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Zone 2 Rides

Old 02-18-24, 10:50 AM
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'Zone two' is what cyclists call 'having a nice time' when we want to make it sound scientific | Cycling Weekly



edit: . Scientific - ....



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Old 02-18-24, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by bblair
I am no histologist, but I gotta really wonder if the whole mitochondria thing is for real. How is that measured? We all love to repeat the "science" without bothering to actually research it. Are there actual peer-reviewed research papers about this?
Yes, and the gold standard is biopsy before and after the training intervention. There are lots and lots of papers.
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Old 02-20-24, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
"The wider you build the base of a pyramid (Zone 2), the higher the peak will be". - Paraphrased from someone smarter than me.

My understanding is that Zone 2 also brings biological changes that improve the body's ability to clear lactic acid more efficiently. The common/old wisdom was that doing work that created lactic acid is how you improved lactic acid clearing efficiency, but with things I've read/herd recently, the wisdom seems to be changing.
Im going to bump this thread with the quote above and my latest experience.

This was the end of three intense training blocks last spring .
A summer of free riding, Z2 fall/winter training prior was ho hum, I was shooting for a 280-300W FTP after the three blocks Failed miserably.
Note that I couldn't even finish the 3rd interval:
1 12 min @ 238W Av HR147 Max HR152
2 12 238 150 155
3 1 226 130 140 (fail, miserable fail)

After similar summer riding to the prior year, but a dedicated fall/winter of Z2. My first set of intervals in my first block of training.
1 10 281 147 151
2 10 286 146 152
3 10 290 148 156

Starting at 50+w higher than I finished the previous year, which was similar to the year previous to that.

Was able to really push the third interval, had more in the tank and finished the last min at close to 400w.

Lower RPE, lower dead feeling in my legs, better endurance at higher power, higher VO2 max - and only Z2 training for the prior 4 months.

The base is bigger - shall see if I can build a bigger peak on top.

Z2, at least for me, has some merit.
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Old 02-20-24, 03:57 PM
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I've destroyed my aerobic base with tons of hard riding in zone 3 with tons of sprints. Since Thanksgiving (2023) I started seriously doing Z2 training, but I don't do it on the bike, I do it at the gym on a combination of machines. The Stairclimber, Treadmill (at max elevation) and an Arc Trainer (not an elliptical).

It's really helping me. But I still do a little hard efforts as a test, but never too hard that I need to take time off. I do cardio 4x a week and strength train for the remaining 3-days.


P.S. I don't attempt to stay in a certain HR zone, I simply do it by feel, in that I do the hardest exertion, but still can talk. I have yet to burn myself out, unlike my bike rides where sometimes I just passed out after a bike ride.



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Old 02-20-24, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
I've destroyed my aerobic base with tons of hard riding in zone 3 with tons of sprints.
I don't think that you can destroy aerobic fitness by exercising hard. If anything, harder rides with sprints ought to improve aerobic fitness.
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Old 02-20-24, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I don't think that you can destroy aerobic fitness by exercising hard. If anything, harder rides with sprints ought to improve aerobic fitness.
If you could destroy your aerobic base by riding hard then the likes of WVA and MVDP would be nowhere before they even got to the Spring Classics!
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Old 02-21-24, 09:49 AM
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OK, maybe I worded it wrong, by saying I destroyed my aerobic base. However, I am feeling much better after the workout since doing nothing but Z2 and I do like seeing my HR stay about the same as my performance goes up. However, it must be noted these are activities I've done far fewer times than cycling, so I'm sure I'm building capillaries in parts I was previously lacking.
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Old 02-22-24, 08:58 AM
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LSD.....Base Miles.....Zone 2.......

That works great until you ride with a group. Zone 2 soon turns into Zone 4. Or maybe their Zone 2 pace is my Zone 4......

Getting dropped yesterday gave me plenty of time to ponder, do I need to ride harder or easier?
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Old 02-22-24, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
If you could destroy your aerobic base by riding hard then the likes of WVA and MVDP would be nowhere before they even got to the Spring Classics!
Thanks for the reminder to "find and watch some Spring Classics"....
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Old 02-22-24, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bblair
LSD.....Base Miles.....Zone 2.......

