Training with power: your strengths & weaknesses

Training with power: your strengths & weaknesses

The “Watts up with Power?” ride is likely the slowest group ride you’ll find on Zwift, because it focuses on learning the basics of power based training while riding together on Zwift. Each ride is streamed to Zwift LIVE by ODZ on Facebook, and focuses on teaching specific principles of power-based training. For viewers that are unable to attend live, the teaching is made available for all to review afterwards.

Here is the summary for April 26th from ride leader Nate Dunn.

Power meters enable us to learn more about ourselves as cyclists.  Whether you’re using the TrainingPeaks Power Profile or the more granular WKO4 Power Duration Curve, your data tells a precise story about your strengths and weaknesses.  Let’s start with the Power Profile Chart.

Power Profile Chart

Wondering how your W/kg stacks up against other cyclists?  The TrainingPeaks power profile chart can give you a quick tool to compare some of your best efforts against cyclists across the competitive spectrum.  The chart also helps to identify 3 primary “cyclist types.”  The sprinter, time trialist, and all-rounder.

WKO4 Power Duration Curve

Accomplishing a similar task, the WKO Power Duration curve is essentially a smoothed/mathematically derived curve based on different mean maximal power durations.  While the Power Profile chart gives you a quick glance at your strengths and weaknesses, the Power Duration curve allows a more granular look at the entire spectrum of the intensity/duration relationship of your riding.

So What?  

So you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses and made some basic comparisons with other cyclists, now what?  The Power Profile chart and Power Duration curve can help improve your cycling in 3 specific ways.

1: Provide Context for Goal Setting

Hoping to win the pancake flat state crit championship?  How does your 5s power stack up?  Maybe another race more suited to your strengths is a more appropriate target to build your season training around.

2: Inform Race Tactics

Do you have a high 5s power but comparably low 20m power?  In a criterium your best bet is to ride as conservatively as possible, avoiding breakaways, while positioning yourself in the final laps to produce 1 maximal effort in a final dash to the line.

3: Guide Training Decisions

Are you hoping to excel in a tough road race but your 5m power is comparably low?  Doing specific workouts to improve your VO2max might make the difference and help you make it over a tough climb to contest the finish.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget that at the end of the day, cycling is an aerobic sport.  Don’t sell out your training to chase small improvements in a weakness.  Regularly assess the cost/benefit of your training to make sure you’re still progressing toward the larger goal of improved aerobic fitness.

About The Author

Nate Dunn

Nate Dunn is the founder and head cycling coach at Data Driven Athlete. If you're interested in further reading on all things training and sports nutrition related check out the archives over at his blog. If you have any questions about his presentation feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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