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Hi Joe,

I am what you would consider an "advanced" athlete - a cat 2 on the road, 24yrs old, and have been racing 7 years. I fully appreciate the importance of doing a lot of zone 2 Aerobic Threshold rides in the early phases of training, but as a graduate student the 3 weeks surrounding late November - early December are hectic with papers, grading, etc. In short, it's hard to keep the kind of volume this would require for me to take it up a notch from last year (17-18hrs a week). Unfortunately, this is exactly when I should be doing a lot of AeT riding in order to peak in late April / early May for collegiate nationals.

I've been coping this year by riding a lot more in zone 3 (in 45-90min intervals) during 2-3hr rides to keep the training stress, measured in TSS, about the same. I've been riding about 80-85% of FTP for most of these. I have 2 questions about this.

1) Is this an appropriate way to deal with my constraints? I can go back to normal volume in mid December.

2) When I can return to 16-19hrs a week in a few weeks, should I go back to doing a lot of AeT riding, keep some Tempo mixed in, or focus more on Tempo and Sweet Spot intervals? I've already done a 3-week block of alternating skills/force/AeT workouts with recovery every 3-4 days.



Joe, a quick follow up. I should add last year I didn't change my training much in this period, just cut the volume, and ended up losing some of the fitness I had built up October-November. That's why I'm trying to search for alternate ways to handle this period. I could technically ride more, but it would cut into my sleep and that's not worth it.


This is something that has confused me since I started cycling 6 months ago. I've been told that base training should consist mostly of high volume and low intensity (as in your distribution chart). But I've also been told, by different people, that you can get the same or similar benefits (e.g., increased aerobic endurance, etc.) and more with higher intensity (sweet spot and tempo) and lower volume. Is this true?

Michael Thomas

Z2! Sure I try every day for the past 2months but I can't according to my WKO HR report! I live at the top of a 2000ft range. Each day I ride to the pool at the bottom of the hill to swim and ride back up the 6% average grade climb. I try very hard to peak Z2.9 or Z3.5 at the most. For the past 28 days WKO HR chart gives me 45% in zone E; 20% TH: 15% in zone E....does that count. And I know the HR is inaccurate at times...just can't believe zone E %.


How much weekly Training Time did this athlete have?


Hi Joe. I seem to be in-between zones which I think is ok, but get confused on weather I should do HR Zone 2 or Power Zone 2 so end up doing different sessions e.g
- High end Power Zone 2 but get a lot of HR Z1 (1.5 hour ints on road at weekend)
- Mid Power Zone 3 but HR is Zone 2 for most of the ride (50 mins ints on Turbo on week nights)

Base 1 so far:
HR Zones:
Z1: 10h
Z2: 5h
Z3: 1h
Z4: 30 min

Power Zones:
Z1: 4h
Z2: 7h
Z3: 5.5h
Z4: 50 min

Does this sound ok?

Thanks for the blog. Kind regards, Richard


For our information; what is the athletes power zones

Joe Friel

1 288

Joe Friel

Hi Richard--I have riders do their AeT (aerobic threshold) workouts in low HR zone 2. Everything else is done by power zones.

Joe Friel

Carotin--Averages about 14 hpw.

Joe Friel

Jordan--It is confusing. There are _many_ ways to train. None of which is right for everyone despite what you may read. Every training method has advantages and disadvantages. Your challenge as a self-coached athlete is to find a methodology that works for you. Good luck!

Joe Friel

Douglas--Yes, I understand. Life is not always fair is it. The z3 is good. Just keep it going when you get back to higher volume.

Lance Dobbs

What about the athlete who can only spend 6-9 hrs/week riding in the Winter? Wouldn't lots of Z-2 with such low saddle time actually de-train the athlete during Base? If so....more intensity if only able to get in 6-9 hours/week? Thanks Joe !

Joe Friel

Hi Lance -- Yes, you're right. Generally, the lower the volume the higher the intensity.


Hi Joe,

What is the average TSS per week for this athlete doing Z2 mostly?


Joe Friel

Hi Angela--Mostly between 550 and 650. A few higher and a few lower.

Chris Mumford

Hi. I think I am a growing number of triathletes who have been drawn to cyclocross. The normal early base, Z2 time has been disrupted by two very intense fast twitch workouts weekly. Any suggestions on managing cx with early base? What general advice have you given to your athletes about cross? I reckon early base may start in late January when cx season is over. Thanks.

Joe Friel

Chris M - Can probably start with z3 training as soon as CX is over. Good luck!

Philip Clark

Hi Joe,

I am currently in Base 1 Week 1 of training for the Wildflower half iron in May. I just finished up a road race series that had me doing about 7-8 hours of road riding/wk. I have not been running at all, nor have I been swimming. I see the zone 2 training being great for my run fitness, which has a long ways to go, but what zone should I be training in with my cycling? It's worth noting that I will be doing road bike races almost every weekend starting in late January.

Joe Friel

Philip--I really can't tell you. There are just too many variables. But I'd guess a lot of 3 zone would be about right.

david doherty

Hi would it be pointless training beyond zone 3 in preperation for a half IM?? I know that intensity is different for athletes at different levels.It's my 2nd half im. I am expecting to dip under 4 hrs 30. thank you, David


Hi, when riding in z2 (power), when you get to a hill, unless you ride ridiculously slow, then you are going to go above z2 (into z4 or even z5)
The opposite for downhill sections, where you'll drop into z1 unless you really go for it to keep the power in z2

So I'm wondering what is a good percentage of the ride that should be in z2 (like on the chart at the top of the page) for the ride to be deemed successful.

My z2, 2 hour ride today ended up with only 45% of the ride actually in z2 (IF was 0.721)


Joe Friel

AndrewWilliams9 - Ride the flattest course possible, or hold back and go slow on climbs. Even if flat there will be sos e above and some below. That's ok just get the most you can each time.

Bill Osler

I know that most coaches recommend spending a lot of time in Zone 2 during early base training with a goal of improving aerobic capacity prior to higher intensity training. However, when I look at information like the table of "Expected physiological/performance adaptations ..." at http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/power-training-levels it looks like the training response in Zone 3 is greater than the training response in Zone 2 for all listed categories. That makes me wonder why Zone 2 would be preferred during the early Base period. Am I missing something?

Joe Friel

Bill Osler--Aerobic fitness improves as the intensity of the workout increases. But how much aerobic benefit you reap is also determined by how long you can sustain the intensity. Z2 can be sustained a lot longer than z3.

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