Why Should I Train With Power?

Are You Training with Power?

There's nothing like a summer ride where everything comes together. You pedal effortlessly, easily covering the breaks in the group, you're in the zone and the weather is so gorgeous you stay out an extra hour. And then there's winter...

While everyone likes to ride outside, indoor trainer workouts are another story. Fact: a good indoor training plan can be a game changer for any cyclist and form the foundation for a season like you've only dreamed of achieving and even add to your stock of summer "zone" moments. With a focus on "time at intensity" rather than long hours, trainer rides will maximize the effectiveness of limited training time. Add power measurement to the indoor equation and you'll see results that are impossible to realize with heart rate alone.

Kinetic offer several solutions for indoor power training. The new Smart Control and Smart Trainers are ready to go right out of the box when you download and Kinetic Fit power training app and pair it to your trainer. The inRide Watt Meter also works as an add-on accessory to any Kinetic fluid trainer and makes power measurement affordable and easy. With power training, you'll train specific physiological systems and monitor the progress in a very objective, direct manner. It is also a great way to monitor fatigue from workout to workout and even during the workout. Power training progress can be measured in % increases in wattage at functional threshold—a number you will bump higher and higher with a yearly training plan.

Power Training vs. Heart Rate and Perceived Exertion

Prior to 2000, power was measured in a lab setting and used to monitor an athlete's progress when he/she re-tested in the lab. However, outside of the lab athletes relied on perceived effort (PE) and/or heart rate (HR) data during training sessions and competitions.

Using HR and PE data to gauge intensity presents certain limitations. While HR responds in a linear fashion to an increase in workload, there is typically a lag in this response time so it doesn't provide the most accurate moment-to-moment data. In addition, heart rate is affected by environmental factors: heat, humidity, cold, hydration levels, fatigue, quality of sleep, stress, etc. This means that heart rate is your body's response to the work you are doing on the bike. On the other hand, power is an objective measure of the work you're doing. 300 Watts may elicit a heart rate response of 170 bpm one day and the next day, it elicits a heart rate response of 165 bpm. The heart rate response changes, but the workload remains constant.

Since PE is subjective, it can be challenging for athletes to be completely honest about how hard an effort is. Typically this isn't because the athlete is unaware of the intensity, but rather because athletes are accustomed to suffering, and as fitness improves that sense of intensity is skewed a bit. At that point, efforts begin to "feel" easier, so athletes can have a difficult time providing useful feedback.

Power Training Essentials

Here are some base facts:

Mechanical work or POWER is the rate of work being performed on the bike. Thus, power is force times angular velocity (cadence). This means that Power (P) = work/time or Power = force x velocity. Power is typically expressed in Watts.

If you look at the formula, you will notice that there are two ways you can produce more power:

  • You can push harder on the pedals, thus increasing the force being applied to the pedals.
  • Or you can increase your cadence, thus increasing the pedal speed.

Either technique will lead to increased power production and subsequently increased speed on the bike.