Exercise Physiology

Our third language uses the science of exercise physiology. When it comes to better understanding training zones, the most important concept from exercise physiology is the integrated nature of our energy systems.

There are three energy systems that power exercise. The ATP-PCr, glycolytic, and oxidative.

The ATP-PCr and glycolytic are referred to as “anaerobic” because they are able to produce energy without oxygen. The oxidative energy system is considered “aerobic” since oxygen is a requirement to produce energy.

In this comparison image, you can see how the contribution of the energy systems varies based on the intensity and duration of the effort.

The shorter and more intense an effort, the greater the contribution from the ATP-PCr and glycolytic systems. The longer or less intense, the greater the contribution from the oxidative system.

This graphic highlights the estimated energy system contribution to an all-out 10s effortThis graphic highlights the estimated energy system contribution to an all-out 4m effort

Understanding a few basics of exercise physiology certainly isn’t a requirement to train effectively. Still, it can be helpful in generating a more broad understanding of why workouts are programmed and designed in a specific fashion.

If you put all three languages together, this is how they may look in graphical form.

Before we introduce each training zone in detail, a quick detour to highlight the value of being more intentional about the data displayed on your bike computer.

You can learn more about customizing your cycling computer ride screens by clicking on page five.

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.