Power Training Zones

My friend Sander has updated the rowsandall.com online tools to provide the ability to analyze workouts in terms of power.  Many athletes, especially cyclists, use power zone training extensively.  The concept2 erg provides direct readout of power, and power can either be derived for OTW rowing or directly measured by new products coming from folks like NK.

The power zones on Rowsandall.com are based on definitions from trainingpeaks.

link to training peaks article

This defines power training zones based off of your Functional Training Power (FTP).  FTP is defined as the power you can hold for a 60 minute time trial.  I haven’t done a 60′ all out test for a while, so I used my recent 10K CTC result.  I held an average pace of 1:51.4 for the piece.  Based on Paul’s Law, I estimated that I could hold 1:54 for the full hour.  (my all time best was 1:52.0 pace).  This translates to a FTP of 236W.

So, my training zones based on the Coggan article are:


The power values show the upper bound of each of the levels.

I was curious how that compared to the power zones defined along with the HR bands from the Terry O’Neil  Interactive plan from the indoor sport services website.  These levels are defined as % of 2K power, not FTP.


So, comparing the two is a bit of a challenge.  The boundaries are quite different.  The upper end of endurance differs by nearly 20W (177W vs 195W).  Tempo is roughly in the neighborhood of UT1, but the upper end is quite different (215W vs 228W).  Threshold level from ISS goes a bit higher than the Lactate Threshold band from Coggan.

I wonder a bit if the Coggan bands are more optimized for cycling and the O’Neil bands are optimized for rowing.  A quick check indicates that both rowing and cycling have a cube law relationship between speed and power, but since the cadences and muscles used are so different, I am not sure if the bands would align.

I’d welcome any thought about this.

8 thoughts on “Power Training Zones

  1. Andrew McLaughlin says:

    What did you use for reference on the interactive plan? Interestingly, if you input your PR for the hour (253watts) into the Coggan Power Zones the numbers start to match up a little more:

    AR- 139 (146)
    End- 190 (195)
    Tempo- 227 (228)
    LT- 266 (260)
    VO2- 304 (325)

    O’Neil numbers in parentheses. It still falls off a bit at the higher end, but overall very close.


    • gregsmith01748 says:

      Hi, I used an estimate for my current 2K fitness (6:50). I haven’t done a test recently, but that’s my best guess. Right now, I’m at the end of a long training block focusing on longer distances, so my hour is a lot stronger than my 2k.


  2. Devin says:

    Is it possible that doing a full hour test might underestimate your FTP simply because of mental factors (i.e. it is really hard to pull as hard as you can for a full hour on an erg). I know that cyclists and runners often use testing protocols that last for closer to half an hour and then mathematically extrapolate FTP, or use a result from a recent race that was close to an hour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gregsmith01748 says:

      I think any of the methods work reasonably well. Everyone’s physiology and response to training is going to be a bit different. If you are power dominant, then the shorter test might cause an estimate that’s too high. If you are stronger aerobically than for sprints, a shorter test might give too low a reading. I think a multiple test protocol is probably the best way to plan all training, including setting an FTP value


  3. sandor says:

    So how would you fit stroke rate into this?

    When cycling, my cadence falls within a very narrow range, rowing my SPM is a much wider range.
    How could you get watts per stroke to play into FTP and zoning training based on this?

    This ties into my critique of Rojabo, where the program is laid out incredibly well in terms of power escalation with stroke rate, but determining the starting “power efficiency” is difficult – the accuracy of “good rhythm, good flow – but not all out” is quite subjective on any given day.

    I haven’t been able to get any answer, over the years, from Bo or Jakob in regards to using blood lactate levels or %2k etc as a base. This becomes an even bigger question when you start to max out the step test – at what point should you up the baseline watts per stroke?

    Its been great reading your blog!


    • gregsmith01748 says:

      Hi, I think there is such a strong link between power and stroke rate in rowing that the power zones correspond very closely to a narrow range of stroke rates. So I think of the zones as the corresponding to the optimal stroke rates for a specific power. This comes from my thought that the drive force of the stroke is relatively invariant, but the amount of recovery time changes with stroke rate and determines the power.


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