Prologue Performance Cycling Physiologist Craig Stevenson explains the advantages of cycling with a power meter.
1. Power is instant
Training with power provides and instantaneous readout of exactly how hard you’re pedalling. Therefore, when interval training, power will provide a much more accurate measure of effort. Power rivals training with heart rate, which takes time to respond. Carrying out intervals using heart rate makes efforts harder to measure.
2. Pace intervals with power
Power is especially important when efforts are short and sharp, such as steep hill repeats or max efforts lasting just a few minutes. Power is also useful to help accurately pace yourself during long interval efforts.
3. Climb with power
Monitoring your power output can help you to hold back on long hills; stopping you from blowing up before cresting the top of the climb.
4. Race using power
Similarly, cycling with a power meter is extremely useful on long, steady rides. Maintaining a fixed power output – where possible – will give you an accurate measure of how hard you can ride for a sustained period. And like professional endurance cyclists, you can then ride events such as sportives or long-distance races using your power meter to pace you.
5. Track your power numbers
A benefit of cycling with power is that power will stay consistent from ride to ride, while speed, distance and especially heart rate will vary depending on weather, terrain, fatigue, and more. You can therefore accurately monitor and track your performance over time as your power numbers go up.
6. Spot fatigue
Power can help you to measure your level of fatigue. This is very important to cyclists with a tendency to overtrain. By measuring your power output against your heart rate or RPE (rate of perceived exertion) you can make the decision of when you’re doing too much and if you need all-important rest.
7. Use benchmark workouts
Have a go at working out your power over a selection of durations such as 5sec, 1min, 5min and 20min. These benchmarks are useful for tracking your improvements.
8. Use power zones
One of the biggest improvements you can make to your training quality is setting training zones based on power (rather than heart rate). This will make your zones consistent day to day (heart rate varies daily based on internal stress).
9. Ride smoother
You will also learn to ride smoother, with less pace variances. More of your time will therefore be spent at your target intensity.
Now available at Prologue performance Cycling are Stages and Quarq power meters. Both are compatible with Ant+, Garmin Edge models, iPhone 4s and iPhone 5. Stages power meters start from £599. A full-carbon Quarq chainset is priced at £949. A demo Quarq power meter available. Contact the store to borrow yours today.
To get an accurate reading of your power and define your training zones why not have your cycling tested and receive training recommendations or detailed plans with our physiologist Craig Stevenson.