Taking control of Power
You might have seen a strange, computer-like box on some bicycles lately. Don’t worry it’s most probably a Power Sensor.
More and more frequently, you might hear amateur cyclists talk about “power” and “Watts” and they have their reasons: measuring “power” is an effective and reliable system to measure performance and control one’s training.
The boom in cyclo-tracking (starting in the 80’s), allowed cyclists to start training in a more effective way by accessing important quantitative data such as: speed, distance and cadence. Later on, heart rate monitors revolutionized training as they became popular and easily accessible.
When Heart Rate Monitors were the trend
With Heart rate monitors, expressions such as ‘Frequency threshold’, ‘Workout Heart Rate’, ‘Anaerobic Threshold’ have now become common bike jargon. While these tools are certainly useful for cyclists and irreplaceable in testing periods, Heart rate testing does have its limits: a ‘slow’ response time to changes in workout intensity and often becomes difficult to perform exercises based on precise heart rate objectives, especially on curvy terrain while performing repetitions.
Heart Rate is fine for Lab tests but less effective for street training sessions. Its weakness lies in its slow response to changes in fatigue, altitude, coffee consumption and so on. Lately a new tool has become a must-have amongst cyclists: The Power Meter. Today it has become a rarity to see a professional cyclist training and racing without one.
The data delivered by ‘power meters’ allows to accurately measure the power a cyclist applies through the pedals, taking into account all external factors: wind resistance, gradient and even street surface variability.
By monitoring the power meter, one can easily understand how much pressure is being put on the pedals in order to make the bike move forward. Being able to understand the power delivered, has led trainers and sport doctors to create specific programs based on power rather than on heart rate. Training has changed from programs based on heart rate threshold to programs based on Power threshold or FTP (Functional Threshold Power). The result? Easily trackable training programs, increased performance control and a more accurate measure of improvement.
But how do we measure power in Cycling?
Power, the energy produced in a specific moment, is an expression and measurement of intensity known as Watt. The value shown on the display of your power meter represents the total energy necessary to move one’s body mass against a resistance, determined inside the bike by: Body weight, rolling friction and air resistance.
There are some obvious advantages in training indoor if the weather is unpleasant and the time is of the essence. If you still need to get that quality training session you can do it from the comfort of your home. Today you can perform a training session at home and be in full control of power: the most evolved training method. TNT is the Technogym training methodology, which is based on the most effective methods o preparation for the cyclists. On the basis of a test that identifies the anaerobic threshold is raised of a traning plan in which the variations in pedaling cadence and power are designed to ensure the improvement of all the qualities that are used to improve performance on the road.