By Chris Case
March 9, 2020

101 // Zones are a range, and not a specific number, featuring an all-star cast of guests

We’re incredibly lucky here at Fast Labs to be able to talk with some of the most intelligent physiologists, coaches, and athletes about training, and sport science generally, on a weekly basis. We glean so much insightful information just by having access to them on a regular basis. Through Coach Connor’s countless hours of dedicated research to keep up on the latest science, we’re then able to synthesize all of this information into what we hope are digestible conversations, helping you to better understand the science that propels cycling performance.

Occasionally, we like to step back and summarize the things we’ve learned, often prompted by the many questions we receive from our dedicated listeners. Today is just such an occasion. The last time we did this type of show was Episode 68: The Big Picture—The Three Types of Rides You Should Do. Today, we look at the big picture when it comes to training in zones, or ranges, versus training a target number.

Because what number is best? We talk about training zones constantly. If your zone 2 is 160 to 190 watts, for example, then is training at 190 watts better than training at 170 watts? Is going harder always better? Stay tuned for those answers.

Next, we’ll address four fundamental principles of human physiology that relate to training in ranges: specifically aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, fat burning capacity, and maximal lactate clearance—all in an effort to maximize your training experience.

Finally, we take an opportunity to remind everyone that humans aren’t machines. Perhaps that’s stating the obvious, but sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that we are all individuals and have different needs, and goals for our riding.

Today we hear from a vast array of former Fast Talk guests, including:

  • Colby Pearce, an incredible time trialist, coach, and bike fitting expert
  • Dr. Stephen Seiler, one of the world’s leading sports physiologists
  • Sepp Kuss, pro cyclist with Jumbo-Visma
  • Toms Skujins, pro cyclist with Trek-Segafredo
  • Dr. Andy Coggan and Dr. Stephen McGregor, leading exercise physiologists
  • Hunter Allen, leading cycling coach
  • Sebastian Weber, lead scientist at INSCYD and elite cycling coach

Let’s make you fast!



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  2. Dudley, G. A., Abraham, W. M., & Terjung, R. L. (1982). Influence of exercise intensity and duration on biochemical adaptations in skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol Respir Environ Exerc Physiol, 53(4), 844-850. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1982.53.4.844 
  3. Faude, O., Kindermann, W., & Meyer, T. (2009). Lactate threshold concepts: how valid are they? Sports Med, 39(6), 469-490. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200939060-00003 
  4. Keir, D. A., Fontana, F. Y., Robertson, T. C., Murias, J. M., Paterson, D. H., Kowalchuk, J. M., et al. (2015). Exercise Intensity Thresholds: Identifying the Boundaries of Sustainable Performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 47(9), 1932-1940. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000613 
  5. Laursen, P. B. (2010). Training for intense exercise performance: high-intensity or high-volume training? Scand J Med Sci Sports, 20 Suppl 2, 1-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01184.x 
  6. Messonnier, L. A., Emhoff, C.-A. W., Fattor, J. A., Horning, M. A., Carlson, T. J., & Brooks, G. A. (2013). Lactate kinetics at the lactate threshold in trained and untrained men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 114(11), 1593-1602. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00043.2013 
  7. Serrano, E., Venegas, C., Escames, G., Sanchez-Munoz, C., Zabala, M., Puertas, A., et al. (2010). Antioxidant defence and inflammatory response in professional road cyclists during a 4-day competition. J Sports Sci, 28(10), 1047-1056. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2010.484067 
  8. Urhausen, A., Weiler, B., Coen, B., & Kindermann, W. (1994). Plasma catecholamines during endurance exercise of different intensities as related to the individual anaerobic threshold. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 69(1), 16-20.  

2 responses to “101 // Zones are a range, and not a specific number, featuring an all-star cast of guests”

  1. Scott Hutson says:

    OK guys, I have listened to every episode of Fast Talk, many of them several times. Thank you for all the valuable information and for helping make time pass faster while I am riding indoors. A couple of issues keep cropping up for me: First, you frequently make references to riding at or below or above “threshold” during the podcasts without identifying which threshold you are referring to. It is often obvious but not always. Perhaps you could consider being a little more concise in your terminology for those among us that need a little extra hand holding. Second, every episode has multiple references to zones. You have had podcasts that very nicely describe the many different zone models. Trevor even has voiced several times his frustration about how cyclists refer to a certain zone and that that means nothing unless they refer to which model they are using. May I respectfully ask you to notice how many times Trevor referenced riding in a certain zone during this episode (and others) without saying which model and with frequently switching with model he was referencing? Again, this is said with all due respect and with many thanks for all the good work you do.

    • Chris Case says:

      Hey Scott, Thanks for listening and for your feedback. Both are fair criticisms. We often get very focused on what we’re saying, and Trevor is so familiar with the terms that the context is what helps define the terms. That said, I try my best to help clarify things. And I will try even harder in the future to point out the zone model we’re referring to, and the threshold we’re addressing at any given time. I appreciate the critique. We strive for accuracy, and this will help us be even more so.

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