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Is there one MAF training zone for all sports?

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Is there one MAF training zone for all sports?


Although each sport will have a different maximum heart rate – running being higher than cycling, cycling being higher than swimming – MAF training focuses primarily on your body’s Aerobic Functioning so it will not necessary to use different training zones for each sport should you practice more than one.

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Perceived Exertion vs MAF heart rate

Each sport places different stresses on the body and as a result your perceived exertion for the same heart rate will differ. This means that your perceived exertion during Running will be lower than while Cycling and far lower than that for Swimming. 

While running, you may find it difficult to stay in your MAF zone and you may need to walk on the uphills. This is quite normal especially in the initial few weeks of MAF based training. As running recruits more muscle groups,and because you are “overcoming gravity” with each stride, more work is being done. Also, running at slow speeds doesn’t generate the cooling effect that cycling at speed does. the physical exertion and thermal stress both will lead to a higher perceived exertion for the same heart rate.

While swimming, the body is horizontal so the heart doesn’t have to pump blood against gravity and the body temperature is artificially regulated by the water temperature. For the same heart rate, you will therefore be able to put in far more effort than you would for running on a warm day on a hilly course.


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MAF training focuses on targeting your aerobic development.

While different sports will tax your system in different ways, it is best to stay in your training zone regardless of how slow the effort feels. 

Coach Shamus

Coaching since 1993, Coach Shamus has both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in triathlon having represented his country at the world championships on many occasions. He has competed in all distances from Sprint to Full Ironman and still, after more than 30 years of training and competing, gets excited to wake up and meet the team on the pool deck.

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