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3 Ways To Be Absolutely Confident With Your Individualized Training Zones

With a limited amount of time to train, you need to be absolutely confident that your individualized training zones are accurate.

Three Things to Know About Individualized Training Zones

  1. Traditional training zones are set up by percentages that are based on averages, making them potentially less accurate.
  2. Your training time is limited so you need to get your zones right or you get overtrained or undertained.
  3. INSCYD testing is not perfect, but it provides a solid way of knowing your individualized training zones and a lot of other important metrics.

With a  limited amount of time to train, you need to be absolutely confident that your training zones are accurate. 

If you train at the wrong intensities, you may either not get enough adaptation, the wrong adaptations for your target event, or, worse, burn yourself out. 

Most traditional training zones are set up as an average percentage of your FTP (functional threshold power or anaerobic threshold). 

But all of us are different fuel-burning, energy-consuming machines.

Your anaerobic threshold is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic power and there’s no way a percentage is going to get your particular numbers as accurate as you need them.

A more individualized training zone is one based specifically on your energy systems: your aerobic vs anaerobic energy contribution, your MLSS (metabolic lactate steady state) or anaerobic threshold,  your VO2max and VLamax 

Your complete metabolic profile can provide a more accurate picture of how you should train to achieve your goals. 

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The correct adaptations require accurate and individualized training zones

By definition, training is about creating adaptations in our bodies that help our performance. 

We want to ride faster, more efficiently, and/or longer. 

In order to train effectively, we need to know certain metrics in order to target adaptations. 

And if you are a time-crunched athlete, you need to know as accurately as possible how you should train to be more effective. 

We need to know that we are targeting the right adaptations in the right energy system with the most accurate training zones. 

Traditionally, you get an FTP number by doing a 20-minute test or a Ramp Test. 

This number has been reasonably correlated to your power at threshold, but the numbers aren’t terribly helpful after that. 

INSCYD uses test data to identify the key physiological metrics to more accurately guide your training.

In the past, you needed a lab and a lot of money for metabolic testing

Now with INSCYD, you can accurately and confidently know your own individualized training zones, VO2max, Anaerobic Threshold, and other key metrics with just a series of on-the-bike tests. 

INSCYD provides the same level of accuracy as lab testing, with a much deeper look at an athlete’s unique metabolic characteristics, in a shorter amount of time as well.

Metabolic, in this case, looks at how our bodies convert fuel into energy, how the energy is consumed, and how our bodies change because of energy use.

And while the INSCYD testing is still under $200 and not cheap, the data you get from it is invaluable. 

INSCYD  testing provides individualized  training zones and more

The testing offers up the following data:

  • Maximum aerobic performance (VO2max);
  • Maximum glycolytic performance (VLamax, the fuel for maximum power);
  • Fat and Carbohydrate combustion rates (how to fuel your rides);
  • Aerobic vs. anaerobic energy contribution (how to best target your interval work without the guesswork);
  • Anaerobic Threshold;
  • Individualized training zones, including base, FatMax, and VO2.

Individualized  training zones mean more accurate, efficient training plans

As a cycling coach, I can measure and quantify your unique characteristics, resulting in a laser-focused training plan to improve race performances and help you reach your adventure goals.

I can use the specific data from your threshold testing to:

  • build your aerobic capacity
  • increase your glycolytic capacity (ability to dig deep with a lot of power)
  • increase your capacity to burn fat as a fuel
  • determine your optimal carbohydrate intake for long, steady-state rides
  • create more precise and purposeful training programs.

The demands of your target events determine the specific adaptations

With a limited amount of time to train, you need to know exactly what adaptations you’re looking for in your training. 

Given the demands of your challenge or adventure event, you need to be confident that your training will get you to the finish line.

For example, if you are a triathlete, you need to develop your power and time at threshold since your event usually requires a steady output. 

A road racer requires a significant amount of aerobic capacity, with work at the anaerobic threshold and VO2max as well. 

And a crit or cyclocross rider needs a higher VLamax to jump out of corners and put out big power in short bursts. 

Creating training zones based on energy systems

The INSCYD test provides a truckload of metrics and data to use to create not only individualized  training zones, setting up effective intervals, but fueling and recovery strategies as well. 

INSCYD  is based on three physiological pillars: Anaerobic capacity (VLamax); your anaerobic threshold (MLSS – or the point at which you consume as much lactate as you produce); and your VO2max. 

INSCYD uses data from four maximal efforts  (20 seconds, three minutes, six minutes, and 12 minutes) to measure how your individual body uses fuel aerobically and/or anaerobically. 

And since EVERYONE’s balance of those fuels is different, INSCYD  provides currently the best option for accurate functional training zones. 

Several threshold testing options

You have several options to do INSCYD testing and figure out your accurate individualized training zones.

1. Coaching Programs

Both of my coaching programs, semi-custom and full-custom, include initial and follow-up INSCYD testing. 

For me as a coach, it’s critical that I know this key information before setting up training programs. 

2. INSCYD Test with Training Plan

I use the INSCYD software to analyze your metabolic profile to give you a comprehensive report that includes your individualized training zones. 

We’ll schedule an online meeting or phone call to discuss the report and training implications.

We’ll also work together to create a one-month training plan to get you on your way to your target adventure or challenge event.

This can lead to creating a semi-custom or full-custom coaching program as well.

3. INSCYD Test with Full Report

I analyze your test data and review the individualized training zones, metabolic profile, and fueling information with you. 

You’ll get a report and what all the information means based on your adventure and challenge goals. 

And we’ll set up a conversation online or on the phone to talk about what it all means!

Want to know more about what you can achieve? 

My purpose with Simple Endurance Coaching is to help everyday endurance athletes achieve their goals with more strength, endurance, and mobility. 

If you liked this article, please share it with others.

Sign up on the website to get a free copy of my e-booklet, “The Simple and Mostly Complete Guide to Strength Training for Everyday Endurance Athletes.”

You can also opt in to receive my weekly blog post about what works in endurance sports. 

Contact me or sign up for Virtual Coffee so we can discuss your goals, ask questions, and talk about making your endurance training more effective, fun, and Simple.

Paul Warloski is a: 

  • USA Cycling Level 3 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer
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