Eddie Fletcher

Why train using Heart Rate and Power?

Posted by Eddie Fletcher on May 16, 2012

Eddie Fletcher Wattbike HotChillee

There are many advocates of training by heart rate or by power as separate activities.  Both have merits (note I don’t say advantages and disadvantages).  Many opponents of either method point to disadvantages only.

Training by a number of variables has only advantages. Training on a Wattbike with both heart rate and power, coupled with pedalling technique and cadence are powerful combinations to get the best out of a training session.

With power meters on road bikes, excellent as they are, it is difficult to look at the data whilst keeping an eye on the road and therefore the full data profile is only available after the session when downloaded to analysis software, I liken this to driving a car by looking in the rear view mirror.  In fact, at times the rider is not training with heart rate or power as they can be in the dark during some of the session.

An even worse situation is riding without any monitoring of heart rate, power or cadence at all.

For me, the key variables to measure for every training session are:

  • Mechanical intensity (power)
  • Physiological intensity (heart rate)
  • Cadence (leg speed)
  • Muscle activation (pedalling technique) on an indoor session

Bringing these together can provide a powerful impetus to improving training and race performance.

And let me deal with the cry I often hear, ‘but heart rate is so variable’. Of course it is! It measures the physiological, psychological and environmental conditions influencing the body at any moment in time and is therefore critical to the success of the training session.  There is no point in riding at 200 W with HR at 65% of max on one day and on another riding at 200 W with HR at 85% of max – they are not the same training sessions.

Conversely, of course, just training with power ignores the variation in physiological response.

So, using heart rate and power and then adding into the mix the ability to make sure that every pedal revolution is balanced and cadence is maintained, at the correct rpm and power output required for the session, and you have the most powerful training system possible.

Training on a Wattbike provides a unique opportunity to train with live, real-time and accurate data, visually represented on the Wattbike Performance Computer or, in the live running software (either Expert or Power Cycling).

No unknowns, the key variables, fully measured with precision and control, driving the effectiveness of the training.  Live feedback every single pedal revolution.

Over time, power and leg speed will increase and pedalling technique will improve - all for the same physiological effort.

And, it will make you faster on the road, Wattbike users report significant gains in performance after training on a Wattbike.

Train smart, ride faster!

Use a Wattbike.


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