Training with a powermeter can not only provide you with incredibly valuable feedback for your training, but can allow you to shape training in a way that can make you faster and stronger than ever before. Using specific power zones to define different intensities of training is a great way to do this. Power zone ranges are calculated based on percentages of your current Functional Threshold Power (FTP). FTP can be estimated using several methods, and your coach likely has a favourite method that you will no doubt experience soon if you have not already. Below is a summary of the various zones.
Zone 1 (Z1) – Active Recovery
Very low level of exercise that is useful for recovery between days of strenuous exercise, or between hard sets of an interval workout. No significant physiological adaptations are produced. Typical wattage is below 55% of your FTP.
Zone 2 (Z2) – Endurance
Classic “long slow distance” or “all day” pace. Conversation is possible, but breathing is more laboured than at rest. Increases aerobic capacity and teaches your body to use fats more efficiently. Typical wattage is between 55% and 75% of your FTP.
Zone 3 (Z3) – Tempo
Typical intensity of a longer “moderate” session. More frequent or greater sensation of leg fatigue than in Zone 2. Conversation is somewhat halted. Recovery from Zone 3 workouts will take longer than in Zone 2. Can be done as intervals or as a standalone workout. Consecutive days of Zone 3 training is possible while maintaining adequate nutrient intake. Typical wattage is between 75% and 89% of your FTP.
Zone 4 (Z4) – Threshold
Just below 100% carbohydrate use. Conversation is difficult. Sustained efforts and consecutive days in this zone become very mentally taxing. Intervals, usually of durations of 10+ minutes, are incorporated in Zone 4 and sessions are typically spaced 48 hours apart. Typical wattage is between 90% and 105% of your FTP.
Zone 5 (Z5) – VO2max
V02max effort consists of very intense intervals usually lasting 3-8 minutes in duration. Strong to severe sensation of fatigue in the legs with training time of no more than 30-40 minutes in Zone 5. Consecutive days of training are not advised. Typical wattage is between 105% and 120% of your FTP.
Zone 6 (Z6) – Anaerobic Capacity
Anaerobic capacity training consists of short, very high intensity intervals that are less than 75 seconds in duration. Heart rate is not applicable and neuromuscular adaptations are significant. Consecutive days of training are not attempted. Typical wattage is above 120% of your FTP.
So Why Is FTP Testing Important?
A sound testing protocol is an important part of any training program, and usually represents the foundation or starting point for your program. Since your training zones, which will determine your workout intensities for the next while until your next test,
Source: PerfPRO Analyzer – Power Training Zones