WCPP Heart Zones

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The above chart shows the heart rate zones for an athlete that has taken a max-heart rate test and tops out at 175 beats per minute.  Knowledge of the max-heart rate figure is imperative if the correct training adaptation is to take place and the correct physiological responses are to be determined.  Once adaptation has taken place, the test can be re-taken to re-evaluate the zones and progress the training accordingly.

The zones are described in detail below.  Please don't think that riding round for hours on end at zone five and six will make you a race winner!


Recovery           <60%            Active Recovery
Short recovery rides.  Characterised by a low heart rate, low perception of effort, resting blood lactate levels. Daily activity at moderate intensity corresponds to the general physical activity during daily tasks. For beginners and sedentary individuals daily activities improve readiness for the fitness-related exercise. For experienced exercisers this type of activity can be used for recovery purposes.


Zone 1              60 - 65%           Basic Training
Basic endurance training improves general training ability by strengthening heart as well as other cardio respiratory functions.  Development of economy and efficiency with very high volume, low stress work.  Very long sessions improve the combustion and storage of fats.  This type of exercise is suitable for the beginners especially for weight management purposes. For more experienced exercisers it is a good alternative training method. This area of training is used to increase endurance and you are burning fat as a fuel.


Zone 2              65 - 75%            Steady State
Aerobic training improves cardio respiratory functions as well as general aerobic capacity.  This type of exercise is safe and it is also suitable for beginners.  Again this area of training is used to increase endurance, in this area of training you are still burning fat, but not at the same efficiency as Zone 1.  The bulk of your early training phases should be taking place in Zones 1 & 2.  Development of economy and efficiency with high volume, moderate stress work.  An important intensity for establishing a firm base for all riders. 


Zone 3              75 - 82%             Aerobic Conditioning
Development of aerobic capacity and endurance with moderate volume work at a controlled intensity.   Possible on a turbo trainer for up to one hour in bad weather.


Zone 4              82 - 89%             Lactate Threshold
Training at this intensity improves ability to utilize lactic acid. This makes it possible to exercise at high performance level for longer duration without oxygen debt.  Training at this intensity requires earlier exercise experience. Training improves performance capacity needed in competitive situations.  Once into this area it is essential that the body is ready, ie. warmed up & fit enough.  Too much at this level will lead to staleness.


Zone 5              89 - 94%              Anaerobic Training
Exercise at near maximal intensities is anaerobic, which means that muscles need more oxygen than can be transferred.  This type of training is suitable only for the experienced exercisers. Training improves maximal performance capacity.  It is impossible to hold this level for any length of time so for long endurance sports it is not necessary to do great amounts of exercise in this area. It will result in raising of anaerobic threshold, improvement of lactate clearance and adaptation to race speed.


Zone 6              >94%                  Maximal Training
Exercise at maximal intensities.  This type of training is suitable only for the experienced exercisers.  High intensity interval training to increase maximum power and improve lactate production or clearance. Zone 6 should be done only when completely recovered from previous work.  Intensity should be such that the effort can just be held to the end of the interval.