Fitter, Faster, Stronger – with Power Meters

February 23, 2017

Power – we all want it! But how do we get it?  Gaining power on the bike isn’t an overnight achievement but one that is obtained through hard work and discipline.  In the past, power was somewhat of a subjective thing but today, with so many cycling training tools available, power is quantifiable.  In fact, the main idea behind using cycling training tools is to dial in training to optimize performance as it relates to specific goals and objectives.  How can using power help you to get fitter – faster- and stronger on the bike? 

Why train with power?  It’s all about “balancing how much work you do with your body’s response.” It’s the best way to measure work and intensity, as in, Power (watts) = Torque (how hard you pedal) x Cadence (how fast you pedal).  “Doing too much work means injury and overtraining risk. Too little means you’re not getting the maximum benefits you want. When power is measured your training becomes that much more effective.”  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we’ve found the benefits of training with power include:

•Establishing your baseline fitness

•Accurately measuring even the smallest fitness gains

•Quantifying intensity, duration and frequency – instead of guessing

•Prevention of overtraining

•Accurately measuring energy use for nutrition planning

•Proper pacing for time trials 

Sounds great!  And it is!  But how do you know which power meter is best for you?  With so many bike parts and cycling accessories available, choosing the ideal product for your training and fitness goals is important. Fortunately, the post What to Know Before Buying a Power Meter, offers a breakdown on available power meters. Now, you might be wondering about costs? In the recent past, training with power was outside of the price range for most cyclist.  However, times have changed and power meters are much more affordable.  Our most popular are Stages Power Meters beginning at $1000.  Stages Power meter is the lightest, smallest, most technologically advanced unit available today.  Another option is the Pioneer Power Meter offered at $2000 and is a bit more sophisticated.  A third favorite is a company that’s been around for a while now – PowerTap Power Meter.

Finally, the next question – how to get started?  Training with a power meter is one of the most effective way to get results. However, to get those results you need to know what those numbers mean and how to use the data to dial in your training. A great resource available via Training Peaks is a Free Ebook: How To Start Training With Power.  The Ebook starts by covering the basics like determining your threshold and setting your zones. It also explains the metrics behind power, how to analyze your data, see long term trends and how to use the numbers to get faster.  

Do you have questions on which power meter fits your fitness needs or budget? Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado to dial in your specific needs. You can browse the variety of cycling apparel and bike parts we have in the store while getting all your power meter questions answered.  We hope to see you soon!

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How to Use Spring Training Tools – The Importance of Not Going Out Too Hard Too Fast

April 9, 2015

Bike Fits at Peak Cycles Bicycle ShopAs the temperature gets warmer, the days grow longer, and the weather improves, cyclists everywhere are beckoned to ride their bikes.  While some may have trained through the winter months, many have not.  And the alluring call of gorgeous spring days lures many unprepared cyclist to ride too hard, too fast which can lead to injuries or a set back in the 2015 cycling season.

Whether you are planning to ride a century, multi-day rides, race or aspire to longer or more frequent rides in 2015, monitoring your early season training sets the stage for a successful year ahead.

Key points to keep in mind include training intensity, duration, and frequency.  There are coaches and coaching plans to assist with specific and customized training.  Or, you can create your own training program.

Regardless of your approach, for precise bio feedback to align your training plan, you’ll need to use cycling accessories available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors.  Early season training lends itself to “false” feedback.  Meaning, because you may be fresh, your perceived effort on the bike may be low causing you to push too hard, too soon, and then training suffers later due to increased recovery time or even injury.  By monitoring your efforts with specific data, you objectively know when you are pushing beyond your targeted indictors, as well as, when you aren’t pushing hard enough.  This allows your body to adjust to increased training load over time and in a manner that meets your 2015 cycling season goals.

Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. You may also want to check out our post, Heart Rate Training – What You Need to Know for our staff picks at Peak Cycles Bike Shop.  You can also learn steps in discovering your “threshold” heart rate range, setting up heart rate training zones, and identifying the daily variables that affect heart rate.

An often overlooked, yet incredibly powerful tool for improved cycling is a bike fit.   If you haven’t ridden much through the winter, now is the best time for a bike fit.  Why?  Because your body is unaccustomed to the riding position.  You have an opportunity to optimize your position and make needed upgrades to your road bike or mountain bike.  Think of it this way – leg strength, endurance, and fitness are at the heart of cycling speed, but without a proper bike fit, you are sabotaging your training efforts.  In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit.  And, a bike fit goes beyond just setting saddle height and bar reach. To get the most enjoyment and reward from your training programs it’s critical to dial in the fit and confirm you have the right bike parts for optimal performance.

There are countless more ways training tools can aid in your spring cycling training.  We’ve mentioned power training and heart rate training, but also consider the importance of nutrition and recovery.  The main goal of them all is to assist you in dialing in your training to optimize your performance as it relates to your goals and objectives.

Do you need help figuring out which one is best for you?  Visit us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado or ask us on Twitter.