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Pogacar and training in Z2, what is it?

In the last period, one of the topics that has taken center stage is that of Pogacar's Z2 training sessions.

Aerowatt UAE Team Emirates, Tour de France 2022
Aerowatt UAE Team Emirates, Tour de France 2022

A topic that brings back into vogue a methodology that seemed to have disappeared from the radar, namely the long slow.

This training method has distant roots, in fact it is nothing other than the training that all the preparation manuals of a few years ago recommended especially in what was called the general preparation period.

Why train this way?

Endurance sports require a body that knows how to best use oxygen to create energy. Muscles supplied with blood, cells capable of 'breathing' to their maximum potential and power even at low intensity, are fundamental characteristics for tackling endurance competitions in the best possible way. To do this, there are many tools at our disposal, as are the monitoring possibilities, but the starting point remains the one written above; or the long slow one.

 During this article we will also analyze from a physiological point of view what happens to our body at these intensities, but for now we will focus on the type of training and how to carry it out.

How to set up a workout in Z2

Performing this type of training is very easy. You get dressed, take your bike and start pedaling; all apparently very simple.

Often, however, staying within the so-called Z2 is quite complicated. In fact, especially among amateurs, the tendency is to always go a little too fast, with the result that they struggle to respect the parameters of this area.

Low intensity training requires a heart rate that is as stable as possible

In daily practice I happened to record the athletes' feedback after the first basic training sessions, with reports that highlighted both a bit of difficulty in respecting the parameters and also a bit of tiredness and heaviness, probably due to the fact that the fibers that are most stimulated at these paces were not sufficiently trained.

After having overcome this first obstacle, however, they found this type of training very productive, later discovering greater resistance even at high intensities.

An important aspect is that by lowering the intensity of the effort, it will be possible to concentrate on technical factors of pedaling, which, when you go fast, are more difficult to control.

 In fact, you can listen to the pedaling better and check which muscles are being used. we can verify the stability of the core muscles, the coordination between agonists and antagonists and better control breathing. All very important features which, studied at this stage, will be more efficient even when we turn on the throttle again.

Bike Island Sant'Antioco (21)
With low intensity training you can also improve your pedaling technique and optimize muscle functioning©www.andreamilanoweb.com

A bit of physiology

But what actually happens to our body at this intensity, e.g why it is so important?

This is the exercise frequency in which the energy mixture used is predominantly lipid-based, so we will be able to define it intensity burns fat. From a muscular point of view, the fibers involved are the red ones, rich among other things in hemoglobin and mitochondria. So with this stimulus we are going to maximize their aerobic qualities.

Another important characteristic is that, at these training values, in the medium term we also stimulate the intermediate fibres, defined as IIa, to convert towards the red ones.

What are intermediate muscle fibers?

They are wild fibres, with a red color like the slow ones, but at the same time capable of synthesizing ATP well like the white ones. They represent that muscle heritage which, depending on the type of training, can 'move' in one direction rather than another. So a sprinter will try to stimulate their anaerobic characteristic, while a cross-country skier will try to stimulate their oxidative one.

Conclusions

Training is effort and intensity, but with this article we have seen that sometimes you can also improve by slowing down a little. There is a famous adage that goes: "He who goes slowly goes well and goes far..." we could now add that he who goes slow goes well, goes far and wins races...



Written by

[email protected] Mountain bike travel editor and expert. Chiropractor and personal trainer, for years following some of the strongest national interpreters of enduro mtb.

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