How long can you ride at tempo for?

Is there an upper limit, any extreme examples?

Not long enough!

2.5 to 8hrs potentially. Thanks to Chad McNeese for creating the chart


Is there a chart for every zone and how long you should be able to hold that percent of the FTP? Thanks! Just did a 3 hour gravel race and was trying to figure out what power I should hold for the whole thing but didn’t have a cool chart to help guide me.



I got my info from this.

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Jesus Mother of Christ :sweat_smile:

That great to know though, very helpful. Starting to think that tempo training is actually well worth doing if you like to do centuries and the sort. Legs feeling a bit lazy, they seem to like endurance zones or hitting it harder around sweet spot and threshold when fresh. But riding at tempo for hours seems a bit less comfortable than I’m expecting. Is the carb requirement for tempo riding very high compared to endurance?

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I’m dumb…

85% FTP for about 3hrs is typically what I shoot for. Once upon a time, there was a reason for those numbers, but I no longer remember :thinking:

Look at the bottom of a ride to find your power range for tempo, look at the power curve and add a season for comparison.

Looks like 1:10 this year and 2:55 back in 2017 for me.

IIRC .8-.85 IF is the usual target for Ironman length bike splits (4-5 hours) which is essentially a tempo pace

.9 for half-Iron

MLSS, or Maximum Lactate Steady State does not fall in the Tempo zone. It is the physiological point where you accumulate lactate faster than you can clear it and we try to approximate it with FTP.



@Shrike your post sent me searching for a chart I saw once, just found the blog post and posting the pic here:

checkout the time for Active Recovery :rofl:


for pros doing just over 4 hours IM splits, and 2 hour HIM splits. Being able to ride that much, that close to FTP probably comes at the cost of having lower AC than most cyclists would desire.

it’s the point just below where lactate accumulates faster than you can clear it, an effort where lactate is high, but steady. Often quoted as 4 mmol of lactate, it appears to be highly individual what lactate level is MLSS and depends on a lot of prior training history.

Yeah, I should have written that it’s at the point of highest output where lactate is cleared at the same rate as it is accumulated.

One thing’s for sure, it’s not in the Tempo zone.


Really useful, a good gauge if you feel your FTP is off