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From Numbers to Performance: Implementing Your Training Zones into Your HYROX and Hybrid Training

Implementing your training zones into your hyrox training

1. Introduction

When it comes to Hybrid (or Hyrox) training, understanding and correctly utilising your heart rate training zones can make a substantial difference in your performance. Not only do these zones provide a roadmap for structuring your workouts, but they also serve as a valuable tool for monitoring progress and ensuring you're training optimally for your specific goals.

Heart rate training zones are established based on your VO2Max, anaerobic threshold or maximum heart rate (MHR) and represent different levels of training intensity. Whether you've had your zones identified through metabolic testing or calculated using a heart rate training zone calculator, these zones are key to tailoring your training to your unique physiological profile.

This guide aims to guide you on how to take the numbers from your metabolic testing or heart rate calculator and integrate them into your Hybrid training or hyrox training plan effectively. We'll explore what each zone means, and how to structure your training week around these zones. Ready to transform those numbers into performance? Let's dive in.

2. Understanding Your Training Zones

Heart rate training zones for HYROX athletes

Training zones are established to help athletes structure their training to achieve specific physiological adaptations. They are typically represented as a percentage of either your anaerobic threshold (AT)/Lactate threshold (LT2) or your maximum heart rate (MHR). Here's what each zone signifies:

  1. Zone 1: Recovery - This zone is approximately 60-70% of your AT or below 60% of your MHR. It involves light activity designed to promote recovery and prepare your body for more strenuous workouts. This zone should be incorporated into your training plan after intense workouts or on designated recovery days. It could be a light jog, a brisk walk, or a low-intensity cycling session. It's also the zone you should be in during your warm-ups and cool-downs.

  2. Zone 2: Aerobic - This zone is around 70-80% of your AT or 60-70% of your MHR. Training in this zone primarily uses oxygen for energy production and enhances your cardiovascular system's efficiency and endurance capabilities. Spend a significant amount of your training time in this zone, especially when you're in the base-building phase of your training. This could be your long, slow runs or cycling sessions that build endurance and promote efficient fat utilisation for energy.

  3. Zone 3: Tempo - Working within 80-90% of your AT or 70-80% of your MHR, this zone raises your lactate threshold, improving your body's ability to clear lactate from the bloodstream and delay the onset of fatigue. This zone is ideal for tempo runs, where you're running comfortably hard for a sustained period. Incorporating a tempo workout once a week can help enhance your lactate threshold.

  4. Zone 4: Threshold - This zone represents 90-100% of your AT or 80-90% of your MHR. Training in this zone helps improve your body's ability to handle high-intensity efforts for extended periods. Your threshold zone is where you're working hard but can still maintain the effort for a period of time (typically 45-60mins). This is the zone where you're just below the point of accumulating lactic acid faster than your body can clear it. It's often targeted in workouts such as sustained hard-effort intervals or threshold runs.

  5. Zone 5: Anaerobic - This zone is above 100% of your AT or above 90% of your MHR. Training in this zone develops your body's ability to tolerate and recover from maximal efforts. This is where high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprint intervals would typically fall. This is a very challenging intensity that can only be sustained for a short duration. It's in this zone where your body produces a high amount of lactate as you're working above your lactate threshold.

Each of these zones corresponds to a different energy system in the body - the aerobic system, the anaerobic system, and the ATP-CP system. By training in different zones, you can enhance your body's efficiency in each of these systems, leading to improved performance in HYROX or Hybrid competitions.

3. Tracking Progress and Adjusting Your Zones

The beauty of using heart rate training zones is that they are not static; they evolve as you do. As your fitness level improves, your body becomes more efficient, and what was once your Zone 3 may now feel more like Zone 2. This is why it's important to regularly reassess your zones, either through formal testing or by using methods like perceived exertion and performance indicators.

Training zones for running vs cycling

Moreover, for a more accurate and personalised approach, metabolic testing, including VO2Max and lactate threshold can provide invaluable insights. These tests can pinpoint the exact heart rate at which you switch from one energy system to another, allowing you to train more effectively and efficiently. Regular testing can also show how your body's response to exercise changes over time, helping you adjust your training zones and nutrition plan as necessary.

4. Translating Training Zones Across Different Activities: Running, Rowing, and Ski Erg

Heart rate training zones are generally consistent across different types of exercise, as they are based on your maximum heart rate. However, it's important to note that your heart rate response can vary somewhat between different activities due to factors like muscle mass involved, skill level, and posture.

Running, for instance, often elicits a higher heart rate than cycling or rowing at a similar perceived exertion level. This is mainly because running is weight-bearing and recruits a larger muscle mass, which results in a higher cardiac output.

Rowing and ski erg workouts involve both the upper and lower body significantly, which can cause a higher heart rate response compared to exercises that mainly use either the lower or upper body. However, your skill level and efficiency in each modality can also influence your heart rate. If you're highly skilled and efficient in rowing, you might find your heart rate is lower at a given level of exertion compared to someone less skilled.

Ski erg heart rate training zones

Therefore, while you can use the same zones as a general guide, be aware that the zones might not directly translate in terms of perceived exertion or pace between different exercises. You may find that you need to adjust your effort level to stay within a particular zone depending on the activity.

Also, keep in mind that environmental factors such as heat and humidity can significantly affect heart rate, often causing it to be higher than usual at a given pace or power output.

