Benefits of Power Based Training
Using power based training for cycling and triathlon allows you to have an objective measurement for your performances and your session quality. Power based training equipment allows you to measure your effective force on the crank arm with each pedal stroke. It removes the variability of performance that you obtain from using heart rate data and perceived effort level.
Heart rate monitors are valuable tools but they only provide an approximate interpretation of what your muscles are doing. Your power zones are independent of your heart rate and allow you to hit your correct training intensity instantly. Using heart rate does not allow you to have instantaneous feedback on whether you are in the correct training zone as it takes time for your heart rate to respond to your training output.
Power meters allow you and your coach to accurately assess your fitness changes through the season by using a combination of power meters and heart rate data, Cyclists and triathletes who train and race with a power meter have the advantage of utilising an objective measurement to track their physical progress and analyse their racing performances. It is the ultimate training tool for the cyclists who want to monitor and plan their progress.
Table 1 – Power Based Training Zones (Coggan Power Zones)
|Level||Name||Average Power||Average HR||Perceived Exertion||Description|
|1||Active Recovery||<55%||<68||<2||“Easy spinning” or “light pedal pressure”, i.e., very low level exercise, too low in and of itself to induce significant physiological adaptations. Minimal sensation of leg effort/fatigue. Requires no concentration to maintain pace, and continuous conversation possible. Typically used for active recovery after strenuous training days (or races), between interval efforts, or for socializing.|
|2||Endurance||56-75%||69-83%||2-3||“All day” pace, or classic long slow distance (LSD) training. Sensation of leg effort/fatigue generally low, but may rise periodically to higher levels (e.g., when climbing). Concentration generally required to maintain effort only at highest end of range and/or during longer training sessions. Breathing is more regular than at level 1, but continuous conversation still possible. Frequent (daily) training sessions of moderate duration (e.g., 2 h) at level 2 possible (provided dietary carbohydrate intake is adequate), but complete recovery from very long workouts may take more than 24 hs.|
|3||Tempo||76-90%||84-94%||3-4||Typical intensity of fartlek workout, ‘spirited’ group ride, or briskly moving paceline. More frequent/greater sensation of leg effort/fatigue than at level 2. Requires concentration to maintain alone, especially at upper end of range, to prevent effort from falling back to level 2. Breathing deeper and more rhythmic than level 2, such that any conversation must be somewhat halting, but not as difficult as at level 4. Recovery from level 3 training sessions more difficult than after level 2 workouts, but consecutive days of level 3 training still possible if duration is not excessive and dietary carbohydrate intake is adequate.|
|4||Lactate Threshold||91-105%||95-105%(may not be achieved during initial phases of effort(s))||4-5||Just below to just above TT effort, taking into account duration, current fitness, environmental conditions, etc. Essentially continuous sensation of moderate or even greater leg effort/fatigue. Continuous conversation difficult at best, due to depth/frequency of breathing. Effort sufficiently high that sustained exercise at this level is mentally very taxing – therefore typically performed in training as multiple ‘repeats’, ‘modules’, or ‘blocks’ of 10-30 min duration. Consecutive days of training at level 4 possible, but such workouts generally only performed when sufficiently rested/recovered from prior training so as to be able to maintain intensity.|
|5||VO2 Max||106-120%||>106%||6-7||Typical intensity of longer (3-8 min) intervals intended to increase VO2max. Strong to severe sensations of leg effort/fatigue, such that completion of more than 30-40 min total training time is difficult at best. Conversation not possible due to often ‘ragged’ breathing. Should generally be attempted only when adequately recovered from prior training – consecutive days of level 5 work not necessarily desirable even if possible. Note: At this level, the average heart rate may not be due to slowness of heart rate response and/or ceiling imposed by maximum heart rate)|
|6||Anaerobic Capacity||>121%||N/A||>7||Short (30 s to 3 min), high intensity intervals designed to increase anaerobic capacity. Heart rate generally not useful as guide to intensity due to non-steady-state nature of effort. Severe sensation of leg effort/fatigue, and conversation impossible. Consecutive days of extended level 6 training usually not attempted.|
|Very short, very high intensity efforts (e.g., jumps, standing starts, short sprints) that generally place greater stress on musculoskeletal rather than metabolic systems. Power useful as guide, but only in reference to prior similar efforts, not TT pace.|