FTP Friday – Power Zone Training – My Zones Are Too Easy!


Many members new to Power Zone training take their first FTP Test, then begin doing some Power Zone training rides (either in a challenge or by themselves). A frequent comment is, “ My Zones are too easy!” Also common is “It wasn’t as hard as regular rides!”

There are a couple good reasons that these are common responses:

1. Power Zone training is exactly that: TRAINING. While regular rides provide a workout, chaining regular rides together will only rarely produce a well-rounded training plan. Getting crushed on a regular ride can certainly leave one feeling a sense of accomplishment, but that satisfaction is not accompanied by immersion in a well-designed regimen. The various Power Zone rides are purposefully designed to enhance our different energy systems (endurance, strength/endurance, and power), and are thoughtfully combined in the many challenges and training plans available.

Unlike regular rides, with suggestions of cadence AND resistance, Power Zone training is tailored specifically for each individual’s fitness via the FTP Test (more on this later). Because of this personalization, we get very close to receiving the precise workload to elicit the training adaptation intended by each ride. By mixing the 3 types of Power Zone rides, we engage in a well-rounded training plan that helps to prevent the dreaded burn-out. The body can only get stronger at a certain rate, and additional demand actually slows the process. The mix of PZ rides works to prevent this! So, those “easy” rides are an essential part of a smart training plan.

It’s tempting to think that the PZ rides are often easier… Every PZ ride begins with a structured warmup, and continues with a series of varied exertions and planned recovery intervals. The “rest” intervals and warmup reduce the overall kiloJoule output of the class (when compared to a regular ride), but the physiological stimulus we receive is more carefully planned for positive sustainable results than those regular rides.

2. FTP TEST: the benchmark ride which assesses our current fitness level and is used to calculate the intensities of the PZ ride intervals.

It is almost certain that everyone doesn’t perform their first FTP Test well. I used to race time trials (before Power Zone training existed, I’m old) and still took a while to figure out how to score well! There’s no shame in needing a few tries before we gain a better understanding of how we best expend that 20 minutes of energy! We need time to find our most efficient, preferred cadence. We need to learn posture that supports the easiest breathing. We need to learn the mental control necessary to calm ourselves as we attempt to recover from a hard exertion. We need to develop the focus to hold a difficult output steady for several minutes. We must learn to ride hard despite horrific song choices.

Yet, we get frustrated because it doesn’t come so quickly & easily. We blame it on “Power Zone training is too easy”. Uh, nope.

Power Zone training is a plan for the long haul. Its efficiency and scientific elegance come at the price of patience.

To get the maximum benefit from Power Zone training, we need to understand the progression of sequentially better performances on the FTP Test, and understand the logic behind the easy, yet active ride days.

In (too many) posts describing how to ride the FTP Test, I outlined the physiological and tactical reasoning for creating a game plan for the ride. Searching this forum for my posts will provide you with plenty of help getting to sleep!

Stick with it, the results are worth it!

Good luck!

This article is part of an ongoing series on Power Zone Training. You can find the other entries below in suggested reading order:
#1 – What is Power Zone Training?
#2 – FTP Test Strategies & Lessons
#3 – Power Zone Training – My Zones Are Too Easy! (This Article)
#4 – Living with new zones & more FTP test
#5 – Post FTP-Test New Zone Struggles (Mental & Physical)
#6 – Decreases in FTP

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Lee Aldridge
Lee Aldridge is a former cycling time trialist and current competitive rower. These articles are reposted with permission from Lee's Facebook group posts.

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