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Training in the Power Zone (Z5)

Training in the Power Zone occurs in various forms throughout the year in 2PEAK training plans. Here we explain what needs to be watched in this intensive training.

Training in the Power zone is always done in the form of intervals. The length of the intervals can vary from a few seconds to several minutes. The longer intervals of several minutes are especially stressful. These mainly occur before a competition and put the last edge on your form and increase competition hardness. On the other hand, intervals of 5 to 30 seconds duration come usually in quieter training phases. This sprint training increases your speed and results in a different metabolic rate from the longer power intervals.

Example: 4x5 minutes interval training in the power zone

In principle power training means maximum work load throughout the stated time period. What's actually wanted however is constant tempo. This means, that for intervals of more than 10 seconds you need a restrained start, otherwise you start the interval sprinting and then continuously lose tempo. So what this really means is that only the short sprints of 10 seconds and less are really done from the start at maximum intensity. For all the other power intervals, the starting level is below maximum (but still within Z5).

Pulse rate monitoring is unsuitable for training management in the Power Zone

IMPORTANT: For managing the intensity in the Power zone, especially with short intervals, heart frequency (pulse rate) is unsuitable, because the heart reacts too slowly. Apart from this, according to the individual and form, the max pulse rate may not be reached, although the power level or tempo may very well be within the power range.

For the reasons explained above, on the automatic 2PEAK interval-scan there often may often be no Power interval found, where only the pulse data is used. So please note all your Power intervals manually, so that the correct recovery calculation can take place.

An even neater solution is to use a power meter for cycling or GPS or foot sensors for speed detection when running. The Power intervals will then always be sensed correctly (in flat country).

An alternative for runners is to train using timing on the track. Racing cyclists can also use timing or speed when climbing a known reference hill It is possible to use a purely subjective strain impression, which is good enough for sprints. For the longer intervals however, it is easier to perform at the correct level, when you have an indication of speed or power.

Runners may use the results of their MAS test, to hit the right tempo: To the MAS Test

Warm up well and watch the recovery between the intervals

Here's how it goes: Warm up well (at least 30 minutes) by starting in the Basic Endurance zone (Z2) and increasing the tempo gently until the High Endurance zone (Z3). For runners the Running Drills make an excellent warm up programme.

Now concentrate on your first interval. Choose a tempo which you can hold for the duration of the interval. That means for longer intervals make a restrained start - don't start flat out! Subjectively the load will always appear harder towards the end.

After the interval continue riding / loping in a relaxed fashion. Unless we have told you differently, you should fully recover before the next interval starts. Your pulse should be back at Basic Endurance (Z2) level and you should feel motivated for the task. Usually the first Power interval seems the hardest, because the body has first to adjust to the high power level.

Between short sprints of up to 10 seconds, you should as a rule wait at least six minutes, so that the short term energy store is fully regenerated.

A special form of training in the Max Power zone is intervals with incomplete recovery, as shown below in the 30sec/30sec intervals, in which 30 seconds of load are followed by 30 seconds of recovery. This is a gentler form of training with MAS speed, or just over. The tempo is clearly below maximum and at the bottom end of the Max Power level. It only begins to feel like a maximum effort, following a large number of repetitions.

Detection of Power intervals based on running speed

Interval detection at Z5 Successful interval detection at Z5 using running speed from a foot sensor in track training

High Power performance levels for cycling intervals

- Sprints up to 10 Seconds are performed at Max Power
- Interval series of 30 Seconds are performed at MP4 level (ca. 120% Anaerobic threshold)
- single High Power intervals up to 1 Minute are at MP1 level or above - Power intervals of 2 Minutes are at 120-130% Anaerobic Threshold (slightly above Z4)
- Power intervals between 3 - 7 Minutes are at 110-120% Anaerobic Threshold (from upper Z4-till just in Z5)

Tips: - Find traffic free areas for training in the Power zone. You lose spatial awareness at max effort!
- Do your Power training with other colleagues. This creates a race situation and motivates accordingly.
- Max Power is often more easily reached on a hill than on the level. Anyone wishing to increase his power in flat races however, should deliberately train Power intervals on the flat.
- Make sure your cadence is high enough: Max Power performance needs a high cadence; On the flat between 100 and 130 RPM; on a hill 80 to 100 RPM.

Stop if you cannot reach required power or speed

If it isn't possible to reach the required speed (running) or power level (cycling) the Power training should be terminated In this case either the body is insufficiently recovered or there is too little motivation to reach the high level. Instead of training half-heartedly it is better in this case to forget the intervals and do some relaxed training instead.

Following the intervals do 15 to 30 minutes warming down. This stimulates recovery.

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