Manchester Triathlon Club’s Paul Savage provides his overview to training with a power meter
Why training with a power meter can transform your bike leg.
FTP or ‘Functional Threshold Power’ is defined as the maximum power that you could sustain for an all-out one-hour time trial. Doing an ‘FTP test’ allows you to set training zones to work towards for future training sessions, as well as guide your effort during a race.
HOW DO I DO A TEST?
Do either an eight or a 20 minute all-out effort and take either 90 per cent or 95 per cent of the average power, respectively as your FTP.
It’s often recommended that FTP tests are performed after every six weeks of consistent training, but my advice is that this is not always necessary. If you are noticing a lower heart rate for a given power output during an interval, then you know it is time to increase your FTP setting by 5-10 watts. This eliminates the anxiety that some athletes experience when faced with an FTP test
TRAINING WITH A POWER METER
Training with a power meter can give instant feedback for the effort that you’re putting in. I recommend that when using a power meter for interval training that the you monitor your heart rata as well. Doing this can help to gauge progress over the training cycle. As you get more powerful you will notice a slightly lower heart rate for an interval at a given power output, while it also provides a check against illness and fatigue.
RACING WITH A POWER METER
Racing with a power meter helps you stay ‘on the power’ and keep your effort constant. Legendary triathlon coach Joe Friel once wrote that “racing an Ironman with a power meter is almost like cheating”. Don’t worry, it’s not. Using a power meter in a race eliminates the coasting that can happen on slight downhills when it is faster to keep pedaling, while also keeping your efforts controlled on climbs.
Set your power meter’s head unit to record three-second power to give you the best feedback, and concentrate on keeping that number as stable as possible. Be prepared to significantly back off on the climbs to keep your power output in the target zone.