# Huge Conflict between HR and Power Zones

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by Aztec, Sep 29, 2004.

1. ### Aztec New Member

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I'm mid-way through switching to power-based training. From the other thread, you can see I've been reviewing various power zones. I dug up Charmichael's zones in his book as well, which was interesting since I've been a CTS member and following their prescribed HR zone training. I've found something odd...

Based on my MAP and 20 min TT results, my power zones using both Ric's and Coggins' methods make perfect sense to me (e.g., the description of the effort seems right). So, I then calculated CTS' zones. I estimated 8 min TT power at an ultra-conservative 270w. I got power ranges for their Tempo (rough equiv of L3) and Steady State (rough equiv of L4) that would put my HR at least 15 bpm above the same Tempo and SS HR-based zones that CTS established for me. They're so far off that I would be darn challenged to complete their prescribed SS intervals (they're approx equal to 20 min TT power!), yet when doing the same interval via their HR zone it's absolute cake.

This means one of a few things:
1) CTS' formula is very incorrect (I've checked w/ my coach to see, and his calc is similar). Hmmmph.
2) CTS' heart rate zones are poorly constructed (i.e., way too low of HR limit) since they are based on average HR over a ~7 min TT.
3) I've somehow blown some test or calculation somewhere.

Hmm.

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2. ### beerco New Member

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You've fallen into the trap. Either you're training by power, or by HR. Don't mix and match as you will simply confuse yourself as you've already found.

3. ### ric_stern/RST New Member

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As Beerco says, one or the other, and as you've got a PT, go with power!

Very likely my zones and Andy's level will be very similar -- give or take a couple of watts.

Out of curiousity (and bearing in mind i don't know how CTS prescribe their training zones -- but i assume it's a % of average 3 mile TT HR) are you trying to use the same % of 'some' power measure (e.g., 3 mile power) as you would HR. In other words (supposing) CTS prescribe TT efforts as (e.g.) 90% of 3mile HR, are you calculating your power for TT efforts as 90% of 3 mile power? Doing this would mean your zones would be wrong (apologies if i've misunderstood what you meant).

ric

4. ### Aztec New Member

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Ric, they have you take the average power from two 8 min TTs. Then subtract 10% for their Steady State intervals (~L4) and then 15% for Tempo (~L3).

For HR zones, you do the same, although they prefer a 3 mile TT, but average the HR as the determinant. They have different formulas for each zone (e.g., not -10% and 15% like it is for power).

And for the record, I'm absolutely converted to power training. I'll use HR for longer endurance rides, but that's about it.

5. ### beerco New Member

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Just out of curiosity, what exactly will you "use" HR for?

6. ### Aztec New Member

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I like using HR for long efforts (say >3 hours) because of the smoothing effect of HR. I've tried using power, and even with a longer averaging period, it just doesn't seem as useful.

There's another reason, too... I have two bikes, one set up aggressively, the other more for longer rides. But I only have one Powertap. The PT stays on the aggressive bike for interval work of any kind, etc., and the other bike has a HAC4 for those longer rides.

7. ### ric_stern/RST New Member

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Obviously, power can 'jump' around somewhat especially if the surface isn't pan flat. It doesn't however, matter that it may jump around or go out of a zone. What i suggest is that you aim for the prescribed zone and don't worry about the odd fluctuation (e.g., dropping away when going downhill, or shooting upwards when accelerating out of a corner). Additionally, as power will tend to have to be higher when going uphill, i prescribe training with a zone for the flat and one for the hills (in much the same way as i would do with HR to). You also need to 'feel' the intensity and use this in conjunction with power.

ric

8. ### beerco New Member

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So are you saying that if you keep your HR in a specific "zone" the power ends up being correct? Example?

Also, what level are you shooting for for these 3 hour rides (hopefully Coggan level 2)? I've found that usually in a three hour ride (actually, anything over two hours) power usually sorts it self out. You've just got to be sure not to go too hard the first hour.

I agree with Ric that PE is probably more effective than HR for this sort of stuff.

9. ### ric_stern/RST New Member

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Something wrong with RST zone 2?

10. ### Aztec New Member

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Well, you make an excellent point -- by following HR, it doesn't mean my power is any different than if I just went by power in the first place. At least I think that was your point.

And yes, Coggan level 2. Oh, or RST level 2! In HR terms, it's the 74-79% range.

