The Cinch Performance System


    Cinch Cycling uses ten zones in your training program.  The reason for this is because there are ten key efforts that are required in cycling, running, and swimming for optimal performance.  One of the goals of this training program is to improve your fitness, but another is to give you tools to perform better out on the open road, trail, or water.

    Each one of these zones is built around the energy system they represent.  This energy system is defined both by the amount of lactate it produces in your body as well as the fuel and ratios of fuel your body burns in that energy zone. 

    While this system is superior to all others in its ability to produce excellence fitness results, training this way teaches your body how to perform.  Below is a brief description of each zone and how it is used to perform.


Zone 1 (Endurance and recovery): This is your “economy” zone where your body uses only fat as fuel, and a very small amount.  You can use this zone for recovery rides, warm up, cool down, in-between efforts, or long rides.  Our RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) for this effort is 1-3/10.


Zone 2 (Low Medium): This is your “fast-paced endurance” zone.  Here your body starts to produce more power while burning a higher amount of fat.  This zone is very useful for fast paced long rides or competing in longer events. Our RPE for this effort is 4/10.


Zone 3 (Medium): This is your “competitive endurance” zone.  Here your body produces a power output that can be used for calculated, enduranceefforts.  Riding in a long breakaway, finding a good pace on a mountainous ride, or really putting out a good effort in an endurance event like a triathlon.  Here you use only fat as a fuel, do little muscular damage, but you are producing a very good output. Our RPE for this effort is 5/10.


Zone 4 (High Medium):  This is your “high-end endurance zone”.  This is the absolute maximum physical output you can do using fat as a fuel.  This zone is used when you are climbing fast paced, the bottom-end of a long TT effort, a place to go at the end of a hard climbing effort when you are close to empty, or the zone you want to spend most of your Ironman in. Our RPE for this effort is 6/10


Zone 5 (Low Threshold): This is your “performance foundation” zone.  Here your body produces a power output close to the Lactate Threshold, but at a low enough lactate that it can clear it very efficiently.  This zone uses a blend of fat and glycogen (carbohydrate) as fuel as well so is not as draining to your “fuel tank.”  This zone is where climbers go between accelerations, where time trialists land between after they raise the pace to gain momentum, where runners run the majority of their longer events in, and where triathletes go in calculated efforts to make time. Our RPE for this effort is 8/10.


Zone 6 (High Threshold): This is your “controlled, competitive performance” zone.  This is where you produce nearly the same output as your Lactate Threshold, but have a bit of reserves.  You use almost all glycogen (carbohydrate), but still a tiny bit of fat, so a bit more economical on the system.  Using this zone your also have the ability too back off a tad, or increase a tad, which is perfect for changing the rhythm on a climb, time trailing, soloing off the from in the last part of a road race, or making your move in the run.  You use this zone for competitive performance, but confidently as you know there is more in the reserve.  Our RPE for this effort is 9/10.


Zone 7 (Threshold): This is your “high octane” zone.  Here your body is producing the maximum lactate it can buffer while using pure glycogen (carbohydrate) as fuel.  This is used at the end of climbs, the last kilometers of TT’s, and the last miles of the run.  This zone is “all in” and should only be used when you are solo and mentally can grasp the distance you are to the finish line.  These distances are about 20 minutes out if going from a period of rest, but as we know in events these efforts come after many other different efforts and that is why I suggest using this effort as the icing on the cake after using all the other zones prior to it. Our RPE for this effort is 10/10.


Zone 8 (VO2): This is your “long, all out effort.”  Here is your explosive, high power, at a longer duration.  This zone is fueled by only glycogen (carbohydrate) and very “expensive” on your supply.  VO2 power is measured as basically whatyou can sustain in an all-out 4 minute effort, but can be used in your events anywhere from 1 to 4 minute doses.  You use this type of efforts to cross gaps in races, shed riders on climbs, build momentum in key sections in time trails, distance your competition in a triathlon, jump early to beat the sprinters in road races, or finish strong in your run.  Our RPE for this effort is “all out” and the duration of the “all out” determines the output you can manage.


Zone 9 (Over): This is the ceiling you can go from a Low Threshold effort.  Here is a high level of output and Lactate you can produce, but still clear it in a high intensity zone like Low Threshold.  Glycogen (carbohydrate) is the fuel used here and the “gas tank” impact is similar to that of the VO2 effort. This is ABSOLUTELY critical to competitive climbing, time trailing, and running.  This is how you can change the pace to drop other athletes, build high levels of momentum, gain positions in key moments like ends of criteriums, or blow up your competitor in the run. Our RPE for this effort is “all out” and the duration of the “all out” determines the output you can manage.


Zone 10 (30sec): This is your short, explosive zone.  Here is a very high output that is calculated.  Glycogen (carbohydrate) is the fuel used but it is a very short effort and “expensive” so must be used with caution. You would use this zone to jump quickly across to break aways, do an all out attack, and attack to the finish on a climb or at the end of the run.  This effort is best done out of the saddle. Our RPE for this effort is “all out” and the duration of the “all out” determines the output you can manage.


*You will notice 15 sec sprint is not on here as a zone.  This is because, even though we train this effort, it is nearly impossible to do with control.  All out is all out and requires mentally to be 100 percent in the moment and not watching your power meter or trying to feel what perceived exertion this is.




Tom Danielson

Cinch Cycling Coach