We’ve all heard the old adage of ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’ and that might be true in the case of a dictator but when it comes to training on a bike there is no training metric more reliable than that of power.
So that might beg the question:
What is power in the context of cycling?
To answer this we need a little bit of science!
Power is the time derivative of energy.
What that means is that the amount of energy per second it requires to do an action, such as turning your pedals, is equal to the power.
Power in cycling is measured in ‘Watts’, with one Watt being equal to one Joule per Second.
Now you know what power is you might ask:
How do we measure this on a bike?
The answer to that is not massively complicated.
There are two ways to measure power on a bike, the first is with use of a power meter. These work in many different ways but the most common is via the use of a strain gauge. Put simply, a strain gauge measures the force on a component, this might be on your pedal, crank arm or hub.
Your power meter will then multiply this force with the angular velocity (angular velocity is best described as circular speed and is measured in the angle covered by a moving object per second) of that component to come up with the power.
The other is via the use of a direct drive turbo trainer, this is how we measure your power output down at HURTBOX, which basically measures power in the same way but is used by removing the rear wheel of your bike and connecting your bike to the trainer (don’t worry, this is not a complicated process and our team of coaches can show you how to do it).
So now you’re a bonafide expert on the science of cycling power you might be wondering…
Why is it useful when I can already measure my training with speed and heart rate?
The answer to this is, you guessed it, more science!
So we’ve broken away from the realm of physics and now we’re into some sport science and a little bit of physiology.
The main benefit training with power has over any other metric is reliability.
Watts are Watts!
Speed and Heart Rate are both great metrics for seeing progression but they fall short of power due to the number of factors that can affect them such as:
– Elevation gain (high altitude will raise your heart rate and most likely lower your speed…)
– Temperature (heat and cold will affect both factors)
– Tiredness (kinda obvious that one).
But, Watts are Watts. Pure and Simple.
200W up hill is the same amount of power as 200W on the flat.
Now you know about why power is useful what next…
How do we use your power data at HURTBOX?
We use something called ‘Functional Threshold Power’, a.k.a FTP
FTP is the power at which one is able to ride a bike at for one hour. Luckily the test only takes 20 minutes.
All you have to do in order to find your FTP is ride for 20 minutes at as high a power as you can manage, multiply that number by 0.96 and that gives you the number you’re able to ride at for an hour.
If you’re wondering why its 0.96 that’s because various scientific studies have found that people are able to maintain 96% of their 20 minute maximum power for an hour.
HURTBOX sessions are interval sessions on the bike, the intensity of these intervals is based on various percentages of your FTP meaning that the resistance given by the trainer is tailored to your ability.
This creates the perfect combination of sessions that are challenging yet achievable which gives you a great springboard to remain motivated in your training, whether it’s trying to
– Win national triathlon championships,
– Ride super speedy time trials
– Getting through your first sportive
– Trying to ride a hundred miles
– See your speedo reading a few digits higher
– Or even just wanting to feel a bit more confident on two wheels.
HURTBOX is a powerful tool to help you improve.
There’s a reason professional cycling teams all train with power and the benefits of this are not limited to just them! There’s no end to the immense power of power.
Hope to see you riding soon.
P.S. We’ve seen sudden influx of new members into the studio ready to kick start their 2019 season with a bang. It’s no secret that the riders who dedicated their winter 2018 riding to HURTBOX have seen some incredible results through 2018. Check out the membership page for full details and we can show you how to greet 2019 with faster riding: