Unlock Your Athletic Potential: Training in Zone 2 and Comparing Polarized and Pyramidal Training

For athletes, maximizing sports performance is the ultimate goal. Achieving peak performance involves a combination of dedication, discipline, and employing intelligent training methods.

One crucial aspect of training that often gets overlooked is understanding and harnessing your training zones.

At Selfloops, we’ve incorporated the Time in Zones charts that empower athletes and coaches to track and analyze the time spent in different training intensity zones (based on heart rate, power, or speed).

You can visualize the Time in Zones for various types of activities or as a cumulative measure across all activities performed. Additionally, you can customize the start and end dates for these charts.

In this blog post, we will delve into the concepts of training in Zone 2 and explore the differences between the polarized and pyramidal approaches to zone training. Our aim is to equip you with the tools needed to optimize your athletic journey.

The Importance of Training Zones

Endurance coaches, athletes, and scientists devote considerable effort to determining the ideal blend of training session intensity, duration, and frequency to achieve desired physiological adaptations in athletes and to maximize their performance during key competitions. This process, known as training periodization, involves varying these variables throughout a training cycle.

To deepen our understanding of training analysis, a range of training intensity zones has been identified. These zones are determined by physiological metrics such as lactate threshold, ventilatory thresholds, percentage of maximum oxygen uptake, percentage of maximum heart rate, or subjective criteria like perceived exertion levels.

The concept of training intensity distribution (TID) refers to the amount of time an athlete spends in different training intensity zones during an exercise. These zones provide structure to workouts and ensure that you train at the right intensity to effectively achieve your goals.

Zone 2: The Foundation for Athletes

One of the most critical training zones for athletes is Zone 2.

Zone 2 is commonly referred to as the aerobic zone. It represents a moderate intensity level where your body primarily relies on aerobic metabolism, utilizing oxygen to produce energy. Zone 2 concludes at the first aerobic threshold, such as the first ventilatory threshold or lactate threshold.

Zone 2 training is essentially about elevating your heart rate sufficiently and maintaining it for an extended duration to build aerobic fitness without reaching the point where you gasp for breath. It is the intensity level where you start to notice a shift in your breathing patterns. A simple way to identify your aerobic threshold, without a lab test, is when you transition from speaking comfortably in extended paragraphs to only managing short sentences. At this stage, you are still relatively comfortable, and you could likely sustain this effort for an extended period, although it is important to recognize that you are indeed engaged in meaningful exertion. This training is also known as aerobic training or base training.

Benefits of Training in Zone 2

  • Improved Aerobic Capacity: Zone 2 training enhances your body’s efficiency in utilizing oxygen, enabling you to sustain exercise for longer durations, ultimately leading to better endurance in your chosen sport.
  • Enhanced Fat Utilization: Training in Zone 2 encourages your body to burn fat for fuel, which can aid in weight management and benefit long-duration events where carbohydrate stores may become depleted.
  • Reduced Risk of Overtraining: Zone 2 training is generally low in intensity, making it an excellent choice for active recovery or lighter training days. This helps prevent overtraining, reducing the risk of injuries and burnout.

Polarized vs. Pyramidal Approaches to Zone Training

Two popular training approaches that utilize training intensity distributions are the polarized and pyramidal methods. Let’s delve into these concepts in more detail below.

In this context, we consider the training intensity distribution based on three training zones: Z1 (below the first ventilatory threshold VT1), Z2 (between the first and the second ventilatory threshold VT2), and Z3 (above the second ventilatory threshold).

Polarized Training:

Polarized training is a method that emphasizes spending the majority of your training time at low intensity, with the remaining time dedicated to high intensity. It places less emphasis on the intensity zone between the two extremes (low and high intensity). This approach aims to maximize the benefits of both low-intensity aerobic development and high-intensity anaerobic power. In Polarized training, the intensity distribution is characterized by the highest percentage of time spent in Z1, a smaller yet relatively high percentage in Z3, and only a small portion of training in Z2.

In Polarized training Z1 > Z3 > Z2

Typically, it involves around 80% of training at low intensity (Z1), 5% at middle intensity (Z2), and 15% at high intensity (Z3).

