What Are Training Zones?

Have you ever looked at a training plan or seen someone’s workout on Instagram that has the letter Z or Zone followed by the numbers 1-5 and thought to yourself…? WTF does this mean.

Training zones or as often seen (Z1-Z5) are the target ranges of pace or heart rate that will be used to determine workout intensity. As with most things you will see a lot of different versions of the training zone system which try to overcomplicate a very simple and effective method of training.

In this article, we will break the zones down and talk a bit more about what each zone is used for and how it can benefit your training.

Zone 1 – This zone primary use is for warmups and cooldowns, but it can be used as a recovery run. For example, being if you’ve had a long run and suffering from a bit of DOMS then a 30–60-minute zone 1 run will be good for recovery. It’ll be torture because of how slow you’ll have to run but it will be good for you.

Zone 2 – This zone is the aerobic base building zone. If you do any sort of endurance training, you will spend a long time in this zone. Long slow distance running, and cycling are performed in this zone.

Zone 3 – This zone represents the top end of your aerobic pace. It’s still classed as the aerobic zone and will be used for endurance efforts. When training in this zone you should feel comfortably uncomfortable.

Zone – 4 This zone starts to move into your anaerobic area. This is where most people who don’t have knowledge of zones spend most of their time. This zone is where most injuries occur and most over-training happens. This zone is where the high-intensity intervals come in. Training in this zone should feel around 80-90% of everything you have. Zone 4 training is where you improve your speed endurance. You should make sure you allow ample recovery from training in this zone.

Zone 5 – Max effort. This zone is focused on improving maximum speed. Although this zone is primarily used for max speed if the efforts are not done to complete exhaustion there will be some speed endurance benefits from training in this zone.