Man­ches­ter Triathlon Club’s Paul Sav­age pro­vides his over­view to train­ing with a power meter

Triathlon Plus - - Contents -

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.


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 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 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.

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