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Why use a Heart Rate Monitor?

The use of a Heart Rate Monitor gives athletes an easily quantifiable measure of the intensity of their workouts which could help benefit race performances.

The use of a heart rate monitor by athletes give the coach an easy to prescribe training intensities for the warm-up, the main set and loosen down phases of each workout.

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Why we prefer our athletes to use heart rate monitors.

We encourage the use of heart rate monitors by all our athletes because it is one of the best indicators of how hard your body is working during a workout.

To simplify, coaching endurance sports is based on the interplay of three variables: Frequency, Intensity and Time.

The secret to “fitness” is a combination of how often, how hard and how long you exercise. 

A good training program will include different workouts spaced out so that you have time to recover: some workouts are short and some long, some are hard and some are easy. It’s the variation of sessions that makes a training plan good.

Frequency and Time are easy to understand, but Intensity is a little more complicated — and that’s where the heart rate zones come in.
Your heart rate is one of the best indicators of how hard your body is working during a workout and unlike a purely subjective evaluation (e.g. Perceived Exertion) of the workout intensity, your heart rate is a trackable (and measurable) number, just like frequency and time.

Training Zones: Heart Rate Part 1.3

What are heart rate zones?

We all have individual waking and maximum heart rates. Between these values are different heart rate zones that correspond to training intensities and training benefits.

*(You should never compare your heart rate measurements with others; they should only be compared to your baseline measurements.)*

There are different ways to specify your heart rate zones, one simple way is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate. Heart rate zones are closely linked to training benefits. Accurate individual training zones can be determined by completing a battery of tests.
Our preferred method of calculating heart rate zones is by using the Heart Rate Reserve method. This method forces you to measure your Waking Heart Rate (WHR) on a daily basis. This means that you will have a daily indicator of your recovery from the previous day (or days) of training. 

 V800 and Polar Flow syncing Syncing the Polar V800 with Polar Flow

What are the five basic heart rate zones?

There are essentially five different training zones, 1–5, and your training plan could, depending on your targeted event,

include workouts in all of these five zones. Below is a breakdown of what each zone means in terms of your heart rate and also what the benefits of training in that heart rate zone are.

Heart Rate Zone 1:
50–60% OF HRMax

This is the very low-intensity zone (Z1). Training at this intensity will boost your recovery and get you ready to train in the higher heart rate zones.
We prefer our athletes to do active rather than passive recovery understanding that the movement does more to increase blood flow and thus clear metabolites and providing nutrient-rich blood to tired areas.

To train at this intensity, pick sports during which you can easily control your heart rate, such as walking or cycling on an indoor trainer

Heart Rate Zone 2:
60–70% OF HRMax

Exercising in heart rate Zone 2 (Z2) feels light and you should be able to keep going for a long time at this intensity. This is the zone that improves your general endurance: your body will get better at oxidizing fat (using fat for energy) and your muscular fitness will increase along with your capillary density.

Training in heart rate zone 2 is an essential part of every Endurance athletes program. Be strict about staying in this zone when doing your base work and endurance sessions and you’ll reap the benefits later.

Heart Rate Zone 3:
70–80% OF HRMax

Training in Zone 3 (Z3) is especially effective for improving the efficiency of blood circulation in the heart and skeletal muscles. This is the zone in which that pesky lactic acid starts building up in your bloodstream.

Training in this zone will make moderate efforts easier and improve your efficiency.

Heart Rate Zone 4:
80–90% OF HRMax

Zone 4 (Z4) is where the going gets tough. Your breathing will labour and your body will be operating at or around your anaerobic* threshold.

If you train at this intensity, you’ll improve your speed endurance. Your body will get better at using carbohydrates for energy and you’ll be able to withstand higher levels of lactic acid in your blood for longer.

Heart Rate Zone 5:
90–100% OF HRMax

Heart Rate Zone 5 (Z5) is your maximal effort. Your heart and your blood and respiratory system will be working at their maximal capacity. Lactic acid will build up in your blood and after a few minutes, you won’t be able to continue at this intensity.

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If you’re just starting out or have only been training for a short time (2 full seasons without injury), you probably won’t have to train at this intensity; there are risks to very high-intensity training. If you’re an advanced athlete or an intermediate athlete with at least 2 full seasons (without injury) completed, look into incorporating Z5 interval training into your training plan for peak performance.

