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Power-Based Training

Bicycle Training Series Articles: All ABC Handouts ] 12 Beginners' Questions About Exercise ] ACE Tips ] Altitude Tents: How High the Risk? ] Aerobic Training ] Altitude Training for Sea-Level Competition ] Balance Training for Bicyclists ] Century Training ] Climbing & Descending ] Dealing With High Altitude ] Death Ride: Just-Made-It Schedule ] Economy & Efficiency ] Fitness Elements ] Heart-Rate-Based Training ] HIT Tips ] How to Perform VO2 Intervals ] How to Push Riders Uphill ] Isolated Leg Training ] Measuring Training Stress ] Overtraining ] Pacing ] [ Power-Based Training ] Recovery ] Road Racing Basics ] Six Climbing Positions ] Skills Training Principles ] Small Gears ] Sprint Weak? ] Stationary Training ] Stretching ] Tapering for Events ] Thresholds ] Time Trialing ] Torque-Based Training ] Training & Fitness Standards for Excellence ] Training Myths ] Warm Ups for Racing ] Weight Training ] Work of Breathing ] Workout Too Hard ]

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This article is incorporated into the eBook HIT (High-Intensity Training) for Cyclists.

Information in this article is also available in the slide show Interval Training.

Power-Based Training (Introduction)

Power is the rate of work. Power monitors provide the best measure of muscular work.

Power measurement provides immediate, effort-sensitive feedback. Unlike speed, it is unaffected by environmental conditions such as wind or elevation change. It is objective and can be very accurate.

Training Load and Race Predictor

Power measurement is the gold-standard measure of absolute workload.

Power is what gets you down the road. (Wind resistance, rolling resistance, and gravity hold you back.)

Hill climbing ability correlates well to aerobic power output divided by weight. Time trialing ability correlates well to aerobic power divided by frontal area. Sprinting ability correlates well to anaerobic power.

While other measures of intensity, such as perceived exertion or heart rate, can provide relative measures of individual workload intensity, they don’t predict performance.

Power-based testing is easy. Testing can help evaluate the effectiveness of training. Like VO2 max testing, power testing is valuable in predicting race performance. Unlike VO2 max testing, power testing can be portable and need not require a physiology lab.


Power measurement—traditionally available on laboratory ergometers—has been available on new- generation portable consumer devices for more than a decade.

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