Even though we’ve had our bike since 2016, I’d never heard about Peloton Power Zone training until 2019. That was when I was fortunate enough to ride in studio with instructor Matt Wilpers. It was a 60-minute rock ride.
During the ride Matt called out members of something called Power Zone Pack. It seems they were in the middle of some sort of Power Zone challenge.
What is a Power Zone challenge
I still remember–the theme was Game of Zones, a takeoff on “Game of Thrones.” I love the TV show “Game of Thrones,” that I knew. However, the more Matt talked about the Game of Zones challenge, the more I wanted to get involved in Power Zone training.
Little did I know that Peloton Power Zone training is more than just a challenge with a fun theme and cool team names. Fast forward to this year, and I’ve just started my 13th challenge. I think it’s 13. Honestly, I’ve lost track. Therefore, I figured it was time to write about Peloton Power Zone training and what you need to know.
Also, at the bottom of this article, I’ll offer you my Power Zone training essentials. These will make riding your Peloton and doing Power Zone more comfortable and enjoyable.
What are the benefits of Peloton Power Zone training
As a fifty something woman, I’ve found that doing Power Zone training on my Peloton has helped me get in the best shape of my life. Note: not the skinniest, not the smallest pant size, not my lowest weight. I’m talking the healthiest I’ve ever been, from an aerobic and strength point of view.
For example, two years ago I had to help my then 23-year-old daughter move into a new apartment for grad school. Her place was on the third floor, and the building was a walk up. That means no elevator.
The two of us went up and down those three flights of stairs all day long. This included going to IKEA, filling two cars with IKEA flat-pack furniture–that stuff is HEAVY–and then moving all of that into her apartment.
Was I tired at the end of the day? Yes. Did I sweat a lot? You bet.
But in the evening, after having a good meal, lots of water and resting a bit, I was fine. The next day, I was still fine. In fact, I wasn’t even sore. It really showed me how much stronger I’d become from doing the Peloton Power Zone training program or plan.
When am I ready for Power Zone training on my Peloton?
I firmly believe that anyone, at any fitness level, age or length of ownership of their Peloton, is ready to try the Peloton Power Zone training program. A great place to start is the “Discover Your Power Zones” program on the Peloton bike or app. It’s a five-week cycling program that introduces you to the concept of Power Zone training. It used to be four-weeks long, but now it is five.
Here is how Peloton describes it:
“Complete this program as you achieve measurable results by taking the guesswork out of training. Join our instructors as they help you complete workouts customized to your fitness level–all while having fun.”
Discover Your Power Zones program
The program starts in Week 1 with an “Intro to Power Zone Ride” with instructor Matt Wilpers. It culminates in Week 5 with an “FTP Test Ride” with Matt Wilpers. In between you get to take all different levels of Power Zone rides with the Power Zone instructors:
- Matt Wilpers
- Denis Morton
- Christine D’Ercole
- Olivia Amato
- Ben Alldis
What are Power Zones?
On the Peloton there are seven Zones of power. You’ll hear the instructors call them out during rides. Each zone is explained below.
In addition, after you take your FTP test and your Power Zones have been calculated, you’ll be able to enable the Power Zone “bar” or Power Zone meter on your tablet. The Power Zone meter is measuring your output–combination of cadence and resistance–to show you how much power you have with each pedal stroke.
By having the Power Zone meter on your bike screen, you’ll always be able to see what Zone you’re riding in. This is true of every ride you take on your Peloton cycle–the meter is always registering your output. This means that you have the potential to turn each and every ride you take into a Power Zone ride.
Power Zones defined
How are Peloton power zones calculated? As mentioned above there are seven zones of power for Power Zone rides. Here is a rough explanation of each Zone.
This is your active recovery Zone.
This is the endurance zone. Instructors call this your all day pace, something you can do for hours.
This is your tempo zone. Matt Wilpers always says that this is a zone where you could have a conversation, but you don’t want to.
Zone 4 is called Lactate Threshold. It means that your body is making lactate faster than the body can flush it out.
