why train with power? power shows what we are actually doing and heart rate shows how we are responding..so its like a weight lifter using a heart rate monitor in the gym rather than using the amounts of weight they are actually lifting…
when we use both heart rate and power, we have more objective information of what we are actually doing and how we are responding. if you want more info, go visit http://www.saris.com or read the articles on other sites about the virtues of training with power. since 2002 each january ive been a ‘tour guide’ for various pro teams that visit Adelaide South Australia for the Tour Down Under. I have the fitness and road knowledge to take these teams out for anywhere up to 1 day to 10 days. Ive had the chance to train with some household name riders including oscar periero, jonathon vaughters, erik zabel,lance armstrong, igor gonzalez de galdeano etc. Riding with these sort of cyclists lets me see market, dietary, recovery, training trends etc long before they become mainstream cycling knowledge. Over the last 3 years ive seen more and more teams using power meters like powertap and srm cranks. This year 2009 i saw a massive increase in power meter usage and so i decided to make my training more objective and learn more about myself and get a power meter!! 🙂
WOW! I have found such an improvement in my training time, results and understanding since using a power meter. its been great to see how undereating of fruit saps my power even though my heart rate will remain the same. its so good to see the massive drops in power when your glycogen tanks starts to redline. often in our head we make up how we feel but the power meter doesnt let you bullshite yourself! after riding with it for a month or so and understanding how it works, you know how much workload you should be doing for any given interval, recovery ride etc.
when i first got my powertap, one day i went out riding and bumped into jack bobridge and rohan dennis. these neo pro’s are local riders in my area and are regularly seen riding laps up and down the local mountain ranges. so anyways i was sitting on their wheel up this climb and i havent raced for a bit so my fitness is average. after a few minutes i was really struggling to maintain contact. then i remembered i had my power meter so i turned it on and checked to see what i was actually doing. i was ridng at 390-410 watts!!! no wonder i was struggling! lol! my best power output on this 15min climb has been 321watts. so i knew that i was ok when getting dropped at 390watts after a few minutes and it wasnt anything to do with hydration, sleep, glycogen etc rather it was just due to the fact i was riding over my personal best.
ive also learnt that for me to spin easier gears at around 90-110 rpm is better than grinding bigger gears at a lower cadence (rpm) and infact ive even switched to a compact crankset to maintain optimum cadence in my hilly area. now i understand why many pro riders like tyler hamilton, ivan basso, alberto contador etc use compact gears in certain hilly races. i always used to say that compact gears were for whimps! but then i proved my macho ego wrong with power output data!!!
there is to ways to increase power when pedalling. 1. push harder or 2. spin faster. pushing harder creates more pressure on the knees and uses more energy but spinning faster is easier on the knees and the fast momentum of your legs helps save energy for when it really counts like making the break, sprints or more distance etc.
so training with power you can objectively quantify know what you REALLY are doing! training by average speed, heart rate, wind, distance etc is nice but there is too many variables for it to be very accurate. power on the other hand is the most accurate way to train.
power meters are getting better value all the time and the powertap seems to be the most popular due to its accuracy, price, weight and ability to quickly swap between bikes!