Zone 2 Misery

I am failing miserably to keep in Zone 2 for my Zone 2 training sessions. My heart rate stays in Zone 3 for the watts the Zone 2 training wants me to ride at.

Do I ignore the watts and just try and keep within the zone 2 heart range for me? I’m 60 so my max HR is 160, and the zone 2 range is meant to be 100-120?

If you are using 220 minus your age to get your max heart rate then you should look into alternatives because that’s highly unreliable.


I’m 52 and my max heart rate from 2022 is 186. Yours is whatever you measure it to be. A good place to start would be talking to your doctor about the possibility of doing a cardiac stress test in a clinic. Even that might not get you to your max but it’s a relatively safe way to get an idea.

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Mine is about right, perhaps a few bpm more.

I’m just interested to know whether keeping in the HR Zone is more important than the Watts the training prog says I should do.

rule of thumb; either train after watt OR your heart rate both are total different parameters!

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The heart rate zone is what you’re targeting. Power is more of a moving target based on your state of recovery (assuming no change in fitness).


watt is not a metabolic or systemic paramater. HR was used over decades before watt training was used. heart rate is very reliable if you focus on the common 5 zone heart rate model. similar to watt training (7 zones) in its core.

focus on no more than 70% of your max heart rate when doing aerobic workouts. 60 to 70% afaik is the zone your burn the most fat per time unit.


No one has asked yet, but what is the workout? What %age of FTP are you working at - and is your FTP set correctly?

“Endurance pace” varies significantly btwn athletes, even amongst well-trained athletes. Some people just may not be able to do “endurance miles” at 70% of FTP or above. They’d be better served by riding at 60% of FTP for longer durations.


You can use the Bais buttons under the workout screen to lower the required watts until you are in the desired HR range.


It’s not so much your max heart rate you want to know for your heart rate zones, but a ballpark estimate of your Lactate Threshold Heart Rate.

Very crudely, LTHR is what you can sustain for 20mins+, it is your zone 4 limit. is a donateware site I’ve been using for 4+ years, which among the stats it gives you once you give it permission to access your Strava data, is a “sustainable hr” figure that will change over time if your performance changes along with zones.

I’m not sure now if (another donate ware site) gives you an LTHR estimate and zones, or if you have to tell it your estimated LTHR.


Many riders have the problem you describe because the airstream is missing and the body overheats indoors. The heart rate no longer matches the watts. You can use several strong fans and it should not be too hot indoors. The indoor watts should be as similar as possible to the outdoor watts at the same temperature. Then the intensity of the load (TSS, TRIMP …) is correct.


Been doing this for a good number of years. I’ve relied on heart rate. I’ve relied on power. Neither are perfect. Now days I find myself ignoring both while riding or running and just going by my breathing. For “zone 2”, I want to be working hard enough that my breathing is elevated but not excessively so. If I was talking on the phone, the person on the call would know I was exercising but would still hear me speaking in complete sentences without having any difficulty understanding me. Cheers!


Part of the issue, of course, is which set of zones you’re looking at. HR? Watts? Lactate? Maybe even something else. What is your goal? Personally, I’ve been working from the (estimated) lactate zone scale since last summer (which, at least IMO, has a HR component to it) and it seems to be working great. My Zone 2 power level started at 170, and is now 200. Nowhere near World Tour level, of course, but at my age I’ll take it.

Here’s a great podcast to watch, if you’re interested in more information:


Thank you, that was very informative.

Thanks for all the information. Looks like I could go down a rabbit hole on this one.

For me, it doesn’t need to be exact. I want to train in Zone 2, so to achieve that, I need to ignore watts for the moment, rely on my HR, and keep within the acceptable range. I’ll use the bias button to lower the workout so I can keep within zone 2 for the duration.

Is this true? Or is it the highest % of fat per calorie utilized? In other words, burning fat and not much sugar.

Seems to me I saw a chart, and it may have been my threshold test (hooked up to a breathing machine), that the fat calories burned near/at threshold was high…but so was sugar burn. So fat burn was a lower % of calories utilized.

I need to see if I still have that chart. I think I scanned it.

Plus one to conversation test. See minute 1:58 - How to find Zone 2 without technology. Also explains why power and heart rate calcs might not be great

For greater detail see minute 14:29 for info on finding Zone 2, but the whole thing has great info:

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IF your max HR is 160 then zone 2 between 100 and 120 is lower than I’d expect. Seiler, another proponent of Z2 training, suggests Z2 is 72-80% of max HR (115-128 for max HR 160). Both Seiler and San Millan seem more keen on HR rather than power, but also recommend that you assess it by how hard you’re working – slightly breathless but able to talk in sentences puts you near the top of zone 2.

To answer your original question, you need to measure your max HR and your FTP, and then see how they match up during a workout before you decide how to proceed.

My Max HR is about right - I collapse around 163. My FTP is currently 178, according to the last ramp test I did. The 100 - 120 feels low, and I can ride a chat, albeit puffing slightly at 135, although Zwift has 135 in zone 3 for me.

I would be much more inclined to rely on the ‘can talk, but people will know I’m doing something’ zone than the Zwift zones. I think Zwift applies the same percentage of max HR zones to everyone, while each person is likely to have somewhat different zones, depending on their fitness level.

As mentioned earlier, when I started this Z2 process (based on the San Millan guidelines) last August I was putting out around 170 watts at the high end of my Z2 (about 127 bpm). I am now doing 200 watts at the same HR, and will be moving my workout to 205 soon.

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