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Training zones?

-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe

Last modified: May 18, 2013

training zones allow training to be more effective

It seems every single coach under the sun has a method and an argument supporting some particular hypothesis when it comes to prescribing training zones. There’s a lot of jargon beating around, this threshold, that threshold and it seems people purposefully obfuscate.

Think of your body as a ‘hybrid car’ you’ve got the electric energy for short burst of energy (your anaerobic systems) and your petrol engine for longer runs (your aerobic systems).

Our body has a series of engines:

  • Aerobic lipidic

  • Burn a lot of fat and some sugar with oxygen

    • Low power, long duration

      • Endurance

  • Aerobic glycolytic

  • Burns sugar with oxygen

    • Medium power, up to 2h-3h

      • Speed Endurance/Tempo

      • Lactic tolerance


  • Anaerobic glycolytic

  • Burns sugar with no oxygen

    • Medium/high power, up to 12’

      • Lactic power


  • Converts energy from substrate already in the muscle with no oxygen

    • Very high power ~30”

      • Sprinting

  • ATP

  • Converts energy from substrate already in the muscle with no oxygen

    • Highest power ~12”

      • Sprinting, normal every day movements.

And not to over complicate there are also ‘engines’ associated with proteins, lactic acid and a multitude of other potential energy substrates. But we wont go into that.

These engines don’t switch on exclusively at a particular intensity, but rather are on all the time in some way or another, just that one predominates at a particular intensity.The secret to good train goes in identifying what ‘engines’ need to be trained, what this equates to in terms of pace, or heart rate or power and how much.

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3 responses to “Training zones?”

  1. […] Training metrics are merely ways of quantifying effort expended and more importantly determine what’s happening physiologically -which metabolic energy pathway we’re using-. […]

  2. […] I got back into training proper, but even that wasn’t straight forward… Volume and ‘lactic power’ (anaerobic glycolitic power) was what I was missing and these aspect are tricky to fine tune. I found training very well (3-4 […]

  3. […] train sustainable power a lot, sprinters sprinting and climbs do a lot of training in and around ‘lactic threshold’. They might do the final bit of fine tunning at a training camp 2-4 weeks before the event. These […]

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