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 1st from ride leader Taylor Thomas.
A power meter is the single best investment a cyclist can make if they’re serious about improving. The data that a power meter provides helps both athletes and coaches interpret a performance, as well as make meaningful and insightful adaptations to training and racing methods. With a little understanding a power meter can revolutionize the effectiveness of an athlete’s training.
1: Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses
The first step in utilizing the data that a power meter provides is to record, and then download the data. A post-ride analysis will help you see where you were strongest and where your weaknesses are.
Heart rate alone does not accurately provide an athlete with the information necessary to know if they’re making progress. The nature of an individual’s heart rate is such that it’s impacted by too many outside factors to rely solely on it for training. Combining it with power helps to contextualize the body’s aerobic response to a given effort.
Knowing when, why and how to apply a training stimulus are some of the best reasons to train with power. Being able to review your training data to see what types of efforts are working, and where you need improvement, is at the core of what it means to progress.
Some of the best data comes from race day performances. Looking for critical moments in the race like a climb, breakaway, or moment where the athlete was dropped are great places to start. These numbers can help to inform future training and improve areas that may need attention.
2: Using Power for Improved Coaching
Most coaches prefer to have their athletes train with power. It’s the clearest way to provide the appropriate “dose”, and then measure the athlete’s response to that dose.
Detailed power analysis by a coach leads to a better understanding of an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses. This means that the coach can better prescribe the training needed to help achieve the goals the coach and athlete have identified together.
A power meter enables very clear communication between an athlete and their coach. The coach can immediately see the type of effort that was done, and if that effort aligned with the prescription. There’s no hiding behind the numbers when training with power.
When training and racing with a team a power meter shows who is strongest, and who is best suited for specific jobs on race day. The data helps to build confidence throughout the team when all of the riders see how each member is progressing.
3: Using Power for Motivation
Power meters can help to motivate athletes to push a bit harder to achieve their wattage goal. They’re also the best way to ensure riders are maximizing their time on the bike and not using time ineffectively.
Seeing the relationship between power and speed can facilitate some very impactful changes to an athlete’s bike fit. By optimizing the position on the bike, the pedal stroke, and subsequent power output, will be maximized.
After establishing an accurate FTP, power zones can be used to ensure proper pacing on any type of ride. Whether it’s a long endurance ride, hill climb, or TT, the rider knows exactly where they’re at for the duration of the ride.
Indoor training allows for a “cleaner” approach to interval style workouts. Without the disruptions of the road, wind, traffic etc. the athlete can dial in the power and use the numbers to make the time indoors pass by effortlessly.
4: Achieving Peak Performance
With all of the tools and advancements that a power meter provides to athletes, it’s almost impossible to not achieve new peak levels of fitness.
The advancements in training tools and post-ride analysis software provide any athlete with the same tools that used to be reserved only for the pros. The barrier to entry for training with power is now nearly non-existent.
The information that a power meter provides allows athletes to expand their knowledge base, and have a better grasp on what it takes to produce race winning efforts. Taking the time to learn and understand the data is critical. It’s only as powerful as one’s ability to apply it to their training.