Communicating the “what” (prescribing workouts) of training is the simplest part of coaching. The challenging part is teaching why a workout is important and how to consistently execute workouts over a full season.

I created this workout guide to explain a few basics of the why and how of workouts, in hopes of helping you become more consistent on the bike.

Let’s begin with an explanation of the three primary training languages or zones used in cycling. Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), power, and the energy systems of the body.

Training Languages

Training zones serve two primary functions:

  1. To help describe what you’ve done on the bike. Example: On today’s ride, you spent 20m riding in Zone 2.
  2. To standardize the language used to prescribe training intensity. Example: Spend 20 minutes riding in Zone 4.

In short, we use training zones as constructs to help us better understand the riding we’ve done while enabling us to be more intentional about the riding we plan to do.

The most helpful way to describe and prescribe training is to utilize multiple training languages that encompass both the subjective and objective nature of training.

We’ll begin with the subjective language of RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion. You can keep reading about RPE on page two, or jump straight to a training zone by clicking below.

Zone 3 – Tempo

“Tempo” might be the most worthless description for a general training intensity, but its widespread usage in cycling circles means we’re stuck with it. What does “tempo” mean exactly? Let’s jump in.

Zone 5 – VO2

Your VO2max is the maximal amount of oxygen consumed during progressive all-out exercise. In the weight conscious world of cycling, VO2max is most commonly discussed in relative terms scaled to a riders weight as milliliters of oxygen, per kilogram of weight, per minute of exercise mL/kg/min.