To achieve specific results and improve your sporting performance, it is best to know your training zones and then train in the appropriate zone. We show in this article the 5 most frequent mistakes when defining zones and give advice on how to avoid them.
Intensity zones and their role in training
A training zone is an effort interval that defines the upper and lower limits of training intensity. If you know the right performance zones and then train according to them, you can control the intensity and thus better manage the optimal training load. In triathlon and cycling, zones are defined by heart rate, power (in watts) or speed.
You can set your training zones through specific performance tests or by taking advantage of the 2PEAK function, which constantly analyses your training data to update your zones as your fitness improves or declines.
Read more about 2PEAK’s automatic calculation of training zones in the following articles:
Setting the right training zones is crucial for good training planning and monitoring. For this reason, we want to show you the 5 most common mistakes made by triathletes and cyclists and how to avoid them:
1. RELYING SOLELY ON HEART RATE
The heart rate parameter is highly sensitive and subjective, as each individual has a unique physiology and values can vary from person to person. In addition, there are also many additional variables that can influence heart rate, such as the level of hydration, the type of sport practised, weather conditions or cardiac drift.
A common mistake is to rely solely on heart rate as a parameter for setting training zones. The more accurate method is to cross-reference heart rate results with other parameters, such as speed, power, effort perception or recovery time. In this way, precise and customised training can be achieved, taking into account the different variables that influence athletic performance.
2. NOT KNOWING YOUR HRMAX
To set training zones correctly, it is essential to know your maximum heart rate (HRmax), i.e. the maximum number of heartbeats your heart can reach during exercise. Setting intensity zones without knowing this parameter can compromise the effectiveness of training and increase the risk of injury.
HRmax is an individual value and depends on many factors such as age, gender, weight, heart health and others. People often make the mistake of calculating HRmax using the popular ‘age formula‘, which claims that your HRmax equals 220 minus your age. However, this value only provides a rough estimate and is not totally reliable for setting zones and generating target heart rates appropriate for triathletes and cyclists. The best way to calculate HRmax is once again to perform a special performance test which can provide more accurate results.
3. CARRY OUT PERFORMANCE TESTS ONLY ONCE AND DON’T MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS
To get an accurate diagnosis of performance, you need to run performance tests regularly. It is not enough to perform the tests only once and hope that the training zones remain valid for the whole duration of your sports career. Over time, the athlete’s fitness improves (or worsens) and therefore it is necessary to repeat the tests periodically to adjust the training zones according to the current fitness level.
Indeed, if the training zones are set too high, the athlete may struggle to maintain the intensity and run the risk of injury or overtraining. Conversely, if the zones are set too low, the body will not receive the necessary stimulus to improve performance. It is therefore essential to monitor your progress constantly and increase or lower the intensity of your training to continue to achieve results.
4. NOT TAKING ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS INTO ACCOUNT
People often make the mistake of not taking external environmental conditions into account during training. In triathlon or cycling, temperatures, humidity, wind and other factors can significantly influence athletic performance. When training in hot summers, there’s a heightened risk of dehydration and exhaustion. Thus, it’s advisable to lower your training intensity to safeguard your health. Similarly, adverse weather conditions such as rain or snow may require an adjustment of training to prevent the risk of injury.
5. NOT CONSIDERING THE TYPE OF TRAINING AND THE OBJECTIVE
Finally, it is always important to consider the type of training and the goal in order to properly determine the zones you are about to train in. The training intensity for interval training is of course different from that for long duration endurance training.