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Zone 2 training

  • 24-04-2023 9:07pm
    Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭

    Any Z2 training success stories?

    Have been doing about 80% zone 2 training and finding it difficult to not ramp up the power here and there.

    Does anyone have any success stories from Z2, hoping to stick at it for a few months more in the hope of increased FTP.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,458 ✭✭✭beggars_bush

    Yes. It works. But that was from November - February

    Also plenty of low cadence power drills

  • Registered Users Posts: 266 ✭✭this.lad

    How do you stick accurately to zones outdoors.

    I try but spiking like anything and unless you're pan flat very hard. Id be in and iut if 1 and 3 unless im in the turbo and you can't be on the turbo on a day like this!

  • Registered Users Posts: 56 ✭✭DrumcDub1

    Luckily surrounded by a lot of flat! Actively avoid changes in elevation for that very reason

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,987 ✭✭✭G1032

    Discipline! That's all it actually takes.

    If staying in Z2 means riding along at 25km/hr then so be it. If it means crawling up an incline or hill in the 36/28 then so be it. Or if it means being passed by other cyclists then so be it. I ride on quite undulating roads. There are times I'm crawling up hills at 12-15km/hr but so what. An endurance ride is what it is...

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,458 ✭✭✭beggars_bush

    this. plenty of zone 2 in bad weather on the turbo also. your ftp test mightn't be accurate enough

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,139 ✭✭✭nilhg

    I did quite a lot of Z2 training over the winter, for me the biggest eyeopener when I did some research was how widely some diferent "experts" diverge on their definition of where Z2 starts and finishes, so for me mostly I went by heart rate trying to keep in general below 142, if I popped over that for a few seconds that wouldn't be the end of the world but I'd ease off as soon as I realised.

    I didn't find the PM that useful on the bike for trying to stay in zone, by definition it spikes up and down and noone can ride outrside for 3hrs + just staring at their stem.....

    *unless maybe you have a train to guide you*

    I found this useful, plus a few other videos I found


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 23,211 Mod ✭✭✭✭godtabh

    How is your PM set up? I use 10s smoothing as it doesnt jump as much.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,139 ✭✭✭nilhg

    Either 3 or 10 sec, I'd have to check and I think I have one page with instantaneous and 10 sec but I ovbiously don't use that one too much...

    In reality you get to know by feel when you're pushing a bit too hard, as long as you don't get distracted...

  • Registered Users Posts: 266 ✭✭this.lad

    I found that GCN video good alright. The coach in it was very clear about staying out of the higher zones.

    Maybe im not trying hard enough to go easy 🤣

  • Registered Users Posts: 748 ✭✭✭Arthurdaly

    Zone 2 seems to be touted as a new fad in cycling and in vouge at the moment. Not sure if this as a result of indoor training popularity where cyclist are spending the majority of their time racing on Zwift or using other platforms that only advise high intensity.

    If you are following a periodization training plan then most of your winter riding would be spent riding zone 2 and traditionally most racers would have spent significant amounts of time riding zone 1 /2 during a 3 or 4 month base period. Then during build and peak phases introduce threshold, VO2max anaerobic work etc.

    You can certainly progress your fitness with Z2 but you will plateau at some point and that where you need to introduce higher intensity training. I don't think you will see huge progress in terms of FTP or Vo2max numbers but you will build a good aerobic base and mostly likely get leaner in the process.

    Sounds like you are following a polarized training plan if 80 / 20 split and 20% includes Threshold / Vomax? If so its likely the higher intensity work increase your FTP.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,710 ✭✭✭✭dahat

    If you wish to ride for 3 hrs in Z2 alone then route choice is critical. Avoid extremes of climbs or descents and that will help you stay within your zone.

    However this is reliant on accurate testing which is another issue altogether.

  • Registered Users Posts: 519 ✭✭✭MangleBadger

    So I've just picked myself up a power meter. Decided to do a bit of zone 2 over the last couple of days. It is much harder than anticipated. Spin was from Delgany to Ashford and back, about the flatest route I can find around here. But definitely struggle to keep the power in range anytime the road goes downhill It is easy enough to lay off the power when needed but I find myself spinning out at the opposite end.

