There are as many opinions on how to plan and optimize your training as there are coaches out there. We do not want to compete with that. But some general guidelines are worthwhile mentioning.
First off, you need to define your training zones. This is based on the 20 min all-out test where you measure the absolute maximum power you can average over 20 minutes. Here is an example table for someone who can do 260 watts on the 20 min test:
You can easily make your own table based on your max average 20 min power level (functional threshold level – FTP) simply by using the same percentages. A full explanation of this and physiology behind it is available on the Training Peaks website.
Most riders will benefit from training in a mix of all the zones, but depending on what kind of goals you have for your training, you’ll prioritize different zones.
If you’re mainly training to lose weight, you should prioritize the lower zones like “Active recovery” and “Endurance”, which is where your muscle will be working to a large extent on the energy in your body fat.
If you’re participating in bike races, where the pace in the “peloton” tends to go up and down a lot when riders attempt breaking free of the pack, you’ll need to train your muscles’ ability to handle these peak power outputs, and you should increase many short intervals in the “VO2 Max” and the “Anaerobic capacity” zones.
Remember that most of your training will still need to be in the “Endurance” and “Tempo” zones, but add these intervals to your training. And remember a good warm-up and cool-down in the “Active recovery” zone.
Some like to have a personal coach for their training – others prefer to pace themselves using a training plan from a book, a friend or the internet. Yet others prefer not to train to a specific plan.
Have fun maxing yourself out!
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