Zone 2 training with Iñigo San Millán, part 2

There’s a follow up podcast with Iñigo San Millán, interviewed by Peter Attia. I know the first one has already been discussed here and I found that one very interesting. This is the link: #201 - Deep dive back into Zone 2 | Iñigo San-Millán, Ph.D. (Pt. 2) - Peter Attia

I’m only at the very beginning of this podcast, but interestingly they talk about what they mentioned in the first one, that there was a guy with a lot of potential (back in 2019 I believe) and they didn’t say their name because they didn’t want to spoil it. It seems this guy was Tadej Pogačar, hah! :slight_smile:



I’m guessing this is like the other thousands of hours we have from these guys (Seiler, San Millan, etc.) where they talk for hours at a high level about training secrets of some freak of nature one in a billion athletes.

I’m accumulating so much fatigue from these guys, it’s nauseating. And it’s all my faultbecause…you see I’m stupid.

I hear hundreds of hours of “descriptive” training (Seiler is the master at this) and never once do we get a “perscription” of training. I mean other than ride 30 hours a week in “Zone 2”, lol.

No shit.

It’s not their job to give me training guidance. But, I fail to see what else we can learn from listening to these guys at this point? One is simply not a coach at all. Did some research on non-cyclists and people lost their minds. The other is a coach of the top 1% of an already elite 1% of our planets population.

They got nothing for me that I don’t already know. Ride. A. Lot.


A lot of discussion going on over in the Iñigo San Millán thread over here:

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That’s certainly one way to view it. Thanks for the contribution.

Someone just posted a 6 week prescription handed to him by ISM himself. It looked like a pretty standard build - 5 workouts, 3 zone 2, 1 VO2, 1 threshold.


Totally agree and well said. Reading these posts time and time again can be nauseating and seeing that Swedish speed skaters training journal here on the forum just reaffirmed that sometimes comparing yourself to mutants with genetic gifts isn’t that useful.

Although pro insights are interesting they have no real world applications. besides the obvious volume and racing, the intervals they do are the same as us.

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as could you but you chose to engage.

not sure why the snarky tone, i’m not dismissing training principles but how we tend to overanalyse their application to the average punter.

each to their own :slight_smile:


Tend to agree with this. I’m certainly aware a lot of the information is repetitive, but if not interested in discussing, just don’t discuss. I’ll never understand coming to a message board where certain topics are known to be discussed, and then saying that discussion is nauseating.

Note - I could also be misunderstanding the tone, if so then apologies to the poster.

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A few years ago, I started down the path of trying to understand these guys and the more advanced topics on this board. I was in the weeds for a long time but I finally feel like I’ve got it.

The problem is that training is not as hard as it’s made out to be. What is often being discussed is the final details, not the meat and potatoes.

Here is the global view IMO:

  1. Volume is king to a point but it has diminishing returns. (Obvious point - you can’t ride 20 hours per week at FTP so you end up with most of your volume in zones 1/2)

  2. Train your thresholds - train the LT1 (ISM Z2/tempo) and the LT2 (FTP, CP, whatever). This is all aerobic, below threshold training. Don’t neglect the higher threshold - have some high tempo, SS, FTP progressions in your training.

2a) Train your TTE (I think this is a subtle point many amateurs miss)

  1. Do a tiny bit of intensity above LT2 (FTP).

  2. Manage fatigue

Everything else is the fine tuning of details. Like, do I do 2, 3, 4, or 5 minute intervals. Or, how much rest do I do between intervals. Do I do 30/30s or 40/20s? All this stuff is 5% of your training - the icing on the cake but it’s talked about 95% of the time. Most recreational athletes could even skip this if they did the 95% correct.

All the levers of training are fader knobs to manage fatigue. Like comparing someone who has 20 hours per week to train and someone who has 3 hours. On 20 hours per week you turn the fader down to 2 for the bulk of the riding. The 3 hour guy can ride sweet spot or threshold 3x per week and probably keep fatigue in check with his four rest days.

Good coaches turn these levers on the fly for their athletes. Podcasts devote a whole hour to one fine detail and amateur listeners get lost in the fine details.


A lot of this San Millan podcast is about where to precisely put the Z2 work. That’s great if you have access to a metabolic cart and lactate measurements but it’s really not that critical.

Just get yourself in the ballpark and you’ll get 98% of the benefit. Talk test, coggan Z2, etc.


What I found useful from this one was the “talk test” specifically to describe zone 2. Meaning, you should be able to hold a conversation, but the person on the other end should be able to know you’re training/working (through labored breathing). I’ve heard the description before of being able to talk, but that queue really hit home.

Coincidentally, it falls right around 80% hr for me, and around 78%ftp.

So while a lot is redundant, there are always nuggets to pick up


Agree. But it’s also not as easy as “ride lots” with credit to Eddy Merckx not any of the new opiners and podcasters.

What makes training complicated is differential responses. What makes discussion complicated is the people who profit by discussing training don’t do it fully openly. The coach du jour wants you to believe they found the magic secret so you’ll spend some money with them. Athletes outside of a few elites are threading the needle of max fitness potential into limited time to devote to the hobby.

Broad strokes are easy but specifics are hard (descriptive vs prescriptive). For example, I find the most difficult thing to program is progression. Too little and I don’t improve. Too much and I build fatigue and lose motivation. Secondarily is block progression. When is the right time to throw in a VO2max or short power block. How long and what structure.

Reading and discussing over years with various people I feel that I’m getting close to being able to prescribe training for myself. Translating that to others would be a new can of worms entirely.

TL;DR - I agree with the frustrated posters that exhamining the most mutant of mutants is entertaining, but likely wont help most of us. Professional advisors, coaches, academics who are still speaking in generalities, or who are “participating” in public forums with the semi-disingenuous goal of finding new clients, or increasing their brand, but without adding sufficiently to the conversation with specifics are off my radar.

Your friend,



I agree with that. It works to a point. Probably for a wunderkind like Merckx it works great. At 90% of potential he’s still 10% better than everyone else.

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Uh, 78%? that’s like low to mid tempo. I can do that for 5-7hrs, but not day after day after day, or for anywhere close to 20+ hrs a week.

Well low tempo, yes.

I don’t believe ISM’s z2 cap is 20 hours per week at the intensity. If we’re going by what Coggan describes, then yes, uh, low tempo.

Edit: also, my ftp is a “true” ftp. As in, it was a 52 minute effort for a 40k TT on the flats. Not 20 minutes times xxx% or a ramp test, although I think I’d probably be pretty close via a 20 minute test and a %.

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I’ve heard ISM describe the talk test in the past. He made it sound a little aggressive this time.

When ISM talks about doing 3,4, or 5 days per week of 60-90 minutes, just for metabolic health, I think his zone 2 intensity is a touch lower.

But if you can do 78% 5 days a week without feeling baked, then you are pretty strong.

I’ve got upper zone 2 to zone 4 in a coggan model nailed. But beyond that my power curve is as flat as the beach. We can call it strong, as that makes me sound better than “one dimensional “.

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just mentioning, ISM once said his advanced athletes would all get toasted if they attempted to do Zone 2 all week.

In the end it’s up to the individual to figure out how much can be tolerated. And this may change from base period, where almost all rides are Z2, to race season, where the focus is on intensity and Z2 is only done twice per week for maintenance.


Worth noting that Peter Attia once said that the Zone 2 ISM is talking about is low Zone 3 (Tempo) on the 7-Zone Coggan model. To train in this zone I usually browse TR’s library for Tempo rides that are ‘Achievable’ in the 1.5-2 hours duration. They are usually fairly easy, albeit noticeably less comfortable than a straight-up endurance ride.