Most of us would think that it is really important to train fast, to do intervals, to be tired after your workouts, in order to get faster after all. Yes, it is true. However, just like you can not build a house on loose sand, because you need adequate support, similarly you can not be fast in cycling without having a proper fitness base. If you want to win races, be quicker than your friends or just simply get faster you need to start your training off with building a good base.

What is “slow” exactly?

There are several training “zones” where you can train. To build a good base you need to ride a lot in Zone 2, that is just above riding easy. The benefit from zone 2 is that it builds aerobic base and endurance. If you have improved the aerobic capacity it improves your ability to go faster for a longer time.  If you have a strong aerobic capacity it will also allow you to recover quicker between those higher intensity efforts. 


When you have good aerobic fitness, you can do intervals with a shorter rest in between. This also comes useful when you need to attack during races. Without a doubt, doing high intensity training is definitely needed to improve your speed, don’t get me wrong. However, most pros do their training in zone 2 as well. The main benefits of aerobic training are:

  • Increase in the number of mitochondria
  • increase in mitochondrial efficiency
  • increase in “metabolic flexibility” 
  • lower resting heart rate
  • a decrease in blood pressure
  • lower risk of injury 
  • improves insulin resistance
photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2021

To find out power and heart rate zones you will need to do an FTP test. The training zones are then calculated by taking a percentage of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power). You can find a chart showing the method to calculate your zones.


How to perform an FTP test?

This test usually consists of doing an interval of 20 minutes at a maximal effort. The average power value that you do for this time is then multiplied by 0.95. This way you get a value that is a great reference value for training purposes. You can calculate the zones by using the percentages of your FTP.

Now you know how to calculate your Zones, therefore go out and hit the roads riding in a steady tempo and explore the world!