How to Set Your Training Zones Correctly

When you first start using TrainingPeaks, whether it be with a training plan, hiring a triathlon coach, or simply self-coaching, you want to make sure you have your training zones set correctly. If you don't, then your training stress score (TSS) won't be calculated correctly and your workout may tell you to swim, bike, or run in the wrong zones!


If you're working with a coach, then they will help you do this. But if you're using a pre-built training plan, you need to set your Training Zones yourself. Whether you plan on training by Pace, Power, or Heart Rate, having your training zones set correctly ensures that the workouts are custom for YOU.


If you purchase a training plan from us, we usually will have you perform an assessment test in the first 1-4 weeks to assist you in setting the correct Training Zones. If you already know what your threshold is for a certain discipline, you're welcome to set these zones on day 1 of your plan. You can always update them in the future!

  • TIP: Your Heart Rate Training Zones will almost never change once you set them. However, your Pace and Power Training Zones are extremely dynamic, not static. If you are just beginning a new training plan, you may see a rapid improvement in your fitness and need to update your zones every 4-8 weeks.

One final note, we prefer setting Training Zones based on THRESHOLD Pace, Power, and Heart Rate. Not max or peak. Why? One of the reasons is because Pace and Power can only be calculated by Threshold. Max Heart Rate can vary wildly among individuals and there isn't a consensus on the best way to estimate Max Heart. By using a threshold test to determine your zones, you can get an accurate number for Heart Rate AND Pace or Power all in the same test without having to do a second (and extremely painful) Max Heart Rate test.


So without further ado, here is how to set your Training Zones correctly!


1. First, you'll need to perform a field-based power or speed based test. Your training plan should have a protocol description for you. If not, talk to your coach or CONTACT us and we'll be happy to send one your way.


2. Login to TrainingPeaks on your DESKTOP computer and click the dropdown arrow in the top-right corner next to your name.

  • TIP: You can set your Training Zones from a mobile device if you wish but it doesn't allow you to select the method.


3. Select "Settings"


4. Click "Zones" on the left side of the pop-up window.


5. On the left side of the pop-up, you'll now see a variety of different Training Zones you can set. We'll start with the default Heart Rate zone for now so select "Heart Rate."

  • TIP: Make sure to set up your other Training Zones as well!


6. Now, you'll need to type in your threshold Heart Rate from your field test. This is the average Heart Rate for your 20-minute FTP test, your 30-minute lactate threshold run test, or your 1000 swim time trial. After you type in your threshold Heart Rate, select which type of calculation you will use.

  • TIP: You can enter a number for Max and Resting Heart Rate as well but it won't be factored in the calculation since the method we're going to use is Lactate Threshold.


7. Select "Lactate Threshold" as the type of calculation you will do. Then choose the method.


8. For the Default Heart Rate, we like Andy Coggan's 5 Training Zone system. Scroll to the bottom if you want to see what we recommend for other sport disciplines.


9. Now hit "Calculate," then "Apply," and you're all set!


10. If you scroll down, you can add additional Heart Rate training zones for different disciplines. For instance, you see here that we have Heart Rate zones set up for mountain biking. You can also add swim specific zones if you want.


11. Now go back to Step 2 and set-up Training Zones for your Power and Pace. We've outlined our recommended methods for each discipline below.

Training Zones for Different Disciplines


We like using a Training Zone method that only calculates five or six different Training Zones. Why? We've found that too many zones make things too complicated for the athlete and the human body is actually much less precise than we think it is. Below are the calculation methods we like to use with our athletes because they are simple and they work!


Heart Rate Zones

  1. Default Heart Rate: Andy Coggan

  2. Swim Heart Rate: Andy Coggan

  3. Bike Heart Rate: Andy Coggan

  4. Run Heart Rate: MyProCoach Running

Power Zones

  1. Default Power: Andy Coggan

  2. Run Power: Jim Vance - Running (Only applies if you have a running powermeter).

Speed/Pace Zones

  1. Default Speed/Pace - Use min/mi or min/km: MyProCoach Running

  2. Run Speed/Pace - Use min/mi or min/kim: MyProCoach Running

  3. Swim Speed/Pace - Use sec/100y or 100m: MyProCoach Swimming

  4. Bike Speed/Pace: We don't recommend using speed or pace for cycling since weather and terrain cause HUGE variances but if you must, use mph or kph and Joe Friel for Running.


If you have any questions during this process or while training, reach out to us at- coach@paragontraining.org and one of our coaches will be happy to assist you.

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