Training with a power meter is a great way to get the most out of your workout. It allows you to understand your baseline fitness and tracks your gains, no matter how big or small. Follow these tips to get the most out of your power training routine.
The first thing you need to do is establish your fitness baseline. For the first week, go about your normal training routine using the power meter. Put the data to the back of your mind; your only job at this point is to collect the numbers. Make some quick notes about how you felt during and after your workout so you can later compare that to the data.
The next step is to complete a quick 20-minute Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test. This will establish the highest average power that you can maintain in a quasi-steady state before fatigue.
To do this test, you are going to want to find a spot that you will be able to ride non-stop for the full 20 minutes of all out effort. When going through the warm-up and testing phases, it is important to hit “lap” on your bike computer to mark where your effort is starting and stopping. Before hitting it hard, you will want to start with a 15-minute warm-up and gradually move into endurance. During the warm-up, complete 3 one-minute intervals of fast pedaling where your cadence is at 110 RPM or higher.
After your warm-up, you are ready for the 20-minute all out test. Mark the lap button before you start and then go hard, being cautious to not go too hard too fast. The first two to three minutes should be a build up period. In the final two minutes of the test, ramp the power up 10 watts at a time and push as hard as you can. Finish strong. Let the test run five seconds longer than your pedaling to ensure you capture the full test. Once complete, take 15 minutes of gentle spinning to cool down.
After you complete the FTP test, you are going to take 95% of the power output value and plug it into your training app, such as the SRAM AXS app. This number is going to give you an established baseline for where your power output should be in order to meet your training goals.
Congratulations! You are now ready to start training with a power meter. You are well on the way to improving your cycling technique, getting stronger legs, and improving cycling speed and endurance.
The Functional Threshold Power test was established by Dr. Andrew Coggan, Ph.D. Learn more about the FTP test and Dr. Coggan here.