An Introduction to Training with a Powermeter

Mar 11, 2013

By Dan Fleeman

Training in wet and cold conditions at this time of the year can be difficult on both body and soul.

It’s sometimes hard to stay motivated and get that quality mileage under you belt that you know is going to form the basis of next season.

Often riders take the opportunity at this time of year to invest in some new equipment to keep the interest bubbling away when the evenings are at their darkest and shortest, and the wind is at its iciest.

While new clothing or bike components can add to your enthusiasm levels, investing in a power metre has the potential to open a whole new method of training and bring you much closer to untapping your full potential.

In a nutshell, a Powermeter is a device that measures a rider’s power output in watts during a ride. It is usually based on a crank set system, though there are also bottom bracket and hub-mounted devices and now cleat adapters.

A Powermeter is a truer gauge of effort than that provided when using a heart monitor.

While a heart monitor can inform a rider about how his or her body is responding to the effort they are putting in, a heart monitor does not capture that effort in watts/power output.

So while you can be riding away for long periods within certain heart rate zones, your power output can be reducing without you realising.

Powermeters are also more responsive than heart monitors. This means for a rider doing interval training, rather than the heart monitor taking a while to reflect the impact of the effort being put in, a Powermeter instantly captures that effort.

Powermeters enable you to get to know yourself much better and to identify what weaknesses need to be improved.

Used over a period of time, they also offer an invaluable means of assessing if the training you’re doing is making you stronger.

Other Powermeter Benefits Include.

  • Enabling you to share your ride data with a coach or anyone else who needs to see it so you can get productive feedback on your training.

  • You can be more specific with your training and methods.

  • With the information you can gather from the Powermeter you can plan ahead to get the most out of yourself.

  • Just monitoring training with heart rate alone is useful but heart rate can be influenced by other factors such as temperature, emotions, caffeine and altitude, whereas power is not impacted by these variables.

  • Power can help you track changes in fitness and track overall training load.

  • With a Powermeter you can accurately analyse a race and see exactly why you won or lost.

  • A Powermeter can be used to motivate you while doing intervals; by using the average power as a carrot you can push yourself that little bit more every time you train.

  • It can also be used to improve your position and aerodynamics on a bike.

  • It is a great pacing tool in a race to prevent you going too much into the red; this is especially useful in a time trial.

  • With a Powermeter every ride can be a test of your fitness and help track changes in performance without having to do tests as often.

  • A Powermeter can help make a turbo session less mind numbing as you can spice things up by riding certain powers for set durations and/or try to hold a set cadence at a certain power which will help the time go by more easily.

  • You can also use a Powermeter to estimate how many kilocalories you used in a session to better determine you nutrition needs.

So the next time you’re thinking of blowing some of your hard earned money on a shiny new piece of kit to perk you up during the dark and dreary winter months, why not examine the Powermeter option? It’s definitely worth looking at.


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