Training Zones

Training Intensity Zones

Every time you train, each workout your perform, what you eat, how you sleep, and countless other variable other variables either move you toward your training goals or move you further away from your objective. I commonly used phase when you are trying to achieve anything in life is to control the variable you are able to. In regards to training for athletic performance you are able to control frequency, duration, and intensity. The better you can control these stress the better you will be able to deal with the external stresses you have no control over.

Zone 1

Active Recovery- 55-70% of Max Heart Rate

This intensity should be used for the easiest training that you do. Typically used on non-training days for active recovery such as, mobility work, stretching, or restorative yoga. They will help you stay fit in between training blocks or recovery from higher intensity training. Training in zone 1 should remain well below lactate threshold.

Practical Example to Try: You should already be at moderate to high level of fitness to perform this particular recovery session. It should not feel like a workout. It may seem counter-intuitive at first but it will help enhance and shorten recovery time.

  • Perform on the day after a weight training session

  • Use movements/exercises similar to the ones you did on the previous day's workout. (Ex. body weight squats instead of barbell squats)

  • Use body weight or very light resistance

  • Use a tempo that is moderate to fast. You should remain in control through out the whole range of movement but you do not want to slow down enough to cause any more damage. The goal is not to keep the muscle under tension

You simple are trying to provide some blood to the muscle and fluid into the joints. Focus on high quality movement, that moves the joint and muscles through the full range of motion. Use up to 10 movements and perform 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions. Do not perform if you are sore to the touch or experience a high level of discomfort.

Zone 2

Aerobic Development

Zone 2 is primarily used improve aerobic system. This zone should not cause too much stress to the muscular or nervous system and lactate production should not increase significantly.. Commonly used during long steady state endurance based workouts. These training sessions should be long and steady. As the name implies your should remain in the aerobic training zone. A simply way to determine if you are training aerobically is to have a conversation. If you can maintain a conversion and take a breath every 5 or 6 words you are most likely staying aerobic. Training this way will help improve slow twitch muscles fibers, help your body use oxygen more efficiently and improve your glycogen, glucose, and ATP storage. Endurance athletes will perform the majority of their workouts in this zone.

Zone 3

Aerobic Endurance

Zone 3 intensity is slightly higher than zone 2 and continues to build endurance and blood flow. Lactate levels are increased slightly and more fast twitch fibers are used but the majority of the fibers used are slow twitch This zone does help build your aerobic base but as training demands increase the training zone become more clearly defined putting less emphasis on zone 3.

Zone 4

Anaerobic Development

Zone 4 is used to start Improving the anaerobic system to prepare for future demands. During zone 4 your bring your aerobic capacity right up to it’s limit to stress the energy systems to their maximum capacity. For this reason zone 4 is commonly called threshold training. During training you will bring your lactate slightly under or over lactate threshold for a certain period of time in minutes rather than for a distance or an extended period of time. The anaerobic system used much more frequently and the body starts improving its lactate tolerance and the removal of lactate and by products.

Zone 5

Anaerobic Endurance

Zone 5 is commonly trained by using interval type workouts. This time up training can be highly stressful and requires appropriate recovery time. The intensity will exceed lactate threshold and the body increases it’s ability to tolerate lactate as well as become efficient at removing it. The primary muscle fibers being used are now fast twitch.

Zone 6

Speed / Power Development

Zone 6 is used to improve the neuromuscular system. Used commonly for sport specific athletes and less for endurance sport athletes. If you are training in this zone maximal output must be used because the duration of the reps will only last seconds. Used for short distances explosive movements that have long recovery times.