Endurance workouts, heart rate and progression levels


Due to shift work, family life and enjoying mountain biking too much i’m unable to commit a plan at the moment.

I have opted for some winter base building along with a weekly intense MTB session. I have been following the trainnow suggested endurance workouts between 45-75mins depending on time commitments 3-4 times per week.

I have started to climb the Endurance ‘progression levels’ started at level 1 having recently completed Bays at level 5.9. While my legs feel okay as I my Heart Rate doesn’t seem to be able to remain as low going into the higher level workouts. Having completed Bays with my HR drifting above 150bpm compared to the 120-130 of the lower end workouts. My stats are below for reference.

Age: 36
Max HR : 190
FTP: 240

So my question(s):

  1. Should I be working this high into my HR while trying to build my endurance base?
  2. Should I stick with the progressions or reduce to achieve a lower HR if I want endurance gains?

Thanks in advance!

I think it’s the wrong approach to use progression levels for endurance work when comparing workouts of the same duration. If you are doing this then the only thing that’s changing is the intensity which in turn yields a higher heart rate. Keep the power to 55-75% FTP. Personally I’d be selecting workouts that have an IF ~0.65 regardless of duration and completely ignore progression levels, they’re useless in this case.

Where progression levels might be valid is when comparing workouts of different durations with the same intensities.

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Going to side step the progression level question, although I agree with the comment above.

The TR crew tends to focus on intensity, and so for low-intensity endurance base work one article that I’ll bring up is this one:

which makes the case that an average trained athlete should stay above 45% vo2 reserve, which is roughly 68% HRmax.

190 * .68 = 129bpm

So if you are trained and fall into that average then stay above 129bpm.

So thats the bottom and what’s the upper boundary for low-intensity endurance?

The article also gives an estimate for the upper bound of low-intensity, 77-81% of HRmax.

190 * .77 = 146bpm
190 * .81 = 154bpm

Assuming those averages apply to you, that puts your low-intensity endurance work at 129-150bpm where I simplified the upper end and split the difference.

Targeting the middle, that gives a target for endurance rides at 140bpm and you can then equate that to a power.

Another way to approach it is if you have some data on “all-day pace” so for example if you have done some long 8-16 hour all day rides what was your average bpm?

Personal example - I’ve come off a 5 week break and on second week am targeting around 60-64% of my pre-break FTP. A couple weeks ago I started out at 30% pre-break FTP :joy: Right now I’m doing shorter 1 hour endurance efforts. Today I’m going to extend time out to 2 hours, then once power/HR stabilize at 2 hours its time to push out to 3 hours, then 4 hours. Based on prior seasons, over time I expect the target power to go up to 70-75% at the same heart rate. Another interesting thing to track is aerobic decoupling.

Hope that helps.

Having the same max HR the zones are spot-on in relation to RPE. If I do 4-5/10 ride it falls around 0.7 IF for 3-4hr and hr is 135-150 depending on the duration, fatigue from the day and all other known factors. But those are definitely not easy rides:)

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