you can’t count on guessing what you think your fitness is after a few weeks off the bike, make sure you get your training zones sorted if you are planning ahead for your 2016 season.


The testing is not going to be easy, but you can test yourself in the comfort of your own home with the simple Wattbike tests in the Performance Monitor, or you can go one step further and get in contact with someone who can put your through your paces and tell you a lot more about your training zones.


Get things in line and progress properly to hit those 2016 goals.