How To Use Peloton Strive Score For Health And Weight Loss


I’ve been messing around with my workout routine lately and testing the peloton strive score. In this article, I wanna share with you how to interpret, use, and understand this metric.

As a whole, the peloton strive score is a new metric introduced during the 2021 homecoming event. A strive score is a number that the peloton calculates based on how much time you spend in each of the heart rate zones, and it indicates how hard you train.

I will also touch on what a good peloton strive score should be based on the type of training you do and your personal fitness goals.

What Is The Peloton Strive Score?

In general, the peloton strive score is a personal metric that the peloton uses to calculate your workout intensity levels, especially during the classes when you’re off the bike like bootcamp, strength, yoga, or HIIT.

Before the peloton introduced strive score there was no way to quantify your performance or intensity from these workouts. The bike has a built-in power sensor so you can track your output, cadence, and more.

However, when you’re off the bike, the only way to “measure” how hard your train was via traditional how-it-feels scale like RPE (rated perceived exertion).

What I like about the strive score is you can now not only track your intensity but also compare your previous workouts and measure progress.

Peloton Strive Score vs Output

The difference between peloton strive score and output is that output is calculated directly from the bike via a power sensor. This means every ride will record the amount of kJ and watts you generated, as well as estimate your FTP and even calories burned.

On the other hand, the peloton strive score is calculated from maximum heart rate by using the heart rate monitor.

Using the power sensor on the bike is more accurate to track the intensity because heart rate responds relatively slow (half-life around 30 seconds) to changes in exercise intensity, especially during shorter interval sessions.

For example, sprinting for 20 seconds followed by 2 minutes recovery period, the heart rate monitor will register changes in the heartbeat after you finished the sprint, not during.

However, when you’re off the bike, the strive score can provide you with more accurate data.

How Does The Peloton Strive Score Works?

The peloton strive score works by giving you 0.3 points for every minute that you spend in the heart rate zone 1. As your intensity increases, for the heart rate zones 2, 3, 4, and 5 the peloton multiplies the score by 2, 4, and 8 respectively.

Below you can see the table of the peloton heart rate zone and the corresponding strive score multiplier.

Peloton Heart Rate ZonesStrive Score Multiplier
Zone 11
Zone 22
Zone 34
Zone 48
Zone 58
Peloton strive score calculations

You can learn more about the “peloton heart rate zones” in my article here.

How is the peloton strive score calculated? The peloton strive score is calculated based on the generalized equation for maximal heart rate (220 – age), by the CDC guidelines. The peloton calculates the heart rate zones and assigns the strive score based on the minutes you spend at a certain heart rate.

There are some limitations to this formula, which I will talk about in a moment.

Below you can see the table of peloton heart rate zones based on the percentage of maximum heart rate.

Peloton heart rate zonesPercentage of Max Heart Rate
Zone 1 65%
Zone 265–75%
Zone 375–85%
Zone 485-95% 
Zone 595%+
Peloton heart rate zones

For example, if you train at 70% of your maximum heart rate for 10 minutes, your strive score will be 6 (0.3 points x 2 x 10 minutes).

This is a similar metric that is used in the Orangetheory classes called Splat Points.

Peloton Strive Score vs Orangetheory Splat Points

The difference between peloton strive score and Orangetheory splat points is that strive score gives you an overall breakdown of how hard you train across all 5 heart rate zones. The Orangetheory splat points indicate minutes spent in zones orange and red.

Orangetheory suggests you should spend at least 12 minutes in the orange and red zone for optimal fat burn, regardless of the workout duration.

I don’t like this approach because it makes people believe that higher intensity leads to better results, which is not the case.

Studies have shown that “both exercise protocols have been demonstrated as useful to reduce body weight, the decision on the intensity of exercise prescription should be individualized and based on outcomes different from fat or weight loss” (De Feo, 2013).

In other words, each heart rate zone comes with specific training adaptations that are necessary for a variety of fitness goals.

Plus, doing only high-intensity workouts can lead to poor adherence and a higher dropout rate because of greater stress on the body.

On the other hand, the peloton doesn’t provide any recommendations on which strive score is most “optimal”. They simply use it as a way to track your intensity across different class categories.

Here is the comparison table between the Orangetheory and Peloton zones.

