Glossary of Cycling Terms



What do all those terms, acronyms and numbers mean? They confused me too! Here is a list I complied from Garmin Connect and Strava. This is not an inclusive list, nor is it alphabetized.

From Garmin:

V02 Max


Improving over the Long Haul

Aerobic Training Effect uses your heart rate to measure how the accumulated intensity of an exercise affects your aerobic fitness. It also indicates if the workout had a maintaining or improving effect on your fitness level. Steady workouts at a moderate effort or workouts involving longer intervals (>180 sec) have a positive impact on aerobic metabolism and produce an aerobic Training Effect.

If you have more than one activity in a day, Garmin Connect will display your highest aerobic Training Effect value in graphs where it appears.


High-Intensity Improvements

Anaerobic Training Effect uses heart rate and speed (or power) to determine how a workout affects your ability to perform at a very high intensity. Repeated high-intensity intervals of 10 to 120 seconds have an especially beneficial impact on your anaerobic capability and result in an anaerobic Training Effect.

If you have more than one activity in a day, Garmin Connect will display your highest anaerobic Training Effect value in graphs where it appears.

Primary Benefit

Your Activity’s Training Impact

Along with providing aerobic and anaerobic scores, your device can also determine the primary benefit of the activity. The benefit will fall into one of the following categories:



Anaerobic Capacity

High Aerobic

VO₂ Max



Low Aerobic



By performing similar activities, you can continue to work on aspects of your training that are important to you, such as increasing endurance or speed. Your primary benefit statement also explains how the activity affected your training load, which is a measure of your effort over the past 7 days.

Cadence: Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).

Exercise Load

The load of an exercise session is a numeric score indicating the degree of its impact on your body. It’s based on estimated EPOC. Garmin measures load for individual exercise sessions and also compiles load measurements for calculating weekly Training Load and Training Status.

Load & EPOC

After you complete a workout, your body continues to use oxygen at a higher rate than it would at rest (the “afterburn” effect). This phenomenon is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Since the oxygen your body consumes relates directly to the amount of energy it uses, EPOC is an excellent measure of exercise load. It quantifies how much work your body has to do to get back to normal.

Using Load for Training

Exercise Load is useful for measuring the intensity of different workouts compared to one another. In general, higher load numbers equal more impactful training, but there is value in having a balance of higher and lower load scores for recovery purposes.

Using Training Effect

Planning How You Train

When performed with a compatible Garmin device, each activity will generate a Training Effect score, along with a message that helps you understand how the activity impacted your fitness.

In general, a higher Training Effect indicates a greater impact on your fitness, to a point. A Training Effect of 5.0 can actually be harmful if reached with regularity and without adequate rest and recovery time afterward.



Highly Impacting

4.0 – 4.9


3.0 – 3.9


2.0 – 2.9

Some Benefit

1.0 – 1.9

No Benefit

0.0 – 0.9


Training Effect is developed by Garmin Ltd. in partnership with Firstbeat Technologies Ltd., a leading provider of physiological analytics for sports and well-being. The physiologists and engineers at Firstbeat have worked with athletes in the Olympics, NHL, NBA and more to provide innovative training solutions.

Cycling Dynamics – Position

Whether you are standing up or in the saddle, compatible Vector pedals can measure your power and time metrics.

Cycling Dynamics – Power Phase

Power Phase marks the start and end angle of your positive power during your pedal stroke. The region between your start and end is the arc length. Your Garmin device calculates the average start and end of your power phase during your cycling activity for both left and right pedals.

Platform Center Offset (PCO)

PCO determines where your power is being distributed on the pedal. Pressing closer to the bike results in negative values while pressing closer to the edges of your pedals results in positive numbers. Ideally, your PCO is as close to 0 as possible.

Cycling Power Zones

Cycling power zines help you understand how much time you’ve spent training at different intensities during a ride. They divide your training time into a series of zones based on the wattage produced.

Respiration (brpm)

Respiration rate is a measure of how many breaths per minute (brpm) you take throughout the day. A breath includes both the inhalation and exhalation. Your compatible Garmin device tracks respiration using optical heart rate technology.

The Value of Respiration Data

Tracking respiration rate can be valuable for monitoring overall health and well-being. In general, having a low respiration rate while at rest can be a good indicator of physical fitness. Fitter people tend to have a lower respiration rate, even while active, and return to a low respiration rate more quickly after activity.

