Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | October 29, 2009

Cycling Performance Tip #1: Follow the 75% Rule

Greetings, I am starting a new TIPS series designed to help you improve your cycling performance.  Whether you are a serious competitor with a desire to compete at a national level or a cycling enthusiast who just wants to hang on during local group rides, you will find some extremely useful tips over the next few months.  Keep in mind that not every tip will apply to every cyclist.  Some of these tips may include activities that you are already doing.  However, many of them will be new and will provide a significant boost to your training program.  

My first tip for you is “Follow the 75% Rule”, which states that during a given training week, at least 75% of your miles (or time) should be at or below 75% of your maximum heart rate.  In other words, at least three-fourths of your weekly training should take place in Zones 1 and 2 (click here for more information on the Training Zones).  That’s right, most of your cycling should consist of easy recovery and endurance building rides.  So how will you get faster?  That’s the other part of the 75% rule.  10% of your weekly mileage should be in Zone 5 (90 to 100% of maximum heart rate).   In other words, it should consist of really, really intense riding.  The other 15% will vary depending on your training phase and goals, but will often include some training in Zone 4.  This is what allows cyclists to modify their physiology.  A relatively small amount of very high intensity work combined with lots of endurance and recovery.  

This approach will help you avoid the biggest mistake made by serious cyclists.  I call it the Zone 3 Syndrome.  This happens to cyclists that spend too much time riding at a moderate intensity (i.e., Training Zone 3).  At this level, they are riding too hard to promote recovery and not hard enough to facilitate the physiological change needed for significant performance improvement.  I never ceased to be amazed at the number of cyclists who make this mistake.  You feel like you are working pretty hard (and you are – sort of), but you’re just not working hard enough to modify your physiology in ways that will make you faster.  For that, you need Zone 4 (80 to 90% of maximum heart rate) and Zone 5 workouts, and they require a significant amount of time for recovery.

NEXT POST – November 2, 2009

Cycle Log: Endurance Phase – Week 3

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