Benefits of Polarized Training:

  • Improved aerobic capacity and anaerobic power.
  • Enhanced recovery due to the abundance of low-intensity training.

Pyramidal Training:

Pyramidal training, in contrast, places more emphasis on a balanced distribution across intensity zones. When considering three intensity zones (low, middle, high), pyramidal training allocates the most time to the first zone, with progressively less time spent in the other zones. The pyramidal training intensity distribution is characterized by a higher percentage of training time in Z1, less in Z2, and even less in Z3.

In a Pyramidal Training Z1> Z2 > Z3

Typically, it involves around 80% of training at low intensity (Z1), 15% at middle intensity (Z2), and 5% at high intensity (Z3).

This approach provides a well-rounded foundation for overall fitness and can be particularly beneficial for athletes who engage in various sports or events.

Benefits of Pyramidal Training:

  • A balanced approach addressing multiple aspects of fitness.
  • Suitable for athletes with diverse training goals.
  • Reduced risk of overemphasizing a single energy system.


Understanding your training zones and incorporating Zone 2 training into your routine can significantly enhance your sports performance. Whether you choose the polarized or pyramidal approach, both methods offer their advantages and can help you achieve your athletic objectives. Remember that consistency and personalized training are key; what works best for one athlete may not be the ideal strategy for another. Consulting with a coach or sports scientist to tailor your training zones and methods to your specific needs is crucial, allowing you to witness your athletic performance reach new heights.


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SELFLOOPS Now Syncs with Apple HealthKit

We are thrilled to announce the newest update to the SELFLOOPS Spark app for iPhone and Apple Watch. With this update, we are bringing you a game-changer in health and fitness data management – the ability to seamlessly sync your Apple HealthKit data with SELFLOOPS. Let’s dive into the details of this exciting development.

Your Health and Fitness Data, All in One Place

The SELFLOOPS Spark app now enables you to effortlessly synchronize your health and fitness metrics stored in your iPhone and Apple Watch with the SELFLOOPS website. This means that data such as your daily step count, sleep patterns, resting heart rate, and workouts performed using the Apple Watch workout app can be automatically synced to your Selfloops account.

This seamless integration streamlines your data management, providing you with a holistic view of your health and fitness journey.

Why is This a Game-Changer?

Data Integration: We are making it easier than ever for you to consolidate your health and fitness information. Whether you are tracking your steps, monitoring your sleep, or recording your workouts with your Apple Watch, all this valuable data will now reside in a single repository – your Selfloops account.

Streamlined Sharing: Athletes, coaches, and fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the enhanced sharing capabilities. This feature allows you to effortlessly share your data with your coach, providing them with the insights they need to tailor your training plan for optimal results.

Future-Proof: Our commitment to continuous improvement means that we are not stopping here. In the future, we plan to add more HealthKit metrics to the list of synchronized data sources. This means that you will have even more comprehensive insights at your fingertips.

How to Get Started

Getting started with the SELFLOOPS Spark app and Apple HealthKit synchronization is easy:

Update Your SELFLOOPS Spark App: Ensure you have the latest version of the SELFLOOPS Spark app installed on your iPhone.

  • Enable the HealthKit Integration: Navigate to the settings of the Spark iPhone app and select the “Health” option. From there,  grant the required HealthKit access rights, then select the metrics you want to synchronize.
  • Automatic Synchronization: Your health and fitness data will now automatically sync with your SELFLOOPS account. You can access and analyze this data on the SELFLOOPS website.

Taking Your Health and Fitness to the Next Level

With this powerful new feature, SELFLOOPS Spark empowers you to export your data and perform in-depth analysis using the advanced tools available on the SELFLOOPS website (https://www.selfloops.com). Whether you are an elite athlete, a dedicated fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who wants to keep a close eye on their health, having all your data in one place allows for a more comprehensive and insightful understanding of your progress.

At SELFLOOPS, we are committed to helping you achieve your health and fitness goals. With the Spark app and its integration with Apple HealthKit, we are making it easier than ever to track, analyze, and optimize your journey. Stay tuned for future updates as we continue to expand our features, ensuring you have access to the latest advancements in health and fitness technology.

