You can use as many intensity measures as you like to help you train at the appropriate level. There is no wrong or right.
Some people like to keep it simple and just train by feel, known also as Rate of Perceived Exertion or RPE.
Others like to use every measure possible, so that they can train more precisely and then analyse their training data. At My Pro Coach we use a system of Five Training Zones, which enables you to use one or all of the intensity measures mentioned in this article.
It's a good idea to use 2-3 different measures for each discipline, as none of the intensity measures are perfect on their own. For example, heart rate is a great measure for steady state workouts, but it reacts too slowly during high intensity interval sessions. Whereas pace is a great measure for running, until you're trying to maintain a steady effort on a hilly course or in windy conditions, in which case heart rate works better.
If you have the option to use several intensity measures, this is the order in which you should prioritise them:
- Power output
- Bike Threshold Heart Rate
- Max Heart rate
- Running Threshold Heart rate
- Max Heart Rate
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