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Training Zones - Zone 7

If you missed the introduction to Training Zones click here.

Zone 7 training is all about developing maximum power and sprinting ability. Needing to go into an all-out sprint is basically only necessary for cycling races where cyclists ride in the pack most of the race and end up using strategy and sprinting ability at the end. Sprinting may also arise to break away from a pack or catch up to a pack or rider(s). Most running or multisport races don’t come to this as you tend to get spread out by the finish line and any tactical adjustments in speed or pace are generally carried out over longer durations. Thus Zone 7 is usually only implemented for cycling only training plans.

Intervals for Zone 7 are probably the simplest of all; just go as hard as you can possibly go for 8-30 seconds. The intensity range for Zone 7 doesn’t have a maximum so it’s truly an all-out effort. There is no need to watch your power during the interval as that will only distract you from giving your maximum effort and heart rate won’t be quick enough to respond. This is purely based on rate of perceived exertion which is a 10 out of 10. Recovery periods after these intervals should be fairly long relative to the length of the interval. 3-10min is a good estimate for rest periods but is a wide range, because these more than any other interval should be based off feel. When you feel you are recovered enough perform another all-out sprint, then that’s how long your recovery should be.

A basic Zone 7 workout is again pretty straight forward, but there are various ways to shake them up and to make them specific to your particular cycling discipline. For starters, 8 second sprints feel very different than 20 second sprints which feel very different than 30 second sprints. Your workout could focus on one length or involve a variety. You can sprint while remaining seated, while standing, or progress from seated to standing during your sprint. You can start your sprints in different gears so you have to work more on leg speed in a lower gear or muscular force in higher gears. You could force yourself to stay in one gear for the whole sprint, or allow yourself two shifts of gears or unlimited shifts. You could practice you sprints with going into them with very little speed or momentum to work on generating force or could go into them with a lot of speed and work on maintaining/increasing that speed. You could practice sprinting coming out of a corner, up a short hill, or coming around another cyclist leading you out. While sprints are best done when you are as fresh as can be so you can get maximum power, there are times when you may want to training sprinting with a little fatigue in your legs during race simulations. For example, you may gradually build up speed and intensity over a few minutes like can happen at the end of the race ending in an all-out sprint for a finish line. Another special case you could mimic in training would be the start of a cyclocross or mountain bike race where you may have to sprint for position from a standing start which requires a lot of force production and experimenting with gears and shifting strategies. As you can see there are many combinations of variables that can implemented to change these workouts to meet specific needs.

Cycling >150% of FTP N/A % of FTHR 10 RPE

Interval Duration: 8-30sec w/ 3-10min Recoveries

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