How To Use Peloton Power Zones (For health and weight loss)


The peloton power zone training allows for continuous improvements in performance, without overtraining and exhausting the body. In this article, I will explain what are peloton power zones, what are the benefits, and who should be doing them.

As a whole, the peloton power zones are the effort levels measured on the power output and individual FTP scores. Workouts based on power zones allow to accurately quantify the intensity and duration of the ride, without under or overtraining.

In other words, using the peloton power zone training helps to adjust training volume for optimal performance, without the need for expensive assessment tools.

NOTE: To know your power zone on the peloton bike you need to first do an FTP test. Click here to learn more about the “peloton FTP test” and how you should prepare for it.

What Are Peloton Power Zones?

The peloton power zones are the seven intensity levels that help to precisely control the training load (lactate threshold), without having to rely on laboratory-based testing and invasive blood sampling, by continuously record power output.

Each power zone corresponds to a different effort level and comes with unique physiological responses and adaptations (more on that later).

What is peloton power zone training? As a whole, the peloton power zone training is a series of over 400 classes that are based on the individual power output. Instead of using cadence or resistance, the peloton instructors use power zones to determine the intensity.

Using cadence or resistance as an intensity indicator isn’t optimal for everyone. Sure, you can get a good workout, but it’s hard to tell if you’re getting better.

Also, the beginners may find that doing 110 RPM is fairly difficult, where for the experienced cyclist 110 RPM may be too easy.

However, using the power zones as an intensity measure is highly personalized because every participant has different FTP scores.

Two different power zone ranges based on FTP score

As you can see, two people may be doing the same class and perform at “the same” power zones. But because the individual FTP score was different, the peloton bike will calculate different power outputs for those zones.

This way both beginners and experienced cyclists can benefit from doing the same workout.

How To Do Peloton Power Zone

In general, to do the peloton power zone you need to start by measuring your functional threshold power (FTP). The results will transfer into the power zone bar and show you exactly in which power zone you’re training, regardless if you’re doing the power zone classes or not.

This means that even if you don’t want to participate in peloton power zone classes, it is wise to perform the FTP test on its own. It will unlock and turn on the extra feature (power zone bar) that stays with you for all the rides ahead.

The power zone is a much better indicator for your effort level, comparing to RPM, resistance, or even the heart rate.

Peloton Power Zone vs Heart Rate Zone

The difference between the peloton power zone and the heart rate zone is that the heart rate zone isn’t the most reliable way to determine the current effort level. The heart rate response is slower (around 30 seconds) to adjust to changes in the exercise intensity.

This means you will have a lagging indicator of your true power output.

On the other hand, the peloton power zone gives you a more direct response based on the output that you generate in real-time.

Are heart rate zones and power zones the same? As a whole, the heart rate zones and power zones are not the same. The heart rate zones are based on your heart rate level, which can vary based on several factors. The power zones are based on the measurements of the power output, which is more direct and immediate.

Another reason why the power zone is more viable than the heart rate zone is the wide variety of factors that can influence heart rate during training. Those include heat, dehydration, time of the day, lack of efficient sleep, or recent illness (Coggan 2010).

This means you can have a perception of a higher effort level that is simply the result of the demand imposed on the cardiovascular system, without actually performing at the higher intensity. As much as heart rate is a good indicator for the effort level, its got some limitations.

Of course, if you wanna split the hair, there are some limitations in the power zone training, too.

Power zone training is a relatively new concept and to be able to train in the power zones you need to own a power meter, which is a major limitation. The good news is that the peloton bike has a built-in power meter, which can save you tons of work and calculations.

Does Peloton Power Zone Training Work?

In general, the peloton power zone training does work because it is personalized based on your current level of fitness. Training at your power zones helps to maximize training adaptations, improve performance while minimizing overtraining.

What I like about the power zone training is it allows you to train smart. The ideal training program isn’t the hardest one. The ideal training program is the one that you can fully recover from, before doing it again.

Up to now, the most reliable way to calculate workout intensity was a heart rate using the portable heart rate monitor. However, the peloton power zone is more accurate.

How Does Peloton Power Zone Work?

