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Determining Your Heart Rate Zones

The summer training season is almost here. Before you launch into
some serious training you should determine your training zones. Having proper training zones will help you manage your training load and increase the quality your workouts by making sure that you are doing them appropriately. This is important because as your heart rate changes, the system within your body that you are training changes as well. For instance, if you are trying to do an endurance ride but find your heart rate creeping up into your tempo or even threshold zone then you are no longer training the system that the ride was meant to change.

How to determine your heart rate zones

At The Cycling Gym the method we prefer for determining zones is based off the maximum heart rate that you can achieve. Maximum heart rate is different for everyone, so a formulaic “220 minus your age” approach won’t work. Performing a five-minute time trial is one of the best ways to reach your maximum heart rate. A time trial is an all-out effort to try and cover as much distance as possible within the allotted time. The five minutes should be an uninterrupted, consistent, effort. You’ll want to do it on a flat road or a climb, so try to avoid a road that is rolling. Make sure to note the maximum heart rate that you achieve while doing the time trial!

Now that you have your maximum heart rate we can calculate your training zones based on percentages of this number:

Recovery <60% Endurance 65-75% Tempo 80-83% Threshold 85-90% VO2 90-95% Pacing your time trial One of the keys to riding a good time trial (and to having a good day at The Centurion) is pacing yourself properly. Yes, you want to go all out to cover as much distance as possible in the time trial, but careful that you don’t go too hard right away. The sensations you have while riding, your perceived exertion, are a good indication of how hard you are going. But at the beginning of the time trial your perceived exertion lags behind the actual effort that you are doing. For the first minute or so you can’t “feel” the effort. A common mistake is to go too hard as you start the time trial. So it is important to hold back somewhat for the first little bit, let the effort catch up with your body, and then settle in to your pace. Once you try a time trial you will feel what we are talking about quickly enough! Steve and Andrew www.thecyclinggym.com

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