Maybe a better title for this chapter would have been ‘What’s It All Mean?’ This is really the bottom line, after all. If we are going to research the best power bikes to buy, learn how to use the power consoles, perform heart zone and power zones baseline tests, we need to know how to understand the data that flows from all this work. Since this chapter is a bit long, we’ve broken it into two posts.
The byline of this chapter is “If you can measure it, you can improve it.” Data collection is the final step before beginning our journey of taking the knowledge we have gained, and applying it to produce tangible, measurable, and most importantly repeatable results. Any system for this type of measuring and monitoring must have both a clear structure and a solid scientific foundation.
Joe Friel (author of The Cyclists Training Bible) coined the term ‘the decoupling dance’ to describe what happens to heart rate and power when you are riding for extended periods. Put simply, your heart rate rises as your body fatigues, and your power declines. This can happen either together or separately, depending on which of the two is your focus, and on how fit you are. In this chapter, we will look at each one separately.
In general, higher cadence = higher power. Nevertheless, you can’t just spin at 120 RPM everywhere you go, nor would you want to as it can put significant demands on your aerobic conditioning. Instead, it becomes an efficiency issue to pedal at an RPM that taxes your aerobic capacity the least, while generating the most power; the optimal cadence/gear ratio that gives you the most power for the least effort.
Chapter 7 of the Power Training e-book discusses the differences between exercise and training. Gene discusses the concept of ‘Practical Power’, or power for ‘the rest of us’ – the everyday cyclist, the recreational and avid cyclist who may want to suffer less rather than go faster. It is this kind of training that has more applications indoors.
This chapter analyzes the physiological response of the body to the process of repeated stress on the muscles, separated by periods of adaptation. Numerous benefits of this process are discussed, including an improvement in fat metabolism with structured training. This is quite vividly proven through actual test results (Gene’s and his daughter’s) following a periodized training program based on power.
Similar to heart zones, power zones are unique for each individual, yet unlike heart zones, there are no biological markers to clearly identify a person’s MSP (Maximum Sustainable Power) or ability to generate power. It is clear that both threshold heart rate and VO2 max are involved in generating power.
We are jumping a little bit out of order with the Power Training ebook chapters, due to an excellent question posed after Chapter 4. So today you will learn about what power-to-weight ratio is, and tomorrow, we’ll post the chapter on training zones. It’s just like a CED workshop on power training, right here on ICA!
Knowing what power is, the question becomes: how do we measure it? This chapter explains the origin of power meters on bicycles, how strain gauges work and where they are placed on the bikes and how the indoor cycling industry has been able to get into the market as technology changed and costs came down.