Tempo blocks

tempo-blocksAim of Session

To start upping the quality of endurance by incorporating zone 3 blocks within a steady ride

Session description

WARM UP and COOL DOWN: No warm-up / cool down is required, session duration is total session time
MAIN SET: Zone 2 ride with blocks of zone 3. Aim for mid zone 3, and try to ensure time between zone 3 blocks is steady zone 2 and not spinning in zone 1!


Training in zones 2 and 3 provides an exercise stimulus that is below and above the lactate threshold. Using block of zone 3 training within a zone 2 ride enables two different approaches of increasing the lactate threshold to be combined in a single session. Below the lactate threshold, the body is focused on reducing the production of lactate, working aerobically and utilising fat stores to provide energy. Above the threshold (in the blocks of zone 3) the body works utilising glycogen stores. The type of energy increases the production of lactate. Therefore the body is focused on adapting to enable more oxygen to be delivered to remove lactate. More on the physiology of zone 3 riding can be seen in the session description of the full tempo session or in the facsheet entitled Training in zone 3.

Application for the Rider

Tempo blocks allow an introdcution to the rider of the more stressful endurance rides of zone 3. From these blocks, the time spent in zone 3 will be progressed until a whole section can be completed in zone 3 (tempo finale) or even a whole ride (tempo).Combining these intensities in a single session can attack the lactate threshold from above and below. (‘Pushing and Pulling’ gives more info on lactate threshold training). Having this extra power for long periods really can make all the difference!

Practicalities and tips!

  • Start the blocks at least 15 minutes into the ride time
  • If the power target feels too much at first, try dropping into a smaller gear. The increase in cadence should help you raise the heart rate into zone 3 and after a few sessions the power should begin to follow.
  • Dont forget raising the power, even if just in 10 minute blocks, will increase carbohydrate needs appreciably - fuel well!

Evaluation of the session

  • Did you hit the targets a) with each block and b) across each block?
  • Did the power target allow a mid zone 3 heart rate to come back in return?
  • How did the first and final blocks compare?
  • Did you feel recovered and fresh before each block, or was there a carry over of fatigue from each block?
  • If you felt on top of the ride, consider the progression from session to session - does the rate of stress increase need to be adapted?
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