Power-based training is the new “king” of cycling metrics. Here’s why.
Indoor cycling classes have been a long-time staple in health and fitness facilities. These sessions traditionally involve an instructor leading a group of participants through a series of sprints, intervals and simulated terrain changes. Instructors will often integrate high-energy music, verbal cuing and visual demonstration to provide an engaging class atmosphere.
While indoor cycling classes have been taking place for decades, new advancements in technology have made data-driven workouts accessible to the masses. The implementation of heart rate monitors added a layer of biofeedback above the rate of perceived exertion alone. It allows participants to track intensity and progress in a simple metric. Digital display of cycling cadence, typically displayed as revolutions per minute (rpm), has remained a primary variable within indoor cycling sessions. This enables participants to experience variety within sessions. It also allows them to develop different areas of fitness.
In recent years, a new data parameter has emerged as the king of all cycling metrics. This metric is power, displayed in watts (W), which enables cyclists to gauge actual physical output. Similar to the horsepower rating of an automobile, a cyclist’s power output capability defines their current state of physical ability. This power output may be trained and improved, as watts are small units of measurement which can be easily compared from session to session.
A cyclist’s power output capability may be broken-down into zones, similar to heart rate zones, which are based-upon percentages of maximal exertion. Spending time in each respective training “zone” drives a different physiological adaptation. For example, certain zones are best for burning fat, while others are best for increasing endurance or improving threshold.
As a metric once reserved only for professional cyclists, power is a data parameter which may now be easily used by the general population — including indoor cycling class participants — to observe progress. In present day, many indoor cycling studios are transitioning toward power as the primary defining parameter for the workout intensities within a class or session.
Pair the techniques above with loud music and an energetic instructor, and you’re sure to have an engaging indoor cycling session geared toward progress and performance.
Thomson Remo is the Wattbike Master Trainer/Business Development Lead with Woodway USA. He is an elite-level competitive cyclist, indoor cycling world record holder and performance education consultant to professional sports teams and universities nationally. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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