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quantifiable results(6 posts)

quantifiable resultsDougSloan
Jan 2, 2004 8:40 AM
I'm having fun tracking power results on the CT. While some of this, I think, is pure fitness improvement from working with a coach, some may be just learning to "beat the test," that is, watching power very carefully along the say to avoid blowing up too early; HR seems to be very unreliable the first 1/3 of the test.

Note that even with power increasing faily dramatically, average HR is down, but ave cadence is up. However, I think it is wrong to conclude that the higher cadence is the *cause* or more power or lower HR, but rather it is the *effect* or by-product -- as fitness increases, it is easier to hold a higher cadence. I think the Lance Armstrong wannabees can learn something from this, possibly (in this very limited anecdotal trial...).

The coach had me do 5 minute tests, as they correlate with some published data and they can be done more frequently with less effect on training plan.

re: quantifiable resultsasgelle
Jan 2, 2004 12:10 PM
For a good presentation of the relationship between force on the pedals (power) and cadence, you might want to look at

I think the more you base training on power, the more you'll see the shortcomings of heart rate based training.
re: Shortcomings of HR Training?skimoviestar
Jan 2, 2004 12:30 PM
So... elaborate please. Why is base training using power better than HR based training and what are the HR based training shortcomings?
re: Shortcomings of HR Training?asgelle
Jan 2, 2004 1:09 PM
skimoviestar wrote, "Why is base training using power better than HR based training and what are the HR based training shortcomings?"

This has been discussed at length on the wattage list at (you can search through the archives even if you don't subscribe). Also, has a section of power based training articles which discuss this. As I understand it, one of the key components of training is intensity (in addition to duration and specificity). The problem is setting the intensity so that the proper adaptations result with the minimum of fatigue (so a higher training volume can be maintained). Power is a good measure of intensity because it is an independent variable of how the adaptation mechanisms are stressed. The problem with heart rate is that it is a dependent variable depending on the training stress, but also on other factors such as environlental conditions or the state of the athlete unrelated to the training stress (e.g., lack of sleep). Also, there is a time lag in response of heart rate to changes in power output (the original post said heart rate was highly variable for the first third of the interval) so it is possible to maintain a steady heart rate despite highly variable power output.

You ask why basing training on power rather than heart rate is better for base training. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by base training, but in general, I find the best way to specify a workout is to identify what mechanisms (power at threshold, Vo2_max, recovery) I want to train then determine the power range and duration which will ellicit the adaptations I'm looking for. It's harder to use heart rate for this, since as I wrote above, heart rate can vary day-to-day due to other factors.
time trialing seems to work much better based upon powerDougSloan
Jan 2, 2004 4:48 PM
I have found that, at least on the CT, that I can time trial much better by controlling power rather than heart rate. Heart rate lags so much that you can blow before it catches up. Keeping a steady power output, even a negative split (harder at the end) can really help the overall performance, at least in my limited experience.

I'm thinking seriously of getting some type of power measurent device, Powertap, SRM, or Polar, to try this on the road.

During workouts, I find that I can go much faster at lower overall effort if I track power than HR. As noted, HR just has too many variables and does not track closely enough.

Also, power is no doubt the best way to measure improvement. It's very objective, independent, and repeatable.

Thanks... I think...skimoviestar
Jan 2, 2004 9:46 PM
Seriously... great responses by you both. Thanks very much. Now, if only you could help me strategize for a fool-proof way to justify the expense of a Powertap to me spouse! ;-)