Training Plan Terms and RPE/HR Zone Chart

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Training plan terms and definitions for use in silver and gold member plan workouts. Many workout drills include VIDEO tutorials, see links below.

Terms, abbreviations, drills and video tutorials that are part of the Silver/Gold triathlon training plans:

WU: Warm up
CD: Cool down
‘ = minutes
“ = seconds
which can also be expressed as mm:ss notation, example 1:15 or 0:30
MS = Main Set

RPE = rate of perceived exertion

RI = rest interval


A rest interval can also be shown as followed: 4x75 choice on 10" rest.
- In this case, you would swim 4 sets of 75 (meters/yards) with 10 seconds rest in between sets.


Tempo Workout Terminology (only in a few of our training plans)
Example: 75 minutes tempo
WU: 15 minutes RPE 3
MS: 3 x (12t, 3r) 12t at RPE 6, 3r at RPE 2*
CD: 15 minutes at RPE 3

The notation above for tempo runs means for today after warming up you'll do 3 sets. In each set, you'll run 12 minutes at RPE6 then back off for 3 minutes recovery at RPE2.


't' = the tempo part of the workouts

'r' = the rest portion of the workout


On a few of our swim workouts:


"EBEH" stands for Easy, Build, Easy, Hard.  "Build" means get faster through the distance.


Workout Types


Aerobic Endurance - The ability to maintain a higher speed for a longer period of time while still doing it aerobically.


Brick = Doing one workout immediately after another.  Simulates race day.


BT = 'Breakthrough' Workout - an important workout that is intended to cause a significant, positive, adaptive response.


LT = Lactate Threshold - The point in a workout where aerobic respiration (metabolism) begins to be replaced by anaerobic respiration signified by an increase in lactic acid.  Also known as 'anaerobic threshold'.  Training near LT improves the body’s ability to process lactate while also teaching the muscles to conserve glycogen and glucose fuel sources. It also helps you become more resistant to fatigue. The result of this type of training is an increase in your speed at and near LT.


TT = Time Trial


Reading a swim workout


Example 1 - Rest is denoted separately, no time given to complete the set.  This type of workout is, by far, the majority of workouts in the swim part of the plans.

WU: 300 & then 3x100 choice (free or non free).
4x200 pull with 30" rest
8x100 with 15" rest
200 kick
6x100 on 10" rest
CD: 200


Unlike the 2nd example, for this workout there is not a specific time given to complete each repetition.  The rest is specifically given.  In the case of '4x200 pull with 30" rest', you do 4 sets of 200 'pull' (defined below) with 30" (seconds) of rest between 200's.


How fast?  Example: 8x100 with 15" rest
Swim sets that have no written effort level or pace will just mean to go as fast as you can for each interval (in the above case each 100) where the written rest interval (15seconds) will give you just enough time to lower your heart-rate to perform the next interval without a breakdown in swim form.  Almost all sets should be swum at race pace for main sets or pretty close. Remember, it's not 'as fast as you can', but just fast enough to get rested with the rest interval to complete the next set.  It's supposed to challenge you!


Example 2 - Rest built into the total time

WU: 400
12 * 50 on 1:30 ez/FAST
300 pull
12 * 25 1:00
CD: 200 loosen


You will warmup for 400 yards.  Keep it easy, focus on your stroke technique.  For the main set, you will do 12 sets of 50 yards/meters alternating each 25  easy and then the next 25 fast (down and back).  The 1:30 denotes the length of the workout including rest (also referred to as a 'send off').  12x50 on 1:30 means that you have 1:30 to do EACH 50 meters/yards (1 lap down and back).  If you beat the clock and do it in 1:15, then you have 15 seconds of rest before starting the next 50.  Same with the 12x25 on 1:00.  You have a minute to do each lap (25 down and 25 back), any extra time is for rest.  Pull and loosen refer to the definitions below.


*NOTE, due to the generic length of workout including rest in the above example, you may have to modify the length of workout including intervals for your specific swim pace.  So for the above example, if you can't do the workout in the time noted, add enough seconds so that you can get most of the first intervals with 10-20" rest in between sets.


