The authors directly compared 3 frequently used methods of heart-rate-based training-intensity-distribution (TID) quantification in a large sample of training sessions performed by elite endurance athletes.
Twenty-nine elite cross-country skiers (16 male, 13 female; 25 ± 4 y; 70 ± 11 kg; 76 ± 7 mL · min−1 · kg−1 VO2max) conducted 570 training sessions during a ~14-d altitude-training camp. Three analysis methods were used: time in zone (TIZ), session goal (SG), and a hybrid session-goal/time-in-zone (SG/TIZ) approach. The proportion of training in zone 1, zone 2, and zone 3 was quantified using total training time or frequency of sessions, and simple conversion factors across different methods were calculated.
Comparing the TIZ and SG/TIZ methods, 96.1% and 95.5%, respectively, of total training time was spent in zone 1 (P < .001), with 2.9%/3.6% and 1.1%/0.8% in zones 2/3 (P < .001). Using SG, this corresponded to 86.6% zone 1 and 11.1%/2.4% zone 2/3 sessions. Estimated conversion factors from TIZ or SG/TIZ to SG and vice versa were 0.9/1.1, respectively, in the low-intensity training range (zone 1) and 3.0/0.33 in the high-intensity training range (zones 2 and 3).
This study provides a direct comparison and practical conversion factors across studies employing different methods of TID quantification associated with the most common heart-rate-based analysis methods.