    It is also a lot more tiring then I expected. What were maybe zone 2 rides in my mind previously were definitely zone1. I would find myself clipping along at 30kmh ish and look down and power is down sub 100 watts.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,458 ✭✭✭beggars_bush

    Yep. once the majority of the spin is zone 2 its fine. the only way you'll get a full zone two workout is on the turbo.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,974 ✭✭✭Plastik

    I'd maybe rephrase that as using the turbo is a much easier way to get a steady consistent long workout at z2 where you can tune out. I find long z2 rides on the road absolutely fine - fine to do, not fine easy. They just take a lot of concentration, you are constantly hunting for gears depending on what the road is doing. I think that there's just a period of acclimatisation for people early on in terms of, subjectivly, how easy you have to pedal uphill and how hard you have to pedal downhill to remain in the zone.

    You will also find yourself locked into the one position on the bike for most of the spin, which isn't easy. And just like any other power session, yes, of course you spend the majority of the spin with one eye looking at your computer and not much else.

    With 3s smoothing on a PM your power should not be jumping around so much for it to be an issue to stay within Z2 if you're paying attention.

    @manglebadger we're local enough. N11/Coynes/coast to Brittas, back the old N11/Deputies/Glenealy/Ashford/N11. That's about as easy a route for a 3h Z2 ride around here.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,139 ✭✭✭nilhg

    I think the thing about zone 2 rides is that going above is a problem because your body switches metabolic pathways and takes up to 20 mins to switch back so you're not getting the training effect that you want but going under just means you have to stay out longer to get the x number of hours in Z2 that you need.

    Trying to do 3 or 4 hour rides in Z2 on a turbo sounds like the worst form of mental torture to me, much better to take my chances outside...

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,824 ✭✭✭levitronix

    Doing z2 right your never off the gas, always constant strain on the pedals.

    I done a lap of the lakes recently followed by next day 3 hours pure z2, both rides about 190 watts average both average HR the same, the lakes with almost 1000m climbing you would think should feel harder, riding the climbs z3 and z4. Not a chance a pure z2 spin when you come home and have and NP power almost the same as average power you know you done the work right.

    Todays spin was shorter 2 hours pure z2 196watts, power distribution showed only 3 minutes were power dipped below 150watts. Average HR and Max HR within 8 beats 300m climbing. it gets easy how to pace it, i dont even look down at power i just always know to change gear and stay in zone

    Never tuck or descend either without pedaling.

    I tried to go polarized from December once the CX finished, intervals icu still shows im not doing right yet with my distribution spread. But i ve gained 30 watts on FTP and 20 watts on 5 minute power, everything else hasn't moved up. Same training load same TSS per week / month from last year.

    This time last year i was A4 , A2 now, i never raced A3 either last year after promotion , spent the summer just on the mtb mostly. 45 years old was well

    I think for an older rider z2 is king

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,372 ✭✭✭iwillhtfu

    I find Z2 power based riding is by far easier to complete on a turbo but definitely prefer longer spins outdoors, 3 hours on the turbo is my absolute limit. When outdoors no matter how hard I try it's near impossible to stay within a set power zone on a downhill and easily to go outside this zone on a hill. I generally work off of RPE when doing Z2 outdoors, power meter gives an indication as to what your output is but I generally use it as a check meter to confirm the effort I'm feeling is similar to the power I'm outputting.

    As mentioned though Z2 is great during base build but you should be adding in sweet spot or sub threshold efforts along with the Z2 stuff to see peak gains.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 6,843 Mod ✭✭✭✭eeeee

    Stupid questions, but going beneath z2 the same? Takes 20 mins for the metabolic system to go back to z2?

    Could make a z2 spin even longer 😭

  • Registered Users Posts: 266 ✭✭this.lad

    Fron the GCN video, i took it that when you ho into Z3 you trigger different systems that once activated take over energy production.

    Keeping in z2 keeps that energy system switched off and helps to build lactate clearing ability. The video isn’t too long, and easy to follow.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,139 ✭✭✭nilhg

    No, just you're not accumalating the same amount of stress when you "rest" but you're still using the same energy pathway.

    The idea is to work close to the top of your zone so you don't have to stay out all day.

    Again, only a laymans understaanding but I think I'm on solid enough ground here

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  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 6,843 Mod ✭✭✭✭eeeee

    I see. Interesting. So going over you've to add 20 mins on after?

