Here’s a recent question I answered from one of my beginner athletes:
Question: Hi, I have some questions regarding the training zones I see in Training Peaks. I see the two columns for the heart rate and pace. I don’t know how to read these and what the different zones mean. Can you help me understand?
Answer: Sure, heart rate zones are used to prescribe a certain intensity for segments of the workouts I provide for you. The higher the number and zone the more intense the workout. Often I will use LZ2 (Low Zone 2) meaning use the lower end of this zone range as seen under your Training Peaks zones under settings. For example the range might be 121-130…keep your heart rate close to 121 for that segment. HZ4 means High Zone 4…which would be a hard intensity. Generally you will see zones 1-5 like this:
Zone 1 = Recovery
Zone 2 = Aerobic
Zone 3 = Tempo
Zone 4 = Subthreshold
Zone 5 a, b, c = Super Threshold, aerobic and anaerobic capacity
Each zone will have a number range associated with it. It’s important to keep in mind that heart rate zones are very particular to a person, for instance while one athletes Zone 2 is 121-130, another athlete might be 150-161…every athlete is different and the numbers are based on their particular threshold number. For those that don’t have a heart rate monitor I suggest RPE. RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion is based more on a 1-10 scale and a good way to “rate” a level of output. Sometimes you will see this on your workouts too. Here’s some more information is you want to read up on it: https://www.active.com/triathlon/articles/training-zones-explained-2979
Each article you read has a bit different twist on it but generally know it just a measure of intensity. Heart Rate zones for running and cycling will be different. There are no heart rate zones for swimming unless you have a special chest strap that reads accurately (the newer Garmin 935 watch has it). You will also notice there is a pace chart too. As your training progresses we will utilize this more but for now let’s go for push efforts through using heart rate zones. Also, Zones are usually determined by testing, I like to use a recent race or workouts as people get started. Once athletes are able to run 1 to 3 miles strong we do a test to determine zones. Zones will change as the fitness changes. Obviously a heart rate strap needs to be worn to get this data. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good stuff!
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