You aren't supposed to make all the send offs - the key is to swim the same effort with decreasing rest. But the next time you come through this workout, hopefully you make more on the last set. If you ALWAYS make all your send offs, you aren't pushing yourself enough. The key is get faster and if you don't challenge yourself, then you won't get faster.


Swim Workouts Definitions


Descend - The last set is faster than the first.  Example: 800 swim, descend on 400, rest 30" MEANS swim 400, then make the last 400 faster.  30 seconds rest in between.


Distance per Stroke (DPS) - The number of strokes (left and right arm combined) that it takes to go 25 yards.  Example, a DPS of 25 means to try to swim 25 yards with 25 left and right arm strokes.


Loosen (Swim) - just means easy - 'loosen up', whether it be easy free, back, breast.


Sculling - moving your hand back and forth in the water, at your hips, your shoulder or over your head to keep your body balanced in the water while providing some propulsion. More specifically, this means to gently propel yourself through the water by moving your hands close to and just under your hips, using the figure-eight pattern. Basically, just easily push yourself through the water on your back.


IM - Individual Medley - Fly, back, breast, free.


Choice - Any kicking style: free, back, breast or fly.


FTD/FDD – Finger Tip/Drag Drill - With each arm recovery, drag your fingertips through the water close to your body. This helps you really rotate your torso to get your elbow high enough to keep your fingertips in the water.

SAD – Single Arm Drill -  Push off the wall with both arms extended in front of you with your hands touching, one on top of the other. Rotate to your side so that you are lying on your left side with your left arm in front on you. Now, swim down the pool, using only your right arm - once you get to the other end, try the same thing, this time lying on your right side and swimming with your left arm only. Keep a strong kick going and focus on the pull portion of the stroke.

CUD – Catch Up Drill - Push off the wall with both arms extended in front of you touching each other. Start with the right arm and take a full stroke, coming to rest in the forward position, before the left arm starts its pull. Repeat this all the way to the other side of the pool. Keep a strong kick going and focus on the pull portion of the stroke.


CFD – Closed Fist Drill - You will be swimming freestyle with your hands closed in a fist. This should get you to have a better 'feel' for the water.  Unless noted otherwise, this is usually done by swimming with your hands closed in a fist for 4 strokes, and then open your hands for 4 strokes, alternating until you get to the other end.


'Pull' Drill - Focus will be on learning to 'catch' the water with your forearm and pull yourself through the water. If you feel your lats (the muscles under your arm pits that go down the side of your back) engage, then you are starting to get it. If your shoulders are tired, then you are still using too much shoulder and not enough lats.

'Finish' - As you start to finish your stroke, think about brushing your thumb low on your thigh - toward your knee - so think about the extension of the tricep - that same exact tricep exercise you may have done in the weight room. 

Pull Buoy
A swim aid that you put between your legs to help you maintain a neutral body position while concentrating on your pull rather than trying to remember everything at once.


Kick (Regular)

  • Kickboard Kick or
  • Kick on Back with hands over head, fingers locked.

Right Side Kick: 
How: Kick on your right side, with left shoulder pointed to the sky.
Head: Relaxed, underwater, look at the side of the pool. Advanced: look at the bottom, but be sure to maintain vertical shoulders when on your side with shoulders perpendicular to bottom of the pool.
Arms: Right arm extended, left hand rests on left thigh.
Toes: Toes pointed, ankles relaxed. Keep width of kick within “tube” created by your body: relatively narrow.
Breath: Take a small sculling motion with right hand and roll head easily to breathe. Exhale slowly and smoothly.

1. Keep shoulders perpendicular to pool bottom. “Point belly to the side of the pool.”

2. Relatively narrow kick.

3. Smooth breath by rolling your head up to the sky.


Left Side Kick - just the opposite of above


Stomach Kick - Push off the wall with hands by your side, pressing head and chest into water, helping the legs come up. Kick steady for the length of the pool, rotating your body to the side to get a breath when needed. 

