Avoiding zone zero?

For the last year or so, I’ve been tracking time spent in zone zero. My definition of zone zero is power below the recovery zone. Say my recovery zone (or zone 1) is 115-160w. Then zone zero is anything below 115w. I try to keep zone zero below 10% per year, because I don’t think any benefit is gained from riding at such an easy pace.

You’d think it’s pretty straight forward to avoid zone zero, but it’s not always the case. Let’s say you’re on a group ride, but the riders at the front are not pulling hard enough. So, sitting in the draft, you end up doing very little work. I just had a look at a pre-COVID club ride where I spent 28% of the ride in zone zero. Fun, but not very effective training.

Admittedly, zone zero can’t be completely avoided. Steep downhills are an example. Or perhaps the first few minutes of a warmup. But, as a time constrained cyclist, I think it’s worth tracking.

During the whole of 2020, I spent 48 hours or 9.7% in zone zero. That’s a lot of training time that could have been spent more effectively.


Hi @soulby, and welcome to the forum!

That’s interesting that you were able to track time spent at very low zones, and it sounds like you were able to think about how to best utilize your time as a time constrained cyclist, so kudos on that application of the data.

This is another one where you might get multiple points of view, so here’s mine.
I would rather use the term “ranges” versus “zones” because ranges suggest that there is no clear delineation of changes above or below any given point. Zones, on the other hand, suggest that something else, something different, is happening above or below any given point.

Aside from the two main metabolic turnpoints we measure consistently in the lab (VT1 & VT2 or LT1 & LT2), there isn’t much that we can say with certainty when we’re talking about the very bottom of zone 1, well below LT1. So to the point of benefitting at different areas of the curve, I do feel there is still benefit at those low wattages or HR ranges. You just need to ride a bit longer or more frequently to achieve them. As a time constrained cyclist, it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time that low for anything other than recovery or maintenance.

My feeling is that it really depends on what you are considering “effective” use of time with those 48 hours. Have you broken down how those hours have been spent over 2020?

Thanks for the great question!
Coach Ryan

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Thanks for the response, coach @ryan! I hear you about ranges, rather than zones and also there being no scientific support for my ‘zone zero’ tracking. It’s a bit ‘out there’ as a concept. For me, it serves as a simple reminder that group rides are fun, but not always the best training. In a group ride, I either don’t work hard enough when pulling (typically below LT2) and I don’t get effective training below LT1, because there’s too much coasting or the drafting benefit is too great. But it’s fun and I’m not a pro, so I occasionally participate in group rides for the social aspect.

It’s a good question re how I had spent those hours. I haven’t analyzed it, but my gut instinct is that my zone zero time is mostly from group rides.

For reference, during 2020, I spent 82% below LT1 as follows:

  • Zone zero: 10%
  • Zone 1: 15%
  • Zone 2: 58%

I’m happy with that.

Thanks for the thoughtful response to my post and also elsewhere in the forum!


I try to get at least 14 hours a week on the bike and I knock of the 0-25W band and don’t include it in my ride time. I find it concentrates the mind and makes me keep pedalling downhill when I can and not take the rest.