Lab Test Results and TftNA HR Zones | Uphill Athlete

Lab Test Results and TftNA HR Zones

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  • #7634

    Hi all,
    So this is my first go at a structured training plan and I want to be sure the basics are right before starting
    I’ve completed the lab test and my results are attached
    I have also purchased the 16 week big mountain training plan which I will use for Denali

    Now the questions:

    The zones from the CU lab are provided in a different format than the zones outlined in TftNA.
    Are the below HR zones correct based off my lab test and TftNA HR zones?

    Active Rec
    0 – 130
    Z1 Basic Endurance
    130 – 140
    Z2 No Man’s Land
    140 – 156
    Z3 Uppermost Aerobic
    156 – 164
    Z4 Anaerobic
    164 – 174

    I should be doing my base aerobic exercises in Zone 1, correct?

    Should I be doing any zone 3 training? If so how much?

    Seems like my fat burning ability is quite low. Any idea on how much I can realistically improve this with the 16 week big mountain training plan?

    Thanks in advance

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    Anonymous on #7640

    Hi Spencer,

    I don’t know what the contents of the Big Mountain training plan are, but based on your test results, I would be tempted to skew more of the workout mix toward your Zone 1 and Zone 2 intensities. I think that’ll give you the biggest long-term benefit.

    The description in the test recommended 80% at this intensity with 20% at higher intensities. 80% should be the bare minimum, even in well-trained athletes. 90% would be even better. Even world-class athletes train with the same distribution.

    In addition, if you’ll be going to altitude, you’ll want your AeT to be as high as possible. From what I understand, at altitude there isn’t enough oxygen available to allow for an intensity high enough to recruit fast twitch muscle fiber. So you’ll only have access to slow twitch fiber which is best trained below AeT.

    On your next test, I would recommend getting some lactate samples below 140. The typical limit for AeT in most people is around ~2 mM, rather than 2.5, which is usually considered the upper most limit for purely aerobic work. With no readings below that level, it’s hard to tell if lactate was indeed plateaued at 2.5 during your test.

    In short, I would avoid Zone 3 training until your AeT (~2 mM) is around 90% of anaerobic threshold. If AnT is at ~160, then you’ll want to get AeT up to at least ~145 before adding any threshold work.

    I hope that helps.

    Scott S.

    Anonymous on #7646


    What Scott^2 said above echoes almost exactly what I told you in my email reply to you. I had not read this forum post nor had I prompted S^2 to say any of this. He knows this because he had to go through the same process himself a few years ago. Experience is the best teacher.

    You need much more aerobic base work as your test indicates that you are suffering from aerobic deficiency syndrome (ADS), which we see quite often and there is only way fix. Lots of low intensity. As I explained in my email when a person has ADS they can train mostly in Z2 close to their AeT to maximize the training benefits. When a person has a good aerobic base then training in Z2 becomes less productive and potentially too hard and should be minimized. But in your case I suspect Z2 will be pretty helpful. Extend the base period as long as possible by adding in base weeks with their heavy emphasis on low intensity long workouts. You won’t get the best benefits from Z3 until you have your aerobic house in order. On Denali it is the aerobic base that is going to get you up the hill.

    It may seem frustratingly slow at first to do this Z1-2 work. All the more reason that you need it though.


    spencervillano on #7658

    Thanks to both Scotts for your responses
    I’m really grateful for your help on this

    This is great information as it seems counterintuitive to my limited understanding that I should also be doing Zone 2 workouts.

    In terms of Base training benefit, should I be spending most of my time close to the upper limit of Zone 2? Or is there a recommended % of time I should be splitting Z1 & Z2?

    Scott J-
    I still have a little confusion about where my Zone 1 and Zone 2 should be

    You advised me to use the lab results HR schema

    Think I’m getting confused here because the TftNA zones doesn’t count Active Rec as Zone1 where the lab does

    If you can help me idiot proof my zones that would be great.

    In your email you said “Because your aerobic capacity is low you can and should do most of the in Z2 140-150 range probably.“

    I’m assuming based on the below test results my TftNA Zone 2 is what the lab has described as “Zone 3 Tempo” 140-156?

    Should I adjust my “Zone 3 Tempo” based on your recommendation to 140 – 150?

    Test result zones are as follows:
    1 .Active Rec
    < 130
    2. Base
    130 – 140
    3. Tempo
    140 – 156
    4. Threshold
    156 – 164
    5. VO2
    164 – 174

    Anonymous on #7669


    Answers to your questions:

    In terms of Base training benefit, should I be spending most of my time close to the upper limit of Zone 2? Or is there a recommended % of time I should be splitting Z1 & Z2?
    As mentioned: when you have ADS then you can and should train mostly close to your aerobic threshold which it at the top of Z2. You’ll get more aerobic training effect there. As you get fitter and Z2 pace gets faster and more demanding (tiring) then you will reduce the the amount of Z2 and substitute Z1. For the next few months I suspect you can do all your training un upper Z2.

