Training with Power - Getting started

Power Meter: They said it would help. I bought one.
I heard that a power meter would allow me to quantify the overall stress of my training and help me determine recovery times more accurately. This is supposed to help me with me steady form increase, timed accurately in regard to my goal event(s). Allegedly, a power meter will also assist me in training more efficiently by gauging the intensity of my training more precisely. Furthermore, the display of my current power output will help me to optimize my in-race pacing. So they say.

Sounds great, but how do I go about it?
Initially, it doesn’t take much. Just ride and see what 100W, 200W, 300W, etc. feel like. How is your heart rate reacting to a change in power – and how fast is it reacting? Gather the files from a few rides and upload them.

It’s a start. What now?
Compute your training zones. Warm up and go as fast as you can for 20min, on a route where you don’t have to stop or slow due to traffic. Multiply the average power (Watts) from those 20min with .95. That is your so-called functional threshold power (FTP), which essentially is an estimate of the maximal average power you can produce over the course of one hour. Your training zones are computed as percentages of that value.

StriveMax will automatically calculate your training zones. Just input your FTP. Advanced users can select the number of training zones and determine their respective ranges as FTP-based percentages or ranges of Watts.

Repeat this test every 4 – 12 weeks and keep your training zones updated. Oh, and use the zones when you train A lot of training time will be dedicated to steady and endurance miles, during which you should mostly stay in your Zone 2 and 3. The rule of thumb is: the longer the training, the lower the intensity.
Regardless of your goals, your training should build progressively. To ensure a steady increase in the overall stress of your training, triggering steady adaptations in your fitness, you can use a History Chart. Here you should pay special attention to the development of your so-called Load, which takes both, training time and training intensity into consideration.

The development of your load should be adjusted to your goals. In above example you can see the fairly high loads in weeks 30, 31 and 32, followed by a rest week. It then progresses with steadily increasing loads in weeks 34 and 35. Week 36 is a rest week, including the goal event. Then a new cycle begins with steady load increases in weeks 37, 38 and 39. Another rest week is followed by - you guessed it - an increasing load in week 41.

Short Summary
To start you don’t have to do much to employ a power meter to improve your fitness. Don’t let the many numbers and vast amount of data drive you crazy and just focus on the most important things:

  • Just ride and develop a feeling for “Watts”
  • Frequently do field tests and update your power training zones (every 4-12 weeks)
  • Stick to the zones when you train
  • Pay attention to the weekly development of your training stress (Load)

Have fun and keep striving!

Rich