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 November 22nd from presenter Taylor Thomas.
One of the primary reasons to train and race with a power meter is so you can better understand your relative strengths and weaknesses. Power data allows you to create a profile from which you can not only see where you’re at individually, but how you stack up against other riders. Through proper testing and data collection a rider’s power profile and resistance to fatigue can help to greatly inform their training prescription and racing strategy.
The Power Profile
While the profile can be useful in comparing a rider’s efforts against others, the primary purpose of the power profile is to gain insight into the relative strengths and weaknesses of individual riders and their physiological systems.
Comparing data within, and across, different racing categories is not the best way to profile a rider. An athlete’s abilities should be based on race day performance, and their physiological strengths. Comparing power output for riders in the same category does not provide the level of insight needed to make the best use of the power profile.
Using the power profile to critique and understand yourself is the most impactful way to utilize the available power data, not comparison with others. This approach enables you to train so you bolster weak areas and continue to build your strengths.
The target durations for the power profile are meant to represent key physiological areas in the body. 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minute and FTP serve to reflect neuromuscular power, anaerobic capacity, VO2Max, and lactate threshold respectively. These durations are not comprised solely of these systems, but do a good job of correlating the different physiological abilities involved.
Power to weight ratio (W/Kg) is a key metric in understanding both the power profile and where it is you’re strongest and weakest. W/Kg determines how strong of a rider you are at any discipline be it hill climbs, sprints, or time trials. Review your best powers for 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute and FTP to determine where your W/Kg falls on the spectrum.
Once you have identified your best powers for each duration it’s important to understand how to apply them, and what they mean for you as a rider. You’ll see a pattern emerge that will highlight individual strengths and weaknesses. You can use these power profiles to inform your training, race selection and focus.
Know what your power profile says about you as a rider. Depending on what your W/Kg is for each category, you’ll be able to determine what classification of rider most closely matches your abilities. You may be an All-Rounder, Sprinter, Time Trialist, or Pursuiter.
It’s important to note that when analyzing the power profiles age is not taken into consideration. Both men and women’s performance begin to decline gradually after the age of 30. While this decline will most likely not impact how your strengths and weaknesses are presented in the profile, it is worth considering for both training prescription and race selection.
The Fatigue Profile
The power profile is great for highlighting gross strengths and weaknesses. However, what it doesn’t do is tell you exactly what type of effort you’re best suited for. The fatigue profile helps to pinpoint areas with greater precision to further inform your training.
Fatigue profiling further expands the key ranges identified in the power profile. This allows the rider to gain a better understand of specifically what duration effort they’re strongest. Understanding fatigue only further enables a greater level of individualization.
More tests will need to be done to complete the fatigue profile. One day you’ll test both neuromuscular power and anaerobic capacity. After 1-2 days of rest you’ll then test VO2Max and FTP. If you already have an accurate FTP, 60 and 90 minute powers you may only need to perform the VO2Max testing protocol on the second day.
After the data has been produced from the tests you can plot the numbers for key durations within each category. Looking for abnormalities and inverse relationships will allow for the fatigue profile to come into plain view and be utilized to its full potential.
Categories of Fatigue Resistance
If you’re in the “below average” or “well below average” category that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. What this says is that you’re better at the shorter durations within each category, and that your power falls away sharply as you move towards the end of the time range.
A rider with “average” fatigue resistance should expect to see a similar percentage of degradation through all of the durations within a category. This means that there are no huge spikes or large drop offs, but that power decreases at an acceptable rate.
If you’re charting “above average” or “well above average” fatigue resistance this means there is little to no drop off across the spectrum of powers. It also means that you may be producing the best power possible for the shorter durations. It’s worth noting that these riders may not be able to train other areas effectively given their strong propensity towards these specific strengths.
Power and fatigue profiling differ in that the power profile allows for comparison across durations that represent neuromuscular power, anaerobic capacity, VO2Max and lactate threshold. Fatigue profiling compares power within ranges of durations meant to reflect the same physiological areas. When used together they provide invaluable insight.