• Getting the most power using a heart rate monitor for training

    Many of the athletes that I coach use power – and many don’t. For those that don’t have access to power, you can still get the highest average power output for your heart rate efforts. Those of you using my books or online training plans recognize this workout description – or something close to it:

    These intervals begin work on lactate threshold speed. On a mostly flat course or indoor trainer, complete the prescribed intervals allowing heart rate to rise into the Zone 3 over the course of the interval and no higher. After heart rate is in Zone 3, try to hold it there until the end of the interval. Begin timing the interval as soon as you begin an increased effort - do not wait to begin the clock when heart rate just reaches Zone 3. All work intervals begin when effort is increased and end when effort is decreased. Rest for the indicated time between intervals.

    Based on my experience using power, I know that to keep average power output high the athlete needs a specific strategy using heart rate. For example, below are the coach instructions I gave to my pro mountain biker Ernie Watenpaugh on a training plan I’m building for him:

    Ride 60-90 minutes and include 5-7 x 3 minutes at Zone 3 heart rate. Take 1 minute of Zone 1 effort between each interval. Begin the intervals at low Zone 3 heart rate and end with high Zone 3. As you progress through the intervals, make the accumulated time at high Zone 3 more and more so the last interval has the most time at high Zone 3. The goal is the highest and most consistent power output for Zone 3 effort. Don’t dip into Zone 4 for this one.

    I suggest you use the same strategy in your cycling or triathlon training plan.

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