An hour at zone 3, is it useful?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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peroni
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by peroni

Very interesting topic and thanks to all the contributors.

I am looking into adapting my training to include a lot more slow miles.
For the slow miles are we talking about 45 to 90 minutes at Z2 being 60% to 70% of max heart rate? Would that be the average heartrate of the workout including the few sprints?

I see some aim to stay at 60% only which for me would be 107 bpm and I get that heart rate just by tying my shoes, should have gone for lace-less Giro :D
Also living in a hilly area, it's extremely difficult for me to stay within Z2 so I'm thinking these slow sessions can only be achieved on the trainer. Am I missing something?

For completeness of information, I ride about 6k miles per year, occasionally racing mountain bike and road and sometimes get on the podium in my age category, turning 50 soon.
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TobinHatesYou
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by TobinHatesYou

peroni wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:37 am
Very interesting topic and thanks to all the contributors.

I am looking into adapting my training to include a lot more slow miles.
For the slow miles are we talking about 45 to 90 minutes at Z2 being 60% to 70% of max heart rate? Would that be the average heartrate of the workout including the few sprints?

I see some aim to stay at 60% only which for me would be 107 bpm and I get that heart rate just by tying my shoes, should have gone for lace-less Giro :D
Also living in a hilly area, it's extremely difficult for me to stay within Z2 so I'm thinking these slow sessions can only be achieved on the trainer. Am I missing something?

For completeness of information, I ride about 6k miles per year, occasionally racing mountain bike and road and sometimes get on the podium in my age category, turning 50 soon.

Your avg HR over a 45min or 90min ride isn't going to be greatly affected by a few sprints.

I generally use power as a means of policing my slow rides, but for HR, I would aim for ~75% of LTHR and 68% of HRmax. This puts me in moderate Z1 (Friel zones) for HR, and just barely Z2 (Coggan zones) for power.

If I rode at 60% of HRmax, that would be 104bpm. I'd be doing something like 120W or 42% of FT...well inside Z1.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

peroni wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:37 am
Very interesting topic and thanks to all the contributors.

I am looking into adapting my training to include a lot more slow miles.
For the slow miles are we talking about 45 to 90 minutes at Z2 being 60% to 70% of max heart rate? Would that be the average heartrate of the workout including the few sprints?

I see some aim to stay at 60% only which for me would be 107 bpm and I get that heart rate just by tying my shoes, should have gone for lace-less Giro :D
Also living in a hilly area, it's extremely difficult for me to stay within Z2 so I'm thinking these slow sessions can only be achieved on the trainer. Am I missing something?

For completeness of information, I ride about 6k miles per year, occasionally racing mountain bike and road and sometimes get on the podium in my age category, turning 50 soon.
The point is to make sure your average HR during a Z2 session stays within Z2. It's fine to deviate on a "uphill" portion and to recover on the "downhill" portion of a ride. And the point of staying in Z2 is to ensure you are both getting 1) adequate aerobic stimulus and 2) adequate chance to recover and make aerobic adaptations. Z3 and Z4 give you plenty aerobic stimulus, but start infringing on your ability to recover/make adaptations, not to mention leading to fatigue and injury over time and impacting your ability to really go hard on your legitimate hard rides.

I'm not sure what your max HR is, but from my math it's about 178? Which gives you up to 125bpm (70%) to play with, which is quite a good aerobic zone to be in.

And frankly speaking, if your heart rate spikes to 107bpm by tying your shoes, you REALLY need more Z2!!!!!! A clear sign of poor aerobic conditioning is your HR spiking doing simple daily activities (or getting out of breath doing "nighttime activities" if you get my drift :)).

As mentioned earlier in this thread, Chris Froome's heart rate averaged 158 or so while attacking up Mt. Ventoux in the Tour a couple of years ago. That is one extreme case of elite level aerobic fitness, but also evidence of how beneficial it is to be able to avoid getting anywhere near your anaerbic threshold even at high power outputs - the human body just cannot function anaerobically very long, so we rather than wasting countless hours trying to increase our "threshold" ability, polarized training seeks to delay the point at which an activity becomes anaerobic for as long as possible by keeping you squarely within pure aerobic zones longer. I imagine most of us would be hitting near our max HR just trying to keep up with the peloton on the flats, but that's another story :)
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peroni
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by peroni

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:02 am

Your avg HR over a 45min or 90min ride isn't going to be greatly affected by a few sprints.

I generally use power as a means of policing my slow rides, but for HR, I would aim for ~75% of LTHR and 68% of HRmax. This puts me in moderate Z1 (Friel zones) for HR, and just barely Z2 (Coggan zones) for power.

