New Profile: Tour of the Training Zones

This profile is a guided tour of power training zones, from the lowest to the highest. It is one that I hope will become a foundational ride in your quiver, even if you just take bits and pieces and apply them any time you are discussing how riders should feel at the various zones.

The ride is based on power training zones using FTP (functional threshold power) as a benchmark. However, even if you don’t train with power meters, you can still learn a lot from this profile as it also assigns an RPE (rating of perceived exertion) or RPE range to each level, so it should enhance your understanding of teaching perceived exertion. However, without the benchmark of wattage, it will strictly be subjective.

(NOTE: If you don’t have power and teach with heart rate and/or RPE, here is a profile I created for ICA back in 2012 called Master of Your Intensity. It’s a similar concept to the Tour of the Training Zones except you increase and then decrease on a pyramid using perceived exertion and heart rate. However, this one tops out at about the heart rate and RPE that equate to lactate threshold (“hard” on the RPE chart). It was one of the very first profiles on ICA, and to be honest, I would do things a little differently now. It can still be helpful in understanding progressive increases in effort and assigning an RPE to each level, so try it out. I will add it to my list of early ICA profiles to rewrite in the near future!) 

The Tour of the Training Zones profile should be done shortly after completing an FTP test when riders have been given their training zones. 

The objective of this profile is to spend time in each zone, allowing riders to become acquainted with what that intensity feels like and to be more in tune with their bodies. It is a great way to introduce them to the concept that you can achieve the same wattage at a wide variety of cadences. It also highlights how their body responds to different cadences, even at the same power output. With continued focused practice on equating a perceived exertion to a particular training zone, riders should be able to assess how they are feeling for a given power output, and then compare that to how they usually feel for that wattage. Over time, they can often guess fairly accurately what zone they are working in.

Remember, this is an educational profile with a very specific purpose so you will be talking more than you normally do. 

I have provided both a long-format profile with a full explanation of the objectives and suggestions for cueing as well as a quick profile. The quick profile is a good guide to have when you are teaching the class.

My suggestion is to try this ride on yourself, and maybe teach it to your peers. Read the cues in the long profile and mold them to fit your own style. But it’s OK to read what happens at each zone and what the benefits are directly from the quick profile (or put them on index cards).


Yes, I have promised a video of this ride but have been plagued with technical issues with the sound volume. If you watched my Facebook live on RPE, you probably noticed the volume going in and out. I’ve actually started filming this ride four times (twice all the way through!) but discovered that the problem was my iPhone, not me, and not the lav mic I was using. Apple informed me it’s out of warranty and expensive to fix, so I am in the process of deciding if I’d be better off with a cheaper phone and buying a dedicated video camera or going all in on the latest and greatest iPhone (which has excellent video capabilities). So, please forgive me the delay. While I believe the video will help you immensely, you can still learn a lot from and teach this profile now.


  1. This was great! I tested my beginning class with a 5 min test then followed with this. I had a couple of new people so it was actually a great one to start them with too! Everyone enjoyed it and it was a really great way to have them feel and go introspective with the breath, the intensity, etc. it was a great one to solidify for those who have been riding for a while and talk more about the science of the different zones! Thank you

  2. My question is how does one determine what what their heart rate is.
    My certification form “spinning” and Keiser, suggest the 220 minus your age formula. Most of my participants are seniors and beginners and none have had a FPT. I am aware of the Sally Edwards H/R training where she disclaims the 220 formula. What is your suggestions on how I should ask my participants to determine what their maximum heart rate is. I understand the Polar H 10 monitor uses the 220 formula.

  3. If you teach a 45 min class what songs would you feel comfortable removing?

    1. Author

      The profile describes how to reduce it to a 50-minute class. To go any shorter, you’ll probably have to choose some shorter songs. You may even decide to take out Zone 7 altogether and simply explain it and promise that the next class you teach, you will focus on how to sprint properly. A good one to try is Tom Scotto’s HIIT IT profile for that.

      Whatever you do, make sure to practice it on your own at least once (maybe even twice)! You want to make sure you can fit it all in and allow riders to get a good representation of each intensity level. For the zones below FTP (or LT), that means spending some time there at the various cadences.

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