As a whole, the peloton power zone works by measuring your current power output based on a mathematical algorithm and previously established functional threshold power. The results suggest which intensity you’re currently on.

Knowing your power zones helps to maximize your performance, without producing too much lactic acid. When you’re at rest, the muscles produce blood lactate around 0.5–1 mmol/L. But once you add more intensity, the blood lactate accumulations go up (Miller et al. 2002).

Once the intensity is high enough to produce blood lactate at 4 mmol/L, you’ve reached the OBLA (onset blood lactate accumulation). This is the point where the body is producing more lactate than its ability to eliminate (Jakobsson 2019).

That’s when the muscles start to ache and “burn”.

Training with peloton power zones allows you to see exactly when you reach your lactate threshold, therefore, adjust your workouts accordingly. It allows you to control your intensity and choose which power zone you want to train, based on your personal goals.

How Is The Peloton Power Zone Calculated?

As a whole, the peloton power zone is calculated based on the percentage of the functional threshold power (FTP) score. After completion of the FTP test, the peloton saves the results and provides the range of the power outputs divided into seven power zones.

Here are the seven power zones together with the percentage of the FTP score.

Peloton Power ZonesName% of FTP
Zone 1Active Recovery<55%
Zone 2Endurance56-75%
Zone 3Tempo76-90%
Zone 4Lactate Threshold91-105%
Zone 5VO2max106-120%
Zone 6Anaerobic Capacity121-150%
Zone 7Neuromuscular Power>150%
Peloton Power Zone Chart

Based on your FTP score, at the bottom of your dashboard, you will start to see a power zone bar that indicated which power zone you’re currently on.

How Do You Use The Power Zone On Peloton?

There are several benefits of using the power zone on the peloton. This feature is helpful not only for people who want to reach their best performance but also for folks who want to get better health or body composition, too.

In general, you use the power zones on the peloton to train at a specific intensity, based on your current fitness goals. People who train for endurance events should work out in the endurance and tempo power zones. People who train for power should train at the lactate threshold and anaerobic capacity zones.

Here is the list of power zones based on the fitness goals.

Peloton Power ZonesObjective
Zone 1Day off
Zone 2Endurance sports (running, swimming cycling)
Body composition / weight loss
Health
Zone 3Endurance sports (running, swimming cycling)
Body composition / weight loss
Health
Zone 4Body composition / weight loss
Health
Zone 5Performance
Sprinting, plyometrics, weight lifting
Zone 6Performance
Sprinting, plyometrics, weight lifting
Zone 7Performance
Sprinting, plyometrics, weight lifting
Peloton Power Zone Chart

Learn more: Click here to learn more about “peloton rides that burn the most calories

How Long Can You Ride In Each Power Zone?

If you’re following the peloton power zone classes, you don’t have to worry about how long you will be in each power zone. Each class has a curriculum that you follow.

But when you wish to train using the scenic rides, or other classes that don’t use power zones, it’s good to know how long you should be in every zone for optimal recovery.

I used to train hard doing sprints almost 5 days a week. Which is a huge mistake because over time the body simply can’t keep up with recovering from those sessions.

Below you can see the power zone training durations, suggested by Andrew R. Coggan, Ph.D.

Peloton Power ZonesDuration
Zone 1Up to 1 hour
Zone 2Up to 3 hours
Zone 3Up to 90 minutes
Zone 410 to 30 minutes
Zone 53 to 8 minutes intervals
Zone 630 to 180 seconds intervals
Zone 710 seconds sprints
Peloton Power Zones Duration

Peloton Power Zone Levels

Now I will explain more about each individual power zone, the RPE levels, and the training adaptations that occur in each of them.

What is RPE in peloton? As a whole, the RPE in the peloton stands for the rate of perceived exertion, and it’s a scale of 1 to 10 used as a tool for monitoring and quantifying individual perception of effort during exercise. It is also used as an assessment tool, as well as a way to read exercise recommendations.

Peloton RPE scale

I use the RPE scale on a daily basis with my clients. It helps to quickly assess and establish effort level for a given exercise, as well as gives my clients a reference point to what effort level they should be training on their own.

Here is the list of the peloton power zones and the matching RPE.

