Question: For Christmas I got a trainer that measures watts. I’d like to start training with power, but how do I incorporate the ride data into my overall training? — Kirk Q.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: That’s a good question.
Indoor trainers and stationary bikes have had watts readouts for some time, far longer than there have been reliable power meters for bikes. And now there are numerous choices for bikes, including hub-based units, as well as pedal-based and even computer-only power meters.
The result is that the interest in what wattage numbers mean and how they can be used in training also continues to grow.
Watts, because they’re a direct measureof power, are more reliable than heart rate, which tends to fluctuate for a given power output due to various internal and external factors (heat, level of tiredness, hydration, etc.).
One way to start is to find how many watts you average for a hard, 30-minute time trial. The figure should be very close to your lactate threshold power output. Then for training, you can do 3- to 5-minute repeats at that wattage.
Another good workout: Find how many watts you can average in a flat-out 6-minute effort. Then do repeats of 30 seconds at that number, following each effort with 30 seconds of easy spinning.
These workouts are hard, so don’t do them more than once a week. Be sure you have a physician’s approval before you take on any strenuous training program.