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Why TEMPO rides?

This is one of those mysterious zones that we often don’t understand or don’t value, because we are not going easy and it’s not hard. So, what is the purpose of TEMPO rides and where does it fit into the coaching/training world?

There are several versions of training zones used in the big world of coaching with the most popular zones calculations being that of British Cycling, Joe Friel and Andy Coggan. Some coaches even device their own zones.

Here at Absolute Motion we follow Andy Coggan’s training zones and it looks something like this (power and heart rate zones are % of FTP and LtHR):

Zone Power Heart Rate RPE Duration
1: Active Recovery <55% <68% <2 n/a
2: Endurance 56-75% 69-83% 3-4 > 1h30
3: Tempo 76-90% 84-94% 5-6 10 – 60 min
4: Threshold 91-105% 95-105% 7-8 3 – 8 min
5: V02 Max 106-120% >106% 8-9 (HR 9+) 1 – 5 min
6: Anaerobic 121-150% n/a 10 20 sec – 2 min
7: Neuromascular Max! n/a Harder! < 20 sec

The TEMPO zone fits in between Endurance and Threshold. Riding at TEMPO is neither hard or easy and requires some concentration to keep up. It’s a bit like riding in no-man’s land. Riding in this zone will make you tired, but riding here too much will prevent you from getting faster.

Zone 3 is where we find fast recreational riders, who don’t use a coach to guide their training, ride most of the time. They train long hours and seems to be going at a brisk pace when they ride, but when they race they are not fast.

We use TEMPO Zone intervals and training:

  1. Towards the end of the Base Period where we have done a lot of Endurance Zone which focus on aerobic fitness and to expand this faster.
  2. For those clients who are time strapped and who needs to do their training on an indoor trainer. This is a nice way to get quality aerobic fitness training done without being out there for long hours. We find that a quality 1h20 Tempo session is often worth the same as a 2 hour Endurance Ride.

TEMPO Zone (Zone 3) training has its place and purpose. It’s not hard and it’s not easy … it takes concentration to train here and we encourage our clients to enjoy it. Don’t push into the next zone!

And remember … enjoy the journey!!


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