Peloton Power ZoneDescription
Zone 1The easiest zone where your power output is minimal and you should be able to maintain a conversation.
Mainly used for active recovery after strenuous training days or long-distance races.
Zone 2Training zone 2 is mainly used in the peloton power zone endurance rides to build aerobic capacity.
Good for training for endurance events with a steady pace and regular breathing. The average RPE is around 2-3.
Zone 3This is a similar intensity to the popular fartlek training method where you randomly change the pace.
The average heart rate is 70-80% and RPE 3-4. Helps to improve Increased muscle
glycogen storage.
Zone 4 Moderate to higher effort level with RPE 4-5.
It’s hard to maintain a continuous conversation. Shouldn’t be done back to back as a longer recovery is needed.
Helps to improve lactate threshold, as well as muscle enzymatic activity.
Zone 5VO2max power zone is usually done in the interval training method (3-8 minutes).
Not possible to maintain a conversation as the breathing rate is too fast.
Should not be done in two consecutive days.
RPE 6-7
Helps to improve stroke volume and maximal cardiac output.
Zone 6Anaerobic capacity power zone is achieved by doing intervals between 30 to 180 seconds.
Good for improving lactate tolerance.
Heart rate is high and RPE 8-9
Zone 7Short and power busts of power (jumps, all-out sprints) that are impossible to maintain. Mainly used to improve neuromuscular power and hypertrophy of fast-twitch muscle fibers
Peloton power zone levels

As you can see, there are different benefits and uses for each of the power zones.

What I like about the power zone training on peloton is it’s very dynamic and if you have your FTP score updated regularly, you will be able to see changes in your zones are you progress.

Here you can see the table of peloton power zones based on 4 different FTP scores.

Peloton Power ZonesFTP 110FTP 140FTP 170FTP 200
Zone 1587389105
Zone 259 – 7974 – 10090 – 122106 – 143
Zone 380 – 95101 – 120123 – 146144 – 171
Zone 496 – 110121 – 140147 – 170172 – 200
Zone 5111 – 126141 – 160171 – 194201 – 228
Zone 6127 – 158161 – 200195 – 243229 – 285
Zone 7159+201+244+286+
Peloton Power Zones

As you can see, with a higher FTP score, the power zones change automatically. This means if you getting fitter you have to work harder to stay in your preferable zone.

That’s why it’s good to do the FTP tests on a regular basis, especially if your goal is to work on your performance. The more you train at different power zones, the easier it will be.

When you update your FTP score, the peloton bike will save the new results and automatically change the calculations for you.

Peloton Power Zone Classes

Once you know the difference between each of the power zones, now let’s look at the different workouts that are available in the peloton app.

What are peloton power zone rides? As a whole, the peloton power zone rides are the classes that range between 20 to 90 minutes where the instructor uses the power zones as the main intensity benchmark. There are 5 types of power zone workout rides (endurance, max ride, power zone ride, and theme rides).

What are the peloton power zone rides good for? As a whole, the peloton power zone rides are good for improving aerobic fitness, enhancing muscle glycogen storage, and improving the anaerobic threshold. They are also good for hypertrophy of both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers.

Are power zone rides in the saddle? As a whole, the power zone rides are mainly in the saddle, depending on the peloton instructor and the type of the class. Endurance and beginners rides are all in the saddle, where the max rides have the moments where you’re out of the saddle.

#1 Power Zone Endurance Ride

Peloton power zone endurance ride is the most popular class in the power zone community. The classes are typically between 30 to 90 minutes long and the goal of this session is to work around zones 2 to 3.

This class is great for people who prefer to add mileage rather than intensity to the session. It is also great for weight loss and aerobic endurance because the intensity is moderate.

#2 Power Zone Ride

Peloton power zone is a series of classes designed to train between zones 3 to 6 that last between 30 to 60 minutes. The class usually consists of a long duration ride at a slower pace, followed by interval training where you ramp up the intensity.

This type of session is great to improve the performance without draining the body because it taps into the anaerobic threshold in a short and controlled way.

What’s the difference between Power Zone and Power Zone endurance? As a whole, the difference between power zone and power zone endurance is that in power zone endurance you don’t go higher than zones 2-3 with your training intensity, where in the power zone rides you sample each of the zones between 3 to 6.

