Heart rate zone for Pump Up the Base?


I’ve completed my first week of Pump Up the Base and it’s rocking my world (or mostly legs and heart) – THANK YOU.

Can you direct me where “sweet spot” fits in in terms of heart rate zones? I’m using the Wahoo.

Max HR (on bike, estimated) – 175
Zone 5 Speed (anaerobic) – 162-175
Zone 4 Economy (anaerobic) – 150-162
Zone 3 Stamina (aerobic) – 137-150
Zone 2 Endurance (aerobic) – 125-137
Zone 1 Recovery (aerobic) – 112-125

On the sweet spot, I seem to be hitting between 155-165 and getting close to not being able to finish the 3m interval. Am I pushing too hard or do I need to suck it up?!

You’re time’s ultra valuable and I understand if you can’t answer my questions – still thank you for your book and time!

Travis McAshan


Thanks for rocking the Pump Up the Base off-season training program, and for writing.

Pump Up the Base puts you in the “sweet spot,” where you get maximal aerobic benefit for minimal destruction. This chart is from the PUTB ebook:

At sweet spot you should finish every interval with good quality. This will require some focus and effort, but it shouldn’t crush you. For me, the challenge is mostly mental/electrical. If I’m not paying close attention — driving clean power down into my legs — I’ll dip below sweet spot.

When you’re at sweet spot effort, you should be able to speak in short statements. If you can say the Pledge of Allegiance clearly, you’re going too easy. If you … can’t … utter … a … phrase … you’re going too hard.

Settle in at about 150 bpm, and see how that feels. If that’s too easy, try 155ish.

When you’re fully pinned, you’re building your peak power, speed and neuromuscular coordination. When it’s time to sprint, go as hard as you possibly can! Then try to recover and maintain sweet spot. That’s a challenge, but it’ll do great things for your mountain biking.


Know more. Have more fun!

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