Training and racing with a power meter means being able to monitor your performance with real hard data – not estimates.
Power is an objective and reliable reference value that, unlike heart rate, can not be altered by external factors such as high temperatures, psychological stress, caffeine intake, digestion, etc.
As a matter of fact, there is a direct causal relationship between the power generated on the pedals and the speed achieved by the cyclist.
the higher the power = the better the performance
Known and exploited in professional cycling for decades now, the power-based training principles have only recently become accessible to amateur cyclists too: thanks to a new generation of reliable and accurate cycling power meters.
So, what is power?
Power is a physical magnitude that indicates the workload accomplished by a force within a given period of time.
Power = Work / Time
The units of power, time and work are respectively: watt (W); Second (s) and Joule (J).
1 W = 1 J / 1 s
To advance on a bike you have to generate mechanical power at the level of the crankset: this power is simply the product of the force with which you push the pedals (torque) and the speed of your pedaling (cadence).
Power = torque* cadence
So, to get faster on a bike you need to produce more power; to produce more power you need to exert more force on the pedals or increase the pealing pace (or, of course, do both at once).
Pedal Based Power Meters
Favero pedal-power meters measure the power hundreds of times per second and continuously transmit the collected data to your bike computer or smartphone via Bluetooth and ANT + technology.
You can see the power data (watts) on your mobile device anytime, with the view option you prefer.
Plus, the Assioma power sensors are placed on the pedals, exactly where the cyclist’s force is applied. This ensures an accurate data collection not only of the total power but also of the L/R power balance, the Torque Efficiency, the Pedal Smoothness, etc.
Crank Based Power Meters
Handcrafted in Germany, power2max power meters deliver Industry-leading precision, data richness, dual-sided power metering and exceptional performance together with both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart connectivity.
Due to the ANT+ and BLE connectivity, you can pair your power2max device with compatible devices at any time.
The 300 hours in battery life ensures you will have many training and racing hours before needing to quickly & easily change out your CR2450 battery.
Why should you consider getting a power meter?
Watts are a much more accurate way to measure your effort since they show the actual workload your body is putting out versus heart rate, which is measure of your body’s response to the workload.
Additionally, watts instantly respond to an increase or decrease of effort as compared to heart rate, which takes time to respond. For example, if you are doing a interval at zone 3 power, the instant you stop pedaling, you are no longer putting out the work in that zone and that is reflected in your power file. However, your heart rate will take some time to come down, so it would show time in zone 3 when you were actually coasting.
Your training zones will also be more accurate when you use power. A 20 minute all out field test allows for determination of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power), representing the amount of watts an individual can maximally push for 60 minutes.
With an accurate FTP, your power zones can be used to train and race for maximize your results. Your FTP is something that can be elevated through training properly, and when done, you can ride faster with a higher power output for the same amount of effort.
2. Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Having a power meter means you can objectively understand your individual strengths and weaknesses as a rider. If you are a triathlete or time trialist, you would want to have high 20, 30 and 60 minute power, whereas a sprinter would want high 20, 30, and 60 second power. The data from your power meter can help you recognise your weaknesses as they apply to your event. You can then create workouts to address your weakness.
Beyond your ability to put out power over a given time, power data can also show you other strengths and weaknesses. For example, you can see that you may be stronger when you ride a lower cadence, or that you climb best when you stay seated and have a high cadence. Knowing these details can help you pick events that you are best suited for and create race tactics that will help you optimize your efforts.
3. Maximizing Your Training Time
After you’ve identified your weakness, the next step is to improve it through specific sessions. Using a power meter means you can maximize your training time by designing workouts that are very specific to your individual needs. If your race goals include road racing, dialing in workouts like over/under intervals that require riding below and above threshold can teach your body to clear lactate much like dealing with surges on race day. If you are a triathlete training for an Olympic distance race and need to ride for 40K just below threshold, the pace can be practiced in training and developed through riding in the 88 to 93 percent FTP zone referred to as ‘sweet spot’ or by working just at threshold.
Also, by tracking changes in threshold, workouts can be incrementally adapted to fitness changes, continuing to challenge the athlete and stimulate physiological change. A power meter is going to show the watts being generated whether it is windy, hilly, raining or hot. Unlike using speed as a metric, it is consistent to effort.
4. Race Day Planning
Finally, a power meter can take all of the guesswork out of racing. Not only does an athlete know what numbers to look for during the event, but it is also clear what the individual is capable of before combusting. This allows for proper pacing and race execution.
An Ironman distance event is an excellent example. Using FTP and comparing the watts generated in a given workout allows for determination of the Intensity Factor of that workout. This metric is good for comparison between the intensity of every race or workout that is completed on a bicycle.
In summary, a power meter is a great tool for every cyclist and triathlete. It teaches you how to ride stronger, more consistently and allows for tracking, planning and training with specific focus on your unique needs and goals.