Remember, it's not just about the numbers. Listening to your body's signals of effort and fatigue is also crucial.

Don’t be a slave to the numbers

While understanding and utilising your heart rate zones is a powerful tool, it's equally important to not become a slave to these numbers. Your zones provide guidance, but they are not the be-all and end-all. It's crucial to listen to your body and use intuition in your training. Some days, you might feel great and push harder, landing above your typical training zone. Other days, you may need to pull back a bit, even if your plan calls for a higher intensity workout. Factors like stress, sleep, and nutrition can all impact how you feel on any given day, and it's important to adapt accordingly. Training smart means knowing when to push and when to rest, and tuning into your body's signals is just as vital as any heart rate zone. In essence, think of your zones as a roadmap to guide your journey, but you are the one driving the car.

5. Implementing your sessions into your Hybird or Hyrox training week

Zone 2 Workouts:

  1. Frequency: Aim for 2-3 Zone 2 workouts per week with 1 being long. These workouts form the foundation of your endurance training.

  2. Duration: These sessions can range from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on your fitness level and the time you have available. As your endurance improves, gradually increase the duration of your Zone 2 workouts.

  3. Progression: Start with a duration that feels comfortable, then slowly increase the time you spend in Zone 2 each week.

Zone 3 (Tempo) Workouts:

  1. Frequency: Include up to 1 x Zone 3 tempo workouts per week. These are your moderate-intensity workouts that help bridge the gap between your easier and harder sessions.

  2. Format: These could be steady-state workouts where you aim to stay in Zone 3 for the entire workout, or they could be interval workouts where you alternate between Zones 2 and 3.

  3. Progression: As with Zone 2 workouts, start with a duration and intensity that feels challenging but manageable, then gradually increase as your fitness improves.

Zone 4 Workouts:

  1. Frequency: Include 1 x Zone 4 workout per week. This is your high-intensity workout that improves your lactate threshold, which is key for Hyrox performance.

  2. Format: These are typically done as interval workouts, where you alternate between periods of high-intensity effort in Zone 4 and recovery periods in Zone 1 or 2.

  3. Progression: Start with shorter intervals (e.g., 1-2 minutes in Zone 4), then gradually increase the length of the intervals as your fitness improves. You can also increase the number of intervals or decrease the recovery time.

Zone 5 Workouts:

  1. Frequency: Zone 5 x workouts should be used sparingly, perhaps once every 1-2 weeks. These workouts are extremely taxing on the body and require more recovery time.

  2. Format: These are typically done as high-intensity interval workouts, where you alternate between very high-intensity bursts in Zone 5 and equal recovery periods in Zone 1 or 2.

  3. Progression: As with Zone 4 workouts, start with shorter intervals and gradually increase the length or number of intervals as your fitness improves. However, always be mindful of your recovery and avoid doing too many Zone 5 workouts in a row without adequate rest.

An example week

  • Monday: Strength Training - Full body, focus on compound movements

  • Tuesday: Interval Training - Hard session (VO2 Max or Threshold)

  • Wednesday: Short, Easy Zone 2 Run

  • Thursday: Interval Training - Easier session (Tempo, Threshold, or compromised running)

  • Friday: Strength Training - Full body, focus on functional movements and core

  • Saturday: Rest day

  • Sunday: Long Slow Distance Run (Zone 2)

Our Hybrid training bundle use a similar approach. Download your plan using the PDF below:

With this approach, you'll have three key endurance sessions per week, allowing for adequate recovery and ensuring that you're not overtaxing your body. On the remaining days, you can include lower-intensity workouts, cross-training, or rest days, depending on your individual needs and goals. As always, it's important to listen to your body and adjust your training plan as needed. If you find that you're struggling with recovery or experiencing signs of overtraining, you may need to modify the intensity or frequency of your workouts.

Block periodisation

Another approach to consider in your HYROX training or hyrox training plan is to utilise periodisation by focusing on different aspects of fitness in distinct training blocks. For instance, you might have a block of several weeks where you focus on improving your VO2 Max. In this block, you could incorporate two hard interval sessions per week (Zone 4 or 5), aiming to push your body to work at near-maximal effort and improve your body's oxygen utilisation. Following this, you might transition to a block focused on lactate threshold training. Again, you could incorporate two hard interval sessions per week, but this time the focus would be on longer intervals at a slightly lower intensity (Zone 4), aiming to increase the pace or power output that you can sustain without excessive lactate accumulation. This approach allows you to focus on different aspects of your fitness at different times, providing variety in your training, minimising the risk of overtraining, and setting the stage for continued progress

Remember, these are just guidelines, and your actual training plan may vary based on your individual needs, goals, and fitness level. Always listen to your body and adjust your training as needed. If you're feeling fatigued or run down, it's okay to take extra rest days or stick to lower-intensity workouts. Conversely, if you're feeling strong and energetic, you might be able to push yourself a bit more in your high-intensity workouts.

Conclusion & What Next?

Remember, the goal is not just to train harder, but smarter. By understanding and applying your heart rate training zones, you can maximise your performance and results, whether you're a beginner or an experienced Hybrid athlete or HYROX competitor.

If you're looking to take your training to the next level, why not check out Box:Perform, which offers metabolic testing with the option of a comprehensive training and nutrition plan tailored to your needs. Get started today and see how understanding your training zones can transform your Hybrid performance.


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