Heart rate and power zone mismatches

I was looking for some thoughts on zone mismatches - in particular I’ve noticed recently that my heart rate when holding zone 2 power is frequently zone 3.

I’m not sure there will be any racing for the foreseeable where I am, so wondered what training strategies people would employ to address this and lower heart rate across zones. I haven’t really ever done specific zone 2 training, usually following SSB plans.

My thinking is focusing on zone 2 rides will help with efficiency, bringing HR down for that level of effort. I’m wondering if I should add a couple of days intensity to keep some variety.

Would be great to hear from anyone that has been in a similar position and how you tackled it!

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There are a number of threads on this that may be worth a look:

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After each ramp test, this situation happens to me too. I am not sure but my best guess it’s because of reco week before ramp test. After reco week, my heart rate increase because of refreshment (not being tired) i guess. But i wonder still if there is anyone who see the same situation.

Zone 2 ride last week, Coggan HR zones versus Friel HR zones:

Zone2 target was 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes) of work. For that ride I was working on increasing my cadence, and that raised HR. But for me, it is common to see that type of discrepancy between Coggan classic HR zones and Friel HR zones. Bothered my coach at first, and after a bunch of low-intensity aerobic work we called it “thats just how my engine works” and we don’t sweat it.

One conclusion - switch to Friel HR zones! :rofl:


Could also be due to a too high FTP estimated from the ramp test, and that it takes some time to “grow” into the FTP following the ramp test?

I had the same problem when doing the ramp test. It always gave me a too high FTP, and my HR zones would be off as a result. Switched to the KM Test, and HR & Power has matched well since.

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Cheers for the replies, and for the topics to look at Chad. I’m not sure anything there answers my question (although I’m maybe just not grasping this…?) :joy:

It seems HR zones being mismatched to power zones is fairly normal, but is there any benefit in trying to train for greater efficiency at zone 2 (by dropping down to 2 days of intervals and filling the other 4 days with zone 2 work)?

Will this even make any difference at all…?

I’m assuming this will also help with me hitting max heart rate during over-unders, but again, maybe I just need to get used to spending time above threshold and not worry so much about HR so long as I’m hitting power targets? Just a bit off putting seeing 195bpm when the legs feel okay - seems to raise RPE massively.

I initially thought the ramp might be over estimating my FTP, but got a similar number (1 watt difference) with an 8 minute test.

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I dont get the point why you want to hit your max heart rate during under/overs?

For me, if you have a powermeter then do not worry about heart rate a lot. It can change from day to day. Sometimes i do sweetspot as a low tempo sometimes like threahold hr. It depens on so many factors (sleep, nutrition etc). I recommend you to just watch it and try to analyze your factors (sleep, nutrition, fueling and improving). But do not worry it too much.

I think they’re saying that they want to train to AVOID hitting max HR, not aiming for it.

All talk about HR and comparing with others needs taking with a large pinch of salt. But I’d suggest that if you’re hitting max HR on over/unders then your FTP is probably set too high.

Do you have one of these workouts that you could share? It might help us figure things out.

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Yeah, I’m talking about avoiding max HR.

Here’s a recent ride (although HR monitor kept cutting out at the start, I switched to another mid way through - used them both in the past and both seem to read the same as far as I can tell): - TrainerRoad

Legs felt fine - managed to get through the three intervals without much trouble.

If you’re hitting max then, judging by that workout, your max HR is around 197? My max HR is very similar to yours but my O/U average HR is lower and my HR during the recovery valleys is noticeably lower.

150bpm for you during recovery seems quite high, as a percentage of your max.

Like I said though, take all this with a pinch of salt because everyone’s different. And if it works for you then that’s all that matters.

Whats your training plan consistency like? Do you nail every workout or do you find yourself skipping/turning down the intensity on any?

Thanks for looking over that. My max is around 198 as you’ve picked up on.

Consistency is good - just finished SSBHVII at 260 ftp without a huge amount to worry about - heart rate definitely in the threshold space.

I took an extra rest week as I knew I was in for a tough week at work, but as I said, tested FTP with an 8 minute test before starting build.

Hi all , I have a query that im sure has been answered nany times and that I think I know the answer re power vs Hr zones just dont always match up - but theres still something in my head that still needs the message getting through!!

So what I struggle with is Z2 work and that My HR is almost always in Z1 untill late in the session or only just seems to creep in to ‘Z2’.
I dont seem to get into HR z2 untill power gets to more like Z3 .
It always seems to have been like this .
In other higher power zones the match alot better and very well .

In my mind if Im doing aerobic work ,my logic is that I need my hr beating a little faster than recovery zone???

At 44 with a only recently trained FTP of 266 , its not like im some super diesel engine .

Note , Zones are set using Friel Lactate , maybe I should switch to Coggan ?

TIA, Dave

The reason I ask about consistency is because one possible cause, as I suspect may be a factor in my performance, is anaerobic contribution even at threshold. In other words, working above true lactate threshold when doing an FTP test. This can happen in the ramp test, 8 min and even 20 min test. I started looking in to the Kolie Moore protocols covered at length on this forum because of this.

However. the other conclusion I came to is that all of this depends what you use your FTP for. If its just for setting the intensity of TR workouts, and you’re able to complete the workouts consistently then that’s all that matters. But if you want to know your FTP so that you can pace a 1hr time trial, then doing some sort of 1 hour test is probably most/equally beneficial

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I’d refer you to these threads for more detail:

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I think a question you should be asking is, if training endurance in Zone 2, do you do it in your heart rate zone 2 or your power zone 2?

Which gives you that increased mitochondrial benefit? Zone 3 is no man’s land, so if your power zone 2 puts you into your h/r zone 3 what does this mean?

Some of the pros and their coaches would not agree with that.

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HR and power are both proxies for blood lactate, which is itself a proxy – it’s an indicator of fatigue, and can give a physiologist an idea of what’s happening in the cells, but it’s still not a direct measurement of the funky get down going on in the tissues.

Train by feel

You can get too caught up in the numbers.

Here are mine for the year (375 hours on the bike, 175 on the rowing erg)

HR power

Doing it wrong? Doing it right?

(progression of 5, 20, and 60 min power, and 2k times, say it was probably right)


the fundamentals are pretty simple:

  • increasing the number of mito and capillaries is primarily based on duration, not intensity
  • increasing mito efficiency requires intensity
  • easier to do more hours at low intensity, while preserving your ability to go hard on intensity days

Those fundamentals are about the demand side - improving ability to aerobically use oxygen in the muscles. There are similar fundamentals about the supply side - improving ability to deliver more oxygen (lungs/heart/blood

Beyond the fundamentals we get into coaching, assuming you use power targets should I do 55% FTP or 60% or 65% or 70% or … Well that depends on your ability to recover, and how many hours/week of low-intensity you are doing. Which gets back to RobertK’s point on training by feel.


Yep, I’d agree that some wouldn’t agree.
Sweetspot has its place, but regarding the rest of the zone, I don’t think it would feature much in a pro’s training plan.

A question I have on this is - When you’re doing a lot of Z2 volume to stimulate new mitochondria, how should that feel? Doing more than you’re accustomed to should never feel easy, right?

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