Heart rate zones higher than power zones?

Yes, I need to do another FTP test; it’s long overdue. If you’re using Zwift’s test protocol I can recommend their “FTP Test (shorter)”, as it’s only 45 mins in total, including warm-up and cool-down.

You will probably find that the average HR you achieve during this 20’ test turns out to be a little bit lower than your true Lactate threshold since the Zwift test has a short recovery period before the 20’ free ride portion, so your HR won’t be near the 20’ test level. You can always double-check this later (easy enough if you race). Good luck, no one enjoys doing these rides :woozy_face:

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Thanks… yes… long overdue. And you’re right in that they’re no fun at all.

When I first got my trainer I did the shorter FTP test. Zwift said the shorter test is better for people who weigh less than 60kg (I weigh about 63 kg). The numbers after the test didn’t make sense, so I didn’t pay much attention to them and did the longer test later on.

But, like you say, can’t hurt to try again. Even if the threshold heart rate number is off by a bit, let’s say 5% or 10% higher or lower, it wouldn’t close the almost two-zone zone gap I’m seeing between power, right?

Hi Sherveen, TBH I hadn’t really paid much attention to the HR versus Power zone graphs on Zwift since I tend to look at my ride data on Strava or Garmin.

However, I just did a quick search and it looks like Zwift calculates the 5 coloured heart rate zones simply from the HR max value you have entered in your Zwift profile (much like they calculate the 5 power zones from your FTP value). So, for your HR and Power zone graphs to be better aligned you need to ensure that your FTP value and HR max value are as accurate as possible.

The HR max value can be a bit of a guesstimate. I wouldn’t necessarily use the HR max value from your 20’ FTP ride (this will probably be too low). I’d look through all your hardest recent efforts and simply pick the highest HR level you’ve hit. Alternatively, you can take the AVERAGE HR from your 20’ FTP test and apply a fudge-factor to approximate your HR max (from experience my true HR max is around 7-8% higher than the average HR I get from the FTP test e.g. 171 bpm max versus 159 bpm average for the 20’ FTP test).


Sherveen - What max HR do you have entered in your profile?

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i also look at the data on strava, but hadn’t paid much attention to it assuming that it’d be the same since it’s coming from zwift.

your suggestion about looking at recent “hard” rides makes sense. why estimate when you can get actual data.

many thanks for the suggestions. it also makes sense that the 20’ max effort average heart rate would be a bit underestimated.

EDIT: actually more and more i’m looking at my ride data on elevate app.

In Zwift max HR is 172. FTP is 185.

EDIT: Based on my age, I don’t think that max HR is too far off. Looking back on some “hard” recent rides I don’t see HR much above 169.

is cycling your only sport, or do you have any history of doing anaerobic/strength based sports?

road cyclists typically have very good aerobic power and take a long time to reach anaerobic threshold, but then don’t peak so high.

if you are a sprinter or weightlifter, you will have high peak power, but your muscles typically won’t be as efficient, so your heart rate will easily spike once you are put under sustained pressure.

that or your outdated FTP is simply set too high currently :stuck_out_tongue:

either way I wouldn’t worry about it too much, just means you are getting some quality training in, I’ve been cycling since just before lockdowns started and my aerobic power is still fairly rubbish xD

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recently only cycling. in the past i used to play basketball and football (soccer). but that was a long time ago.

i’ve noticed that not only does aerobic fitness take a long time to develop (months and months and months) but also that it drops off very very quickly - ie in a matter of days. i had a recent IT band problem so i didn’t ride for about 1-1/2 weeks and i’m noticing that it’s taking a while to recover to my previous level…

somebody mentioned it earlier, and maybe it was you Ben, that the only way to know is to do the same workout over and over again a few times to have a sense of what is “normal”.

about my FTP… well… sure might be a bit high, and when the younger guys on group rides are kicking my ass at HR of 130, i also think that :stuck_out_tongue:. but it’s not THAT old. it’s from last june/july. i’m due for another one but i’ve been using the excuse that i need to let my IT band heal up.

Do you mean in your Zwift profile? I don’t remember ever setting it in Zwift and looking around at my profile (in the Zwift app, companion app and website) I don’t see it anywhere.

Go to in-game Menu then to your profile. Here’s a random pic I found…

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I didn’t have mine set either. I have now set it and will see next ride if it actually makes any difference to the position of the coloured HR zones on the chart ??

I’d recommend doing Sweetspot workouts to get maximum bang for your buck in terms of aerobic fitness. Zwift has a few of these (SST) labelled short, medium or long. They should feel quite hard, but doable, if your current FTP value is anywhere near correct.

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Thanks William.

I’ve done some SST in the last few months. They’re very efficient workouts. And, you’re right, they aren’t easy, but the gains are very clear afterwards.

“Emily’s Short Mix” is a favorite and it’s super short, like the SST (Short) that you mentioned. There’s also a lot of SST in the “Build Me Up” plan that I’ve been doing now for a few months… “vault” and the “unicorns” are a few that come to mind. I’m not as far along as I’d like to be though. I think only in week 7 or something. Some of the workouts run 90 minutes or more.

Stick with it Sherveen :+1: I’d taken a 4 year break from cycling and my Zwift initiation was the “Build Me Up” plan. I made quite significant gains by the end of the 12 weeks (around 15- 20% FTP increase).

How does that old adage go about fitness never being static; it’s either going up or down :grin:

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haha… yeah… took me two tries to get through the “purple unicorn”. :joy:

there’s no “getting there” when it comes to fitness. always just the long road ahead staring you down trying to get you to lay down.

it’s like the old “it doesn’t get easier… you just go faster” quote.

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