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Mismatched HR and Power Zones?

Old 03-13-23, 11:42 AM
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Mismatched HR and Power Zones?

Is it reasonable to expect that correct heart rate and power zones ought to roughly match up?

I've been looking at my activity for the last 2 weeks, and it looks like the zone 3+ power times don't match up with the zone 3+ heart rate times.

Zone 3+ Activity:
Heart rate: 40.2%
Power: 51.4%

I figure that my heart rate zones are correct, and power zones are set off of FTP, so would it make sense to increase FTP? Yes, I know the standard is to do an FTP test, but I really don't like doing those (does anyone?).
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Old 03-13-23, 11:57 AM
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Mine only match up in the most approximate way. The main reason for the mismatch, as I understand it, is that the HR-power relationship is modified by fitness and unless one is continually and accurately adjusting one's FTP, the power zones are "wrong."

Are you pegging your HR zones to threshold HR or something else?
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Old 03-13-23, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
Mine only match up in the most approximate way. The main reason for the mismatch, as I understand it, is that the HR-power relationship is modified by fitness and unless one is continually and accurately adjusting one's FTP, the power zones are "wrong."

Are you pegging your HR zones to threshold HR or something else?
Yes, I'm setting HR zones on threshold HR, using the auto-calculation built into Training Peaks.

I did bump up the HR zone 2-3 line four beats, because the default low zone 3 felt super easy. That barely changed the match-up.

I increased threshold power by 5 watts, which did improve the match-up by a few percent.
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Old 03-13-23, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Is it reasonable to expect that correct heart rate and power zones ought to roughly match up?

I've been looking at my activity for the last 2 weeks, and it looks like the zone 3+ power times don't match up with the zone 3+ heart rate times.

Zone 3+ Activity:
Heart rate: 40.2%
Power: 51.4%
Think about how heart rate lags power and how you could go over zone 3 power for a second or two (accumulating time there) without heart rate ever changing.
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Old 03-13-23, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Yes, I'm setting HR zones on threshold HR, using the auto-calculation built into Training Peaks.

I did bump up the HR zone 2-3 line four beats, because the default low zone 3 felt super easy. That barely changed the match-up.

I increased threshold power by 5 watts, which did improve the match-up by a few percent.
I think that for guys like us who don't get regular lab testing, the whole power zone thing is pretty loose.

intervals.icu generates a time-in-HR-zone-based estimate of TSS for each workout, derived from a regression of the last few months of data from rides with both HR and power measurements. My HR number is often off by a few points, but the r-value for the model is .97 at the moment, so my zones can't be too far off.
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Old 03-13-23, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Think about how heart rate lags power and how you could go over zone 3 power for a second or two (accumulating time there) without heart rate ever changing.
I can see how very short power bursts wouldn't show up in heart rate, but they'd have to be quite short to not move heart rate at all.

If you take a view over many rides, wouldn't that short power effect be minimal?
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Old 03-13-23, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Is it reasonable to expect that correct heart rate and power zones ought to roughly match up?
How many zones/levels in your HR model, and how many in your power model? Here's a figure from fluidathletics.com. I don't subscribe to it exactly, but what's interesting is how the boundaries shift and morph between different paradigms.


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Old 03-13-23, 03:11 PM
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My HR and Power zones do not match at all.

Should they?

I'm using GoldenCheetah and 7 Zone Model.

(In practice, I only care about power at LT1 and 5 minute power)
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Old 03-13-23, 05:39 PM
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I'm using the zone auto-calculations feature in Training Peaks.

