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In regards to the benefits of Z3:
I spent 8 weeks focussing mostly on tempo during the worst time of winter--trainer mostly.
My first blood lactate test this spring showed a 20 watt increase in every zone, including OBLA. I was hoping to just maintain my fall levels, but I actually got better--without much intensity.

Keep in mind, I spent very little time in Z2 or Z4--mostly tempo and sub threshold (88-93%).

Working Z2--at this stage of my riding/racing--doesn't bring about much adaptation or measurable benefit.


Thanks Joe. Interesting post. Maybe I'm misreading what you've posted in the past or what I've read in the Training Bibles, but as I recall z3 was basically to be avoided. My impression is that z3 is unnecessarily strenuous compared to z2 (no additional training benefit), and would only serve to make the athlete too tired for subsequent workouts, whether z4 and above, or z2. I'd really like to hear more about these z2-z3 workouts and what's behind your decision to include them, especially if I'm right in thinking that you've said before to avoid z3.

Joe Friel

Pat--See comment above from Sam. He found exactly what I found with repeated testing. But probably not the same for all athletes. There are several "it depends" here. More on this at a later time.

Joe Lip

Joe, with the lack of a power meter, does it make sense when doing the CP30 test on a trainer that you could rely on gearing an cadence to measure improvement? I did the CP30 or LTHR test 3 times since November and noticed I was able to hold the same cadence during all three tests but was also able to spin a higher gear for each test. Would a method like this be reliable to judge improvement relative to past fitness? Thanks again!

Joe Friel

Joe Lip--THe big issue on a trainer is calibration of resistance. CompuTrainer allows for that so if that's what you use then it should be pretty good data. Of course, it also provides power data. With a non-calibratable trainer there's a big confounder.


Which end of zone 3 do you ask the athlete to target in the 3-5x20min pieces that you describe? As Allen & Coggan define it, Power Zone 3 is quite broad. 75-80%FTP feels very different from 85-90%FTP to me - I am one of those riders whose HR consistently resides one zone below the power zone.



Great article Joe! As a coach I also try to follow those basic guidelines for advanced and novice triathletes. For novice triathletes it's mostly about the endurance, build your base not just for today but for the longer term. Then, for more advanced triathletes or those that have that solid base, Z3 works great. Last year I did mostly all Z3 bike workouts and did not lose any speed in my races.

Jim Wade


I assume the CP30 test is the LT test you describe on page 47 of your Total Heart Rate Training book.

If you are doing this test for running and have a GPS and HR devise what data provides information that is similar to a power meter?



For advanced athletes doing the endurance block periodization training, how do you incorporate speed skills workouts? Can it be part of the warm up for z3 or z2 days workouts? Thanks


Hello Joe,

A very good post, as usual.
My contribution to the second part of the question: I've bought an eArticle from the site www.roadbikerider.com. It's titled Equations for Cyclists, in the second title you read "How to Calculate Intensity, Wattage and More – Without a Power Meter" the author is Coach Fred Matheny.
I've found the article pretty useful for those of us who can't afford a power meter yet.
Saludos desde Chile,


Joe Friel

Shane--I devote block 1 to speed skills but it can be included at any time in any workout. Early in the season this is best done early in the workout--as a part of the warm up, usually. Later in the season do speed skills training late in workout.

Joe Friel

Jim Wade--For running speed/pace comes closest to power but, again, not nearly as precise due to hills, wind and surface.

Joe Friel

Madeleine--I leave it up to the athlete to decide based on how they feel. That always must be a consideration in any workout.


Thank you for addressing my questions.

You mention in The Cyclist Training Bible that zone 2 is the speed you travel in the peleton. Were you referring to heart rate zone 2 or power zone 2? For me heart rate zone 2 feels like what I would qualitatively call a "recovery ride". I average 12-14 mph over the whole ride. Heart rate zone 3 is only slightly more intense and is the speed I would qualitatively call "resting". When I ride in an unstructured manner I spend a majority of my time in heart rate zone 4 and a good chunk in heart rate zone 3. Is it possible that my heart rate is naturally a bit high and that I should adjust my zones upwards? Could I determine this if I had a power meter?

By the way, I am using heart rates based on my best guess measurement of my heart rate at lactate threshold of 171 bpm. I have based this off several 1 hour race pace training rides and 1 road race.

Joe Friel

Mike--I don't recall writing that but will take your word for it. Peloton could be traveling at any speed/zone, I suppose. HR and power zones don't necessarily agree, in fact, they seldom do although they usually overlap.


Hi Joe,
I know that some coaches and athletes recommend doing micro-burst or micro intervals (15 seconds on - 15 off) for time trial training. the "on" portion is about 1.5 of FTP. what energy system(s) is suppose to train? i haven't found a study on it. However, Chris Boardman swore by it. I am gearing my training plan for 10 mile TTs.
Thank you,

Joe Friel

Fulton--Yes, there are a few studies showing that. With short recoveries these are much the same metabolically as VO2max intervals that are longer (about 3 min).

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