Zone 2 training after interval workout

I often like to extend my interval sessions (zone 4 or zone 5) with some zone 2 if I have the time and energy. I then typically do the zone 2 for between 30 and 90 min @ 73% (at a bit tired starting point). My heart rate for the endurance part will then be a bit elevated (5-10 bpm), but typically still within the heart rate zone 2.
Is it beneficial do extend high intensity workouts with 30-90 min of zone 2 work at the end?

I have seen that some experts (Dr. Iñigo San Millán) say that you will not get a proper endurance workout because it takes around 30 mins from doing high intensity work until the body will be able to have the full benefit of zone 2 riding. Thus, they recommended to do the endurance work first. Even if this might be ideal, I feel that this might jeopardize my ability to do the high intensity work (assuming I will not be as fresh) and also I need to commit the the total time at the beginning of the workout.

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Seems like a really good way to safely increase volume. The idea that Z2 after intervals is useless is really not true and in fact you get better quality intervals by doing them earlier on.

So, in my opinion, very good idea.


Any reason you don’t want to do the Z2 at the start , an extended warm up?

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Hi. Mainly for two reasons:

  1. I might not know how much time I have available when I start. So starting with the most important part ensures that it gets done.
  2. I am worried that it will affect my ability to do the intervals, which is the main goal for the day.

I think 73% FTP is a bit to high for Z2 workout after intensive intervals.

I would more aim for 60-65%.


The question I think is are we getting maximum desired aerobic adaptation by doing them at the end. I don’t think anyone would say useless but it might be sub optimal.

After watching Iñigo San Milan’s feature length movies on z2, is our body sending the desired signals needed to develop additional mitochondria? The additional volume can probably help with muscular endurance by stressing tired muscles, but could we get both endurance and other z2 benefits by front loading the endurance time versus the back end?

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I think that’s your answer then, as you want to get the intervals done and ‘pad’ with the Z2 at the end. I do the same, I usually have 90-100mins a day so I get whatever intervals I have done then ride 60% until I run out of time.

I look at it that riding your bike is better than not riding your bike, so worrying to about putting 20-40mins of Z2 before/after a interval session you risk not seeing the wood for the trees.


Thanks for the suggestion.

For the endurance part (@ 73%) of this workout my average HR was 126 and max was 132 bpm, with a slight negative HR drift. Based on a 160 bpm threshold HR max, the Andy Coggan’s HR Z2 is 110-133 bpm.

Looks like it is within the zone? Or is it better to be in the middle of the zone?

In my opinion, dont look at each workout in isolation. Yes you can do 73% or whatever, but is that fatigue going to add up for the next session. No point slaying yourself to be at the top of a zone if it has a negative knock on to subsequent days.


Always middle of the zone or even the bottom. Zones never a light switch…the top of Z2 is low Z3 and visa versa

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I always tack on after. Anywhere from 30-120 minutes depending on time and how I’m feeling. I’m a big fan of staying between 55-63% but I’m also 50 and do not want to accumulate too much fatigue for my next workout.


It’s not ideal but it’s what you do and don’t seem to want to change it. So…

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Try it and see, 30-90 mins of Z2 before intervals really should not impact your ability to do your intervals unless you haven’t developed your base.

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I agree - I actually go better during intervals with a longer low Z2 warmup. That said I usually take the approach of the OP due to time constraints, the Z2 is the flexible part on hard days.


This is a highly debated topic. According to ISM, lactate levels take a bit to go down and its presence inhibits fat oxidation. Some other people think otherwise.

I do z2 before and after FWIW

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Coincidentally I’m listening to this today. Listen around the 45 minute mark. Perfect to this discussion


I wouldn’t worry too much about the HR zones. Just ride by feel. That might mean starting at 60-65% right after the intervals and going up to 70% or so by the end. But from what I’ve read, there isn’t going to be a tangible difference between riding at 75% vs 65%, you’ll just be a bit more tired. So I would probably err on going a bit easier.

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ISM’s theory about not getting the full Z2 benefits after hard intervals is not 100% accepted. And it’s been shown many times that differences in cell signaling does not always equate to differences in adaptation or performance changes.

As an amateur, the best thing you can do is ride more, ride you intervals with quality, and lower your stress. So if doing the Z2 after the intervals allows you to do all 3 of those things then that is what is ideal for you.


But don’t let seeking perfection get in the way of good training

Yes the most optimal way is to do just Z2, and if you are going to do the intervals, do them at the end

Do not take this to mean that doing Z2 at the end is not worth doing, and you would be better of getting off the bike, I do 4/6 hour zone 2 rides on the Sunday, couple of hours on a Wednesday, I can add to the end of the interval session on Tuesday and Saturday morning, sometimes it’s only a few minutes, if I get of work early and the other half is late getting home it MIGHT be a few hours, I won’t always know … is this perfect … no, is this good training and worth doing … well yes

The best training, is the training you do


There is enjoying being a cyclist, and there is training to be faster athlete. Which do you want to do?

It seems to me you want a bit of both.

Ask yourself what your training goals are? Eg, primarily I want to extend my endurance time and distance, or I want to be faster over a certain distance/ terrain, etc. It may seem unneccessary, but I was involved with triathlon, and the culture was gradually saying you are not a true Triathlete until you have done an Ironman; whereas at the global level, and definitely at the coaching level, getting PBs at Sprint distance was what it was about. I’m told I have the body for endurance, but I know I have the brain of a sprinter, my brain will always win! So, while my Saturday ride group favour getting longer and longer, and wondering why they have reached a performance plateau, I’m switching to short TTs

If the current expert say do such and such as his R&D indicates this is the best training approach based on current research, for particular event types, who am I to argue. What is my opinion, because that all it is, opinion, what is it worth? Not much!

Your own answer, based on expert advice is, Z2 first then HIIT, then do it. Don’t block it with ‘what ifs and buts’.

The alternative is re-organise your training, so that you are doing sessions each with a clearer focus. That may mean a higher number of sessions.

How will you know what the underlying cause of a change in performance, if your sessions are a bit of this and bit of that?