Now let’s talk about the zones
Let’s start with a list of the 5 different zones and what each one is used for:
Zone 1 – Conditioning Healthy Heart or Recovery Training
Sometimes called the active recovery zone, it is the lowest level you can exercise and still increase fitness levels.
Recommended Duration: 60-90+ minutes
Zone 2 – Improved Health Training/Stamina Building
In this zone we begin to improve the hearts ability to pump blood and improve the muscle cells ability to deliver and utilize oxygen. Often referred to as the ‘weight their zone’ as it is estimated that fat would be the primary fuel source in conditioned individuals.
Recommended Duration: 40-60 minutes
Zone 3 – Aerobic Capacity Training/Race Pace
When people refer to the aerobic zone they are usually talking about zone 3. It is the most effective overall Cardiovascular fitness zone and will help increase aerobic capacity. Training in zone 3 will enable the body to increase endurance enabling you to cover more distance in less time, hence this zone is often referred to as ‘race pace’.
Recommended Duration: 20-40 minutes
Zone 4 – Fitness Improvement Threshold Training/Developing Anaerobic Power
This is your threshold zone and it is intended to cross you over from aerobic to anaerobic training. This is the point where the body cannot effectively provide sufficient oxygen to the working muscles to sustain activity. The body will quickly accumulate lactic acid (a by product of glycogen consumption) in the working muscles.
Therefore this zone is for individuals wanting to increase their anaerobic performance levels. The benefit of this zone is you can improve your tolerance for lactic acid and train the body to better deal with acidosis for a longer period of time as the enzymes in your muscles responsible for anaerobic metabolism are increased. Many fit athletes can compete at or above their anaerobic threshold.
Recommended Duration: up to 3 minutes
Zone 5 – High Performance Peak Training/ Peak Power Output
This is a maximal zone that should only be used by very fit individuals. Oxygen debt builds very quickly meaning that you can sustain this zone for very short periods of time.
The value of training at your peak zone is you can increase your fast twitch muscle fibers which increase speed.
A common use of this zone is during peak intervals or when conducting sprint training.
Recommended Duration: 10-30 seconds