A normal respiration rate for a resting adult is between 12 and 20 breaths per minute (brpm). This can vary from person to person, and you can expect it to be higher during periods of activity.

If your respiration rate rises well above or below your average during a period of inactivity, this may indicate an important change in your health status or possibly a problem with air quality. Your device is not intended for medical purposes, and any questions about your respiration readings should be answered by your physician.

Performance Condition

As you track an activity with your Garmin watch, performance condition analyzes your pace, heart rate and heart rate variability to make a real-time assessment of your ability to perform compared to your average fitness level.

During the first 6 to 20 minutes of an activity, your watch displays your performance condition score. Performance condition can be an indicator of fatigue, especially at the end of a long training workout.

Performance Score
Excellent > 10
Good 2 to 10
Baseline -1 to 1
Fair -10 to -2
Poor -20 to -11


Your Garmin device records the following pace metrics. You can view each metric for the overall activity or per lap in the activity laps table.

Average Pace

Average pace indicates your average overall pace for the duration of the activity. You can also view your lap average pace in your activity laps table and laps chart.

Average Moving Pace

Average moving pace eliminates any time that you spent idle from the average pace metric, which is why it’s often faster than average pace. If you spent the entire activity moving, average pace and average moving pace should be identical.

Best Pace

Best pace is your fastest pace output per activity or per lap.

From Strava: 

Relative Effort

Relative Effort is an analysis of your heart rate data. By tracking your heart rate through your workout and its level relative to your maximum heart rate, we attach a value to show exactly how hard you worked. The more time you spend going full gas and the longer your activity, the higher the score. Compare your Relative Effort with friends and pros, see if you can do a truly epic workout and motivate yourself to push that extra bit harder! Relative Effort was inspired by the concept of TRIMP (TRaining IMPulse) coined by Dr. Eric Bannister.

Perceived Exertion

Perceived Exertion lets you manually record how intense your efforts feel on a 1-10 scale ranging from “Easy” to “Max Effort.” When tracking how difficult a workout feels overall, Perceived Exertion can stand in for an athlete’s heart rate data. That means Perceived Exertion can power features that otherwise require heart rate data, like Relative Effort and Fitness. Add Perceived Exertion to activities for a layer of qualitative data, or when you happen to forget your heart rate monitor.

Energy Output

Energy Output measures the amount of work you’ve done during a ride, expressed in kilojoules (KJ). It is a factor of how much you’re pedaling, how fast you’re pedaling and how much force you’re exerting on the pedals (measured in W). Power output is most accurately taken from a power meter, but if you don’t have a power meter we give a rough approximation through our power estimator.

Average Power

Average power reflects your average power value during a ride, expressed in Watts (a measure of how much energy you are exerting onto the pedals). This is inclusive of the entire ride, and takes coasting into account as well. Average power is most accurately measured with a power meter, though if you don’t have a power meter we give a rough approximation through our power estimator.


VAM measures your Vertical Ascent in Meters/hour – it measures how quickly you are traveling upward. VAM is useful for comparing your effort on different hills and segments, and is used by both cyclists and runners. To get a high VAM score, grades between 6-10% generally present the best opportunity to ascend quickly, as they are steep enough to avoid wind, and gradual enough to allow unrestricted motion.


Intensity is our way of showing how difficult a ride was as compared to your FTP. We look at your Weighted Average Power for the ride and compare it to your FTP. If your Weighted Average Power was 250W and your FTP 300W, the Intensity would be 83%. It’s very possible to have an Intensity of over 100% if the ride was shorter than an hour.

  • Endurance / Recovery Ride – 65% and lower
  • Moderate Ride – 65-80%
  • Tempo Ride – 80-95%
  • Time Trial or Race – 95-105%
  • Short Time Trial or Race – 105% and higher

Estimated Best Efforts

Estimated Best Efforts are calculated using your GPS-based running activity. Strava will look at the running activity and identify the fastest rolling-time for benchmark distances. They are considered estimates, because they are subject to normal discrepancies in GPS accuracy.

How are All-time Personal Records different from Estimated Best Efforts?

  • All-time Personal Records = an athlete’s fastest time ever run over a distance in an official race, or over a verified, known distance
  • Estimated Best Efforts = training level insight into GPS based activities

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