The first step in a successful training programme, for new riders and serious athletes alike, is to build a foundation of aerobic fitness. From this base, you can vary training intensity, incorporating occasional anaerobic training sessions to bring your body to peak fitness levels. The Spinning Energy Zones were designed to catergorise training sessions by intensity and mental training characteristics, enabling us to coach you to realize a broad range of fitness benefits.
The body uses different fuels at different levels of exertion. In general, training at low heart rates causes most participants to utilise mostly fat for fuel. At high heart rates, more carbohydrates are used. With consistent training, your heart becomes stronger and pumps more blood and ultimately your work output in the various heart rate zones improves. This is one reason we strongly encourage training in all the Energy Zones.
The Spinning programme incorporates five Energy Zones with recommended heart rate ranges. Below you’ll find a description of each one and if you do require any further information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Exercise Intensity: 50 – 65% of maximum heart rate. (5-10% of your training should be Recovery based)
Recovery sessions are an important component of any fitness programme. Unfortunately, they are often the least practiced training day. This is by far the most difficult training day for most people. We all know how to push, but few know how to rest. The Recovery training session should focus the mind, and most importantly, circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body.
The main objective of a Recovery ride is to make the body feel like it has been gently massaged and is vibrating with gathered energy. Unlike the other Energy Zone rides there are no hills and no jumps. Only light resistance is used. Hills and jumps detract from the recovery process by fatiguing the muscle fibers and depleting the body of oxygen.
Work in the Recovery Zone should consist of breathing exercises, visulisation and energy accumulation. If the standing position is used in a Recovery ride, it must be with light resistance, with no burning in the muscle. It is important to stay between 50-65% of your maximum heart rate.
If you feel any burn or go above 65%, you should decrease resistance and/or sit down and roll your legs easily until your heart rate returns to appropriate levels.
When applying resistance to the flywheel, make sure it is in very small increments to protect against a sharp increase in pulse rate or muscle burn. In a Recovery ride, everything is eased into. Treat this ride like a meditation on the bike where you work on balance, breathing, centering the psyche and rejuvenating the body.
Exercise Intensity: 65 – 75% of maximum heart rate. (70% of all your training should be Endurance based).
An Endurance training session trains the body to be more efficient at metabolising fat and to maintain a comfortable pace for extended periods. The emphasis in this ride is on finding a comfortable heart rate and pedaling style that can be maintained for hours. It is recommended that you remain in the saddle during the Endurance ride to increase pedaling efficiency and improve hip flexor strength. Increasing aerobic capacity through Endurance sessions helps the rider maintain a steady pace and resist fatigue for longer durations.
Energy output much be significant enough to raise heart rates into the Endurance Zone – 65-75% of your maximum heart rate. During an Endurance ride, you should strive to stay within five beats of your chosen heart rate for the entire training session. This is NOT a ride where heart rate is varied throughout the Energy Zone. Pick a number, stay in the saddle and establish a smooth, steady rhythm for the entire ride.
Endurance training sessions challenge the body physically and mentally as you adapt to holding a steady position and steady heart rate for extended periods. This improves the mental discipline as well as aerobic efficiency. You can stand occasionally to stretch tour legs, but heart rate should remain constant and you should not stand for more than 30 seconds.
Performance is maximized when a rider achieves an even application of energy over the duration of the exercise. This is where the heart rate monitor becomes a valuable toll. Due to changes in fatigue levels and perceived exertion over the course of the training session, the only way to ensure that effort is applied evenly is by maintaining a constant heart rate.
Exercise Intensity: 75 - 85% of maximum heart rate. (5 – 10% of your training should be Strength based)
The heart rate range of the Strength Energy Zone straddles the region where the body switches from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. Thus, you can choose to conduct this training session in the lower range of the zone and remain entirely aerobic or extend your efforts into the higher range to introduce anaerobic metabolism.
The goal of training in the Strength Energy Zone is to build the cardiovascular strength to handle a slightly uncomfortable pace. This can be accomplished throughout the heart rate range. Working at the upper limits will also develop the ability to buffer lactate that begins to accumulate in muscles at that intensity. Keeping the heart rate under 80% of maximum in the Strength training session will develop strength and derive maximum aerobic benefits with minimal anaerobic stimulation.
Recovery from this session is critical. Because we place increased resistance on the muscles during Strength rides, you may experience muscle soreness, necessitating a Recovery ride or complete rest the following day.
A Strength training session develops mental as well as physical strength. You will develop the ability to remain relaxed and focused as you adapt to increasing resistance and fatiguing muscles. Strength rides help you learn to turn adversity (hills) into opportunity. By learning to mentally overcome obstacles, you will develop improved self-confidence in all areas of your life.
Exercise Intensity: 65 – 92% of maximum heart rate (5-10% of your training should be Interval based)
The goal of training in the Interval Energy Zone is to develop the ability to recover quickly after work efforts, an exercise that can be done in several heart rate ranges, depending on your fitness levels.
While the typical Interval ride involves anaerobic heart rates, we can also conduct aerobic intervals. Aerobic intervals range from 65% of max heart rate (recovery period) to 80% (work efforts). Anaerobic intervals range from 65% (recovery period) up to as high as 92% (work efforts).
While you can subjectively judge fitness improvement by monitoring perceived exertion during a challenging Interval session, riders can also perform a Working Recovery Heart Rate test to get an accurate measurement of fitness improvement. For the Working Recovery Heart Rate test and to ensure that your work and rest intervals are conducted appropriately, it is highly recommended that all riders utilize heart rate monitors during Interval sessions.
A helpful guideline to use for proper recovery between hard efforts is to attain your Working Recovery Heart Rate (usually 65% of your maximum heart rate). You can mix up the type of movements on the work efforts – seated or standing climbs, high cadence or high resistance efforts on the flats.
If, after several work efforts, your heart rate does not drop to working recovery in the usual amount of time, no further intervals should be conducted. This indicates maximum training benefits have been achieved and further work increases risk of overtraining.
Training in the Interval Energy Zone develops your mental ability to use breathing and visualization techniques to assist in quick recovery from work efforts.
Exercise intensity: 80-92% of maximum heart rate. (5–10% of your training should be Race Day based)
Race Day is a special event. To obtain full benefits from this training session, it should be treated like a real race. If you are less than 100% physically energized and mentally rested, you should postpone your Race Day ride until your body is ready for peak performance. Top athletes will not race if their bodies are not in top form – neither should you. Ample recovery should always be taken after a Race Day ride to properly absorb the fitness benefits.
Unlike Interval training sessions, where work efforts are broken by consistent rest periods, a Race Day ride is carried out at a steady heart rate consistent with your anaerobic threshold. This means there are no jumps, no standing flats and no significant fluctuations in pace during the ride. Anaerobic threshold (or “AT”) heart rates can be determined by scientific testing or by noticing heart rates that can be maintained for the duration of the time trial.
AT is often described as “red-line” – going any faster would cause the rider to “blow up” and be unable to complete the distance. AT heart rate usually falls between 85-92% of your maximum heart rate. Carefully conducted anaerobic threshold Race Day rides will effectively raise a rider’s AT (the pace one can hold as AT increases).
A Race Day ride is about “laying it on the line.” By welcoming physical challenge and striving for peak performance, you’ll experience increased self-confidence, greater satisfaction with exercise and an improved ability to set and achieve goals.