Training with Power

News & Results

08/21/2003| 0 comments
by Dean Golich

Training with Power

Guide to training with power.

In recent years the ability to actually measure the demands of cycling through power measuring devices has become extremely popular and useful.   Prior to power measuring devices, heart rate (HR) monitoring was the standard in measuring training and race intensities.   Heart rate measuring was also the gold standard in prescribing intensities for training and physiological system development.   When the first power-measuring devices were introduced in the 80?s, it became very evident there were many limitations in using HR.    This was especially magnified when examining the relationship between HR and power from races and training.   <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>


Power measuring was not new, since most physiology labs already used power to set the resistance for VO 2Max, Lactate Threshold and Wingate tests.   The breakthrough came in the ability to measure this power out in the field in an accurate and consistent manner.   Prior to portable power meters, HR was used for prescribing intensities since it reacted in a linear form to an increase in load or wattage, and could be measured in the field or at an event. The philosophy of training physiological systems or using power was not redefined or measurably altered, but the ability to measure load and improvement in a real world setting, on the bike, in a race or in training, is an important development.    The next step was determining how to use power measuring for the testing and establishment of training intensities.  


Different ranges and other calculations to define training with power have been developed since the mid-1990s.   It has been apparent that these models followed the HR-based philosophy of setting ranges that lead to physiological adaptation.   The reality is that for specific races and workouts, you must first complete the workouts and analyze the power files before you can establish power ranges for them.   The point is, it is very difficult to set a range of 300-350watts for a workout of 2-4 min.   There is a major difference between completing a 2min. interval at 300watts and completing a 3min interval at 300 watts, even though most current philosophies would consider this the same training zone. A better approach would be to identify the goal of the workout, say to increase VO 2 Max, and then to prescribe intervals of a length sufficient to stress this physiological system. In this example, a 3 min interval at a maximum effort to stress the body and increase VO 2 Max.  


The major advantage with the power meter is that you know exactly how much power you can maintain for 3 min and how many times you can repeat that same effort.   The further manipulations of this training are how much rest in between intervals and the number of workout sessions per unit time.   This reflects back to measuring the demands of the sport and what volume of intensity is needed for adaptation.   The HR philosophy would now consider all workouts in this power range (around 300) as the same and indicate they


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