That works great until you ride with a group. Zone 2 soon turns into Zone 4. Or maybe their Zone 2 pace is my Zone 4......

Getting dropped yesterday gave me plenty of time to ponder, do I need to ride harder or easier?
They're probably going quite hard. I don't know of anyone who climbs in zone 2, even on all day events. The best aerobic conditioning I've ever found is simply riding with a group that's faster than you. That's way better than doing intervals on your own. Getting dropped is very good. Keep riding with that group. I got dropped every ride for about a year, that's once a week, but I held on longer every ride. We rode once a week, all year, rain or shine. Eventually I wound up leading that group. I'd tell the newbies to "hang onto their wheel until the blood spurts from your eyeballs." A group ride will teach you everything you need to know about cadence, pacing, nutrition, and clothing. Cadence: always spin about the same cadence as the rider whose wheel you're on.

That said, that's just once a week. A 3-5 hour group ride is all the high end conditioning you'll need. The rest of the week, ride Z2. You probably won't be able to profitably do anything else, but do put in some miles. Strength training in the gym twice a week is a good idea, too. I usually did a ride the same day, but only an hour or less, before the gym. If you don't do the group ride every week, you will need to do some intervals to make up for it. This Z2 only thing is taken from pros and elites who can put in 15-20 hours/week, but they are also doing group rides or runs or skis of varying intensity.

When I started my year's training in October, I'd put in a lot of Z2 hours, working up to 2 hours on the rollers 5 days/week for about a month, which was very helpful. That was plenty of low end work, but that's a lot of riding, many people won't be able to even do that. By now, I'd usually be doing some sort of midweek intervals too, maybe low cadence Z3 hill climbs or long periods of max cadence work on the rollers. Only 4 months to July. I kept up doing this routine every year into my 70s.
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Old 02-22-24, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
They're probably going quite hard. I don't know of anyone who climbs in zone 2, even on all day events. The best aerobic conditioning I've ever found is simply riding with a group that's faster than you.
I often climb in zone 2, especially if it's a long-ish social ride. Yesterday's ride was Mt. Hamilton, with a buddy who is fit but climbs a bit slower. 44 miles up-and-down, 5200 feet. About 2.6 W/kg average on the uphill part, right in the middle of my zone 2.
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Old 02-22-24, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I often climb in zone 2, especially if it's a long-ish social ride. Yesterday's ride was Mt. Hamilton, with a buddy who is fit but climbs a bit slower. 44 miles up-and-down, 5200 feet. About 2.6 W/kg average on the uphill part, right in the middle of my zone 2.
I think that is pretty common especially for lighter weight riders. I am more of a z3 / Z4 climber of Mount Hamilton primarily because I rode it on Thanksgiving morning as part of the Low Key Hill Climbs. I disliked the return ride post race where we have to climb the two descents. Legs were dead to me.
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Old 02-22-24, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
I often climb in zone 2, especially if it's a long-ish social ride. Yesterday's ride was Mt. Hamilton, with a buddy who is fit but climbs a bit slower. 44 miles up-and-down, 5200 feet. About 2.6 W/kg average on the uphill part, right in the middle of my zone 2.
I will also admit to having climbed in Z2 when riding with some slower friends, many years ago. Usually I'd do it in a giant gear or one-legged if the climbs weren't too long, not wanting the climb to go to waste. But that was very rare. I avoided social rides like that. One of the reasons I switched to riding a tandem with my wife is so that I could do those sort of rides and still get a great workout.
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Old 02-23-24, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
I think that is pretty common especially for lighter weight riders. I am more of a z3 / Z4 climber of Mount Hamilton primarily because I rode it on Thanksgiving morning as part of the Low Key Hill Climbs. I disliked the return ride post race where we have to climb the two descents. Legs were dead to me.
I am a lightweight and I get to Z3-4 climbing into bed. Fortunately, I'm happy there (in Z3-4 and bed).
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Old 02-23-24, 10:34 AM
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For the past couple seasons, I've made an effort to include a large amount of zone 2 into my riding. I still do 1-2 high-intensity rides during the week, so I'd consider it balanced. I'm not going to make any arguments about mitochondria, fat burning, etc, but it has allowed me to maintain a higher volume without accumulating too much fatigue. I'm able to make my intensity days of higher quality than when I used to just try to hammer everywhere.The result is that I saw a sizable increase in FTP last year and more importantly, my ability to make hard efforts near the end of a long event, has improved.

