• Sam

Training zones – A simple approach

In this time of reduced/ no gym access, there has been a huge influx of people running, cycling, and walking.

In the first few weeks of quarantine, I was out on my bike quite a lot and as a consequence, my squat and deadlift performance (I am fortunate to be able to access equipment) dropped significantly.

This is an expected result of a novel training stimulus, however, it still remained disheartening.

I wasn’t pacing myself, I had no concept of “taking it easy” coming from a BMX and mountain biking background. So basically I was killing myself on every single ride, going as fast as possible up every hill, and as hard as possible down every hill.

I don’t have a heart rate monitor to track my Intra cycling BPM (beats per minute) but my Oura ring kept telling me I was in the high HR zone for basically all of my rides (whoops).

With some research into XPT training systems, Brian Mackenzie’s breathing content coupled with previous studies of Wim Hof I started to play with different “gears” from Brian Mackenzie.

Anecdotally I have so far found beneficial use of 3 zones or gears.

Zone 1 – Nose breathing ONLY – Anything over 50% of your maximum capacity seems to be inhibited (1). This tactic has proved useful AFTER lower body training sessions. Midday/ 3pm I can squat or deadlift and get out for a casual ride only nasal breathing and my legs don’t feel blasted the next day.

Zone 2 – Hard/ very hard but not maximal – In through the nose and out through the mouth. This tactic is interesting, as it doesn’t seem to “limit” my cycling performance however it does force me to take a slightly slower pace. Interestingly though I have never had a quad pump using this strategy and generally feel I could cycle intermittently for long climbs and feel fatigued but not dead.

Zone 3 – Maximal – oral breathing only. Of course, this is the limit of your ventilation capacity and anyone who has done any maximal aerobic exercise will know the feeling of fire breath.

This has been my general applications of the zones.

Zone 1 – Based off a 60-120 minutes ride - Limited fatigue after ride/ next day, can be done on the same day as other training.

Zone 2 – Based off 30-60 minutes of this breathing style within a 60-90 minute ride - Moderate fatigue directly after the ride, next day limited muscular discomfort but general fatigue. Fine the day before the upper body or bodybuilding days.

Zone 3 – based off 20-40 minutes of this breathing style within a 60-90 minute ride - High fatigue directly after training, and muscular discomfort the day after. Lower body training one day after is not advised and you may see some central fatigue limiting upper body performance.

There is very limited published data on the differences between these 3 zones so I will be doing my own Strava personal experiments in the coming weeks. I look forward to sharing them with you at a later date!

If you would like to join in with the experiment, get in touch!

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