If you did not read the article before this, you will want to start there to learn about the first four common training zones in cycling. Once finished, come back to this article!
The last three zones in the common training zone lineup are very important and include the most important and widely used range. We will also discuss the last three of my training ranges as they match up and do the same thing for the most part, I just have different names for them. For the more common names we have the VO2 Max or zone 5, Anaerobic or zone 6, and Neuromuscular Power or zone 7. In my line up it would be zones 7 through 9, and they are called Power Intervals, Absent Intervals, and Synapse Intervals. Let’s dig in!
Starting with the VO2 Max training range where the intervals with these babies start to get shorter as the intensity creeps up to a new level. You will definitely have leg fatigue during these intervals, and you will not be able to do much talking. The typical range in time for these intervals is 3 to 8 minutes and the combined work to rest portion of the hard workout tends to be less than 40 minutes. As an example, you could do 4 x 5 min intervals with 5 minutes rest between intervals for a total of 40 minutes. While you sweat and work hard during these intervals you are using carbohydrates to fuel your performance. Adaptations in this range are seen faster than in previous zones as you see increased anaerobic capacity which is exercise without the use of oxygen, growing of the slow twitch muscle fibers, increased blood flow to muscles, increased plasma volume, increased heart stroke volume, increased maximal cardiac output, and obviously and increase in VO2 Max. The only difference in these intervals and my Power Intervals is that I may go down to 2 minutes on my 2-8 minute range, where the normal measure is to stay between 3-8 minutes.
Moving on to Anaerobic zone 6 where using the heart rate as guidance is no longer possible due to the lag in heart rate. The heart always lags behind in training at the start, and when you finish it lags behind in slowing down. Do to the way the heart works, high intensity short intervals are not measured with heart rate do to the inaccuracy. For more steady and moderate to easy efforts, the heart rate can be used.
These intervals will cause severe leg discomfort as well as impossible conversation as these intervals are all out for 30 seconds up to 3 minutes. Doing these intervals multiple days in a row is usually not recommended. All adaptations occur in this zone, but the biggest benefit of this zone is the ability to increase the anaerobic capacity of the body. Because this range causes so many adaptations, you see so many workout plans that include intervals in this zone. Again the only difference between Anaerobic Intervals and my Absent Intervals is that they go 30 seconds to 2 minutes instead of 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
The last and final range that we will talk about is the Neuromuscular Power Zone, or Zone 7. These intervals are very short, very high watt output and are not meant to tax the cardio system. The goal is to throw down a huge amount of watts in less than 30 seconds. This zone puts a lot of stress on the musculoskeletal system and creates an increase in neuromuscular power. Other benefits are the growing of fast twitch type 2b muscle fibers and increases in muscle ATP stores for those short sprint efforts needed in racing. Again the only difference I have here in my Synapse Intervals is staying at 25 seconds or less.
In the next article I will discuss different ways to put together workouts involving different zones.