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 May 3rd from ride leader Taylor Thomas.

Once you’ve established your functional threshold power, set your training zones, and identified your strengths and weaknesses as a rider, it’s time to use your power meter to create tailored workouts. Your power meter is an extremely valuable tool that enables you to fine-tune and analyze your riding so that you can see the biggest gains. Whether your goal is faster club rides, centuries, or racing, building the right workouts is the key to reaching your goals.

1: When and Where to Use Your Power Meter

Training with power is valuable no matter the ride or the terrain. However, there are a few scenarios that are best suited to producing the most reliable and usable data.

With the introduction of interactive indoor ride programs like Zwift, you can take full advantage of the predictability of training indoors. The trainer lets you have full control of the workout.

Flat roads, time trials, and hill climbs are also perfect places to use power. The consistent terrain of a flat road allows for long uninterrupted tempo or endurance rides. Use your power meter to stick to the cardinal rule of TT’s, “don’t go out too fast!” Develop a pacing strategy for your time trial and stay within the predetermined power zone. Hill climbs also allow for proper pacing and ensure you have enough energy to top out feeling strong.

2: Cycling is Naturally Variable

Don’t get discouraged if it seems that your power numbers are all over the place. This is normal due to the wind, terrain, other riders and a variety of different factors. Do your best to stay within a certain power range, not focus on the numbers second by second.

Proper pacing is the key to consistent riding. Surges in speed produce surges in effort. Steady speed and cadence are what keeps your power numbers in line.

Most rides will include some amount of variability. Since this is inevitable it’s okay if there are surges on the climbs, or you drop below your ideal power zone on the downhills. Knowing what to expect and how to properly ride the terrain is the goal. Also, use the terrain to dictate your workouts. If you have a long flat road, then use that for tempo work. If there are rolling hills or bigger climbs then hill repeats are the answer. Use what you have to create the best workout for you.

3: Guidelines for Optimal Intervals

One of the biggest advantages to training with power is knowing exactly how to elicit specific physiological adaptations. To properly do that you need to do the right amount of intervals, for the appropriate duration. More is not always better, so make sure that you’re aware of how much your power drops from interval to interval. If it drops too much it’s time to stop.

The importance of an accurate FTP and properly calculated training zones can’t be overstated. If you’re basing your FTP on bad data, and thus using incorrect zones to write your workouts, you’re not going to get the results you desire.

Duration and intensity are the keys to a proper interval workout. Understanding how each power zone correlates to specific systems in your body will help you understand how to build the appropriate interval session to move you towards your goals.

4: Workouts for Power-Based Training

Level 1 rides are the most overlooked and underappreciated workouts for the majority of cyclists. These recovery rides are extremely important and help prepare the body for focused and more intense sessions.

Muscular endurance is the foundation for many cycling disciplines. Time in zone 2 early in the season, and during a proper warmup and cool down helps to develop a stronger heart, increase capillarization, and build stamina.

Sweet spot training is the base from which a strong FTP is built. Riding at between 88%-94% of your threshold is a great way to prep for harder FTP level efforts later in the season, or to begin building mid-season for other priority races on your calendar.

When performing specific workouts, or designing your training, make sure that the sessions match your goals. If you want to increase FTP, then the intervals you’re performing should line up with that goal. They should also match the specifics of the races on your calendar. Things like climbs, sprint opportunities, long flats, can all be mimicked in training.