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Thread: Why work out in the lower Heart Rate Zones?

  1. Default Why work out in the lower Heart Rate Zones?

    So I am finding out that the "fat burning" zone is a bit of a misnomer
    So what are some other reasons to work out in the endurance EZ?
    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Hello,
    if "lower" mean around 70% HRmax, can be used for (long) flat recovery.
    if "lower" mean around 75% HRmax for a few minutes, ...I use it for recover O2 debit after an intensity peak (intv training).

    but can be also mantained around 75-80% HRmax with long duration (ie: >60 min) in order to develop aerobic endurance.

    Ciao Matteo

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    Quote Originally Posted by veruca View Post
    So I am finding out that the "fat burning" zone is a bit of a misnomer
    So what are some other reasons to work out in the endurance EZ?
    Thanks!
    Enhancing your muscles' ability to store glycogen is one.

    It's best to think of endurance training as always being a tradeoff between volume and intensity. The value of lower intensity training greatly increases as your training volume goes up - and the reason you're able to increase training volume is because the intensity is lower.

    In a perfect world where all you had to do in your life was train, you'd do 80% or more of your training at lower intensity with just a few high intensity sessions mixed in to round things out (see attached). Unfortunately, most of us with reall lives have limited time for training - therefore we cheat a bit, realizing we're making a tradeoff, by jacking up the intensity to make up for our limited training time. Low volume with low intensity provides no stimulus for adaptation.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Todd S; 01-14-2010 at 11:54 AM.

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    Thanks!

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    There are so many reasons to work in the lower heart zones that this forum couldn't provide enough space to enumerate them. Just for the highlites, here's a quick list:
    1. You improve your blood chemistry on in the lowest zone - 60% or so of THRESHOLD - lower blood cholesterol and lower blood pressure. You don't get that effect if you are always in the upper zones.
    2. It stimulates the growth of slow twitch muscle fibers, which do a better job of transporting O2 to muscles, and are the primary ones used in long distance riding
    3. It increases mitochondria and thus capillary density - think of it as adding more pathways to deliver O2 to the muscles
    4. Its foundation style is "steady state" where you pick a heart rate and stay on that rate within a few beats for long periods of time - this will raise VO2 over time, which is the largest limiter to developing cycling power
    5. It teaches your metabolism to prefer fat over carbs - this is the way you get your body to conserve your glycogen which everyone has in limited stores
    6. Most importantly of all, it lays the foundation for more intense training. Yeah, you can go intense right away, and for short periods, but to go at an intense level, for longer intervals, and greater frequency requires a large, wide base of aerobic fitness - only able to be built with hours... not really... more like WEEKS of solid base building.

    Unfortunately, this is not as "exciting" as the average intense Spinning class, and it is therefore neglected, leaving folks with a small and shallow level of fitness when they attempt to ride outside. At my training center, we use lots of VIDEOs during the base building months to make this type of training more fun - it works.

    Hope this helps.
    Gene (Gino) Nacey
    Master Heart Zones Instructor
    Spinning Instructor
    USA Cycling Coach
    Owner, Global Ride Training Center &
    Global Ride Productions (virtual cycling DVDs)
    Founder, Cycling Fusion

    Always finish strong!

    Follow me on Twitter
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  6. Default

    Yes Gene it does help
    I am trying really hard to get a grip on this. I find it a bit confusing. My husband is a physician -and he is no help at all! Most people at my gym don't seem to know much about it either.

    I just bought the Joe Friel book and I am reading it slowly with a highlighter

    Another question for you guys. My Friel book talks about the inaccuracy of the HR chart that is based on 220- your age etc...

    So does anyone still use that chart?
    What do you do instead?
    I know on the profile forum there is a lot of talk about LT field tests

    Thanks everyone for your input

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    Quote Originally Posted by liveon2wheels View Post
    There are so many reasons to work in the lower heart zones that this forum couldn't provide enough space to enumerate them. Just for the highlites, here's a quick list:
    1. You improve your blood chemistry on in the lowest zone - 60% or so of THRESHOLD - lower blood cholesterol and lower blood pressure. You don't get that effect if you are always in the upper zones.
    2. It stimulates the growth of slow twitch muscle fibers, which do a better job of transporting O2 to muscles, and are the primary ones used in long distance riding
    3. It increases mitochondria and thus capillary density - think of it as adding more pathways to deliver O2 to the muscles
    4. Its foundation style is "steady state" where you pick a heart rate and stay on that rate within a few beats for long periods of time - this will raise VO2 over time, which is the largest limiter to developing cycling power
    5. It teaches your metabolism to prefer fat over carbs - this is the way you get your body to conserve your glycogen which everyone has in limited stores
    6. Most importantly of all, it lays the foundation for more intense training. Yeah, you can go intense right away, and for short periods, but to go at an intense level, for longer intervals, and greater frequency requires a large, wide base of aerobic fitness - only able to be built with hours... not really... more like WEEKS of solid base building.

    Unfortunately, this is not as "exciting" as the average intense Spinning class, and it is therefore neglected, leaving folks with a small and shallow level of fitness when they attempt to ride outside. At my training center, we use lots of VIDEOs during the base building months to make this type of training more fun - it works.

    Hope this helps.
    It's still real important to recognize that most if not all of the above benefits are not unique to lower intensity training. Remember, the "base" everyone always talks about has more to do with being able to handle volume - lower intensity training allows you to build volume without outstripping your body's ability to recover. And it's also important to remember that your muscles don't 'learn' anything - it's biochemistry. Your glycogen sparing capabilities are related to your workload relative to your lactate threshold. Your ability to prefer fat over carbs is improved by raising your lactate threshold (a subject talked about all the time on this forum). Aerobic enzyme activity, mitochondrial density, capillary density, etc. also correlate with performance at lactate threshold. Power at lactate threshold can be improved with hours in the saddle at moderate intensity, but without the corresponding required volume build you're wasting your time at lower intensities when it comes to improving your fitness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veruca View Post
    Yes Gene it does help
    I am trying really hard to get a grip on this. I find it a bit confusing. My husband is a physician -and he is no help at all! Most people at my gym don't seem to know much about it either.

    I just bought the Joe Friel book and I am reading it slowly with a highlighter

    Another question for you guys. My Friel book talks about the inaccuracy of the HR chart that is based on 220- your age etc...

    So does anyone still use that chart?
    What do you do instead?
    I know on the profile forum there is a lot of talk about LT field tests

    Thanks everyone for your input
    It's not the fun way to go, but it might be better to start with an exercise physiology text or an NSCA or ACSM certification review text if you want to really develop an understanding of the basics.

    Most of what you read from the popular press waters down the physiology to a point where it can be misleading.

  9. Default

    See
    I don't even know if I should bother.
    For one thing -my classes are mostly the "mom" crowd. Not training for anything other than maybe a 5k
    They want to have fun and have a workout.

    I do that -no CI moves, lots of upbeat music -they like that.

    I just hate not being able to answer a question when it is asked. Most of them don't care -but I want to at least have some kind of basic understanding.

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    Don't get frustrated. Learning is a process. I got into the fitness industry in the early 90s with a 'Mens' Fitness' level of knowledge.

    But this stuff interests me, so I just kept reading and reading and the more I learned the more I wanted to dig deeper because much of what I read was contradictory. Plus, I was always bothered, working in biotech, by how fitness principles and concepts were 'validated' compared to, for example, how a drug or a medical device had to be validated. It's like night and day.

  11. #11
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    This may help, too.

    Attached are the 'zones' accepted by USA Cycling for power training (they also give ballpark HR references) and corresponding physiological adaptations that can be expected when training in these respective zones.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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