#3 Power Zone Beginners Ride

Peloton power zone beginners ride is the easiest power zone class available in the peloton app. Each class is 20 minutes long and designed specifically to get you started with the power zone training.

The goal of this class is to learn and get more accustomed to reading your power zone bar as a way to accurately assess your current zone, make you more comfortable and prepare for more advanced workouts.

#4 Power Zone Max Ride

The power zone max ride is the hardest of all peloton power zone classes. This class is about getting to the highest power zone and reaching your maximum power output.

The class consists of multiple zone workouts that include intervals where you have short bursts of HIIT, recovery rides, and tempo rides.

How many power zone Max rides a week? As a whole, you should do 2-3 peloton power zone max rides per week, depending on the duration and your fitness level. 20-minute classes can be done more frequently, where the 45-minute max rides should be done 1-2 per week.

#5 Power Zone Theme Ride

Peloton power zone theme rides are the unique classes that train in a variety of power zones, with a special touch of themed music like pop, dance, hip hop, or classic rock.

You can find themed power zone rides by using the filter tab and scroll by the music types.

Peloton Power Zone Programs

Apart from the classes, the peloton also offers power zone training programs like build your power zone and discover your power zones.

What is the Peloton Power Zone program? As a whole, the peloton power zone program is a 5-week workout schedule with 3 to 5 training sessions per week. Those programs are designed to improve your FTP score, learn more about power zones, and establish a benchmark for further training.

How Often Should I Do Peloton Power Zone Training?

Now let’s talk about how often should you use peloton power zone classes.

How often can I do the peloton power zone? As a whole, you can do peloton power zone classes 3-5 times a week, depending on your current fitness goals. People who train for endurance training can do power zone endurance rides 4-5 times a week. People who train for anaerobic sports should do power zone max rides 2-3 times per week.

But this will also depend on your fitness level, total training volume, and ability to recover from workouts. Experienced cyclists have faster recovery rates, comparing to beginners.

This means they can handle the higher intensity, so they can do their workouts more frequently.

Peloton Power Zone vs HIIT

The difference between the peloton power zone and HIIT is in the performance indicators. The HIIT training classes are taught based on your cadence and resistance. The power zone training is cued based on your power zone as an intensity indicator.

On the surface, both of those sessions use several HIIT and interval elements. However, in the power zone, you are told to watch your power zone bar and add more speed or resistance to maintain that zone.

However, you can do HIIT classes and still rely on your power zone bar as the main intensity measurement.

Peloton Power Zone Without Peloton Bike

The advantage of owning the Peloton bike is that the build-in software is doing all the math for you. This means you just need to join the class, perform at your best, and the bike will calculate your power zones. However, if you don’t have a peloton bike, there are some alternatives.

Can you do a power zone ride without a peloton bike? As a whole, you can do a power zone ride without a peloton bike, however, you won’t be able to see your output. The peloton bike has a built-in power meter that calculates the power output for you. Without the bike, you can join the class, but you won’t see any metrics.

A good alternative you can do is to use a Bluetooth cadence sensor and heart rate monitor to provide some type of feedback on your effort.

You can assemble a cadence sensor on the side of your pedal and connect it to the peloton app. This will show you your RPM and speed. You can also pair a heart rate monitor to the app, which will show heart rate and perceived effort level.

This solution is not perfect, but it gives you some indication of your progress, better than the RPE scale.

Can you see power zones on the peloton app? You cannot see the power zones on the peloton digital app because you need a power meter to measure your current output. Without the power output, the only metrics you get from the Peloton digital app are the time and calories burned.

Peloton Power Zone Instructors

Peloton has 5 instructors that work on the power zone project including doing FTP tets, rides, and design programs. The inscturcors include Matt Willpers, Christine D’ercole, Olivia Amato, Denis Morton and Ben Alldis.

I like to do power zone classes with Matt Wilpers because he definitively specializes in long-distance sports for a very long time and he likes to share a lot of personal experience, cool tips, and up-to-date methods for different types of training, including power zone.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a number of benefits of training and racing with power zones. Not only it helps you to workout smarter, but also makes the sessions more exciting, personalized and brings your focus on improving the performance, rather than just body composition.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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