Introducing Automated Workout Synchronization for Stages Cycling

We are happy to announce the new feature that allows seamless synchronization of your Stages Cycling workouts. Now, you can effortlessly transfer all your workout data from Stages Cycling devices and apps to Selfloops, providing you with a comprehensive fitness tracking experience.

Whether you prefer using a Stages bike computer or the Stages smartphone app, you can now have your valuable workout information securely stored on the Selfloops website. Activating this integration is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. If you have a Stages bike computer or are using the Stages smartphone app, navigate to the “Connections” section in the Stages app.
  2. Look for Selfloops in the list of available connections and select it.
  3. Once selected, you will be redirected to the Selfloops website to log in. In case you don’t have an account yet, you can easily sign up for one there.

Once you have successfully logged in, all your future workouts completed with Stages devices and apps will be automatically synchronized with Selfloops. This means that you no longer have to manually transfer your data between platforms or worry about missing any crucial workout information.

By streamlining the synchronization process, we aim to enhance your fitness journey and provide you with a consolidated overview of your performance. With Selfloops and Stages Cycling working together seamlessly, you can focus on achieving your fitness goals without any hassle.

Improving Sports Performance: The Importance of Tracking Overall Feeling

Sports performance is highly influenced by our daily state of mind and well-being. Each day brings a unique set of circumstances, with some days brimming with energy and others where our mood may not be at its best. Recognizing this, we have introduced a new metric called “Overall Feeling” to enhance our understanding of sports performance and empower coaches and athletes to make improvements.

To include the Overall Feeling metric in an athlete’s calendar, simply navigate to the desired day and click the “+” sign. From there, select “Add Metric” and choose “Overall Feeling.” Additionally, our smartphone apps now offer the convenience of adding this metric on the go. The scale ranges from 1 (Horrible) to 10 (Best), allowing individuals to easily quantify their emotional state.

These metrics can be analyzed within the Health section and the Trends section of the Selfloops website. In the Trends section, users have the ability to correlate the Overall Feeling metric with other valuable indicators, such as the Session RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion).

The Overall Feeling metric serves as an expression of an athlete’s mood on a specific day. In addition to this, we have also introduced the “How do you feel?” metric within an activity log, focusing on an athlete’s post-workout experience.

While external load, which can be measured through heart rate monitors and bike power meters, provides insight into an athlete’s physical strain, internal load is gauged through the “How do you feel?” metric and the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).

By integrating sports performance metrics like bike power or heart rate with the feeling/mood metric and RPE, coaches and athletes gain a more comprehensive understanding of an athlete’s overall form and fitness level.

It’s important to recognize that our feelings and mood significantly impact our performance. With the inclusion of these metrics, we offer coaches and athletes an additional tool to effectively track, analyze, and optimize sports performance.

Enhancing Training Effectiveness: The Significance of Training Zones

Training zones play a crucial role in enabling athletes to target specific types of training. Different days call for different approaches, such as focusing on Zone 2 for easy training sessions or emphasizing intervals with significant variations on other days.

Coaches rely on training zones to analyze workouts and assess whether each session was executed correctly based on the prescribed zone for that particular day.

Setting appropriate zones involves considering individual athlete characteristics. For instance, heart rate zones should be calculated based on factors like the athlete’s maximum heart rate, resting heart rate, and threshold heart rate.

Moreover, training zones should be tailored to the specific activity being performed. Heart rate zones for cycling, for instance, differ from those for swimming, taking into account that maximum heart rate values also vary across different sports.

In SELFLOOPS, we now offer the capability to establish personalized training zones for various sports. Users can specify the number of zones and set lower and upper limits for each zone. Alternatively, Selfloops can automatically determine zone numbers and limits by utilizing the threshold variable.

Ultimately, we provide coaches and athletes with the flexibility to define their training zones, ensuring that subsequent analysis aligns with the specified zones. Simultaneously, when the threshold value is provided, we automatically calculate the training zones and update them accordingly. For example, if the athlete’s threshold value is updated, the training zones are automatically adjusted.

By incorporating training zones effectively, coaches and athletes can fine-tune their training programs and optimize performance outcomes.