If I rode at 60% of HRmax, that would be 104bpm. I'd be doing something like 120W or 42% of FT...well inside Z1.
My likely lack of aerobic condition seem to cause a great delay with heartrate returning within Z2 boundaries after a sprint, I need to stop totally for a few minutes
Hopefully that will improve after a few weeks following this method.
75% of LHTR is 123 BPM for me and 68% of FCMax is 121 BPM so that ties in with what iheartbianchi says below.

iheartbianchi wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:15 am
The point is to make sure your average HR during a Z2 session stays within Z2. It's fine to deviate on a "uphill" portion and to recover on the "downhill" portion of a ride. And the point of staying in Z2 is to ensure you are both getting 1) adequate aerobic stimulus and 2) adequate chance to recover and make aerobic adaptations. Z3 and Z4 give you plenty aerobic stimulus, but start infringing on your ability to recover/make adaptations, not to mention leading to fatigue and injury over time and impacting your ability to really go hard on your legitimate hard rides.
I'm not sure what your max HR is, but from my math it's about 178? Which gives you up to 125bpm (70%) to play with, which is quite a good aerobic zone to be in.
And frankly speaking, if your heart rate spikes to 107bpm by tying your shoes, you REALLY need more Z2!!!!!! A clear sign of poor aerobic conditioning is your HR spiking doing simple daily activities.
As mentioned earlier in this thread, Chris Froome's heart rate averaged 158 or so while attacking up Mt. Ventoux in the Tour a couple of years ago. That is one extreme case of elite level aerobic fitness. I imagine most of us would be hitting near our max HR just trying to keep up with the peloton on the flats, but that's another story :)
My body seems to have developed a great capacity of withstanding high heart rates for long time, during a recent MTB race of about 150 minutes my average heartbeat was 91% of FCMAX (179)
I really need more aerobic training.
Thanks both for chiming in, I will report back in a few weeks.
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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

peroni wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:34 am

My body seems to have developed a great capacity of withstanding high heart rates for long time, during a recent MTB race of about 150 minutes my average heartbeat was 91% of FCMAX (179)
I really need more aerobic training.
Thanks both for chiming in, I will report back in a few weeks.
Actually it sounds like you've developed a very high capacity for suffering! A very fit (but not elite) endurance athlete who is pacing well should be able to complete a 2-2.5 hour race effort at about 85-90% of max heartrate (plateau with slight peak at the end), so you're slightly over that, but not terribly so. Credit to your 6,000 miles a year.

Ironically, people with really poor fitness have low average heartrates during a race because they hit the wall (as opposed to bonking, which is a nutritional issue) and can no longer produce the effort that requires higher heartrates.

And people like you (most fit but not elite) will be over the "ideal" average heart rate because they have to work harder to maintain the same level of effort during the latter stages and drift into the anaerobic zone earlier than is ideal, but are fit enough to hang on and make it to the finish.

But again, you're so close to the "ideal" that I'm surprised your HR spikes that much when tying your shoes! Maybe you just woke up or you just got off work and your blood isn't circulating well yet and you need more warmup.,.
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by AJS914

peroni wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:34 am

My likely lack of aerobic condition seem to cause a great delay with heartrate returning within Z2 boundaries after a sprint, I need to stop totally for a few minutes
Hopefully that will improve after a few weeks following this method.
I think you need to think longer term. After "a few weeks" you will only just be getting started. After starting this training, I started to see gains after about 5 weeks and I'm seeing gains week after week 9 weeks in. I'm also putting in 9-10 hours per week. My goal is to do a proper base phase of at least 12 weeks before I alter the training plan and add a weekly interval session.

Also, I don't know how much you are going to benefit from just 45/90 minute rides. From the Velonews Fasttalk podcasts and reading Dr. Stephen Seiler's research, it seems that you have to put in the longer sesssions. Trevor Conner has said a few times that he sees 2.5 hours as the minimum "long" session. They recommend at least one of those extra long rides per week. The idea is to throughly fatigue the slow twitch muscle fibers and maybe even recruit some fast twitch fibers to endurance work. You can only do that by going long and slow.

One of the key benefits of polarized training is that you can comfortably do more volume with more training effect with less overall training stress.

peroni
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by peroni

AJS914 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 2:31 pm

I think you need to think longer term. After "a few weeks" you will only just be getting started. After starting this training, I started to see gains after about 5 weeks and I'm seeing gains week after week 9 weeks in. I'm also putting in 9-10 hours per week. My goal is to do a proper base phase of at least 12 weeks before I alter the training plan and add a weekly interval session.

