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Lots of hoopla about Z2, and it seems like all the sudden.

What is this all about?

From Coach Rick

1. Is this a new science?
No, it has been around a long time but the recent success of Pogacar
and subsequent podcasts by his coach Inigo San Millan and GCN have
brought the science part of Z2 training info to the forefront.

2. What do we know now and why is this exciting for our training?
This info really shows us the science and advantages of Z2 training.

3. Which is what?
Two big things at work here.
A. We are training our energy system to burn fat, exclusively, saving
carbs for later efforts, which obviously has the potential to make you
stronger and faster when it really counts.
B. Stimulating and increasing the mitochondrial function of our slow
twitch fibers to process lactate quicker.

Sum up-in the words of Pogacars coach-" Z2 is the exercise intensity
that stimulates mitochondrial function, fat oxidation, and lactate
cleanse capacity the most".
The one thing you need to be careful about is doing any big efforts
during your Z2 block-
Inigo San Millan-"Once you engage your lactate producing systems (any
effort close to or above your LT) and start producing lactate, the
whole metabolic response is altered".
If this happens it means your system needs 30 minutes to re-set and
get back to Z2-Long story short, be very careful about going hard
during your Z2 workouts.

From Coach Jerry:
As the average speed and watts produced by the best professional cyclists are
crushing records in events such as the Tour De France, we are finding out the
importance of riding in Z2 as this has been a critical part of Tadej Pogacar’s
phenomenal success. Tadej has the ability to finish races and beat the best
cyclists in the world on the most grueling stages and mountain top finishes. His
advantage is primarily in the ability to clear lactate far more efficiently than his
competitors. This delays fatigue and accelerates recovery. The result is in the
ability to produce remarkable power late in races.
Tadej’s coach credits this ability to spending lots of time in the
early parts of his season in Z2. Tadej does virtually no training in harder
zones until closer to peak events.
All cyclists, regardless of level, can learn from this. However, we need to first
define what Z2 really is.
The first challenge is that there are numerous inconsistent
definitions of Z2. For example, Training Peaks, the most advanced and utilized software for
performance athletes, defines Z2 as between 51% and 69% of FTP
(functional threshold power). This is well below the definition that Inigo San
Millan is using. This range is also so wide as to be confusing.
The key to Z2 training is finding the level of intensity that utilizes the
highest percentage of fat as a fuel source. Cyclists that train in this zone will be
conditioning their bodies to utilize fat as a fuel source. That is that magic at
delaying fatigue. The reason is that we have a limited amount of our “fast fuel”,
glycogen. This is what we use when we are going hard. If we can train ourselves
to save this fuel for when we need it most, we will perform better.
The only sure way to identify this level is to do extensive testing in a lab.
Obviously, this is not practical for most of us. Thankfully, there are some simpler
ways to find the optimal level of what Z2 really is.
We believe that the simplest way to isolate this training level is to do longer rides
of about 4 hours(The science says 45 minutes should be the minimum
time that we can start to see the results)and find the intensity that
the cyclist can ride and recover from.
A proper Z2 ride is one that the cyclist could replicate the next day.
If they can’t ride long again the very next day, the ride was harder
than it should have been.

Finding Your Z2

For most of our athletes, this zone is probably between about 65% and 70% of FTP.
This will vary greatly from athlete to athlete.
Technically, this is measured most accurately by using “normalized
power” as this takes into account the variability of a ride.
A second even simpler way to isolate this zone is the conversational method.
You find a pace where you can have a conversation on the bike, but it
is not easy. This is the range that is harder than “recovery” but below “tempo”.
There is a final point that is critical to proper Z2 riding, is that power must be
relatively consistent over the ride. Any large spikes in power and significant time
spent on higher zones defeats the purpose of these rides.
The bottom line is that we coach all of our athletes to do a lot of Z2 riding in
the early part of their seasons. If they are patient and resist going into harder
zones, they will push out their time to fatigue. They will have better success
training in the higher zones once race season approaches and will find they
have less fatigue and the ability to finish races well.

Check out these links below for more info:

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