Peloton Heart Rate ZonesOrangetheory Zones
Zone 1 (65% of MHR)Grey Zone (50-60% of MHR)
Zone 2 (65–75% of MHR)Blue Zone (61-70% of MHR)
Zone 3 (75–85% of MHR)Green Zone (71-83% of MHR)
Zone 4 (85-95% of MHR)Orange Zone (84-91% of MHR)
Zone 5 (95%+ of MHR)Red Zone (92-100% of MHR)
Peloton strive score vs orangetheory splat points

As you can see, the Orangetheory orange and red zone are equivalent to Peloton zone 4 and 5.

What is better strive score or splat points? In short, the peloton strive score is better than orangetheory splat points because the peloton doesn’t recommend aiming at any specific strive score during their workout, whereas the Orangetheory encourages to train above 80% of maximum heart rate, regardless of the fitness goal.

You can learn more about the differences between “peloton vs orangetheory” in my article here.

What Is A Normal Strive Score?

In general, the normal strive score on the peloton will depend on the class type that you take, as well as the class duration. Classes with lower intensity (e.g. core workout) that last 10 minutes or less will have a lower score (around 5-10), compared to 45 minutes of bootcamp.

However, please keep in mind that strive score is highly personal because heart rate can vary between two people, even if they do the same class.

Out-of-shape people not only have a higher heart rate during exercise but also their heart rate recovery is slower.

What is heart rate recovery? Heart rate recovery is a marker of autonomic function and training status. It means how fast your heart rate declines after exercise and is usually measured by the decrease of heartbeats.

Take a look at the graph below.

As you can see, untrained people who just finished a 10-minute peloton strength class not only will have a higher overall heart rate, but they also need to wait longer for their heart rate to go down to baseline.

On the other hand, trained people will have a lower heart rate, as well as a faster recovery rate, which will display as a lower strive score.

Is a higher strive score better? As a whole, the higher strive score doesn’t mean better because exercise triggers training adaptation, which in the long run lowers the heart rate during and after exercise. This means that as you become more fit, your strive score will be lower.

That’s why I don’t recommend using the strive score as a way to compare yourself with others.

Plus, several factors influence your heart rate, which is unrelated to how hard you train.

Depending on the quality of the heart rate monitor, where it is placed, and how hydrated you’re, it will influence your strive score during strength training.

  • Heart rate monitor – ECG heart rate monitors are the most accurate because they use electrical sensors to detect and transmit radio signals from the heartbeat via chest strap.

On the other hand, the smartwatches and armband HRM uses PPG technology to detect changes in the blood volume after the heartbeat.

While both of those methods are excellent ways to measure your heart rate, there are some differences in the way they work and the data accuracy they provide.

I won’t be covering here the differences between these types of heart rate monitors. I’ve already covered that in the “peloton heart rate monitor” review, which I recommend you read.

  • Hydration – Hypohydration (dehydration) reduces the amount of blood circulating throughout the body. With less blood flow, the body needs to increase the speed of the heartbeats to maintain the same cardiovascular pressure.

Faster heartbeats result in a higher heart rate, which in the effect will impact the strive score.

How Do You Read A Peloton Strive Score?

As a whole, the peloton gives you two ways to read the strive score. One is by showing you the total score number. The second way is the data visualization by displaying a doughnut chart with five colors assigned to each heart rate zone.

See below.

Peloton strive score chart

I personally think that reading the strive score from the data visualization chart is much more practical because it indicates the percentage of the time you spend in each heart rate zone.

Which makes it easy to read and interpret because you don’t have to rely on an arbitrary number that lowers over time. All you need to know is that your strive score has to be filled with certain colors.

Peloton Strive Score For Weight Loss

You can use the peloton strive score to track your weight loss goals, as well as endurance and recovery by ensuring your total workout time is filled with colors baby blue and green. These colors correspond to heart rate zones 1 and 2.

See below.

As you can see, the majority of the doughnut chart is filled with green and baby blue. These zones correspond to aerobic work below your 75% of maximum heart rate.

Studies have shown that “aerobic exercise reduces weight and improves cardiopulmonary fitness in obese subjects better than anaerobic exercise” (Al Saif and Alsenany, 2015).

That happens because anaerobic training taxes the body more than traditional aerobic, which is harder, especially for beginners.

Peloton Strive Score Experiment

One cool thing about this graph is that you can compare your workouts with each other. This means you can experiment and see how does your body respond to workouts in each of the heart rate zones.

