Reply To: Power Meter Question


Now we are talking! Thank you all for getting the conversations started. Very helpful and informative feedback. I am sure we all know more about power meters now than before! So nice work.

I agree with most of the feedback. I just gave a whole seminar on power to my individual coached athletes. So I will share a few more data points to the discussion and only expand if it was not touched on above.

What are the advantages of training with power?
Takes training to the next level
Quantitative means of tracking fitness
Correlates with heart rate zones / interchangeable for ease of use
Expose cycling weaknesses (Better understanding of whether you use or have built up your fast twitch versus slow twitch muscles groups and then can train your weakness or the muscle group needed for your goal distance)
Focus on these areas of limitation (Depending on your background, skill level and experience, many athletes need to improve their higher end threshold work like zone 3 & 4. Power allows you to focus in on doing so with workouts like the 2 x 20 minutes at 85% of FTP)
Price point coming down but still costly
Power is not subject to outside variables (Good for structured training like on a trainer. Poor for racing or when other variables are going on in your life like stress, dehydration, lack of sleep, getting sick, coffee, race anxiety, heat, humidity, etc. Power does not account for these variables. However heart rate does which is why you must correlate them together and use both at the same time….and understand what it means and what to do about it when your power stays normal but your heart rate is high, for example)
Double edged sword (As mentioned above, power does not account for many important variables like dehydration/illness. If you continue to push hard with your watts when you are dehydrated or sick, this will actually harm and hurt you more than help you)

What are the disadvantages of power zone training?
Effective but also frustrating
Paralysis by analysis (Lots of data so know what is important and what is not. This is where a coach becomes very helpful as they can weed through what is important and provide feedback on these areas)
Fails often/technical difficulties (Power meters only work half of the time. They are very faulty and can be working one minute and not the next. They are unreliable particularly in a race situation so this is, again, why it needs to be correlated with heart rate and perceived exertion)
Jumps/bounces around (While heart rate doesn’t change too much, power is very jumpy and from one second it is in the 300’s, the next second it is showing 100 watts. This can be very frustrating to some athletes. This is why data collection is important and best used as analysis AFTER the workout)
Used more effectively in a range or as limiter (Due to the jumpy nature of power, it is most effectively used in a range or as a limiter for both training and racing. During a race, you chose a range (for example: 125-140 watts) or as a limiter on hills, flats where there is wind or athlete passing you (for example: do not exceed 175 watts)).
Keep big picture in mind (As I mentioned in earlier posts yesterday, keep the big picture in mind. Power can trip some athletes up because they start getting too nit picky about a watt here or a watt there. I have literally spend weeks with athletes discussing 2-3 watts of power. This is completely irrelevant to what you are trying to achieve here. And this is where paralysis by analysis can take over. So keep the big picture in mind. Don’t fret over a watt or 5 and use it to your advantage where you can. But do not let it take over and always, always pair it with heart rate zone training and racing).

Hope this helps!

Coach AJ