*anaerobic means without oxygen. At no point do you stop using oxygen, the body is just unable to produce energy through the aerobic channels and there is a build-up of metabolites at a faster rate than it can be cleared.

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How can you achieve your best results in 2021?

Xterra runner on trail

2020 has been filled with disappointment for most athletes. Lockdowns, race postponements and race cancellations have really affected motivation levels.

What are your goals for the new season?

What would be the best way forward for you to achieve your 2021 goals?

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No more races or different races?

I think it is safe to assume that when the new race calendar is announced for 2021 that the events calendar will look a lot different. 

Some races will be cancelled, some race will be postponed and some races will be very different from what they were in the past.

Different Goals

As a result of  the uncertainty created by lockdowns, many athletes cancelled their coaching contracts because: “There are no races in the near future that I need to train for.”

Unfortunately, this has led to many athletes to piecing together their own training schedules. Many have taken to “competing” in Virtual Races and completing Social media inspired high-intensity resistance training routines many times a week.

There are now a disturbing number of injured, “burned out” and overtrained athletes who have been chasing virtual podiums, prizes and recognition on social media platforms.

The goals they had before were transformed into a range of weekly personal bests without considering the medium and long-term downsides of this approach. 

3 big mistakes you could be making

In the last 6 months, we have been watching the training trends very carefully.

Without the objective eye of a coach watching over the athletes, 3 trends have become quite apparent.

  • Slow training is not slow enough
  • Hard training is too frequent.
  • Athletes are not resting enough.

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Slow Down!!

Improved fitness = Work (Training) + Recovery.

As a lot of training is being done indoors on treadmills and trainers connected to apps, data and statistics seem to be the focus of conversations between athletes. Each one is trying to outdo the other.

Unfortunately, all the data needs to be shared

Don’t take the bait


Get a coach, or at the very least, a training plan

Complete the questionnaire to win

2020 has been a bit of a mess. Did you achieve what you set out to?

Complete the questionnaire and we will direct you to the most appropriate coaching option to help you achieve your best in 2021.

The questionnaire is split into 4 sections:

  • About you – some questions about you.
  • General sport and training questions – your preferences. 
  • Your preferred sport  – 
  • Your goals for 2021

**Total time to complete the questionnaire: 5 minutes**

Each month we will draw 6 winners from the completed questionnaires for that month.

Each of the 6 winners will have a 12-week base training plan set up for then in their TrainingPeaks account.
The base training plan will be based on the answers provided in the questionnaire.

December 2020 winners

– 6 winners

January 2021 winners

– 6 winners

February 2021 winners

– 6 winners

March 2021 winners

– 6 winners

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Is there one MAF training zone for all sports?

Although each sport will have a different maximum heart rate, MAF training focuses primarily on aerobic functioning so only one training zone is used for all sports while using this training protocol.

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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. s 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. physical exertion and thermal stress both will lead to 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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Is MAF heart rate zone training effective?

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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. 

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Why use different training zones?

Heart Rate based Training Zones

Why use Heart Rate Training Zones?

Of the 3 most important variables of a Training Plan or Program –  Frequency, Duration and Intensity – Intensity seems to get the lion’s share of the attention. 

Using Training Zones is an easy way to denote or explain the intensity or goal of each training session or each section of a training session.

While there is no scientific consensus as to the accuracy of these bands of training intensity, they are a very simple and reliable starting point for most athletes embarking on a training plan or program. These simple training zones make it very easy for the coach to communicate to their athletes what they would like to have performed in each session or in each section making up the session.

Of course, there are other methods of denoting the intensity like Power or % of Threshold Heart Rate and these will be discussed in other blog posts. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

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Heart Rate based Training Zones
Different training zones. Threshold interval training session.

What are the basic Heart Rate Training Zones?

The 5 basic Training Zones are calculated on a Percentage of your Maximum Heart Rate (%MHR). As maximum heart rates differ between athletes based on age, fitness and genetics, a maximum heart rate test should be performed before calculate your 5 basic training zones. The Maximum Heart Rate Test performed should be sport-specific as there can be dramatic differences between sports.

5 Basic Heart Rate Training Zones

  • Zone 1: (50-60% MHR) – very light training
  • Zone 2: (60-70% MHR) – light training
  • Zone 3: (70-80% MHR) – moderate training
  • Zone 4: (80-90% MHR) – hard training 
  • Zone 5: (90-100%MHR) – very hard training

Training in Zone 1

Zone 1 training is exceptionally easy. 