Six Kick Change - Start with Right Side Kick. 6 kicks, then pull and roll over to Left Side Kick. 6 kicks left side, roll, repeat  


Six/Three - Start with Right Side Kick. 6 kicks, then pull three arms strokes, ending up on your left side. Kick 6 kicks on your left side, then take 3 arm pulls to rotate over to your right side. Repeat.

Anchor Drill - A fancy name for the 'dog paddle'.
Swim with your head in the water, watching your hands and arms extend out and then down and toward the bottom of the pool, like an anchor - pull about 1/4 of the way back, recovery is underwater and breathing to the front. The key is to get the idea of the 'catch' and engage your lats. This drill takes practice but once you get it, your catch will improve.

Twisters - The twisters mean the set 'twists' down and gets faster (or the rest gets shorter). Example: 1 x 100 on 1:50, 2 x 100 on 1:45, 3 x 100 on 1:40, 4 x 100 on 1:35, 5 x 100 on 1:30.


T-Pace = swim test time / the number of 100 you swam. If you swam 20:00 for 1,000 yards, then your T-Pace would equal 20:00/10 for a T-Pace of 2:00 per 100

Swim Golf = Add up your 50 yd/m time and the # of strokes for the 50 yd/m – for example: 50 seconds and 50 strokes for a 50 yard swim would give you a golf sore of 100


Bike Workout Definitions


RPM = revolutions per minute or ‘cadence’

ILT = Isolated Leg Training - This workout lets us isolate one leg at a time to find the skip in your pedal stroke. As we get more efficient the skips get less common and the pedal stroke gets smoother and the cyclist is able to apply more force to the pedal stroke.


High RPM Spinning - These drills will help to make you more efficient


Run Workout Definitions


Kenyan and 'Pretty' Running -  Lean forward, roll off your big toes, keep hand above your waist, look about 6 feet in front of you with your eyes, drive your elbows back and never cross your midline with your hands. 


Strides/Pickups - Short repeats at a 5K pace with recovery in-between.  Each 'repeat/stride' should be about 20-30 seconds long and allow for a full recovery in between.  Make sure you are properly warmed up-at least 10 minutes before the first.  You are looking to get in about 45 left OR right foot strikes per 30".  Multiply by 'two' for your RPM.  So 45 left foot strikes per 30 seconds will equal 90 RPM, a running cadence that is the most efficient.  You will typically be doing 4-10 repeats of 20-30" strides with a full recovery between sets (depending on the particular workout) by walking back to the starting point. 


Over time with these workouts, you will see your cadence quicken, you will be lighter on your feet, and your run times will improve. 


Finding your Cadence BEFORE doing your first 'Stride' workout.
In order to improve your run cadence there are a few things you can do. First off you should know what your cadence is now. Go to a track or a long straight flat path or trail, and count off how many steps you take in 30 seconds. This is your run cadence, or how many run cycles you take per minute of running. Improving this number or bringing it over 90 rpm is done by running what we call “strides,” or “pick ups.” 

RPE/HR Zone Chart

Z1 - Zone 1 or Recovery
Z2 - Zone 2 or Extensive endurance
Z3 - Zone 3 or Intensive endurance/muscular endurance
Z4 - Zone 4 or Sub-threshold
Z5a - Zone 5a or Threshold
Z5b- Zone 5b or Super-threshold
Z5c- Zone 5b or VO2 Max

RPE Zone HR ZoneDescription
0 Z1Complete Rest
1 Z1Very easy; light walking
2 Z1Very easy; light walking
3 Z1Very easy; walking
4 Z1Still easy, maybe starting to sweat
5 Z2Starting to work just a little and you can feel your HR rise
6 Z2 UpperWorking but sustainable, able to talk in full sentences
7 Z3Strong effort; breathing labored, but can still maintain pace for some minutes without slowing.
8 Z4Olympic Distance Race Pace for MOP to FOP
9 Z510k effort – very hard
10 Z5+Z5+ = 5k effort and Z5++ = cannot hold effort for more than a minute or two. (almost maximal effort)


MOP = Middle of the Pack
FOP = Front of the Pack


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date: June 4, 2006