Train to power or heart rate

By whose definition/based on what criteria?

I think my heart rate zones are just whatever the Garmin default is. I’ve never really paid much attention to it until recently when I noticed my TrainerRoad Zone 2 rides left my heart rate in Zone 1

I use @The_Cog 's heart rate levels (set using LTHR) and they are dialed for my zone 2 power :+1:

Not for me, all my endurance rides are .83 to .89 of LTHR. In that table all my endurance rides have tempo HR.

Friel HR zones align with my endurance riding.

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See, that’s the problem with HR… not only is it individual, but even in the same person it is highly variable:


My z2 hr is generally around 125-135 but can be as low as 100-110 or as high as 150 for the same power and RPE. I find the biggest influence on it is caffeine/sleep.

Personally, while I will look at hr during my rides it is more useful to look at afterwards and spread over weeks/months of training.

During z2 rides I mostly pace them by RPE but will adjust a bit if the power or hr is way out of line from normal.

In CyclistsTrainingBible Book by JoeFriel, the recommended workout to develop your base is based on heart rate:
LTHR - 30 as your target heart rate for 30min~multiple hours, depending on the length of your target race/event. This is going to improve the EF(efficiency factor) , train slow twitch muscle, and ability to use fat as fuel. IE, this makes you ride longer and more stable power output. Hope this information helps :slight_smile:


@TPEBikeGo this was kind of my understanding of what base building should be. I am training for a long multi day event so it is sustained endurance that I am targeting. I will try and land on a compromise between power and heat rate but back off the power of I see my heart rate drifting. :+1:

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Train by power. However, insufficient ventilation means you need to adapt your training. E. g. I would avoid anything longer than 1 hour. I would instead look at doing more workouts with intensity, but decrease the duration.

Training by heart rate wouldn’t really help you one iota, lack of cooling is lack of cooling.

So would any other type of endurance training. Even HIIT elicits the same physiological adaptations.

IOW, it’s just another case of attempting to rationalize an approach based on false logic/faulty thinking.

I’m going to play devils advocate because I’m curious on what the actual answer is.

There are other endurance sports where power-based training isn’t really used with any regularity, or at all, despite it being available. Rowing is probably the best example. I can’t say I have much personal insight into high-level rowing, but all the national and above level training I’ve seen and read about focuses on doing intervals by pace (basically RPE).

This is very different than cycling where power-based training took over once it became readily available.

Why the dichotomy? Not using power obviously works extremely well in other endurance sports (running, swimming, etc).

And other sports that have the option of training by power (rowing), eschew it for training by RPE/heart rate.

So why did cyclists as a culture decide to move to power-based training. While other sports didn’t? Is everyone else stupid? Or are we just the most anal retentive about seeking potential marginal gains?

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FWIW, I (very briefly) consulted for Great Britain as well as a couple of other endeavors re. power-based training for rowing. Despite the familiarity of those in the sport with power, due the long-standing popularity of the Concept 2 rowing ergometer, it clearly hasn’t caught on (yet?). I would say that there are multiple reasons for that:

  1. rowing is even more of a niche sport than cycling, with the much smaller market limiting the incentive to develop an affordable consumer grade product;

  2. much (most?) of the training for rowers takes place on dry land, such that the potential benefit of measuring power in the boat is reduced;

  3. the wet(ter) environment increases the engineering challenges, and;

  4. at the highest level, where you start to get sports “scientists” of varying backgrounds and abilities involved, there can be a “two many cooks” problem, with, e.g., endless debate about whether you need to account for energy transfer across body segments, or not.

The latter is also partially why running power hasn’t gained as much traction as it might, because, e.g., you have leading biomechanists arguing that runners produce very, very little power (which is true in a net sense, but obviously not in a gross sense).


Not a great example as rowing does and can use power.

I managed to get a Silver Medal in the English Championships AG using power and pace, but yes pace is the general measure along with rpe that is used.

And like swimming technique is improtant, sometimes its power that makes the difference, other times there is so little between win and second, its a clean technical execution that makes the difference.

Sorry a bit of a side track comment, but power becomes depreciated was my point.

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