The training zone is mostly used for Warm-Up (WU:), Loosen Down (LD:) and recovery between hard efforts. 

Training in Zone 2

Zone 2 training is easy.

This training zone is used mostly to improve aerobic endurance. Breathing should be unlaboured when training in this zone.

Training in this training zone will form the bulk of most endurance athletes training plans or programs. If you follow the 80/20 training principle, this will be where 80% of your training will be.

Zone 2 Training can be substituted with the MAF training zone if you would like your training to be a little more individualized. 

Training in Zone 3

Training in Zone 3 is moderately hard. Breathing will be more rhythmic when training in the zone.

This training zone is used mostly to improve muscular endurance. 

Training sessions in this zone include Tempo and “Sweet Spot” type sessions as well as the work phase of some Fartlek sessions. For most runners, this will be ”Marathon Pace”

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Training in Zone 4

Training in Zone 4 the bulk of the hard training for endurance athletes. 

Zone 4 training sessions are normally set around the “Anaerobic” Threshold.

The sessions are usually used to build up a tolerance for processing lactic acid or to “push up” the threshold to a higher heart rate. 

Training in Zone 5

Training in Zone 5 is very hard training. 

Mostly,  Zone 5 training sessions will be repeats of short duration with a long rest or active recovery between. Some of the sessions will be focussed on building strength dynamically e.g. hill repeats, and others will be speedwork sessions.

The best watch for heart rate zone training

Knowing your Heart Rate based training zones is only useful if you can monitor and measure them in real-time, accurately. 
Using a heart rate monitor allows the athlete to regulate their effort while training or racing to stay within the intensity zones stipulated by the coach.

Wrist-based Heart Rate monitors have been around for over 40 years thanks to Polar Electro

We have used the Polar brand of Heart rate monitors since 1992.

How to calculate your Maximum Heart Rate

To calculate your Heart Rate Zones you first need to know your maximum heart rate.  

The Original 220-Age Method

The original 220- age formula was created by Fox et al after reviewing a handful of other papers. It is the speculative number to start with and there is no evidence that one’s maximum heart rate decrease exactly 1 beat annually on your birthday.

The formula is, however, a good starting point for novice athletes to use until they have developed enough fitness and strength to do a sport-specific maximum heart rate test.
It is moderately accurate for many but certainly not for all.

Heart Rate zones for different sports

Different sports place different stresses on the body and use different muscle groups. The higher the stress and the more muscle groups used, the higher your maximum heart rate will be. For a single sport athlete, this might not be relevant,  but for a Triathlete or Duathlete, this is very important to know. 

Your Running maximum will be higher than your Cycling maximum and your cycling maximum will be higher than your Swimming maximum. 

What this means is that you have to measure your maximum for each of the sports to calculate your sport-specific training zones.

Calculate your maximum Heart Rate for Running

To calculate the running heart rate zones for our road and trail runners as well as our triathletes and duathletes, we have them perform the 2 x 800m test on a running track. 

Calculate your Maximum Heart Rate for Cycling

To calculate the cycling heart rate zones for our road cyclists and mountain bikers as well as our triathletes and duathletes, we have them perform the 2 x 1500m hill climb.

Calculate your Maximum Heart Rate for Swimming

To calculate the swimming heart rate zones for our long distances swimmers as well as our triathletes, we have them perform the CSS test and record heart rates at the end of their 400m and 200m Time trials. 

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What is MAF training?

MAF zone training is a training philosophy developed over many years by Dr Phil Maffetone as a way to reduce injuries in runners while maximising the benefits of their training.

Dr Maffetone observed that there was a correlation between reduced running economy and a heart rate that corresponded to approximately 180 minus the age of the athlete.

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What is MAF training?

MAF stands for Maximum Aerobic Function.

MAF training is a system that combines training intensity, nutrition and supplementation, and stress management to keep the body in an “aerobic” state despite the influences of modern times.

A well-functioning “aerobic” system leads to:

  • Burning more body fat for fuel with a leaner body as a result.
  • Increased overall energy and stable brain function.
  • Greater endurance, strength, speed and physical fitness.
  • Injury and disease prevention.
  • And many other improvements in all areas of life!

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What is YOUR optimal training zone to build aerobic efficiency with the least risk of injury or illness?
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What is the MAF zone training?

