Glossary of Training Terms
Cyclists and endurance athletes will kick around a lot of terminology that can seem daunting to a beginner. To better understand our recommended training grid, here is a glossary of those terms with some metrics that may help to understand.
Cadence: A rider’s pedaling rotations per minute.
Easy Ride: This is a ride without any intensity, as many stops as you wish, and may include commuting, shopping or running errands. No worries about heart rate, cadence or wattage at all.
Endurance Ride: This is a ride at a steady, talking pace that is intended to develop your musculoskeletal system. (Cadence: 70-90; Heart Rate: Zone 2; Power: 50 percent)
FTP. This stands for Functional Threshold Power, the maximum wattage an athlete can sustain for one hour. (Requires power measurement, but most spin classes or indoor cycling studios offer these tests.
Heart Rate Zones: This roughly describes your level of exertion, Zone 1 being the easiest (think getting out of bed) and Zone 5 being an all out effort that may last about 30 seconds. Riders without heart rate monitors will gauge this simply by their ability to continually talk during the activity, which is Zone 2; barely talk, which is Zone 3; and inability to talk at all, which is Zone 4.
Hilly Ride: This is any ride with successive climbs of your choosing followed by recovery.If monitoring heart rate, an athlete will not be in Zone 3 this entire ride. Even in flat terrain bridges and overpasses may be used for these rides. Each hill requires a different exertion, the goal is finish each climb at 95 percent maximum heart rate. (Cadence 90-120, Heart Rate: Zone 4 to 5 with recovery in Zone 2; Power: 150 percent with recovery below 50 percent)
Interval: This is a short, burst of speed rarely lasting longer than 2 minutes. (Cadence 100-130; Heart Rate: Zone 4 to 5; Power as high as 300 percent)
Threshold Ride: This means to ride at a sustained level of exertion, typically around 70 or 80 percent of going all-out.(Cadence 80-90; Heart Rate: Zone 3 to 4; Power 70-80 percent). This refers to a rider’s “lactate threshold” which is the barrier at which an athlete’s production of lactate, or lactic acid, begins to exponentially increase (and we vomit!).
Power: This is measured in the watts we produce.
VO2 Max: This is an athlete’s maximum heart rate, which is typically 220 minus your age. But this can vary wildly.
Richard Fries is the Director of Cycling Experience for the Best Buddies Challenges. With more than 40 years experience, he has been a racer, commuter, tourist, promoter, advocate, journalist and commentator on the sport and lifestyle of cycling. Having raced at the professional level both in America and Europe, Fries is well known as a race announcer having called countless USA Cycling National Championships, World Cups, and UCI World Championships. But he is also a tireless advocate having recently served as the executive director of MassBike. You can follow him on Strava to learn more.