Peloton Guide: Power Zone classes and the FTP Test

Peloton Power Zone Guide

Taking Peloton’s Power Zone classes is an effective way to structure your training and improve your performance on the bike. This guide will cover everything you need to know about Peloton Power Zone classes and taking the FTP test.

What Power Zone classes are

Unlike other classes, Power Zone rides are focused on holding individually prescribed power outputs to achieve a specific training goal for the day. Some days you will be tasked to hold and accumulate longer times at lower power outputs. Other days you will be tasked with holding very high outputs with periods of rest in between.

The workouts are customized for you since you will be following along with your own personal Power Zones. This customization is why taking Power Zone rides will almost always improve your performance when compared to taking regular classes. 

Seven Power Zones

There are seven Power Zones, and each represents a target output range. I will talk more about that later when we discuss your FTP score. During Power Zone Rides, the instructors will cue specific zones that direct you to maintain your corresponding personal output range on your bike.

The seven zones for Power Zone Training are:

Zone 1 is very easy and considered “Active Recovery.”

Zone 2 gets a little harder, but you should still be able to hold a conversation. 

Zone 3 is where conversation is still possible but is now a bit difficult.

Zone 4 is challenging and a pace where conversation generally stops, but is something you could hold for around 20-60 minutes.

Zone 5 gets very difficult and is a pace you should only be able to sustain for around 10-15 minutes. 

Zone 6 means you are pushing the pace and is a zone you should only be able to sustain for a few minutes.

Zone 7 is pretty much going at an all-out pace that cannot be sustained for very long at all, generally under a minute. 

Taking the Peloton FTP test

In order to know your personal Power Zone ranges, you will first need to take the FTP Test. Your FTP, or Functional Threshold Power, is the highest power you can maintain for one hour on the bike.

On Peloton, we estimate our FTP by taking a 20-minute maximum effort test. This can be a little nasty, but is definitely a lot more fun than having to take a 60-minute max effort test. 

There are two methods to take your FTP test. The first method is to start and follow the “Discover Your Power Zones” program. The very first day in this program will have you testing your FTP.

The second method is to search FTP on the bike. When using this method, it is important that you select one of the available FTP warm-ups first. You will likely not be able to get an accurate FTP score with a solid warm-up beforehand. 

After the warm-up, select the coach you want to take the test with. In 20 minutes you will have your own personal FTP score, as well as your personal Power Zones. After the FTP test, your Power Zone score should automatically be recorded and entered into your profile. From this point on, you will see your own custom Power Zone bar for all classes at the bottom of your screen, and it will have different colors for each zone.

Manually updating your FTP score

If you don’t see this, don’t worry, you will just need to update your FTP score manually. To do this:
– Go to the Stats page of your FTP test and take note of your average output value. 
– Then, click on your username in the lower left corner. 
– After that, click the red gear symbol in the top left corner, and navigate to the Preferences tab.
– Under “Power Zones,” click “Edit Power Zones” and “Custom Value.”
– Now, enter your average output from your 20-minute FTP Test ride, and click “OK.” Also, make sure “Display Power Zones” is selected.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you should now be able to see the Power Zone bar in your next class.

As you continue training with Power Zone rides, you will likely notice each zone’s output becoming easier to achieve. If so, you may want to consider retaking your FTP test to see if you can improve your score. Generally, I suggest you retest your FTP four weeks after your first test. It usually doesn’t take long to see big improvements initially. After the retest, it is generally recommended to take an FTP every 6-8 weeks, or whenever you feel like it would be beneficial to do so. 

Peloton Power Zone categories

Power Zone rides are generally broken into three different categories like Power Zone Endurance, Power Zone, and Power Zone Max. 

  • Power Zone Endurance classes focus on lower intensities and will have intervals in zones 2-3.
  • Traditional Power Zone classes that are just labeled as “Power Zone” can include any of zones 1-6, but will typically focus on zones 4-5.
  • Power Zone Max classes can include any of zones 1-7, but typically have an emphasis on zones 5-7.

Power Zone rides are currently taught by Matt Wilpers, Denis Morton, Olivia Amato, Christine D’Ercole, and newly added Ben Alldis. To get started with Power Zone training, I suggest taking the “Discover your Power Zone” program. There is also a really well designed program called “Improving Your Power Zone” that you can take in the future. 

How to implement Power Zone training

If you really want to make Power Zone training your primary focus, you might consider joining a group like the “Power Zone Pack.” This is an online group that challenges members to follow a program on Peloton that they put’ve together. Online groups are great, as you will not only have a plan, but also a support system of others doing the same program as you. 

The way I like to implement Power Zone training is to do 1-2 Power Zone Endurance classes per week. Then I decide whether I want to do a regular Power Zone class, a Power Zone Max class, or just a random ride that looks fun, knowing I’m going to push the pace harder.

How to improve your FTP score

First, try and avoid overtraining. I have seen so many people do the Power Zone program and try to add on five additional hard rides each week. While you might think more is always better, it most definitely is not. Often, you can undo a lot of the improvements you would have made with the Power Zone program by doing too much other high intensity work. If you really want to do more riding, make sure to keep most of that extra work at lower intensities like zones 1 and 2, and maybe a tiny bit of 3.

Second, taper down your intensity and volume the week leading up to your test. When you train hard, you break yourself down and your body works to build a more fit version of you. By giving your body a bit of a rest with lower volume and intensity, you might be amazed at how good you feel on the test. You also might notice how much you improve on future training since you gave your body a chance to make some of those improvements that you’ve trained so hard for.

Third, pre-workout nutrition is big. Nutrition doesn’t start the day of your test, it starts at least the day prior. Make sure you are eating enough and potentially add in a few more good carbs to your diet so that you can make sure your glycogen storage is really filled up prior to your test. Yes, it is only a 20-minute ride, but you will need everything you can get if you want to continue to set new records. Prior to the test, try and experiment with different food strategies. Some do best if they eat 4-6 hours prior and take the test on an empty stomach. Others may feel best with a small meal an hour or two before the test. Do what feels best for your body.

Fourth, know your numbers and your strategy. You should know what your best previous FTP test and the average pace was so you can set yourself up for success. You might be really good in the first minute or two of the test and then accidentally go too hard without a plan, which would end up hurting your overall score. I suggest you start about 5% easier than your previous best average pace, work up to your previous average with the first five minutes, then continue to climb as much as you feel is possible at that point. There are various ways to build, and the coaches do a good job at walking you through them. Just don’t get too confident too early and blow yourself up by starting too aggressively.

Fifth, use positive self-talk. It’s easy to think “I can’t do this” when you start to get sore or the ride gets hard, but top athletes use positive self-talk every day to reach new levels. If it hurts, you should expect that. Be prepared to tell yourself that when it hurts, you can make your way through it and keep pushing. Come up with a mantra to repeat when you feel like giving up. It sounds silly, but this can really make a difference toward the end of the test.

Finally, the biggest and most obvious tip is that you should spend time doing Power Zone training if you would like to see your FTP score go up. If you spend a lot of time running or doing heavy lifting, you might have a harder time making improvements to your FTP score. You should definitely do these other workouts, and even make them a focus or priority at times throughout the year. But when you actually want to block out a period of time to focus on your FTP, lower the volume and intensity of other training a bit so that you make the most adaptations toward the bike.

If you found these tips helpful, make sure you also check out our article on 7 reasons why I love Power Zone training and 3 reasons why I don’t.

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