VO2 Max. That is actually the formula that determines how much oxygen your body is able to use when you exercise. And when you’re exercising in Zone 5, you are breathing hard. No wonder Zone 5 helps improve your cardiovascular fitness.
This is when you hit anaerobic capacity, your body’s ability to move without getting enough oxygen. Don’t worry–instructors rarely have you holding Zone 6 for more than one to two minutes. Usually, it’s shorter bursts than that–like 30 seconds.
Neuromuscular power and max capacity. You can only hit max capacity for very short periods of time. You’ll only be expected to get into Zone 7 during Power Zone Max rides.
The different kinds of Power Zone rides
When you log onto your Peloton or join a Power Zone Pack challenge, you’ll discover that there are three kinds of Power Zone rides. There is Power Zone Endurance ride, a “regular” Power Zone ride and a Power Zone Max ride. Here is how they differ.
What is a Power Zone Endurance ride?
On the Peloton, a Power Zone Endurance ride is the “easiest” of the Power Zone rides. How is it easier than the Power Zone or Power Zone Max rides? Well, in a Power Zone Endurance ride, you spent the majority of the ride in Zones 2 and 3.
However, don’t let my description of this being the easiest of Power Zone rides lull you into thinking you can coast through them. Nope.
You’re going to get hot and sweaty in Zones 2 and 3. Plus, as I mentioned above, Zone 3 is technically the endurance Zone. So by spending time in Zone 3 on a Power Zone Endurance ride, you’re improving your ability to ride longer.
What is a Power Zone ride?
Don’t let the fact that Power Zone rides are without a descriptor (i.e. Endurance or Max) fool you into thinking these are easy rides. They are not.
On a Peloton Power Zone ride, the instructors could call out zones all the way up to Zone 6. In other words instructors tend to cue you to ride anywhere from Zone 3 to Zone 6.
However, I’ve taken many Power Zone rides that spend most of the time in Zone 4. That’s where you’re comfortably uncomfortable, as Matt Wilpers likes to say.
What is a Power Zone Max ride?
When you take a Power Zone Max ride, you can expect that you’re going to work hard. This is the only ride where riding in Zone 7 is on the table.
But don’t worry–instructors never make you stay in Zone 7 for very long. Zone 7 riding is designed for short bursts of energy, not long sustained efforts like Zone 3.
What is the meaning of FTP in Power Zone training?
FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power. It’s a measure of how well your body can perform under stress, and tells you how “strong” you are on the bike.
When you take the FTP test, it is measuring the average amount of power you can reach in your output. This is measured over 20 minutes.
Normally, an FTP test is supposed to measure your ability to perform for an hour under stress. But the Peloton Power Zone instructors aren’t mean. Trust me–20 minutes is enough.
The first time I took my FTP test, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. Towards the end I was negotiating with myself about quitting versus finishing. I had to channel Peloton and Power Zone instructor Christine D’Ercole’s mantra: I am I can I will I do.
What happens after your FTP test
After my FTP test I was able to take my average output and plug it into my bike settings. However, these days the bike “knows” when you’ve finished your test. Therefore, it will prompt you when the test is over and ask if you want to adjust your FTP in your settings. Tell it, “Yes.”
These numbers will be added to your Preferences in your Profile (little gear sign above your profile pic on the bike table). On that same screen you can check the box to “Display Power Zones.” This will give you the Power Zone Meter on the screen for every ride after.
Now you’ve got your zones. They are unique to you, based on your performance on the FTP test. What I love about Power Zone is that I’m training based on my current fitness.
Keep in mind that the more you ride, the fitter you’ll become. And then one day you’ll realize that your zones are feeling easy and guess what? It’s time to retest. That is, take the FTP test again.
How to edit power zones on my Peloton bike
On that Preferences screen mentioned above, there is an option to edit your Power Zones. I’m not sure why you would want to do that since the bike will automatically update after an FTP test. But if you’re dead set on editing your power zones, that’s how you’ll find them on your Peloton bike.
One thing to note: if you look under the “Edit My Power Zones” headline in Preferences, you won’t see the same number from your FTP test. It will be slightly lower. That’s because the FTP is your average output over an hour, but you only rode for 20 minutes. I know–it’s confusing at first. But that’s the reasoning behind it.
