Training Zones: Are You Training Hard Enough?
This is the time of year that more people are committing to working out in the gym or ramming up their training for marathons, triathlons, cycling, etc. When I meet new training clients I'm always interested in hearing how they've been training up to this point. The conversation always turns to their desire to get faster and stronger and set new personal bests. More than once, and in fact more often than not, once I start to explain what it takes in interval and strength training based on what I've learned from various coaches over the last 20 years I get that 'you've got to be kidding' comment. If you know me you know I'm not ;-)
A few training tips that I offer would be to avoid that training zone thats in that no-mans land of being to slow to be a beneficial interval and too fast to be considered just an endurance effort. I notice that a lot of people ride somewhere in upper zone 2 or low zone 3 with their heart rate or somewhere between their endurance power upper limit and their lower tempo limit. Either slow down or speed up! There is a gap of about 40 watts between my endurance and tempo wattage that I rarely ride in. You should know that range either in power or heart rate.
Everyone should include some super high intensity efforts in their training. You don't have to be a sprinter on the bike or running the 100 yard dash for this to be beneficial. Time with your heart rate above 90% or even 95% is great for your long efforts also. Without getting into the effects on your cardio-respirotory system many studies have proven that short efforts of 30 seconds to 3 minutes will help longer efforts of 2-5 hours.
One last tip would be to go ahead and lift some heavy weights in the gym. If you have proper form and are already in good condition go ahead and do some squats and lunges with some big weights. If you're always using 8, 10, 12 or 15's go ahead and try 15, 20, 25 and 30's. I love handing people some big weights and seeing that look that says 'no way'. Once they do it, they want to do more. And don't worry about bulking up. Lifting a few times per week won't turn you into a Mr or Mrs Atlas.