Go big or go home is not always the best advice when it comes to fitness. Achieving results requires training at various intensity ranges to incorporate different energy systems and recruit different muscle fiber types into workouts. These intensity ranges are called training zones. In the Spinning® program, we primarily use a 5-Zone system that breaks down like this:
Zone 1: Active Recovery
Zone 2: Aerobic Training
Zone 3: Threshold Training
Zone 4: Anaerobic Training
Zone 5: Peak Performance
Zone training simply means that workouts are structured to incorporate specific intensity categories, or zones, depending on the objectives of the workout. Zone 1 is always where the workout begins and ends (the lowest intensity for warm-up, cooldown and recovery), and higher zones enter the equation to spark the specific response desired. To achieve fitness gains, we must challenge the body (known as “overload”) and recover properly so adaptation occurs. The amount of overload and recovery depends upon the goals. For example, a workout that’s intended to focus on building aerobic stamina would peak at Zone 2 or low-end of Zone 3 to prevent (or minimize) the use of the anaerobic energy system.
The benefit of zone training is that by spending the appropriate amount of time in specific zones, you can train toward a purpose, such as building an aerobic base or increasing your threshold.
So how do you know when you’re in which zone? When an instructor cues you to aim for Zone 4 during a steep hill climb, how will you know if you’re there?
There are three main ways to identify your zone: how you feel, your heart rate, and your power (watts).
1. Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE): Using a standardized set of descriptors and a numeric scale, you identify how the exertion feels.
Gear required: none
2. Heart Rate: Your training zones are determined by the percentage of your max heart rate (% MHR). Your age-predicated max heart rate is 208 – (.7 x age).
Gear required: Heart Rate Monitor
3. Power: Your training zones are determined by a percentage of your threshold power (e.g., % PST or % FTP). You can determine your threshold power with a PST test.
Gear required: SPIN® Power crank
To make things really easy, the Spinning® Connect™ and Spinning® Digital+ apps connect via Bluetooth® to your heart rate monitor and power crank and continuously monitor your intensity throughout your workout. You’ll be able to see at a glance whether or not you’re within your target zone.
|SPIN® Series: Zone Focus|
Take a journey through each of the training zones with a special collection of rides on Spinning® Digital and Spinning® Digital Plus.
Ready for a deeper dive? Check out these related articles:
What Do Your Metrics Mean?
Demystifying Threshold Training
The Pursuit of Power
Getting Started with Personal Spinning® Threshold
Periodization: Create a Training Plan that Works