How often should you do Power Zone training
As I mentioned earlier, I just started my 13th Power Zone training challenge. These are offered roughly five to six times each year. They last between six and eight weeks.
Whenever you hear Peloton instructor Matt Wilpers talking about improving your fitness, he talks about two things. One, the frequency, intensity and duration of your rides. And, two, how often you should retest, i.e. redo the FTP test.
Basically, if you’re consistently following a Power Zone training schedule, you could conceivably be seeing a bump in your fitness every six to eight weeks. So, how often should you do Power Zone training to get this improvement?
Well, the challenges are built around between three and five rides a week. So, I would say three to five times a week. Then, mix in other kinds of rides or cross training, such as strength work, yoga, stretching and running or walking.
How to get Power Zone graphs on Peloton
We’ve already established how you get the Power Zone meter on your bike. However, if you want to get pretty graphs that show your zones in different colors, you won’t find that on the Peloton app. You’ll need to invest in one of two different services.
First, there is an app called mPaceline. It’s the one I use.
I recommend getting the Pro version of mPaceline. It’s under $30 for an annual subscription.
There is a free version of mPaceline. However, you can only download 25 workouts to track your progress. If you’re doing the Peloton “Discover Your Power Zones” program, you’ll run through those 25 rides pretty quickly.
Also, if you’re an Apple Watch use, mPaceline pairs with that.
Power Zone Pack website
Second, there is the Power Zone Pack website. They offer an annual subscription of about $70. It lets you get pretty graphs of your rides.
You’ll want to register on the Power Zone Pack website if you’re going to be doing any of the Power Zone challenges. It’s where you go to get the Power Zone challenge training schedule as well as to check off your rides for your team.
Peloton Power Zone training essentials
As I’ve mentioned I’ve been doing Power Zone training for more than two years. With Peloton Power Zone training, you spent a lot of time in the saddle on the bike.
Therefore, I can definitely say that having the essentials below has helped keep me comfortable on the bike. I’ve also included other accessories you should invest in overall when you’re riding as often as I am.
Peloton Power Zone Challenges
As I’ve mentioned I just started my 13th Peloton Power Zone challenge. For the past year I’ve been one of three team leads.
One of my responsibilities was creating cover art for our team Facebook page as well as an avatar for the team to use as a replacement for their traditional profile picture. Therefore, I’ve included one of those avatar examples below from the Major League Zones, when our team was the NY Matts.
It was actually a fun exercise to go back through a remember each of the themes of the Power Zone challenges I’d participated in. In case you’re curious which ones they’ve used, here’s my list:
- Power Zones (Star Wars theme)
- Avengers: Infinity Zones
- Power Zone University (I was on team Pi Zeta Pi).
- Power Zone Road Trip (my team was Driving Mr. Wilpers)
- PZ Zone Warp
- Rhythm & Zones (we were the Spinup Doctors)
- Major League Zones (my team was the NY Matts, as shown above in my profile avatar that I’d created for the team)
- PZU @ Home (this second college-themed challenge, our team was called Carpe DM)
- Zone Trip Challenge
- Winter Sports (this had a winter sports/Olympics theme. Our team name was Ice Ice Baby)
- Spring Challenge; our team name was It’s Gonna Be May–shout out to Nsync.
- Summer Challenge–we were the Summer Slackers
- Back to the Zones–think prehistoric caveman or dinosaurs as the theme; our team is No Rex for the Weary.
Final thoughts on Peloton Power Zone training
In conclusion, by writing this article, I set out to answer the question, “What is Peloton Power Zone training?” I explained the different kinds of Power Zone rides as well as the seven different zones of power in those rides.
In addition, I told you about taking the FTP test and how it helps you get your zones. I also shared apps you can use or subscription you can have to get colorful graphs of your rides. These are helpful for seeing how smoothly you can hold your zones.
Have I missed anything? Do you have any lingering questions about Power Zone training on Peloton? If so, post a comment and let me know.
Finally, it was extended Peloton power zone training that convinced me I needed a professional bike fitting.