When I first got my Peloton bike my goal was to try all the different types of classes. My friend Kieranne, a Power Zone class fan, invited me to participate in a Power Zone Challenge I instantly said yes! It was on my to do list to do more of these classes and now I can say I'm officially obsessed with them!
Power Zone Training
Power Zone Training is a type of cycling class that focuses on 7 different zones (a.k.a the power zones). Each zone has a different intensity, with Zone 1 being the easiest and Zone 7 the hardest or max effort. Zones are ranges of output (a mix of cadence and resistance) and each zone is customized to your fitness level. As Matt Wilpers explains it, Power Zones are basically personal training on the bike.
This customized approach is what got me to fall in love with Power Zone classes. When I workout I like to know that I'm going to get a good workout in. I love having fun on the bike in the themed classes but sometimes I don't find they're challenging enough for me (or sometimes the cadence or resistance is TOO challenging for me). Power Zone training is the perfect mix.
Personal Training on the Peloton Bike
To start Power Zone training, you'll need to enable the Power Zone bar in the settings on your bike (it's built into every Peloton bike automatically!). The bar will show suggested zones based on your gender and age, but these are just suggests. To get the most accurate zones you want to take a 20 minute FTP test (Functional Threshold Power) and use the output from that to program your zones.
I'll be honest: I was very nervous when I first started my FTP test. But as the test went on I realized it wasn't anything to be afraid of. Yes, the test is tough but it'd do-able at all fitness levels and after you'll have new shiny zones to work on!
After you complete the FTP test, a message will pop up on the bike asking if you want to update your zones. If you click yes your bike will update all your zones to your new output goals and they'll show up in every class. So easy!
Power Zone Pack Challenge
I've been hooked on Power Zone Challenges since my first last summer! Power Zone Challenges are unofficial free challenges run by the website Power Zone Pack (PZP). The challenges range from 6-8 weeks, with options to do anywhere from 3-5 classes a week. I chose the 3 class option because they also give you opportunities to earn extra credit with other classes.
Once you sign up for a challenge, you'll be assigned to a team (if you have friends also doing the challenge you can request to be on the same team). Each week you mark off the workouts you do and earn points for the team.
My favorite part of the challenges is the provided ride schedule. The PZP team creates weekly class schedules that gradually ease you into the challenge so you're not going max all out Day 1 of the challenge. The challenge also requires you to add on a 5 minute stretch after the rides - something I need to start doing more of!
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Power Zone for Beginners
If you're not ready to hop into a Power Zone Challenge just yet, there's also new beginner Power Zone classes. The "Into to Power Zone" Classes as well as a 4 week Understanding Your Power Zones Program can help you get into Power Zone training.
My Power Zone Training Schedule
My training schedule during challenges and breaks stays pretty consistent. Generally my workout schedule looks like this:
- Monday: 30-45 minute Power Zone Class (usually Endurance), 15-20 minute Glutes & Legs workout
- Tuesday: Bike Bootcamp (new to Peloton bike bootcamps? Check out my full review here)
- Wednesday: 30-45 minute Power Zone Class, 15-20 minute Arms & Shoulders Workout
- Thursday: 30 minute Power Zone (usually Endurance) class, 30 minute Total Body Strength
- Friday: 30-45 minute Power Zone Class, 20 Minute Upper Body
- Saturday: 60 minute Power Zone Class
- Sunday: Active Recovery - I'll do a 30 minute walk or pilates workout
Power Zone Training Results
Since I started I've noticed my outputs have increased. They're not crazy drastic increases, but are improvements enough where my new zones are challenging. I've also noticed that when I do regular themed rides it's easier for me to keep up with the called out resistance and cadences!
Power Zone Training Conclusion
Power Zone Training is awesome. If you're looking for a measurable way to track your progress and get personal training on the bike, I highly recommend trying out a Power Zone class. They may be a little intimidating at first but the instructors really do a great job to make everything easy to understand and follow.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Power Zone Training?
Power Zone Training is a workout designed to have you work at different levels of exertion (your zones). The beauty of Power Zone training is that each of these zones is customized to you and your level of fitness so it's like personal training on the bike.
What is an FTP Test?
The FTP test (Functional Threshold Test) is a 20 minute test to determine your Power Zones. Once you take the test, the Peloton bike will ask if you want to save your zones and will update your zone output goals.
How Often Should I Take an FTP Test?
How often you take the test is up to you! I try to retake mine after every Power Zone challenge to see improvement, but some people test more (or less) often than that. I believe the official recommendation is every 4-6 weeks, or when your zones start to feel easy.
What Equipment Do I need?
All you need for a challenge is a bike! A Peloton bike works best because of the built in zone metrics, but you can also do it on your own on a non-Peloton bike.
Is Power Zone Training the Same as Heart Rate Zone Training?
Power Zone Training is different than heart rate training and actually doesn't use heart rate at all. Power Zones is based off your output (mix of cadence and resistance) where heart rate training is based off your heart rate zones.
What Fitness Level Are Power Zone Classes For?
Power Zone classes really are for all levels of fitness because they're so customizable!
What are the Power Zone Classes?
There are 3 types of Power Zone Classes:
- Power Zone Endurance - these classes stay in zones 1-3, these are great workouts to get a sweat without destroying your legs.
- Power Zone - these classes can range anywhere from zones 1-6
- Power Zone Max - Anything goes in a Power Zone Max class! This is where you'll see higher zones (5-7)
They also started coming out with Power Zone music series classes.
Who are the Power Zone Instructors?
Currently (as of 2021), Peloton's Power Zone instructors are Matt Wilpers, Denis Morton, Christine D'Ercole, and Olivia Amato. I am hoping this year they add even more instructors - I'd love to see Jess Sims teach a Power Zone class!
What is a Power Zone Challenge?
Power Zone Challenges are unofficial challenges run through the Peloton fan site, Power Zone Pack (PZP). The challenges are 6 to 8 weeks in length and also have mini challenges in between.
How Long are Power Zone Challenges?
Power Zone Challenges range from 6-8 weeks long, with a few weeks break in between challenges.
How can I Join a Power Zone Challenge?
You can sign up for Power Zone Challenges on Power Zone Pack's website.
How Much Do Power Zone Challenges Cost?
Do I Need to Take the FTP Test Before a Power Zone Challenge?
It's a good idea to do a new FTP test before a challenge so you're working with your current zones, but it's not required.
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