MAF zone training is a training philosophy developed over many years by Dr Phil Maffetone as a way to reduce injuries in runners while maximising the benefits of their training.

Dr Maffetone observed that there was a correlation between reduced running economy and a heart rate that corresponded to approximately 180 minus the age of the athlete. 

Calculate your MAF training Zone

This training method focuses on improving the function of the aerobic system, the fat-burning engine responsible for fuelling all of the body’s needs. It usually requires that athletes slow down in the first few weeks of training to stay within the calculated range. 

This method is often viewed as a very conservative approach to training, but it does work and its long term benefits far outweigh the short term blows to the athlete’s ego. 

Other benefits are reduced injury rates (especially in runners) and a reduction in days lost to due to illness.

While it is very beneficial to strictly stay within the calculated MAF zone, it is not set in stone. It should be noted that a difference of 1 beat of the heart will not mean that the body has shifted from burning fat to burning carbohydrate.

The body will adapt to the training stimulus and improve in terms of efficiency and economy of movement. The MAF range is, however, a very good starting point.

Efficiency improvements will mean burning more fat (percentage-wise) at higher heart rates.

The economy of movement improvements will mean faster paces at the same heart rate.

Using a heart rate monitor makes MAF training a lot easier.

We whole-heartedly advocate the use of the POLAR brand of Heart Rate Monitors.
(See what I did there?)   

Training in your MAF zone is only a part of the strategy to build up the body and keep improving its efficiency. 

These topics will be discussed in other blog posts.

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Why use the MAF training Zone?

There are many good reasons for slowing your training paces down as well as increasing the amount of submaximal training you do for endurance events.
More and more, you will read or hear coaches say that you should “slow down to go fast”.
While there is a need to train at other intensities other than MAF, there appears that the amount of training in these zones is far less than was generally accepted. 

There is much debate about HIIT training and “Reverse Periodisation” and their effectiveness in boosting race performances. We agree, they are useful protocols, but that should you not be sufficiently aerobically developed, you will limit the benefits you could derive from these.

We believe that the athletes deriving the most benefit from these protocols have many years of aerobic conditioning in their past. All too often, the results we see today negate the groundwork put in during the development phases of the athletes’ evolution from novice to advanced. Far too many athletes want to mimic the training regimes of the most successful athletes without developing the skills, physical and physiological adaptations that these advanced athletes have had to accomplish to develop into the athletes that they are now.

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There is are many benefits to slowing your training paces down.

Spending more time training slower, in our experience, has benefited our athletes more than adding more and more intensity to their weekly training schedules.

There are many sports training theories that work but we feel that we achieve our goals for our athletes more consistently by coaching them to adopt MAF-friendly choices and doing the vast majority of their training in their MAF training zone.

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Why Consistency Is Key

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Success doesn’t come from what you do irregularly. 
It comes from what you do consistently!!

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times – “Consistency is key“.
It has many, more modern guises –

“the grind”,
“the hustle”,
“showing up more times than the other guy”,
“outworking the more talented.”

It’s true!!
The more often you do something (good or bad) the better you get at it. This is better known as the “practice makes perfect” principle.

The only caveat is that you can only be consistent if the training load is achievable.

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The Science and Art of coaching

The science of coaching is basically about scheduling (Frequency) the right amount of training (Time) at the right pace (Intensity).

The art of coaching is getting the mix of Frequency, Intensity and Time dialled in for each athlete.

Of these 3 variables, the first variable we manipulate to get the best out of our athletes is Frequency. The more frequently an athlete can train, the better the chances of improvement.

For example, a novice triathlete who comes from a swimming background and wants to do their first Half Ironman might be only able to handle 2 hours of running training per week of running. As running is a new skill and coming from a swim only background, this new athlete’s running mechanics will not be very well developed. (like fish out of water).

If they look at the training plans of our other novice half ironman athletes they might see that the weekly long runs vary from 90 minutes to just over 2 hours and that there will be 3-4 other runs sessions in the week.

Most new athletes will jump in and copy what the others are doing, get 2 to 3 weeks in and be very sore, if not injured.

Our approach would be to decrease their swimming time a week to accommodate cycling and running training. Cycling volume, because it is low impact, can be increased quite quickly. Running volume, however, will have to be introduced at a much slower rate. 

The “10% Rule” is rubbish.

How we do it.