Also, I don't know how much you are going to benefit from just 45/90 minute rides. From the Velonews Fasttalk podcasts and reading Dr. Stephen Seiler's research, it seems that you have to put in the longer sesssions. Trevor Conner has said a few times that he sees 2.5 hours as the minimum "long" session. They recommend at least one of those extra long rides per week. The idea is to throughly fatigue the slow twitch muscle fibers and maybe even recruit some fast twitch fibers to endurance work. You can only do that by going long and slow.

One of the key benefits of polarized training is that you can comfortably do more volume with more training effect with less overall training stress.
The plan is to have at least a 45 minutes Z2 session every day except for one long weekend session with a lot of anaerobic work and a 3 hour Z2 ride mid week with a few sprints or short hills
But of course work, family and real life might change this :D
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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

AJS914 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 2:31 pm
peroni wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:34 am

My likely lack of aerobic condition seem to cause a great delay with heartrate returning within Z2 boundaries after a sprint, I need to stop totally for a few minutes
Hopefully that will improve after a few weeks following this method.
I think you need to think longer term. After "a few weeks" you will only just be getting started. After starting this training, I started to see gains after about 5 weeks and I'm seeing gains week after week 9 weeks in. I'm also putting in 9-10 hours per week. My goal is to do a proper base phase of at least 12 weeks before I alter the training plan and add a weekly interval session.

Also, I don't know how much you are going to benefit from just 45/90 minute rides. From the Velonews Fasttalk podcasts and reading Dr. Stephen Seiler's research, it seems that you have to put in the longer sesssions. Trevor Conner has said a few times that he sees 2.5 hours as the minimum "long" session. They recommend at least one of those extra long rides per week. The idea is to throughly fatigue the slow twitch muscle fibers and maybe even recruit some fast twitch fibers to endurance work. You can only do that by going long and slow.

One of the key benefits of polarized training is that you can comfortably do more volume with more training effect with less overall training stress.
The 45 minute option is a decent fallback option on days where you are really pressed for time, but obviously it's really the absolute minimum of where you need to be, so you shouldn't expect anything spectacular from it. Sure, it's not ideal, and definitely very bad if you are doing say only 4 45 minute rides a week at Zone 2. But equally bad would be doing only 2 90 minute rides a week at Zone 2. Same time in zone, both bad, I don't really know which would be worse, but my guess is the 2 90 minutes because you start losing fitness with so many days off each week. Consistent stimulation is really important. I forget where I read this, but after 20 minutes is when your body starts receiving some real measurable aerobic benefit.

But let's say you do 5 45 minute rides a week, plus a 3 hour ride on the weekend. Then you're actually getting a decent amount of aerobic exercise. Mind you, I would only do a 45 minute session if it's done indoors on a roller/spinbike/turbo, because the time it takes to get ready and put your stuff for a ride on the road really makes 45 minutes ineffecient. And a controlled 45 minute ride indoors is actually really good because let's face it, on the roads there are plenty of times when you are free wheeling or stopped which exaggerates the amount of time you were "in zone."

And 90 minutes is more than plenty. Many world class marathon runners will never run more than 90 minutes in a single instance with the exception of a single longer run (of 2 hours or so) maybe every two to three weeks (sure, they are doing 2 to 4 such runs a day), and they are training for a 2 to 2.5 hour effort. They basically do something like a slowish 60 minute run in the morning, a "harder" run or workout in the afternoon, and another slowish 60 or 90 minute run in the evening. And in between they are literally lying on the sofa or bed, with strict instructions not to do anything at all (not even clean or do laundry or walk around too much!). Studies have shown that other than certain energy and biomechanical efficiencies, you can split up a single aerobic event into smaller pieces (within limits, hence the 45/90) to achieve the same effect as the single event but with a great reduction in fatigue and overuse injury risk. Plus, as mentioned earlier peak HGH production occurs around 45 minutes, and peak capillarization/mitochondria production occurs by 90 minutes before greatly plateauing. Of course for ultra endurance events (like a stage race or 6 hour long races), that's a whole different ball game.

For most of us, we will never compete in an event longer than 3 hours, so in terms of heart rate based training, the aerobic demands of a criterium race or a century is really quite in-line with the demands of a marathon (most amateur marathon runners complete the run in over 4 hours), hence the portability of the 45/90 rule. Now if you are doing stage events, or rides that will take longer than 3 hours (such as certain gran fondos or event rides), then you really need to change your training to include weekly longer rides of 2 hours +.
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by AJS914

Does running compare to cycling? It seems that running is harder, minute for minute, than cycling.

