You’ve probably heard that training with power is the “gold standard” of optimizing your cycling training. A power meter is a wise investment for any triathlete looking to improve their cycling ability. I’ve currently been using a Stages Power Meter and I believe it to be extremely accurate and easy to use. Here are the top reasons that I recommend my athletes use a power meter:
- Accuracy. A power meter allows you to train in precisely the right training intensity zone (which is the secret to any high intensity interval training (HIIT) and part of the Dave Scott Method). Power is the definitive cycling tool for training. Comparatively, your heart rate will fluctuate with humidity and heat while speed variability depends upon hills, flats and wind. Power rules out all factors and gives you a true indication of your output for any type of terrain or environmental condition. This allows the most objective assessment of your progress and ultimately your potential.
- Efficiency. By training in the right zones, you can reduce junk miles and optimize your training (which can ultimately allow you to train fewer hours per week). Power can provide the desirable intensity on your workouts. For example, if you’re implementing a steady state aerobic effort or a high intensity anaerobic output, the power levels can be objectively dialed-in before the outset of the session and then scrutinized post exercise. Additionally, your watts are your watts, and aren’t subject to external factors (like when you’re using heart rate), or ambiguity (when using perceived exertion) especially as a workout lengthens and intensifies. Relying on power takes out wasted time in training.
- Recordkeeping. By using a power meter, you’re able to objectively track your progress. Evaluation with a coach or by yourself can be implemented by using the proper training intensities and complying with the workloads during the sessions. Trends can be established in your performance and realistic race watts can be determined based on your power data. This eliminates the “guessing” during your hard sessions and the races. You know your low and high limits.
- Overreaching. Fluctuations in power meter readings can serve as a valuable early warning system to alert you if you’re overreaching or even, perhaps, getting ill. A fall-off in performance can be directly related to your ability to produce power at your desired level. If the goal is unattainable, it’s important to assess all levels of performance and health. If you reach a stale state of overreaching when your legs are heavy and your engine seems beaten down, the power meter will tell you the story! It’s time to rest
- Psychology. Your power meter should give you confidence that what you are doing in training is the right thing. With the information it provides it should create overall mental harmony and relaxation with your sessions instead of beating yourself up over external factors that are out of your control.
Using a power meter provides triathletes with a wealth of information and insight into their training and performance that no other tool can do. Knowledge is power and applying the data from a power meter to make your training more precise can help you become a stronger and faster cyclist.