2 hours is not an unachievable amount of running training time for a new athlete. Keep in mind that is 2 hours total running time which includes the warm-ups and cool-down phases.

For most of our novices, we would schedule 4 runs a week:

Monday – Medium paced run
Wednesday – intervals (in the build and peak phases ) or tempo
Friday – Medium paced run
Sunday – long slow run

Phase 1

To get the Frequency right for our new athlete, we would immediately get them on the standard running schedule (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday), but each run for the first 4 to 6 weeks would only be 30 minutes long.


10 mins Z1

15 mins Z2 or MAF zone

5 mins Z1 or walking

Phase 2

After the initial 4 to 6 weeks, more time would be added to, first the Sunday run, then the Wednesday run, then the Friday before adding time to the Monday run.

We track our athletes post training pain or discomfort levels. No pain means we can safely add more time to the raining sessions.

Phase 3

This stage starts once runs in the week have built up between 40 to 60 minutes and the Sunday long run is between 90 to 105 minute long. The athlete must consistently manage these with low pain reports.

We then decrease the duration of the Wednesday run and add some intensity (intervals in Z4 and Z5 will be added)

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Consistency can only be maintained if the training load is achievable.

First set the frequency of training sessions then take a phased approach to increasing the duration of the sessions before intriducing intensity.

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Structured Training Plans

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Linear Structured Training Plans

In a linear structured program, volume, intensity and movement complexity are inversely related; as the intensity or complexity of movement gradually increase over the course of the training cycle, the volume decreases.

A linear structured program is arranged into various phases based on the length of time available for each training phase and includes occasional periods or active rest for optimal adaptation to the training stimulus.

In a linear structured program, segments of time are organised into short (microcycles), intermediate (mesocycles) and long-term (macrocycles) time frames.

Linear structured programs are structured to peak for a single event or a competitive season.


Non-Linear Structured Training Plans

The most effective exercise programs are not “one size fits all”. They should differ between individuals depending on their needs and limiters. There are many exercise modalities that should be incorporated into a balanced non-linear strauctured training program.

Non-linear models allow athletes to train for multiple events throughout a year. For example, in a linear program an athlete may use the same intensity for the same training session over the course of a two-week microcycle. In a non-linear program, an athlete can use the same training session with each workout, but apply the acute variables to do an anaerobic endurance workout with four to six high intensity repeats on Monday, followed by a aerobic conditioning workout using lower intensity intervals for 10 to 12 repeats on Thursday, and then a muscular endurance workout with moderate intensity for six to eight repetitions in a small-group workout on Saturday. 

The non-linear model organises adjustments to the acute variables on either a week-to-week or a training-session-to-training-session basis. Non-linear models apply varying levels of training stress, which can induce metabolic challenges while allowing for rapid neuro-endocrine adaptations. Non-linear periodisation changes the intensity and volume of exercise on a more frequent basis.

This allows athletes to complete two to three high-intensity training sessions per week, along with lower-intensity workouts on other days.

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Base Training – a brief overview

Base training

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Why is base training done?

Base training improves your cardiovascular systems and helps you become a more efficient athlete. Base training is fundamental to any athlete’s training plan.

Building an aerobic base is perhaps the single most important phase of the year since it is the foundation upon which your season is built. Many athletes never reach their full potential because they neglect this critical phase of training. 


Why is base training so important?

Base training is about preparing your body for the demanding efforts you will be making during the racing season. It is a foundation of steady miles and functional resistance training in the gym that allows you to safely make harder efforts later on in the year.Interestingly, this phase is characterised by many hours of steady training punctuated only occasionally with short intervals of harder efforts. It’s the “many hours at a steady pace” that builds aerobic power that characterises this phase.

Harder efforts (Intervals) will come later in the year Build, Peak and Race phases

When is Base Training done?

Historically, base training has meant miles and miles of low intensity training done dressed up in all your winter gear. More recently athletes travel to another part of the world (southern hemisphere for northern hemisphere athletes) when it is their Winter.

Usually, the time to do base training is during the off-season. This usually means during the Winter break from racing. For more advanced athletes that split their race seasons into 2 phases, there can be a second base phase between “A-race” phases.

How is Base Training done?

Now days athletes combine long slow miles with a lot of core and flexibility training. There is also a trend that includes at least one Force Training set per week. Base training is the ideal time to include as many different drills so that you can improve form and posture.

What is the recommended Intensity for base training?

