PowerTrain Zones Calculator

Calculate Your PowerTrain Zones

Follow the steps mentioned to identify the trend and set your High Threshold zone using a 12-minute effort.

How to Calculate Your Deflection Point

Step 1. Look at the trend of the 12-minute effort.

  • Is it linear, does it build, or does it decline? The trend most likely represents the Rider Type physical characteristics as well as the Rider Type mental tendencies the athlete has.

Step 2. Look at the period of time between 8 and 12 minutes.

  • The average power in these 4 minutes will be set as your High Threshold zone. Note: if you started slow and then smashed the last four minutes, retake the test and try to distribute your effort more evenly.

Step 3. After the Test, Calculate Your PowerTrain Zones with the calculator below.

Understanding the PowerTrain Zones

PTZ 1 (Base):

  • Imagine a friend of yours who doesn’t ride. You’re trying to get them hooked on cycling, but you know they’ll be turned off if you drop them on the first hill and leave them for dead on the side of the road. That gentle pace you should use to take them on their first 10-mile loop is PTZ 1. Muscle strain is 1 out of a possible 11. Spin gently, use as few calories of fuel as possible. Don’t drop your buddy!

PTZ 2 (Low Medium): 

  • I imagine PTZ 2 as my winter pace. It is ideal for those rare days in February when the weather breaks, you get a stretch of sunny weather and dry roads, and you head out on that first four-hour ride of the year. You can’t smash a fast group ride at this point, but you’re not going to go as slow as PTZ 1, unless you’ve been off the bike for an extended period. Sometimes this is referred to as a “tempo” pace, but that’s a pretty vague term. Muscle strain is a 2 and you’re still burning fat.

PTZ 3 (Medium): 

  • Now we are starting to ratchet up the speed in the Endurance PTZ. Imagine a brisk paceline that is trying to fend off a chasing peloton. Or, you could be out on a solo ride shorter than three hours, still focusing on burning fat but riding at a muscle strain level of 3. You’ll be tired when you get home but not destroyed.

PTZ 4 (High Medium): 

  • This is the end of our fat-burning zones and the type of effort you’d use in a breakaway move that is two hours or shorter. Again, we move one notch higher on the muscle strain scale to level 4. You could use PTZ 4 on a steady climb. Unless you’re an absolute beast, you won’t break any KOMs, but you’ll get to the top fairly quickly, and you won’t dip into your glycogen stores. Sometimes, when pro riders drop back from the peloton on the final climb of an epic mountain stage, they’ll ride to the finish around PTZ 4 so they do less damage to their muscles and avoid tapping their glycogen stores. It can be deployed strategically in that way, or if you’re totally cracked and can’t manage a threshold effort.

PTZ 5 (Low Threshold): 

  • Every zone is important but Low Threshold is the gold standard of CINCH. It is what we do different than other training programs because it is fueled by a mixture of fat and glycogen. At this pace, you can produce high level of lactate, but you can continue to clear it as you make efforts above threshold, like when you cover attacks or push up short hills. There is a fine line between where you produce as much lactate as you can clear, and this zone rides that line perfectly for up to an hour at a time. A mountain bike race is a great example of where this zone can shine, allowing you to attack small hills and technical sections while recovering in between each key section.

PTZ 6 (Threshold):

  • This zone is a step above Low Threshold, slightly higher in its muscle strain at a 6 out of 11 rating, and also not suitable for efforts that are quite as long as Low Threshold. You can use this zone on extended climbs or time trials, but your ability to clear lactate will be compromised given the elevated pace. In general, you’ll be able to handle fewer surges and accelerations. This and all of the remaining PowerTrain Zones will rely on glycogen for fuel.

PTZ 7 (High Threshold): 

  • Here we reach the limit of what your body can handle in terms of sustained effort. Sure, you can buffer lactate at this intensity, but don’t think you’ll be able to go with the climbers when they attack the group on the steepest pitches of the race’s key climb. Or, if you choose to settle into this blistering pace in a time trial effort, beware the leg-sapping rollers or headwinds that could push you into the red. You’re already revving close to your maximum.

PTZ 8 (Nuclear): 

  • Similar to PTZ 5, which combines elements of Endurance and Threshold, the Nuclear zone is a crossroads between the Threshold zones, where we rely on the cardiovascular system and the Explosive zones that are all about the muscular system. A Nuclear effort is usually 2-4 minutes. That will feel like an eternity as we hit an 8 out of 11 on the scale of muscular strain. But this effort is actually repeatable. It’s a critical tool to bridge gaps or put your rivals into the box on climbs.

PTZ 9 (Long Surge):

  • Remember how I was saying that the Low Threshold zone is a critical pace to maintain so that you can handle repeated bursts of speed but still clear lactate? Well, the Long Surge is the PTZ that you’ve been waiting for. You’re cruising in the bunch, steady at PTZ 5, and then out of nowhere, someone attacks. You know you can close the gap in about a minute, and you know that if you return to Low Threshold, you can recover. So you engage the Long Surge and chase down the break … or you make a break of your own stick.

PTZ 10 (Short Surge): 

  • Like a Long Surge, the Short Surge is a tool to cover attacks or gain separation from your rivals a crucial moment in the race. However, this PTZ is far more explosive and intense. It is repeatable, but not for many times before you’re cooked. It will also take longer to recover from this effort, which is nearly an all-out sprint.

PTZ 11 (MES):

  • Finally, we have the pure all-out sprint. This is not a repeatable effort, this is when you’re charging to the finish of the race, emptying everything in your tank to win the day. In training, this effort is almost more of a benchmark for CINCH athletes. It helps us gauge the development of their top-end power, almost like you’d do with a maximum-weight strength rep in the gym.