In my case, I think my power profile plays a role too. My "natural" ability gives me a good sprint, really good <8 min power numbers, average FTP, and not-so-great multi-hour endurance. By increasing time spent at low-intensity and decreasing(but improving quality) high-intensity time, I've seen performance improvements in everything other than my sprint power. Again, I'm not attributing this to some magical zone 2 property...rather that I'm fresher on the hard days and can hold a higher wattage on the "interval" climbs. This year I'm taking it further by adding volume with more zone 2 riding, yet I won't be cutting back any of the higher intensity efforts.
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Old 02-23-24, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
They're probably going quite hard. I don't know of anyone who climbs in zone 2, even on all day events. The best aerobic conditioning I've ever found is simply riding with a group that's faster than you. That's way better than doing intervals on your own. Getting dropped is very good. Keep riding with that group. I got dropped every ride for about a year, that's once a week, but I held on longer every ride. We rode once a week, all year, rain or shine. Eventually I wound up leading that group. I'd tell the newbies to "hang onto their wheel until the blood spurts from your eyeballs." A group ride will teach you everything you need to know about cadence, pacing, nutrition, and clothing. Cadence: always spin about the same cadence as the rider whose wheel you're on.

That said, that's just once a week. A 3-5 hour group ride is all the high end conditioning you'll need. The rest of the week, ride Z2. You probably won't be able to profitably do anything else, but do put in some miles. Strength training in the gym twice a week is a good idea, too. I usually did a ride the same day, but only an hour or less, before the gym. If you don't do the group ride every week, you will need to do some intervals to make up for it. This Z2 only thing is taken from pros and elites who can put in 15-20 hours/week, but they are also doing group rides or runs or skis of varying intensity.

When I started my year's training in October, I'd put in a lot of Z2 hours, working up to 2 hours on the rollers 5 days/week for about a month, which was very helpful. That was plenty of low end work, but that's a lot of riding, many people won't be able to even do that. By now, I'd usually be doing some sort of midweek intervals too, maybe low cadence Z3 hill climbs or long periods of max cadence work on the rollers. Only 4 months to July. I kept up doing this routine every year into my 70s.
Yea...every year, I just suck until May. Cold, windy, out of shape, a few extra pounds.
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Old 02-23-24, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Sierra_rider
For the past couple seasons, I've made an effort to include a large amount of zone 2 into my riding. I still do 1-2 high-intensity rides during the week, so I'd consider it balanced. I'm not going to make any arguments about mitochondria, fat burning, etc, but it has allowed me to maintain a higher volume without accumulating too much fatigue. I'm able to make my intensity days of higher quality than when I used to just try to hammer everywhere.The result is that I saw a sizable increase in FTP last year and more importantly, my ability to make hard efforts near the end of a long event, has improved.
It seems I'm spending lots more time recently in zones 2-3 (Coggan zones), too, but just a little in zone 4+. My Z2-3 JRA (just riding along) feels pretty easy, with some "happy hard" at high Z3. The Z4+ stuff is brief climbs of 3-10 minutes, only when I feel like it. I'm gradually adding volume since the start of the year.

Is it working? Well, my estimated VO2max is slowly rising, as well as FTP. More importantly, I'm enjoying my rides.

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Old 02-23-24, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by bblair
Yea...every year, I just suck until May. Cold, windy, out of shape, a few extra pounds.
Yes, very frustrating. The solution is either resistance rollers or any sort of indoor trainer and hopefully a power meter to go with your HRM. One year, I took part of the the winter off, started working out in January. Total disaster, like you describe. I took a vow to never do that again and never have. That was probably 15-20 years ago. The older we get the more we need consistent exercise. It takes a lot of time to lay down base and then a lot more time to use that base to build speed and endurance.

