11 Reasons Why You Need a Power Meter.

If you are a cyclist serious about improving your performance, you need a power meter. Speed and heart rate do not necessarily represent your true performance on the bike. Speed is dependent on hills, wind, drafting, terrain, and other factors. Heart rate is a measure of the effort your body is putting into the bike. Power meters track your exact output, measured in watts. What do you do with this information? Here are 11 ways a power meter can help you improve your ride:

  1. Track your fitness changes.  Am I getting better? Without a power meter, it is hard to tell exactly. With a power meter, you can accurately compare your output against previous efforts and published benchmarks.
  2. Identify strengths and weaknesses. Time Trialist, Sprinter, Pursuiter, or All-rounder- your power data will reveal what your relative strengths are on the bike. This is called Power Profiling.
  3. Specificity of training.   Training zones are not arbitrary, they are based on your body’s different energy systems (i.e. Lactate Threshold, VO2 Max, Anaerobic Capacity, etc.).  Training with power is the most accurate way to target and improve each of those systems.
  4. Avoid overtraining and injury.  Simply tracking mileage or time spent on the bike does not account for intensity.  A power meter gives you that information and allows you to accurately track training stress.
  5. Achieve Peak Performance.   Leveraging tools like TrainingPeaks and WKO4, you can achieve peak performance by managing Fitness, Fatigue and Form through a Performance Management Chart.
  6. Track your efficiency.  Analyzing heart rate (input) as compared with your power (output) gives insight into how efficient your body is during steady state (time trials, triathlons) efforts.
  7. Position and aerodynamics.  Bike fit is not just about comfort, it is about identifying trade-offs between power output and aerodynamics (reducing drag)… this can only be done with a power meter.
  8. Race pacing.  For steady state efforts, using your power meter to pace during a race is a HUGE advantage. Keeping your output consistent regardless of conditions (hills, wind, terrain, etc.) will help you produce your best time.
  9. Race analysis and preparation. Reviewing your race data will provide insight into the specific demands of the event , where you did well, and where you struggled. Use this information to prepare yourself for the next time you do that race or one similar.
  10. Motivation. Seeing your power numbers and fitness improve over time is a huge incentive during training, especially during winter months spent on the trainer.
  11. Save time. Unless you are a professional athlete, time to train is probably your biggest limiter. With a power meter you can create very specific, focused training sessions to fit your schedule.

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