During my dislocated elbow’s recovery period I won’t be able to ride my bike, but when I do get back I’ll have to train more purposefully. Each workout session has to be aimed at making me stronger, or faster.
As measures of performance and effort for running we usually look to heart rate compared with pace per kilometer. For cycling, there’s another measure: power.
Last month, I was invited to the Suunto Power Zone clinic run by Alpha Training Systems.
“Frequent tests with power allowed me to have a better focus on my training program and assess my progress throughout the season,” said Andy Leuterio of Alpha Training Systems. Power meters are quite cumbersome and expensive to own; the alternative is to avail power testing services, which ATS offers. They can do testing in a studio/bike shop, or on the field.
Lara Parpan, editor-in-chief of Women’s Health, was on hand to demonstrate the Functional Threshold Power test.
FTP is the maximal power output you can sustain for one hour, analogous to a runner’s 10K time or a swimmer’s 100-meter time. The goal is to increase FTP over time through training. Heart rate zones and FTP are also interrelated, and one can train in the appropriate HR and FTP zone once baseline measurements have been made.
Another important measurement that ATS demonstrated that day is power-to-weight ratio. A high PWR allows a cyclist to propel their own weight faster, which matters especially on uphill climbs.
We did a one-minute power test, then divided my average power output with my weight to get my PWR. It was painful, but productive.
I was supposed to schedule my own FTP testing before my accident, but at least I’ll have something to look forward to once I get back on my bike.