The last three cycling training zones
If you didn’t read the article before this one, you’ll want to start there to learn about the first four common training zones in cycling. Once finished, come back to this article!
The last three zones in the common training zone alignment are very important and include the most important and widely used range. We will also discuss the last three of my training ranges as they coincide and do the same for the most part, I just have different names for them. For the most common names we have VO2 Max or zone 5, Anaerobic or zone 6, and Neuromuscular power or zone 7. In my line they would be zones 7 to 9, and they are called Power Intervals, Absence Intervals and Synapse. Intervals. Let’s dive in!
Starting with the VO2 Max training range, where the intervals with these babies start to shorten as the intensity rises to a new level. You will definitely have leg fatigue during these intervals and will not be able to speak much. The typical time interval for these intervals is 3 to 8 minutes and the combined work and rest portion of hard training tends to be less than 40 minutes. For example, you can do 4 x 5 minute intervals with 5 minute rest between intervals for a total of 40 minutes. As you sweat and work hard during these intervals, you are using carbohydrates to boost your performance. The adaptations in this range are observed faster than in the previous zones, since an increase in anaerobic capacity is observed, which is exercise without the use of oxygen, growth of slow-twitch muscle fibers, increased blood flow to the muscles, increased plasma volume, increased stroke volume of the heart, increased maximum cardiac output and, obviously, an increase in VO2 max. The only difference in these intervals and my power intervals is that I can go down to 2 minutes in my 2-8 minute range, where the normal measure is to stay between 3-8 minutes.
Moving on to anaerobic zone 6, where using the heart rate as a guide is no longer possible due to the delay in heart rate. The heart always lags behind in training at the beginning, and when you finish, it lags behind in deceleration. Due to the way the heart works, short high intensity intervals are not measured with heart rate due to inaccuracy. For more consistent and moderate to easy efforts, the heart rate can be used.
These intervals will cause severe leg discomfort, as well as impossible conversation, as these intervals last between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. It is generally not recommended to do these intervals for several days in a row. All adaptations occur in this zone, but the greatest benefit of this zone is the ability to increase the body’s anaerobic capacity. Because this range causes so many adaptations, you will see so many training plans that include intervals in this zone. Again, the only difference between anaerobic intervals and my absence intervals is that they range from 30 seconds to 2 minutes instead of 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
The last and final range we will talk about is the Neuromuscular Power Zone, or Zone 7. These intervals are very short, with a very high watt output, and are not intended to test the cardiovascular system. The goal is to put out a large number of watts in less than 30 seconds. This area puts great pressure on the musculoskeletal system and creates an increase in neuromuscular power. Other benefits include the growth of fast-twitch type 2b muscle fibers and increased muscle ATP stores for those short sprinting efforts needed in racing. Again, the only difference I have here in my synapse intervals is staying at 25 seconds or less.
In the next article I will discuss different ways to put together workouts that involve different zones.