8 Reasons Why You Should Train with A Power Meter

Jan Poshenko
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Power Meters and Cycling

There are so many popular applications of power meters.

The power meter has been used in cycling for several decades now. It is also being widely used in the field of biomechanics. A majority of participants in the Olympic Games in 2016 used heart rate monitors. Although a good number of athletes still prefer to rely only on their feedback when training. However, power meters can aid in refining the process of training for an athlete.

Most of the power meters are of two types:

  • Indirect Power meters
  • Direct Power meters

Indirect power meters display estimated power by multiplying cadence and crank arm speed. Indirect power meters contain multiple sensors. They carry sensors for recording pedaling cadence, speed, and crank RPM. Based on the input parameters from these sensors the estimated power is determined.

Direct power meters are different from indirect power meters.

They record the power directly from the force created with the help of strain gauges in the cranks.

Broadly power meters can be of these types:

  • Pedal
  • Crank
  • Hub Wheel

The basic difference among these is the measurement of power they record. The simplest ones are the left and right power meters. They are capable of measuring left and right power individually.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why you should train with a power meter.

1. Get Accurate Training Data

Training with a power meter can be much more accurate than without one. Usually, your heart rate can be measured by feeling your pulse or detecting the rate at which your heartbeats.

A power meter is a much more precise way to track your training. Instead of recording your heart and supplying you with a number, it can track your intensity and provide you with a power number. This number is divided into different zones, which can help you train more effectively.

2. Power Readings are Instantaneous

Measurement of power is the most accurate way to determine how strong a cyclist is. A power meter is a tool that measures the amount of work that a cyclist does. If you push a button on a power meter, it can tell you what power you are generating. This makes measuring the amount of power a cyclist is generating easy … it’s instantaneous, and it’s accurate.

3. Get More Out of Your Training and Time

A power meter is a device that measures how many watts your body produces during your ride. When you have this device, you take a step into the world of training and racing data.

Whether if you’re familiar with data and you’ve spent years accumulating it or you’re still not ready to embrace data you need to have in mind that if you want to take your cycling to the next level, it’s time to stop guessing and start measuring.

How does a power meter do this? Well, you can see watts in terms of your physiology (how hard you can push for 1 hour for example) or watts in terms of how many miles you can cover in an hour.

4. Identify and Overcome Your Weakness

As cyclists, almost all of us have one area we feel we can improve in whether it’s climbing, sprinting, or something else. Even world-class cyclist have their weak areas, which is why they still train and race. Maybe you’re not too concerned with how you stack up against other riders but show more interest in how much climbing you can cope with or how long your high-level cycling can keep going.

Either way, training with a power meter will help you pinpoint the areas in which you need to focus your training and enable you to work towards perfecting those skills. You’ll be able to track your distance every ride and every sprint so that you can keep improving on your total training time and perfect your weak areas.

5. Accurately Track Your Progress

Your coach is only going to be able to gauge your fitness and performance so much by training you on different wattage zones. He can’t get an accurate and precise reading of your peak fitness by having you push to your max with a heart rate monitor, as your max heart rate can change over time.

Tracking your fatigue and fitness can be done by using a power meter along with speed and cadence monitors. This will help your coach to figure out your weak sides or if you need to change something in your rotation or stroke.

6. Track Your Form, Fatigue, and Fitness

If you’re serious about improving your cycling performance, you owe it to yourself and your coach to get a power meter. Without this device, it’s very difficult to assess your form and fatigue.

For example, let’s say you’ve been struggling with a couple of specific climbs lately. You may have no idea what internal changes are hampering your performance. However, once you start using your power meter and it shows that you are struggling to sustain 90+% of your FTP for prolonged periods, you will be able to focus your attention on whatever change needs to be made.

Not only do power meters help you see issues that could be hindering your performance, but they can also be extremely beneficial in helping you and your coach create the perfect training plan.

If you went through a period of increased training and managed to increase your FTP by 5 watts, you will now know exactly how much more you can do in the gym in the long term to realize that improvement. Using power meters, you can build training plans that are as personalized as your DNA.

7. Race Planning and Pacing

You can optimize your training to race faster and maximize your performance.

With a new power meter, you can eliminate guesswork and fine-tune training. You will learn exactly how fast you are going and how hard you are working. You can also learn how far you are going and how much power is required to achieve it.

You can ensure your training is planned according to your performance and not your arbitrary goal. You can train to get faster and know exactly what it will take to make that happen.

A power meter is the same as tracking heart rate during cycling. It allows you to accurately predict performance at different heart rates or power outputs.

You can adjust your training as the period of race preparation progresses. You can focus higher output training on the days leading up to a race. You can use lower output training to let your body recover.

You can see the effect of specific training sessions on your power curve. If you are working on your climbing ability, you can measure progress by comparing power output on a climb you have previously used.

8. Communicating with Your Coach

Having a conversation with your coach pre and post-workout will tell you how the workout felt during the ride or the run. It will also allow you to ask some questions and get proper feedback as to whether your power numbers are what your coach is looking for.