In the 1980s the “cyclocomputer”, which measured speed and distance traveled, was the only tool available to non-professional cyclists to obtain reference data on their cycling performance, and therefore to train more precisely. In the following decade the heart rate monitor then spread, quickly becoming the center of all amateur and non-amateur training programs.
The new state of the art in this field has been represented, for some years now, by the power meter, which saw a rapid spread first among professionals and then among simple enthusiasts. Why has this tool established itself in short as essential in quality training? The answer is simple: compared to the heart rate monitor, it provides more reliable data.
Power vs. heart rate
While still today a very important parameter to measure the body’s response to stress, heart rate is influenced by several factors that are not easily measured (stress, feeding, temperature, etc.), and therefore can provide different answers even on an identical run and performed at the same speed, but at different times.
The power, that is the force exerted on the pedals in relation to the pedaling cadence (watt = force x rpm), is instead a perfectly objective and above all comparable datum, to measure the work load independently of speed, slope, etc.
The benefits of watts
The watt is a unit of measure, such as kg or meters … and it does not change depending on the situation, thus allowing us to accurately measure our actual strengths or weaknesses. Using the power meter it is possible to optimize the sessions, setting precise and measurable goals; furthermore the watt training allows you to store all the recordings and compare the results obtained on the same path in the different phases of the training, helping us to know our limits better, but also to pedal more “round” and to save the legs when necessary .
By assessing your state of form with greater precision and immediacy, it will then be easier to “adjust” the intensity of work and correct any mistakes in preparation, without risking overtraining.
Finally, for those who usually train on the rollers during the winter break, and not only, the power meter is a precious ally to concentrate on the achievement of the preparation targets, because, thanks to the advantages of a “controlled” environment, it allows to gather extremely clear data and to have an accurate picture of one’s real condition.