Heart rate: Lactate Threshold, Andy Coggan (5 zones)

Power: Threshold Power, Andy Coggan (6 zones)

Today's Training Zones (no laughing at sadly low power, please):



I figure that the 3-and-higher power totals ought to be at least close the the 3-and-higher heart rate totals. But that doesn't appear to be true.
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Old 03-13-23, 06:25 PM
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I think TP and others have an interest in simplifying things and part of that is making hard bright lines to separate zones or levels. I think that HR doesn't tell you about stroke volume (or cardiac output or mitochrondrial density or A-V O2 diff or metabolic efficiency), so the hard bright lines they propose are just soft fuzzy rules of thumb and approximations that apply, loosely, to their population of interest. Translating between HR zones and power zones is something you need to do if you're talking to a coach (or if you're a coach talking to a client) so you can get on the same page, but for those of us who are self-coached it's less of an issue. That said, I often pace by RPE, and being able to understand what some people think of as "tempo" helped me calibrate my sense of RPE. So I think of HR zones, power zones, and RPE as being ordinal scales: easy maps to easy across all scales, very hard maps to very hard across all scales, and the other zones or levels get kinda allocated in-between, and the Spearman rho is at least in concept how I'd measure agreement. This is my way of saying that Zone 3 in HR doesn't necessarily correspond to Zone 3 in power. Can you tell that I'm an academic?
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Old 03-14-23, 05:19 AM
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My zones match a lot better using PILLAR (AI based dynamic training app) than they did when I was using TP. I think it's because PILLAR actively tweaks my power zones to match HR zones. I occasionally got messages from TP recommending I adjust my threshold power or HR based on my workouts, but not very often. PILLAR makes these adjustments automatically on a weekly basis.
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Old 03-14-23, 06:01 AM
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The type of terrain could matter due to fast and slow component of VO plus someriders have a high functional reserve capacity (W'). Short punchy hills will have high power and low HR.

I noticed with GoldenCheetah today that it applies today's threshold power to past rides. My FTP was much, much higher pre Covid, which I got in early December. So, my 2022 metrics are historically wacked.

I do know that when I had a coach, he would get annoyed at power surges on hills during say a planned 4-6 hour tempo ride. Told me to get smaller gears, pick a different route, drive to flat terrain, or ride the trainer. My terrain is lumpy, which might explain the HR and Power metrics or I might need a valve job.
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Old 03-14-23, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I noticed with GoldenCheetah today that it applies today's threshold power to past rides. My FTP was much, much higher pre Covid, which I got in early December. So, my 2022 metrics are historically wacked.
Can you not set the date when a new CP/FTP becomes effective in Tools -> Options -> Athlete -> Zones ?

I do know that when I had a coach, he would get annoyed at power surges on hills during say a planned 4-6 hour tempo ride. Told me to get smaller gears, pick a different route, drive to flat terrain, or ride the trainer.
Did you tell him that rather than do that, you were changing coaches?
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Old 03-14-23, 05:21 PM
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I use TrainingPeaks and just look at my EF (efficiency factor) for continuously Z2 rides. Sure enough, it goes up when I'm healthy and training consistently, down if not. I would expect to see HR at FTP fall, which probably means FTP is too low if your LTHR is correct. I think LTHR is a lot easier to come by as I believe it's just below LT2, easy to find. Though LTHR can vary during a long ride, I'd guess one's FTP would vary also and in the same manner.

IME breathing is the most effective way of quantifying effort on a scale. Next I'd say HR is more accurate on-site as it were, than would be FTP tested a month ago. On long rides, I go by HR and use power as a way to hold my effort steadier.
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Old 03-14-23, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Can you not set the date when a new CP/FTP becomes effective in Tools -> Options -> Athlete -> Zones ?


Did you tell him that rather than do that, you were changing coaches?
It took me awhile to figure it out, I kept changing the CP value and saving it but the date would default to my 1/1/1900. Eventually realized I had to hit "+" and then Save. My bad. Thanks!!


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Old 03-14-23, 07:38 PM
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Ah, glad you figured it out. I forgot that years ago when I first tried to update that field, it took me a few tries before I realized I had to add a new row with the "+". Whenever you see a little + or -, you have to click that to add or delete a row, you can't just edit an existing row. It's mysterious the first time but once you figure that out, you'll see it works the same way throughout GC.
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