220 Triathlon Magazine - - CONTENTS - BMC/JAMES MITCHELL

A quick scan of the web re­veals mul­ti­ple zone sys­tems, from three to seven and with HR vari­a­tions be­tween bike and run (more mus­cles are used when you run as op­posed to cy­cling, hence the dis­crep­an­cies). Here we de­tail the five-zone sys­tem and high­light the ben­e­fits of train­ing in each.

ZONE 1 % of max heart rate (range)

Swim: 50-60% Bike: 60-65% Run: 50-60% Per­ceived ex­er­tion: RPE 2-4, easy to mod­er­ate Per­for­mance ben­e­fit(s): Train­ing at this aer­o­bic in­ten­sity will boost your re­cov­ery and get you ready to train in the higher heart rate zones.


Swim: 60-70% Bike: 65-75% Run: 60-70% Per­ceived ex­er­tion: RPE 4-5, mod­er­ate Per­for­mance ben­e­fit(s): Ba­sic car­dio­vas­cu­lar train­ing at a good re­cov­ery pace. This is the in­ten­sity to im­prove aer­o­bic ca­pac­ity; i.e. stamina. Your body will get bet­ter at ox­i­dis­ing – burn­ing – fat and your mus­cu­lar fit­ness will in­crease along with your cap­il­lary den­sity.


Swim: 70-80% Bike: 75-82% Run: 70-80% Per­ceived ex­er­tion: RPE 5-7, mod­er­ately hard Per­for­mance ben­e­fit(s): Run­ning in zone 3 is es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive for im­prov­ing the ef­fi­ciency of blood cir­cu­la­tion in the heart and skele­tal mus­cles. This is the zone in which lac­tic acid starts build­ing up in your blood­stream. Train­ing in this zone will make mod­er­ate ef­forts eas­ier and im­prove your ef­fi­ciency.


Swim: 80-90% Bike: 82-89% Run: 80-90% Per­ceived ex­er­tion: RPE 7-9, very dif­fi­cult Per­for­mance ben­e­fit(s): This zone will im­prove your anaer­o­bic ca­pac­ity, thresh­old and speed en­durance. Your body will get bet­ter at us­ing car­bo­hy­drates for en­ergy and you’ll be able to with­stand higher lev­els of lac­tic acid in your blood for longer.


Swim: 90-100% Bike: 90-100% Run: 90-100% Per­ceived ex­er­tion: RPE 9-10, max­i­mal Per­for­mance ben­e­fit(s): Train­ing at max­i­mum (i.e. in­ter­val train­ing) will in­crease your anaer­o­bic and mus­cu­lar en­durance, power and car­dio­vas­cu­lar lev­els.

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