    I still have a little confusion about where my Zone 1 and Zone 2 should be
    I too was confused because the chart you sent in the email didn’t match the test. I said use the test because TftNA uses % of maxHR to set zones which we acknowledge is a poor way to find them. That’s why you went the lab. Now you have those zones so I suggests using them. In your case with ADS you will not be using the active recovery zone. Use the Zones the test showed you and you list in your post.

    I’m assuming based on the below test results my TftNA Zone 2 is what the lab has described as “Zone 3 Tempo” 140-156?
    Use the test result zones. Do all your training in the test’s Z2 for now. Forget TftNA zones. You have test. Use those zones. Train in Z2 as much as you can.

    Should I adjust my “Zone 3 Tempo” based on your recommendation to 140 – 150?
    No. Use the test’s zones. And you do not need to use Z3 right now during your base building period until you see your AeT HR move up to within 10% of AnT HR as determined by an uphill time trial as described in our AnT test article.

    Essentially you need to do virtually all your aerobic training in the 130-140 range. And important for you is to do as much of this in a fasted state as possible.


    spencervillano on #7684

    OK Got it

    Time to get to work
    Did my first fasted base workout this morning

    Will report back after my next lab test

    Thanks again or your advise, really great you take the time to answer posts

    spencervillano on #15464

    So its been a while but finally got my follow up lab test and I’m pleased with my progress. I put 11 months of faith into the plan and it paid off.

    My aerobic zone increased by 12 bpm
    Test 1: 130 – 140
    Test 2: 142 – 152

    My fat adaption doubled:
    Test 1: .19
    Test 2: .38

    Here are my questions:

    I believe I can start doing zone 4 workouts now since the spread between AeT and AnT is less than 10%?

    Based on the DIY Anaerobic Threshold Test article I should now do some Zone 1 training as well. My lab test zone 1 is from 0 – 142. Where should I be within this range to have the desired effect?

    What is the recommended Zone 4 volume of the overall total to start with?
    Jared at CU recommended the below weekly breakdown:
    Zone 1 40%
    Zone 2 50%
    Zone 4 8%
    Zone 5 2%

    What workouts do you recommend?

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    Anonymous on #15500


    Great job on improving the basic aerobic qualities and fat adaptation. Now you have a base it is time to crank things up a notch. Looking at the test I’d give slightly different zone interpretations if I were coaching you. Here they are.

    Zone 1; 135-145/147ish with recovery workouts at the low end of this and long multi hour workouts at the top end. This will be where you need to spend the bulk of your aerobic training volume now. I’d go with 70%.

    Zone 2: 145/147ish to 159. This will be very effective aerobic base training but may prove too tiring to do more that about 10-15% of the weekly volume here. Start with a hour a week at this zone and see how tired it leaves you.

    Zone 3: 160-165/167. This what I like to see. Z3 is squeezed to a small range of HR indicating a high AeT. Use this zone to introduce high intensity and to build ME with long intervals like 2-3x20min uphill. This helps provide a base for the Z4 work.

    Zone 4: 165-176. This is HARD aerobic/anaerobic work. You can begin to use this right off the bat but many people find that they can not sustain the high intensity/HR for the full duration of the Z4 interval session because of local muscular fatigue. A world class athlete might be able to 4-6×8 min in Z4 and maintain the high power output throughout. Lesser athletes might find that part way through interval number 2 they are so fatigued that power and HR are dropping off due to local muscular fatigue. They can’t do much hard sustained work yet and need to drop down to Z3 to build a base to handle this work.

    With the less well trained we always start with a Z3 period to develop muscular endurance before introducing Z4. Z3 intervals want to be 15 to 30 min long and build to an hour a week over 4-6 weeks. Do not add more Z3 than you can handle without dropping Z1-2 volume. When you are comfortable with this volume of Z3 (its not causing you to drop basic aerobic volume) start to replace these with Z4 in the ratio of 1 minute of Z4 replaces each 2 min of Z3. For a while you will be doing some Z3 and some Z4 in each week as you transition to more and more Z4. Again do not add more Z4 than you can manage without having to drop Z1 volume. As you add Z4 also decrease Z2 in a 3:1 ratio. Drop 3min of Z2 for each 1min of Z4 you add.

    I hope this helps,

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