Do you have any links to studies about the 45/90 minute figures? I'd love to read further.

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by iheartbianchi

AJS914 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 4:51 am
Does running compare to cycling? It seems that running is harder, minute for minute, than cycling.

Do you have any links to studies about the 45/90 minute figures? I'd love to read further.
Yes it does compare. Remember that Lance Armstrong, James Whelan, Michael Woods etc. were runners before turning to cycling. Tejay van Garderen, Demare, Benoot, etc. run in the off-season. The muscles used, the biomechanics, stresses on your connective tissue and load-bearing aspects are very very different, but from an aerobic perspective (i.e., the ability of your body to process oxygen and convert energy into effort), they are extremely similar. Remember, the capillaries and mitochondria you built in your legs from running transfer over to cycling and vice versa. Elite cycling tends to go for longer durations at lower intensities, so that aspect is different. And running is only harder because you're not very good at it and likely going too fast :) I remember when I converted from running to cycling, I had a very hard time getting my HR above 130bpm because I had such a large aerobic engine my legs would give out long before I could stress my aerobic system. A trained runner can "jog" for an hour without breaking a sweat, just like we can cruise at 100watts for an hour no problem. Now push 300 watts and our hearts will be pounding!

I can't find the exact study since I learne all this years ago, but here's one I quickly found (but it's a bit odd that its target group was focused on patients with anemia).

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/38/6/e37

Figure 1 shows that HGH concentration peaks after 15 minutes, but stabilizes and plateaus at 45 minutes, and there is no difference in HGH at all between 45 to 60 minutes, before significantly dropping off after 60 minutes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3529283

-Frequencies of as low as 2 per week can result in improvements in less fit subjects but when aerobic power exceeds 50 ml/kg/min, exercise frequency of at least 3 times per week is required.
-Although these pooled data suggest that maximal gains in aerobic power are elicited with intensities between 90 to 100% VO2max, 4 times per week with exercise durations of 35 to 45 minutes, it is important to note that lower intensities still produce effective changes and reduce the risks of injury in non-athletic groups.

I can't seem to locate the studies regarding 90 minutes that I had in mind, but the following is pretty interesting:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442222/

-The charts show the "optimal" duration based on effort level. For low and moderate efforts, the optimal is either under 100 minutes, or at a much lower power, well over 100 minutes.

I'll try to locate the 90 minute study showing plataeuing but I read it several years ago so no promises.
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by AJS914

iheartbianchi wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 5:28 am
I can't find the exact study since I learne all this years ago, but here's one I quickly found (but it's a bit odd that its target group was focused on patients with anemia).

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/38/6/e37

Figure 1 shows that HGH concentration peaks after 15 minutes, but stabilizes and plateaus at 45 minutes, and there is no difference in HGH at all between 45 to 60 minutes, before significantly dropping off after 60 minutes.

This kind of stuff makes me wonder if some people are trying to bio hack training. Like, why not jump on the trainer morning and evening for 15 minutes to increase that HGH production?

robertbb
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by robertbb

Training is bio hacking, in a sense. In all sports, a good understanding of hormones and how to maximise the "good" ones (HGH, Testosterone) and minimise the bad ones (cortisol) are key for performance, recovery, adaptation and progression.

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by iheartbianchi

AJS914 wrote:
This kind of stuff makes me wonder if some people are trying to bio hack training. Like, why not jump on the trainer morning and evening for 15 minutes to increase that HGH production?
That’s exactly why elite runners now run 2-4 times a day....not just for injury reduction but to max out their HGH production. Now why not do 100 x 15 minutes a day? Lol well I can think of a lot of reasons why thats a bad idea! HGH isnt the end all be all for endurance athletes!
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by robertbb

Maybe I missed it above, but what level of intensity is required for those 15 minute sessions, to maximise the HGH?

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by patchsurfer

This has been a great thread, very informative. I don't think I've done a base period as such in years - into my 3rd week now, and I'm enjoying it - nice to be able to smell the roses a little, and equally nice not to turn up to work after a hard session knackered and useless. I've been getting concerned about the effect of endless high intensity work on my nearly 50 year old heart, so this has come along at just the right time.

I've been doing either 45 minute trainer sessions or 1-1.5 hr road rides 4/5 times a week, and a 2.5 hr ride once - couple of swim and yoga sessions chucked in to boot. I did an FTP test the week before I stumbled across this thread - I'll report back when I test again, or when the gains become more apparent.

Thanks, iheartbianchi - really appreciate you taking the time to share so much on here.

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