We like to use the MAF training zone for the majority of base training sessions. The MAF formula takes into account your age, your recent health and injury history. 

Is all base training the same?

If you have enough time available, you can segment your base training into up to 4 phases.

The phases are:

  • Base 1, 
  • Base 2,
  • Base 3, and
  • Base 4.

You should aim to spend at least 4 weeks in each phase if possible. As base training is mostly at a  low intensity, you can build up for 3 weeks and use the 4th week as a recovery week. If you only have 8 weeks, do Base 1 and 2. If you have more than 16 weeks, extend your Base 1 and 2 periods.

The goal of this phase of training is Aerobic Development so each training session should start with at least 15 to 20 minutes gradually warming up from 50% of your HR Max to the bottom end of your MAF zone. Each session should also include at least a 10 minute loosen down at below your MAF zone.

Base 1

Training session intensity: all main sets of each session in the MAF Zone.General strength, static core strength and flexibility.

Base 2

Training session intensity: 90% of the main sets of each session in the MAF Zone, 10% in Zone 5.Sports-specific strength, static core strength and flexibility.

Base 3

Training session intensity: 80% of the main sets of each session in the MAF Zone, 20% in Zone 5. Sports-specific strength, dynamic core strength and flexibility.

Base 4

Training session intensity: 70% of the main sets of each session in the MAF Zone, 15% Zone 5, 15% in Zone 3 with high resistance.Sports-specific strength, dynamic core strength and sports-specific flexibility.


The “10% Rule” is rubbish

There is a rule of thumb that states that you should not increase your training distance more than 10% per week. This rule made sense when there was no measure of intensity for each session, just pace and distance. 

We have far more sophisticated tools available to us now. Distance just tells you how far your bike has moved for example, pace just tells you how fast you were moving, neither tells you anything about how your body is coping with the training session. Neither take into account how well you have recovered from previous training sessions. When training within your MAF zone, you can feel quite safe that you will recover within a few hours and be able to train onan almost daily basis. If you use the POLAR Recovery Pro feature, your training device will tell you weather you are progressing, over reaching or detraining based on your the training from the last 28 days. To build your biggest aerobic base, frequency of sessions and consistency are the key metrics to keep an eye on because your intensity will, for the majority of your base period, be in the MAF Zone.

To make it easy for a self-coached athlete, or for your coach to monitor your progress and make minor adjustment to your program, get yourself a FREE Training Peaks account, sync your device,  then upload your training data.

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Workout Abbreviations

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Workout Terms and Abbreviations:

Training session component parts

WU: – Warm UpMS: – Main SetLD: – Loosen DownTT: – Time Trial

Heart Rate Zones:

The General Training Zones are:

Z1 – Zone 1 – Warm Up, Loosen Down & RecoveryZ2 – Zone 2 – Aerobic Endurance & DrillsZ3 – Zone 3 – Muscular EnduranceZ4 – Zone 4 -Threshold Pace (Tempo)Z5 – Zone 5 – Power, Force, SpeedMAF – Maximum Aerobic Function – the ideal intensity to build your aerobic base

Time Intervals:

hrs – Hours 00:00:00mins – Minutes 00:00:00secs – Seconds 00:00:00


@…rpm – Cycling Cadence – revolutions per minute

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Why is MAF training so slow?

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Why is MAF zone training so slow?

This is a question we get from many of our athletes when we migrate them from a “classic” to a MAF based training program.

Should your aerobic system be underdeveloped, it will take a few weeks for your head to get used to the lower intensity training. 
Don’t worry, the body is very adaptable and improvements will happen. 

Initially, it will be hard on the ego to go so slow, but if you have a little patience, you will be very happy with the results.

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No Pain. No Gain??

It is widely accepted that only “anaerobic” training (speed work) builds speed. This belief is, unfortunately, exacerbated by the outdated “No pain, no gain!” catch phrase still used by many trainers and coaches.

While we recognize the importance of “anaerobic” training for endurance sports, we disagree strongly with the accepted dosage and prescription thereof.

Developing the aerobic system before attempting any “quality” work is ideal as you get faster without the “wear and tear” (and possible injuries) that often accompany anaerobic training. Your immune system is put under far less pressure when training aerobically so you are far less likely to succumb to  infections or lose training days due to illness.

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If you practice different sports, some will feel easier than others when trying to stay in your MAF training zone.
You can get faster by first training slower.