While training in all zones is needed, Zone 2 sessions should be one of the most important training rides of any training program.
What is Zone 2 riding?
Zone 2 or easy endurance ride/workout is an excellent workout for developing aerobic fitness. The intensity is way below your lactate threshold. This type of workout is easy, at an “all-day” pace, and over time, training in Zone 2 will lead to the development of a stronger heart muscle, increase mitochondrial levels in the cells, develop more capillarization in your muscle and result in an overall increase in stamina. The rides are 1 to 5 hour or even longer depending on your goal and or level at which you compete.
Ride feel and zone description.
Zone 2 riding or classic long slow distance description - Rate of Perceived Exertion 2-3, all day effort, where your breathing is more regular than during an easy ride, but still be able to hold a continuous conversation. Training target power is between 56% and 75% of FTP and heart rate is between 69% and 83% of LTHR.
Sample workouts: Indoor
Total ride time: 90 minutes
Warm-up: Ride for 10 minutes in Zone 1, your power should be below 55% of FTP and or heart rate is below 68% of LTHR.
Main-set: 10 x 5 minutes at the upper end of Zone 2, 75% of FTP or between 80% and 83% of LTHR with 2.5 minutes of easy riding/recovery at the lower end of Zone 2, 60% of FTP or between 70% and 75% of LTHR.
Cool down: Very easy riding in Zone 1 for 5 minutes.
Sample workouts: Outdoor
Total ride time: 2.5 hours
Warm-up: Ride for 15 minutes in Zone 1, your power should be below 55% of FTP and or heart rate is below 68% of LTHR.
Main-set: Ride for 2 hours in Zone 2, aim for an average power between 56% and 75% of FTP or an average heart rate between 69% and 83% of LTHR.
Cool down: Very easy riding in Zone 1 for 15 minutes.
More into the why.
Increased mitochondrial density and size: More mitochondria meaning greater use of oxygen to produce more ATP and energy.
Increased capillarisation: Capillaries are small blood vessels that help transport blood to and from muscles within the body. The increase brings faster exchange of oxygen and fuel between the blood and the working muscle.
Increased stroke volume: More oxygenated blood pumped to working muscle per heartbeat.
Increased fat oxidation: Greater fat burning efficiency resulting in glycogen preservation.
It is important to accumulate a huge amount of time and do longer rides in Zone 2 as this will prepare your body for the harder training efforts to come. You should never stop training in Zone 2; your ideal training plan should include 3 to 4 sessions a week of Zone 2 training in the first 2 to 3 months of pre-season training, followed by 2 to 3 sessions a week as the season gets closer and 2 sessions of maintenance riding in season.
That is it, thank you for reading, I hope you found it to be a useful resource.