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Thread: HR model with 4 zones and 2 thresholds?

  1. #1

    Default HR model with 4 zones and 2 thresholds?

    My YMCA hung some new signs this week.

    The posters are very nice. I was hesitant at first. Ooooo! Change! Ack! But I think this can be a simple way to make descriptions more standard across different instructors so participants know what is expected.

    I want to be sure I understand it first, though. There’s no small print at the bottom, so if anyone knows and can point me to the sources this is built on that would be great.

    I THINK this chart is using Ventilatory Threshold 1 (VT1) and Ventilatory Threshold 2 (VT2) as American Council on Fitness does. However, I think I would place “Very hard. Breath becomes labored” under VT2. Both because 1) ACE describes VT2 as “Speaking is no longer possible with the exception of one or two word statements, chances are you are not going to be able to exercise much longer above this point” and 2) I think VT2 equates to LTHR and I would place Very Hard just below that.

    Or do you think T1 and T2 on this chart refer to some other thresholds?

    Any insights on these thresholds and zones?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Oakmont, PA near Pittsburgh
    Blog Entries


    I think the chart is a good representation of VT1 and VT2 as you have described and as the chart lays out. Your issue with "Very Hard" being under T2 may be one of semantics. I would agree with you frankly since this is indeed LTHR and that should be very hard by anyone's standards - so our semantic interpretation would be in synch. That being said, others may have other interpretations of the same words. In addition, their RPE of 8 may possibly be the reason they put it there as they want to show that there are several levels above T2 that can be experienced. The thing is, it's sort of splitting hairs. Once you are on the verge of that second inflection and kick in blood lactate, this stuff is more about blurred lines and physiological feelings than a hard switch that gets thrown. Combine that with the issue of semantics and people's own feelings of what is Hard vs Very Hard and it gets a bit muddy. Suffice it to say when you are in and round T2 - it ain't pretty :-). The chart works, but I miss Zone 1 myself. I like T1 under Zone 3 but I believe there are quite a bit that can go on before that.
    Gene (Gino) Nacey
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Golden, Colorado


    Quote Originally Posted by liveon2wheels View Post
    Once you are on the verge of that second inflection and kick in blood lactate, this stuff is more about blurred vision and physiological feelings than a hard switch that gets thrown. .
    There you go, Gino.....I fixed the typo for you!

    One of the problems I have with cuing the specifics of these zones (apart from minimal uptake of HR monitor suggestions, that is) is getting the idea of what pretty much anything below a Seriously High Interval Training effort (as in Oh $h!t!!) feels like in the here and now.......say the first 30 seconds. Using the example of say the intensity of a *VO2Max interval* ......go out of the starting gate like a Quarter Horse and you're likely to fade PDQ.....a bit too much like a Thoroughbred/Suffolk Punch and you might be a touch too easy (I was a horse-show mom back in the day!)

    FWIW, I cue the talk test with T1 somewhere between the descriptions they have for RPE 4 and 5. We have treadmills at the gym with a few standard fitness tests programmed into them.......including one with a modified Bruce protocol. I usually suggest to the few HRM converts that they give their device a test-drive to understand what a sense of pace might be by using the Pledge of Alliegance toward the end of each ramp up. If they can get to "One Nation..." without thinking about it, they're not at T1. If they're gasping before "......and to The Republic", they've gone too far. FWIW, Carl Foster gave an AbFab presentation of this idea ......along with a vid. that was a bit more representative of the idea than ACE' that last ICI/PRO conference.

    It's actually quite hard to get the idea across to folk with a limited experience of the concept of a meaningful work effort on bikes with no feedback.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Golden, Colorado


    In this context, a couple of *feedback-style* comments at the end of a class a few weeks ago....

    One person (who I know likes my class/music etc) mentioned that he liked the change of pace in my class as "*X* kicks our butts" with lots of long sprints whereas I make them (just ??!?) work hard all the time.

    Other comment was along the lines of "Thank gawd I don't have a class like *X*...... pedaling fast with yer arse bouncing in the saddle..."

    Happy campers the pair of 'em. Still, talk about *Damned with faint praise*

  5. #5


    I came into teaching indoor cycling as a cyclist. So I brought with me my workouts and a fairly good understanding of five heart rate zones (a la Joe Friel). Hardly anyone in my classes uses heart rate monitors and few of those have done a LTHR test, so I put quite a bit of thought into translating those five HR zones into descriptive language. I’d wink at my cyclists as I’d talk about five “levels” of effort. — So that’s my “Why does this only have 4 zones? Ack, something new!” story.

    Gino, thank you for your reassurance that these do indeed look like VT1 and VT2. I think I can overcome my attachment to the phrase “very hard.” I do like having three descriptions above that top threshold, reminds me of 5a, 5b, and 5c. I also like the language “Concentrated effort requires ‘selftalk’” right below T2.

    Vivienne, it’s funny… The chart puts T1 below RPE 4, you would it above RPE 4, I would run it right through RPE 4. :-) Semantics sure does play a BIG roll when we are talking about RPE.

    I taught my first class using the chart on Saturday. We did a time trial descending ladder 4-3-2-1 with equal recoveries. I used to cue these as “very hard.” This time I cued the work interval as sitting right on the bottom edge of that T2 line, and I pointed at the chart. Don’t go out too fast or too slow. Let your heart rate and breathing come up naturally. At a minute in, I had them check their Watts and memorize and hold that number. I cued the recovery as green effort, but as your breathing normalizes, slowly add gears back on to “soft land” in the yellow zone. We’ll pedal here until the next work interval. Each interval we returned to our Watts number. There were only two gals in the class; we swapped laundry tips during the recoveries. lol.

    Does anyone know the source of this chart and the science/rationale behind it? I can tell the Y made it (It’s in their typeface), but that’s all I know.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Simi Valley, CA


    Some make this so unnecessarily complicated. Trying to add precision explaining systems that are anything but precise.


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