Why Aerobic / Zone 2 Training (the short version)?

Why Aerobic / Zone 2 Training (the short version)?
Reaching our athletic potential depends on a training principle that every top endurance athlete and coach subscribe: aerobic exercise, also referred to as “Zone 2 training.”

Why aerobic training?
The body has adapted aerobically over 84,000 generations. While we are often inclined to do more intense and stressful training (mostly due to time constraints and modern living), our bodies have evolved to be most efficient through aerobic training.

What is aerobic training and why does it work?
The heart is the engine that drives the vehicle. Zone 2 develops the aerobic capacity necessary for peak performance in endurance sports. As an endurance athlete, you are expending energy over many hours, or even days, so aerobic efficiency is key.

If you know your lactate threshold or maximum heart rate (HR), you can determine your aerobic (zone 2) heart rate zones from a number of online calculators. But to keep it simple, if you can breathe through your nose and carry on a conversation using full sentences with ease while exercising, you’re probably in your aerobic zone. Think easy, casual efforts that allow you to finish your workout refreshed and not particularly worked. If you have a built-in smart watch wrist HR unit or a heart rate strap to pair with your watch, a HR in the 120s-130s typically gets you there. You can also go old school, take your pulse for 20 seconds and multiply it by three. Ultimately, you should do some HR testing with the help of a coach.

The aerobic energy system is the highest priority in developing an endurance athlete. Zone 3 is the “gray zone” -- it does very little to develop the aerobic system or the anaerobic system, and yet most athletes naturally fall into this particular category when left to their own devices during a workout. The result is that they essentially make very little performance gains in fitness and endurance. The most efficient way to safely and productively develop athletic performance is using aerobic / zone 2 training.

In addition to the development of your aerobic capacity, there are a number of other critical endurance athlete benefits that come with zone 2 training:
*Increased number and density of mitochondria – your primary energy driver.
*Increased stroke volume, i.e. more blood through your heart and body at the same HR.
*Increased fat burning capability. Maximizing your fat burning capabilities is critical to 2+ hour racing.
*Increased lactate clearance / management.
*Increased blood plasma.
*Ability to increase overall training volume without beating up your body and mind. We can increase training volume 30 – 50% over your unstructured / gray zone training / Zone 3. You will feel a ton better, physically and mentally, with the increased training volume in Zone 2. -Jim