For example, take a week or two where you only do some HIIT workouts (or anything that will fill out the chart with yellow, orange, and red colors) and track your overall energy outside of the training.

Here is the example.

WeekdayPeloton class
Monday45 min Full Body Strength
Tuesday30 min HIIT Cardio
Wednesday
ThursdayThunder 45 (tread bootcamp)
Friday30 min Full Body Bootcamp
Saturday
Sunday30 min HIIT and Hills Ride
Peloton strive score experiment week 1

As you can see, this week is filled with some of the hardest workouts. The goal of your strive score experiment is to track how does your body feel outside of the workout.

  • sleep
  • mood
  • hunger
  • energy

In the next week, you can switch the classes back for something less intense (light blue and green colors).

See below.

WeekdayPeloton class
Monday20 min Full Body Strength
Tuesday30 min Low Impact Ride
Wednesday
Thursday10 min HIIT cardio
Friday30 min Feel Good Ride
Saturday
Sunday20 min Focus Flow: Healthy Back
Peloton strive score experiment week 2

During the second week, you track just like you did before. After two weeks you can compare what type of workout suits best for you, which heart rate zones give you the most energy, and which one crushes you.

TIP: Going hard in zones 4 and 5 is still a viable way to train and if your fitness goal is to improve your VO2max, then you should stick to yellow, orange, and red colors.

Peloton Strive Score Accuracy

By default, the peloton uses an age-predicted maximum heart rate equation (220 − age) to calculate the strive score, which is inaccurate because it doesn’t take into consideration the resting pulse rate. Also, this formula underestimates the maximum heart rate in different populations.

The most accurate way to measure maximum heart rate is cardiopulmonary exercise testing, also known as the CPX test or the cardiac stress test.

It involves gas exchange analysis and ventilation measurements, which is considered the gold standard for assessing maximum heart rate (Albouaini et al. 2007).

However, this test can only be performed in the laboratory setting, so access to this equipment is not always available, nor practical.

An alternative is the age-predicted maximal heart rate equation generated by Dr. William Haskell and Dr. Samuel Fox in 1971, which is most commonly used till today.

However, this equation does have some limitations.

Multiple studies have shown that “this equation has been reported to have a standard deviation of between 10 and 12 bpm, as well as significantly over and underestimating HRmax in younger and older adults” (Tanaka et al. 2001).

How to make strive score more accurate? As a whole, you can make strive score more accurate by adjusting your maximum heart rate in the peloton settings using one of the equation formulas that are specific to your age.

Below you can find the list of equations based on your age in line with the latest research.

EquationFormulaPopulationSource
TanakaHRmax = 208 – 0.7 x Age18–25 year oldsRoy, and McCrory, 2015
TanakaHRmax = 208 – 0.7 x AgeOlder adultsRoy, and McCrory, 2015
NesHRmax = 211 – 0.64 x AgeActive adultsNes, et al. (2013)
Heinzmann-FilhoHRmax = 200 – 0.48 x AgeObese adultsHeinzmann-Filho et al. (2018)
Maximum heart rate equations based on population

As you can see, the equation changes based on the population and age. To make the strive score more accurate you need to choose the equation that corresponds with you and input the results in your peloton profile settings.

The peloton bike will automatically adjust the calculations and your new strive score will be updated.

Can you change the maximum heart rate in the peloton? In short, to change your estimated maximum heart rate in the peloton you need to go to setting and choose a private profile. At the bottom of the list, select “max heart rate” and change into “custom”, instead of the default.

Can other people see your Peloton strive score? Other people cannot see your peloton strive score. However, if you’re wearing a heart rate monitor, the peloton will save and display on the leaderboard your heart rate zone. Please keep in mind that strive score is optional and can be enabled, disabled, or kept private.

How Do I Activate My Strive Score?

In general, to active your peloton strive score you just need to turn on your heart rate monitor and connect it to the bike via Bluetooth.

Once the bike senses your heart rate and the HRM will start to flash red, the strive score will automatically be activated.

How do you hide your strive score on the peloton? To hide your strive score on peloton you need to go to settings and select preferences. In the section “strive score” just select if you wish to display or turn it off.

Conclusion

As you can see, the peloton strive score is a new and exciting feature that allows you to measure your intensity and design your workout accordingly.

I prefer to look at the chart instead of the number just because the number will change over time. However, with the doughnut chart, you can monitor your workouts based on your personal goals.

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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