Ric, my area is so rolling that there are only odd stretches here and there where I can get a steady and smooth power output. OK, maybe it's not that hard to do, but it is tricky. That's why I try to do most of my intervals on hills. I have one road that goes up evenly without a break for 30 mins, and several that do for 5-15 mins.

By the way, since I have everyone's attention, let me run this by you. I clearly finished my first year of structured training with very disappointing gains. 2 weeks ago, I caught a cold and used those 10 days mostly for rest. Now I'm easing back in, and want to put in one last 6 week cycle to push my aerobic fitness up a notch before easing back again somewhat to start a new season. This 6 week plan includes 8-12 hrs of total riding per week, with 2-3 days per week of level 3 for two weeks, going from 1x20 to 1x60. And then the remainder of the cycle, 2-3 days per week at level 4, dished out in 2x10 working up to 2x20. Reasonable?

11. ### beerco New Member

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Are you kidding? Word on the street is that RST zone 2 is too tough!

No just kidding. I've done about 2 map tests in my life and I found the experience kind of unpleasant. Due to that, I use Coggan levels and wasn't sure if level 2 was the same in both programs (programmes, Ric).

Why not start with 1x60 at lev 3 and start the level 4 straight at 2x20?

Remember, if you can't handle a particular workload @ 2x20 without building up to it, you're over estimating your threshold. e.g. if you think your threshold is 250, but you can't do a 2x20 @ 250, your threshold isn't 250, it's something less. Logically, a lev 3 workout is a bunch easier than lev4 so 60min out of the gates shouldn't be too hard.

12. ### ric_stern/RST New Member

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yes, a MAP test is unpleasant towards the end, but the test tends to only last about 10 - 15-mins and it's only the last few mins that aren't too much fun (maybe about as unpleasant as really going for it e.g., riding a pursuit or putting your foot down to win on a climb of several minutes).

Actually, they are and they aren't the same! The numbering is slightly different and the zones/levels are very similar with some overlap, however by and large they're virtually the same.

RST Zone Recovery = AC Level 1
RST Z1 = AC Level 2
RST Z2 = AC Level 3
RST Z3 = Top of AC L3/bottom of L4
RST Z4 = AC L4
RST Z5 = AC L5
RST Z6 = AC ~L6
RST Z7 = not defined

i've compared numbers for many people through both zones/levels and there's never more than a few watts in it.

Ric

13. ### ric_stern/RST New Member

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if by steady and smooth you mean a power output within a narrow range, i don't think this is something to worry about. Where i live too, there's many hills and frequent grade changes with a large number of climbs that are up to 20% and steeper. what you have to realise is that power will fluctuate somewhat and drop out of and go above a prescribed zone where there's grade changes and e.g., changes in wind.

what you need to do as mentioned is to get a feel for what a zone is like and ignore the fluctuations as they're immaterial. what you're aiming for is that the majority of the session is zone 2 (or whatever number) with higher zones uphill and less downhill. give me a shout off list (if you want) and i'll send you some of my files so you can see how power fluctuates.

ric

i find that after a period of illness, where i was off the bike i suffer from quite bad detraining. i tend to find that my TTPower and MAP drop a lot and that it may take a couple/few weeks to get back to where i was and during that time i have to significantly reduce the power for those (and other types of effort). Thus, as Beerco states, you may be riding too hard if all you can do is 2 x 10. You might want to reduce the power and extend the duration.

ric

14. ### Aztec New Member

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I actually found the 20min and ~60min TT tests to be much, much worse than a MAP test. Sure, MAPing is a pain, but as Ric notes, at least it's over quickly (very quickly in my case!).

As for why the 2x10... given the time off, I thought it prudent to introduce intensity slowly. Same reason why I'd build up the L3 to an hour. Maybe that conservative thinking is a hangover from my CTS experience, where intensity is dished out in baby-size quantities. They've ruined me! Today is my first such ride, and I think I'll know more about whether I can handle a bigger load. If I fel solid, I'll extend the 20 mins of L3 longer. And in another 2 weeks, when I focus on L4, I'll do the 2x20.

Regarding using power for those long boring endurance rides, I think I have a better alternative... don't do them! ;-) Maybe I'll try it again with power and then look at HR after the fact to see if it was where it would've been had I been targeting that instead.

Thanks for the file offer, Ric. No need right now, but I may ask for one after I try the above test and/or still feel uncomfortably going by power.

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