Four Things to Know about training with Power!

A long time ago I was told that I should learn something new everyday! As Monday was a holiday and today is Thursday I have a bit of catching up to do so here are Four things your should know about training with Power!

When you are training with power it can get complex and it can get complex fast. It’s a bit like an onion where you can find yourself peeling back more and more layers. For this week’s Newsletter we wanted to roll back one or two layers and hopefully not reduce you to tears!

If you want the TL/DR Version skip to the end. If you’re interested in more details, here we go…

#1 What is Functional Threshold Power (FTP)?
 “FTP is the highest power that a rider can maintain in quasi steady-state without fatiguing. When power exceeds FTP, fatigue will occur much sooner (generally after approximately one hour in a well-trained cyclist), whereas power just below FTP can be maintained much longer.” (Training and Racing with a Power Meter (3rd Edition 2019), Allen, Coggam, McGregor)

In simple terms it is the consistent level of intensity can you ride at for 60 minutes. 

#2 Training Zones 
A big benefit of knowing your FTP is that it allows you to set your Training Zones. Having the right Zones set up ensures that your training is:

  • Effective; successful in producing a desired or intended result and 
  • Efficient; achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.

We’re all busy people so using our time in the most productive manner to get the desired result is a no brainer!

There are several Zone scales that can be used but for the sake of simplicity Watts Up uses the following one:

Zone 1 Active Recovery <55% FTP
Zone 2 Endurance 56 – 75% FTP
Zone 3 Tempo 76 – 90% FTP
Zone 4 Threshold 91 – 105% FTP
Zone 5 VO2 Max 106 – 120% FTP
Zone 6 Anaerobic Capacity >121% FTP
Zone 7 Neuromuscular Power FTP >

Having your Zones set up in your Device (Garmin, Wahoo, Suunto etc.) and Software (Training Peaks, Garmin Connect, Golden Cheetah, Strava etc) ensures that:

  1. When you are riding you can see what you are doing. (In a future Newsletter we will have some suggestion on screens on your Device).
  2. Your post ride analysis is correct. Did you blow up during a race; did you get spat out the back on a group ride or did you end up in with the common triathlete result of Swim-(over)Bike-Walk?

#3 Training in Zones
Knowing your Zones also allows you to train in the correct Zones. Watts Up structured sessions are primarily in Zones 3, 4 and 5. 

  • Monday/Tuesdays are Zones 4 and 5. These days focus on shorter harder efforts at or above Threshold
  • Wednesday/Thursday are Zones 3 and 4. These days focus on longer easier (easier is relative) just below or at Threshold

There’s no point coming to class for a Zone 1 Recovery Ride or Zone 2 Endurance Ride. These can be completed at home on the Trainer or on a Group Ride. 

Overall knowing your Zones and the having the ability to operate within them is key in ensuring that you are doing what you should be doing when you should be doing it. It also provides you a consistent framework to understand what went right and wrong when you are off the bike!

#4 Scheduling your Training 
Having two structured sessions across the week has multiple benefits. It allows Cyclists a recovery or endurance day and Triathletes the ability to have a run and/or swim in between. It also gives everyone the flexibility to mix and match their Watts Up sessions and fit them into their existing Training Plan…or life in general! 

  • An example of the best schedule is: Monday morning and Wednesday morning. 
  • An example of the worst schedule is: Tuesday night and Wednesday Morning. 

This schedule also allows Watts Up to create training blocks using a Fatigue Training Model. I’ll not get into that in any more detail than to say that the intensity of the workouts tapers through the week, so you do your hardest workouts when you are the most recovered and the easier when you are more fatigued.

So, there you have it, the definition of FTP, Training Zones and Scheduling. Hopefully you got to the end of this and you’re not in tears!

Oh the TL/DR Version…it’s simple “come to class twice a week, get stronger, ride faster”! 

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