My recommendation of course is to use resistance rollers. They're expensive but not nearly as expensive as the modern electronics equipped trainers which we read about on BF. The wonderful thing about rollers is that you just throw your road bike on them and ride. You retain your balance and bike handling skills and can do all the necessary intervals Need a 24" box fan is all. I don't watch TV, etc., just listen to rock music. I put at least 1000 miles on my rollers every year. I used my Garmin to record the rides and upload to TrainingPeaks.
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Old 02-24-24, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
Yes, very frustrating. The solution is either resistance rollers or any sort of indoor trainer and hopefully a power meter to go with your HRM.
My solution this winter was to transition to running and strength training. I did my first ride in two months today and it went surprisingly well. I didnít have any issues of not having the necessary strength to manage on my single speed bike. In fact, I was able to comfortably stay in the saddle on some steeper hills that I would typically stand on. I attribute that to strength training all winter even though it was targeted to support running. I suspect the benefits overlap a lot.

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Old 02-24-24, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ofajen
My solution this winter was to transition to running and strength training. I did my first ride in two months today and it went surprisingly well. I didnít have any issues of not having the necessary strength to manage on my single speed bike. In fact, I was able to comfortably stay in the saddle on some steeper hills that I would typically stand on. I attribute that to strength training all winter even though it was targeted to support running. I suspect the benefits overlap a lot.

Otto
Only thing is that the muscles' nerve stimulus and muscular range of motion is different whether running or cycling. So it's not quite the same. That said, I've ridden with some fast climbers who ran more than they rode. They had a tendency to be faster out of the saddle which makes sense. Buy yeah, for me strength training all winter is really important. How did you target running with your strength work?
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Old 02-25-24, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
How did you target running with your strength work?
Some frequent leg exercises are split squats, single and double leg squats, Romanian deadlifts single and double, step ups, and step downs. To strengthen and stabilize my knees. Itís worked great for running, as I havenít had much knee discomfort. On slow runs, Iím mostly constrained by how much my feet can take. And Iíve felt OK to do fast intervals and sprints, which adds variety to the week.

I have to give credit to an acquaintance I see regularly at our rec center. He goes there to lift and the indoor track runs right around the weight machine area. We always chat if we are there. He just graduated med school here and will seek a residency placement after a year of research. Anyway as I was building up mileage I was noticing sometimes my knees would feel ok and sometimes not. He suggested I look up the basic exercises for strength training that support running and those are the basic things you see on all the guides from university programs and PT offices.

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Old 02-25-24, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ofajen
Some frequent leg exercises are split squats, single and double leg squats, Romanian deadlifts single and double, step ups, and step downs. To strengthen and stabilize my knees. Itís worked great for running, as I havenít had much knee discomfort. On slow runs, Iím mostly constrained by how much my feet can take. And Iíve felt OK to do fast intervals and sprints, which adds variety to the week.

I have to give credit to an acquaintance I see regularly at our rec center. He goes there to lift and the indoor track runs right around the weight machine area. We always chat if we are there. He just graduated med school here and will seek a residency placement after a year of research. Anyway as I was building up mileage I was noticing sometimes my knees would feel ok and sometimes not. He suggested I look up the basic exercises for strength training that support running and those are the basic things you see on all the guides from university programs and PT offices.

Otto
Similar to what Alpine skiers do. Also makes sense. I got back into skiing some years after I'd gotten back into riding, which included gym work. First time I went up, I was astonished at how well I could ski, considering that I hadn't done it in about 15 years. Strength makes a lot of difference.
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Old 02-27-24, 12:00 AM
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I find Z2 rides absolute insufferable torture. Since I am not seeing leaps in power, or anything else, will be doing more Z2 with HIIT sessions two days a week. What I was doing was leaving tired legs unless I took 2 days off but I really enjoyed the all out sprints. Hope Z2 will pay off and donít feel like I am wasting my time spinning while watching Netflix.
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Old 02-27-24, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
I find Z2 rides absolute insufferable torture.
Do you do social rides? That's where I get lots of Z2 time, and the company makes it more enjoyable.
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Old 02-27-24, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Do you do social rides? That's where I get lots of Z2 time, and the company makes it more enjoyable.
Good idea. Donít but should. There is a large cycling club in Seattle Ďproperí that has a variety of rides. I just have to become motivated getting my bike on the back of the car to drive there for the rides. Have always avoided the senior rides, since I prefer to go 18+ MPH. Looks like I may need to swallow my pride and just do it.
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