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Understanding Power Zones

Power Zones are all defined as a percentage of your FTP.  They allows us to scale workouts to each racer's individual fitness level, ensuring that everyone is working at their optimal intensity.  

TrainerRoad workouts target specific Power Zones that represent various aspects of your fitness. This article is an overview of each Power Zone and what that zone strives to achieve.

Active Recovery
(<55%FTP)
Endurance
(55% - 75% FTP)
Tempo
(76% - 87% FTP)
Sweet Spot
(88% - 94% FTP)
Threshold
(95% - 105% FTP)
VO2 Max
(106% - 120% FTP)
Anaerobic Capacity
(>120% FTP)

Active Recovery (<55% FTP)

Active recovery is a zone that you'll see in-between intervals as a chance to recover, catch your breath, and lower your heart rate before digging in again for the next interval.

Endurance (55% - 75% FTP)

Aerobic Endurance workouts are aimed at improving your aerobic-power-producing capabilities in a low-stress manner. By riding for increasingly longer periods of time, your endurance muscle fibers become more efficient at utilizing fat for fuel and sparing sugar stores for more intense efforts. Additionally, Endurance workouts can improve oxygen delivery & utilization, increase muscular resistance to fatigue, improve the integrity of connective tissue, and even help you improve your on-bike nutrition strategies.

Tempo (76% - 87% FTP)

Riding in the tempo range pushes you near the height of your aerobic endurance. While rather uncomfortable, working here isn't terribly stressful and it allows you to spend long durations at a constant and productive work level with little recovery. This is where many half-distance triathletes will live for 2+ hours during their bike leg. This is also where ample time is spent during long road races, especially ones with steady climbs.

Sweet Spot (88% - 94% FTP)

Sweet Spot intervals aim to further muscular endurance and enhance aerobic capabilities. Additional related benefits include improved sugar storage in the muscles, better utilization of fat for fuel, a higher capacity for more intense workouts later on and increased power output at moderate, predominantly aerobic intensities.

Threshold (95% - 105% FTP)

By spending time very close to your FTP, riders can improve their sustainable power & muscle endurance by teaching their muscles to process high levels of lactate and acidic buildup without slowing down. Additionally, and equally as important, riders learn to tolerate the mental discomfort inherent in maintaining high levels of Functional Threshold Power.

VO2 Max (106% - 120% FTP)

VO2 Max efforts aim to increase your power during short, intense efforts and to expand your aerobic capacity, i.e. the ability to utilize more oxygen more effectively.   They also do a good job of stressing your intermediate muscle fibers that process both fat and sugar and therefore utilize oxygen much like your slow-twitch, endurance fibers. When training time is very limited, deriving a high training benefit in minimal time is crucial - this is how you do it.

Anaerobic Capacity   (>120% FTP)

By working at power outputs high enough to elicit very high levels of oxygen uptake, tremendous improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic power can be achieved, all in very little time. Short-duration, high-intensity repeats can be highly productive for all types of riders but are especially important for riders working on limited training time. In far less time than that required by long, slow distance approach to training, riders can develop similar aerobic capabilities - little time, high stress, comparable adaptation.
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