Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Mitochondrial Health

Zone 2 & Beyond: Training Secrets From Dr Iñigo San Millán (Tadej Pogačar’s Coach)



Dr Iñigo San Millán is back by popular demand to answer some of the questions you left under our previous zone 2 training videos. As the leading expert in the field and the coach of two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar, Iñigo breaks down the science and methodology behind his training model to explain how it can help you smash your cycling goals!

00:00 Intro
01:17 How does this zone 2 model compare to others?
06:15 Zone 3
07:40 Zone 4
11:42 Zones 5 & 6
14:29 How can you find your zones?
15:43 What’s the best way to measure zone 2 efforts?
20:39 How wide is zone 2 & should you push it?
21:55 How do hard efforts impact zone 2 training?
26:17 How do you get the balance of training right?
29:12 What is the optimal amount of zone 2 training?

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23 thoughts on “Zone 2 & Beyond: Training Secrets From Dr Iñigo San Millán (Tadej Pogačar’s Coach)
  1. What can I do though if my HR simply does not stay in zone 2? If I run 10 steps, walk 10 and repeat 3 times my heart jumps up to 155, which for me at 42 years is the end of zone 3. I come from seven years of ultra endurance racing and I feel fine at 155 bpm, but it's not zone 2. Neither do I believe that my zone 2 stretches all the way up to 155, since my VO2Max is currently only around 40

  2. Hooray, 14:35, Si noted you can't determine your zones by working backwards from things such as max HR or lactate threshold HR. (I see those two "formulas" give very different results.)

  3. Old age catches up with everyone eventually, whether at 52, 62, 72. Training can only hold it off for so long. I doubt anyone is setting a 5k running PR at 62.

  4. One question I have, from a metabolic pathway viewpoint. When in zone 3 more Type1 FT muscle fibres are being recruited – which have lower mitochondrial density / efficiency, glycolysis becomes more dominant overall and less fatty acids are used for ATP synthesis. Is this a proportional ratio of glucose : fatty acids or an absolute value? At Zone3 oxygen supply should be close to maximal utilisation but not a limiting factor in mitochondrial B-oxidation. Intramuscular lactate transfer (MCT4) should provide sufficient amount for mitochondria to be working at an optimal rate in TypeII/IIa fibres? Or are other factors at play in reducing absolute FA utililisation as energy demand reaches maximal oxygen utilisation? Are there feedback inhibitors in the electron transport chain which reduce absolute FA utilisation such as NADH/NAD & FADH2/FAD? I suppose an analogy is a diesel engine with a turbo, with the turbo being type1. When the revs increase the turbo kicks in, but the revs on the diesel don't drop, it's just that the turbo provides a feedback to increase engine power.

  5. Great content! I learned why you don't want to do intense segments inside a Zone 2. What I always want to hear after these Zone 2 expert talks is a more specific Zone 2 centric training plan for the fast, amateur endo rider. Someone middle-aged, who wants to hang on faster club rides and periodically pop off a respectable century.

  6. A great interview and a very knowledgeable and pleasant man indeed. A couple of thoughts: The body is using both glucose and fat as fuel in zone 2 but is it possible to say how much of each? 80% fat and 20% glucose or something like that? Secondly and this is maybe an obvious question but is zone 2 training the best zone is you want to burn bodyfat? Finally is all the refuelling on carbs necessary when training in zone 2? Keep up the good work 🙂

  7. honestly the way this man explains the science behind training is so refreshing . As a scientist in another field of study i find that many science communicatiors dont highlight literature and or limitations or execptions to the rule and make general sweeping statments . this guy talks about science and explains it in a way that people can clearly understand.

  8. How much zone 4 or above is optimal? Let's say you are a committed but fairly time crunched cyclist… Aka me.
    I train in average between 12-18h a week. Let's call the happy average 15h a week. Currently I have two days of intervals. Hill repeats at zone 4 or above. Just over 2 minute efforts. So out of my total average of 900minutes of training a week only 33 minutes are done in a dedicated above zone 4 work out. Not counting the occasional group ride attack or the short sharp burst hill at the end of your endurance ride.

    So how much % of your training should ideally be intensive efforts. I've heard numbers of 5% to 10% thrown around. At the moment my HIIT accounts for approx 5% of my training. For someone that is semi-competitive probably = to a cat2 rider is this enough for improvement or should there be more?

  9. Biggest take away from this video ride at the "high end" of zone 2 for the majority of time and if doing zone 2 with an interval session leave the interval for the last 3rd of the ride to get all the benefit of zone 2 and high intensity session. GREAT STUFF !!

  10. Again BAM! As a novice rider using cycling as a catalyst for weight loss and control I can absolutely connect with Dr. San Millan's articulation of understanding HOW our muscle systems work and to recognize the different stages when putting in the effort. Great, GREAT content! Thank you Dr. Inigo and GCN!

  11. I love seeing videos like this so I can shove it in the face of my friends who feel that they didn't train properly after a zone 2 training, so most of the time they skip those sessions and go all out.

  12. This was great, it really answered a lot of questions I had after the last video. I really like to to throw in some sprints at the end of my Z2 training and was wondering if it would negatively affect the effort I had put in beforehand. Luckily I can continue 🙂

  13. Look?!?? Ok what do you do? When decoupling happens:
    A. stop riding
    B. Slow down
    C. Stay at z2 power and ride another hour in z3-4 hr
    It sounds like nobody knows knows what to do.

  14. So just to summarize the important bits for me.

    Each Zone from Zone 2 and up

    Zone 2 – Mitochonrdria primarily using fat oxidation as a primary fuel source
    Zone 3 – Fat oxidation starts dropping because fatty acids are not fast enough to synthesize ATP. Glucose can produce ATP faster, but you also get less, so you have a mixture of glucose and fat oxidation, and fast twitch muscles are being recruited at this point.
    Zone 4 – (lactate threshold, FTP, etc) – Fat oxidation is minimized, energy system is almost all glycolytic. Glucose enters the cell at high speed, and converted into pyruvate to be uptaken by mitochondria. However, mitochondria cannot take up all the pyruvate, and therefore the excess is then converted to lactate. This is when you see an increase in levels in the blood. Also, the lactate that is produced by the fast twitch muscles now travels to the slow twitch muscles and the mitochondria in the slow twitch muscles use that lactate as a fuel source (lactate is a preferred fuel over glucose due to the multiple steps required to break down glucose). The more efficient your mitochondria is, the better your slow twitch muscles can absorb (or clear) lactate.
    Zone 5 – VO2 max (high intensity 2-4 minutes) – glucose starts becoming limited in converting to energy, so then you start recruiting ATP that is stored in your muscles (this is done without oxygen, hence anaerobic).
    Zone 6 – Sprinting – only available fuel is muscle-stored ATP (can last for less than a minute).

    Why does it take time to reset back to Zone 2?

    – The reason why if you break out of Zone 2 and do higher efforts that it takes a while to "reset" your body to Zone 2 – is because high lactate levels bind to fat cells to prevent lipolysis (breakdown of fatty acids). High lactate levels also inhibits mitochondria transporter CPT1 and CPT2 that transports fatty acid into the mitochondria. Taken the two together, the lack of break down of fats and the inhibition of the transport of fatty acids to mitochondria, it prevents you from using Zone 2's primary fuel source until your body resets, depending on the lactate levels you produced. Even if the heart rate goes down, physiologically/metabolically you're still recovering from the increased lactate levels until that clears.

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