How To Train Using Heart Rate Zones Cycling

Last update: 2022-09-20

Probability is that you've heard about training zones if you're getting into riding with data. Cyclists can use training zones to target certain physiological adaptations, leading to better outcomes from time spent on the bike.

Understanding and using training zones successfully may be difficult since there are so many different training zone models out there – encompassing both heart rate zone and power – and because terminology like FTP, sweetspot, VO2 max, and anaerobic power are often used.

Instead, by providing a framework to your workout, heart rate zone zones allow you to target specific areas of improvement.

As a result of heart rate monitors and training applications, a large variety of inexpensive power meters, and the rapid rise in popularity of indoor smart trainers, utilizing training zones is now easier than ever.

What do training zones really mean? How are they used? Let’s find out with us.

1. What are training zones?

How To Train Using Heart Rate Zones Cycling

It's important to note that training zones correlate to physiological processes taking place in the body. Cyclists can employ training zones to mention objective responses, from building stamina with basic training to focusing on the capacity to release a max-power sprint.

To finish a ride, session, or interval, training zones are utilized to establish a certain intensity and length.

It is possible to estimate these intensities by measuring heart rate, power, or even "feel" (also known as "rate of perceived effort"). You will be required to execute intervals in zone three as part of a training plan.

Pacing your efforts, though, it's not the only thing you need to consider. While on rest days or between durations, using training zones will help you avoid overworking yourself.

Depending on your muscle strength, your individual training zones are unique to you. What one rider considers to be 'zone three' will not be the same for another.

2. How Do You Set Your Training Zones Up?

How To Train Using Heart Rate Zones Cycling

To do this, you can ride aggressively for five minutes before cooling down to a 10-minute easy period, or you can analyze your blood lactate and organize your training all around thresholds determined in a laboratory. Heart rate and physiological threshold output, on the other hand, are the two most prevalent metrics employed in cycling training.

Training zones are determined by calculating your maximum heart rate and dividing it by two. Simple formulations, such as 214 minus (0.8 x age) for men and 209 minus (0.9 x age) for women have become common ways to determine your maximum heart rate. New analysis and coaching approaches have shown that these tactics are obsolete and shouldn't be depended on, despite their popularity.

To correctly determine your maximum heart rate, you'll need to put yourself through a rigorous test. Riding up a long, sustained rise four times at maximum effort to disappointment, with the goal of reaching your maximum heart rate on one of the last four ascents. It's therefore possible to use the heart rate training zone table to compute the percentages in accordance with your findings.

3. Mark Your Maximum Heart Rate

How To Train Using Heart Rate Zones Cycling

As long as we're on the subject of maximum heart rate zones, it's worth noting that the figure might change from one sport to the next. For example, your maximum heart rate when running is likely to be greater than your maximum heart rate while cycling. Since the maximum heart rate is depending on the number of muscle groups utilized, running is a good example. So it's important to know what your maximum heart rate is for each of your sports.

To decide how hard (or easy) each of your exercises should be, you'll need to know your maximum heart rate.

Here's another option: Only a bike and a long, steady hill will do!

Firstly, doing warm-up for 15 minutes

1. Initiate at a fast pace and increase it by a minute.

2. Remain sitting for around five minutes.

3. Get off the saddle and sprint as hard as you can for 15 seconds until you can't go much faster while seated.

4. Take your heart rate as soon as possible, and you'll have your maximum heart rate in seconds.

4. The Zones Of Heart Rate For Training

How To Train Using Heart Rate Zones Cycling

Zone 1


Intensity: 50-60% of HR

Lactic acid is flushed out of your body during active recovery activities. As long as you keep them light, these workouts might help you recover from tiredness and discomfort. As a result, you'll miss out on the advantages and risk overtraining. In addition, this is the heart rate zone you desire for your "healing" intervals.

Zone 2


Intensity : 60-70% of HR

If you're a novice cyclist, this should be the cornerstone of your training and the bulk of your sessions. As you develop your core and lose weight, you should be able to easily maintain this effort for an extended length of time, all conversing and taking in the beauty around you. During your lengthy rides, you should maintain this level of effort. But you're not working aggressive that it's unpleasant.

Zone 3

Tempo / Sweetspot

Intensity : 70-80% of HR

When combined with Zone 2 exercise, it enhances aerobic fitness as well as muscle power. "Smoothly harsh" is the best way to describe it. You're working hard, and you can tell it's working on you. You can, however, continue to press on despite the obstacles.

Zone 4

Lactate Threshold

Intensity : 80-90% of HR

Another name for this exercise is the anaerobic threshold, which improves high-speed endurance while increasing maximal performance capability. That said, this form of training may be quite demanding and cannot be prolonged for a long period. Therefore, it's best employed in interval training with active recovery intervals between sets.

Zone 5

VO2 max

Intensity : 80-90% of HR

You can do this for 3 to 8 minutes at a time, and it's one of the most intensive kinds of exercise there is. As you push yourself ahead, your legs will be on fire and you'll be gasping for oxygen. If you're a serious cyclist, this sort of ride will help you develop a faster heartbeat and more efficient blood flow.

5. The Advantage Of Heart Rate Training Zones

How To Train Using Heart Rate Zones Cycling

Using training zones has a variety of advantages, whether you're new to professional training or an experienced cyclist.

Intensity heart rate zones allow you to take a more systematic and exact approach to training, allowing you to target particular areas of your strength, control your effort to avoid overload, and measure your improvement over time.

As a bonus, exercising using zones maintains your training consistent and focused at the same time, a win-win scenario. As a bonus, using heart rate zones allows you to guarantee that your recovery sessions – or the moments between high-intensity intervals – are easy enough so that your body can relax and react to the effort you're doing.

Despite the fact that heart rate straps are inexpensive, easy to use, and may give you a good picture of how your body is reacting to workout, the data can be impacted by external variables (sleep and altitude) and struggle from latency (it takes a bit of time for your heart rate to adapt).

6. Following Your Heart Rate While Training

A cyclist's heart rate may be determined by placing two fingers on the wrist or neck, although it might be difficult to acquire a precise reading during a workout. If you're riding a bike, withdrawing one hand to check your pulse is, to put it mildly, risky. As a cyclist, you run the danger of colliding with another cyclist or a pedestrian, as well as a car.

If you're working out, a heart rate monitor can help you make adjustments so that your heart rate stays within a certain range. You don't have to take your eyes off of your workout in order to achieve this. This makes it easy to keep track of your heart rate and makes your training more productive.

Jessie Swift
Jessie Swift

"I'm Jessie, being an author for gearinstant, an office job? No, with internet, I can be a digital nomad everywhere, I enjoyed cycling, running whenever I can. I'd love to share my experience from the gears, useful tips and learned for everybody who have the same passion like me."

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