    I'm lazy and try to keep it mid to low range😅

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,139 ✭✭✭nilhg

    Save the going over bit for the last 20 mins, no worries then😀

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,987 ✭✭✭G1032

    Not really. There is certainly a place for top of Z2 training, especially for the time crunched Irish racing cyclist, but top of Z2 is pretty much Z3. 'Zones' are a continuum. They don't just switch on and off. The more hours you can train at mid to lower Z2, even top of Z1, the bigger your aerobic base will eventually be. The more the body can use fat as its fuel source the better, and that's best trained by riding long hours in Z1/Z2.

    It's basically back to the old ways here and "winter miles for summer smiles". People in general need to go easier then they think they should on their easy days and harder on the hard sessions

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,139 ✭✭✭nilhg

    That was my understanding untill I watched the GCN video linked above, which suggested to me that riding a little harder still left you in the same fat burning/slow twitch energy burning system.

    I use Xert to monitor my training and suggest workouts to me and it has available to subscribers various data fields for Garmin devices, one of which uses your accumalated data to suggest whether you're burning fat, carbs or a combination of both. Coming home today I tried to take a video of it in action, TBH it came out poorly (riding up a hill with one hand on the bars and trying to keep a phone focused on a c garmin screen is a little beyond my capabilities) buy I might throw it up anyway later if anyone is interested.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,987 ✭✭✭G1032

    These videos don't always tell the full story though and are too often over simplified.

    No more than 'zones', the 3 different energy systems don't just switch on and off like a light.

    Even at low intensities you're likely using glucose as well as fat as your energy source, albeit at very low levels.

    But while riding a little harder, even though you're still be using fat as a fuel source, you'll also be using glucose. The two energy systems will crossover (for want of a better phrase).

    The idea with the long endurance spins is to isolate the aerobic energy system. Riding up at the top of Z2 is not isolating the aerobic system. By cycling a little harder you're not relying (almost) exclusively on those slow twitch fibers.

    So someone can get home from a 4 hour spin and technically (according to their zone determination) have ridden entirely in Z2. Technically. The reality is quite different though. A true aerobic spin will be done at much lower intensities than at the Z2/Z3 border. People just don't like riding their bikes slowly. Turning a weak aerobic base into a large aerobic base takes a lot of honesty and discipline. Ultimately it'll pay dividends but takes a while to get there.

    If ,for example, your upper Z2 HR is 145, then knock 10 beats off that as the max HR you want to hit when on a bona fide aerobic endurance ride.

    Post edited by G1032 on

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I did a lot of Zone 2 over the winter months. Main thing I found was the importance of finding suitable routes and putting your ego aside and accepting you won't be getting many comments or kudos on Strava for your efforts.

    I never got too excited about drifting out of Zone 2 on hills. Main thing I did is make a conscious effort to avoid Zone 3 and I totally eradicated those spins that always end up in Zone 3 when you go out without a plan.

    As someone said above, hard days hard and easy days easy. When you do your targeted interval sessions, plan them properly and be strict on rest periods etc. Don't get caught up in other people's schedules and spins which may mean you do a lot of riding solo.

    Anyway, after feeling a bit meh on the bike for a while, my legs have really come good in the last few weeks and I hit 3 and 4 hour power PRs yesterday in a long, hilly spin so I suppose the training has paid off.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,458 ✭✭✭beggars_bush


    Zone 2 work shows down the line after a few months and will stand to you all through the season. Intervals increase 'fitness' quicker. You need the zone 2 base.

    It's like the base of the pyramid

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,710 ✭✭✭✭dahat

    I’d say that 90% of us don’t have the time to truly build the Z2 base. It’s a long hard & disciplined process.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,698 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle


    In my mind a proper zone 2 ride you don't have a Garmin/wahoo, you just tap away at close to doing SFA as possible. It should feel awkwardly slow and lazy.

    I gave up trying to do them.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    That sounds more like Zone 1. I'd say only on the hills does Zone 2 feel lazy. On the flat you are going harder than most people think and it's constant pressure on the cranks. To do it properly you do need the power meter or else I would suggest most people end up in Zone 1. On a flat route, you should feel like you've had a decent (ish) workout in Zone 2.

    Post edited by [Deleted User] on