How Power Meters Work
Training with a Power Meter; the most accurate and effective training tool
WHAT IS A POWER METER?
It is a training device on a bike which measures the power output (how hard you are pushing on the pedals!) of the rider using strain gauges which are mounted in the rear freehub, bottom bracket or crankset. The first Power Meter, an SRM, was made commercially available in 1989. Most riders these days have a bike computer which will allow them to read the real time power output they are putting out once linked to their Power Meter. This permits very specific training using pre-defined training zones.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
- The first requirement is to find your wattage zones. This can be ascertained by either completing an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test or a laboratory test or an analyses of background data files. This is essential to understand your baseline training power zones which enables you to maximise each training session.
- Using your wattage zones whilst out on the bike allows you to refine each training session to ensure you make specific improvements. Or get an experienced Coach to set your training for you.
- You then download and analyse the data collected on your bike computer from each training ride using online software, we use Training Peaks.
HEART RATE MONITOR vs POWER METER
Whilst heart rate measurement of training is effective in showing you how fast your heart is beating, provision of accurate information on your performance in training or racing can only ever come from a Power Meter. A heart rate monitor is measuring your body’s input whilst the Power Meter is measuring your output. Many variables affect your heart rate such as hydration, sleep pattern, stress, core/air temperature… all of which directly impacts your heart rate and therefore when using this as an indicator of training it renders the information unreliable. It often takes a little longer when using your heart rate for it to reach a specific effort you are conducting whereas a Power Meter measures it instantly. Where possible we use a heart rate monitor and Power Meter when working with our athletes. This allows the athletes to see fluctuations in their heart rates over specific wattage which provides clear evidence of improvement during training.
Why Use A Power Meter?
- Most accurate measurement tool to making qualitative improvements on the bike for cyclists and triathletes when used correctly.
- Provides a true measure of work ‘output’ which is the real benchmark for training progression and the only true way to measure ability and effort.
- For return on investment a Power Meter gets results time and time again over and above the short term gains of an expensive bike.
- It provides a clear edge over the competition.
- Provides motivation by seeing progression through accurate data each week.
- Increases your knowledge and ability to learn how your body responds to training workloads.
- Training is qualitative and focussed, ideal for those with time constraints to train.
- Great pacing tool for time trialling and the bike leg of triathlons.
- More focussed interval training.
- Helps to avoid illness and injury.
- Provides effective management of planned peaks in training for specific events and races.
- Train smarter.
- Allows you to figure out your limits and lets you know how to pace yourself.
- Allows for variations, techniques and strategies to be individualistic.
Find Your Power Meter