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Power Meter / Training Advice

ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 676
So I've just got my 1st power meter & just getting to grips with it but I have a few questions I hope folks will be able to help with.

Firstly, I've read conflicting opinions online as to when I'm doing an interval should I be aiming for / looking at Normalised Power or Average Power? Currently have both on my Wahoo Lap screen but NP is the one I tend to concentrate on.

Secondly, what sort of interval sessions should I be looking at doing? I'm not training for anything specific, just looking to improve my fitness generally although if I had 1 aim it would be to improve my endurance. I do find that I struggle for the last hour or so of longer rides & I'm hoping the PM itself will help that as I'm pretty hopeless at pacing over a longer duration.

Early days as said I but I think I have a reasonable idea of what my FTP is for my zones. So far I've done blocks of 2 x 10 at Tempo (aiming for around 75% of FTP) & also 2 x 15 at Sweetspot (90% of FTP).

Will be looking to build up the length of those in time but any other sessions that I could incorporate into my training would be greatly appreciated.

Posts

  • Average power for intervals and try to keep your pacing consistent. NP is a good way to monitor overall intensity of a ride. Use it to keep track of how hard you are going week to week and make sure you are not overdoing it, as you will likely notice a significant discrepancy between NP and AP on each ride (unless you live somewhere completely flat!).

    Endurance is pretty simply a matter of riding at endurance pace (anything from 75-95% of FTP) for extended periods . What you are doing now is a good start but look to build up to longer sessions, perhaps 3 x 60-90 mins per week. These can be standalone rides or longer intervals built into a ride. This will likely also have the added benefit of improving your anaerobic power at shorter intervals i.e. vo2 max stuff for 3-5 minutes.

    I bang on about it, but any cyclist that genuinely wants to maximise their fitness potential needs to be on the bike for 8-10 hours a week to really see gains over an extended period.

    Also, use the data from your PM, built up over several months, to gauge your sustainable power over longer periods. Once you start to see some improvements, focus your intervals towards the back end of a ride when you are fatigued to build up your ability to prolong the effort. For example, on a 3hr ride, do the last half hour at tempo or an an hour at 80% of FTP. Also, throw in some 2-3 minute efforts at 105-115% of FTP to really push yourself.
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 676
    Thanks @MidlandsGrimpeur2 some really good stuff in there.

    Particularly like the idea of throwing in some tempo at the end of the ride when I'm tired. I can see that being a struggle at 1st but no pain no gain I guess.

    Due to other life stuff I only get to do longer rides once every 2 or 3 weeks & everything else is usually 60-90 minutes so time on the bike is an issue so that's why I want to maximise what time I do have.
  • N0bodyOfTheGoatN0bodyOfTheGoat Posts: 4,505
    1/5/20min intervals are common ones to plot your power curve.

    In terms of FTP gains, rides with multiple 8min VO2 max efforts look to be very effective, closely followed by rides with a higher number of 4min efforts.

    While doing an interval, providing it's a fairly uniform gradient, a longer duration average is probably the most useful (typically 10sec on a lot of GPS computers). If the gradient changes a fair bit, 3sec might be more useful.

    On a hilly 60-100Km ride, where most of the hills are on my way out to the furthest point (typically near Butser/Wheatham/Harting Hill), if I try climbing some of the cat3/4 hills at Z4+, my legs suffer horribly on the way home. If I take the hills steady in easy gears, I'll hurt less but have a higher Normalised Power, typically somewhere the top of my Z2.
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  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,737
    Regarding intervals and average power - if you happen to drop off during an interval (e.g., traffic lights if outside) - resist the urge to go really hard to bring the average back up... That can mean you end up missing the point of the workout entirely, e.g., a threshold interval could quickly turn into a VO2 interval, sweetspot into threshold etc. so you won't be doing what you actually were planning.

    There's plenty of plans available online which include a progression in them, so I might suggest looking at something like that and working through it rather than doing the same 2x15 etc every week (personally I follow TrainerRoad plans and in those the intervals tend to get either slightly longer, harder or more numerous each week as you move through the block). It doesn't need to be rocket science though.

    You mention other sessions, you say you're focusing on endurance but a bit of VO2 work will never go amiss :wink: Several ways to do that, 3-5 min intervals as mentioned above or short/shorts (20:40s or 30:30s on:off in sets). IME they tend to give the fastest FTP gains, and a higher FTP is good for endurance, since if for example 120 mins @ 180 watts goes from 70% of FTP to 65% of FTP that's going to make it feel easier. But don't do them all the time as they're tough - I find mentally it gets hard after a longer block of training like that.
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 676

    Regarding intervals and average power - if you happen to drop off during an interval (e.g., traffic lights if outside) - resist the urge to go really hard to bring the average back up... That can mean you end up missing the point of the workout entirely, e.g., a threshold interval could quickly turn into a VO2 interval, sweetspot into threshold etc. so you won't be doing what you actually were planning.

    There's plenty of plans available online which include a progression in them, so I might suggest looking at something like that and working through it rather than doing the same 2x15 etc every week (personally I follow TrainerRoad plans and in those the intervals tend to get either slightly longer, harder or more numerous each week as you move through the block). It doesn't need to be rocket science though.

    You mention other sessions, you say you're focusing on endurance but a bit of VO2 work will never go amiss :wink: Several ways to do that, 3-5 min intervals as mentioned above or short/shorts (20:40s or 30:30s on:off in sets). IME they tend to give the fastest FTP gains, and a higher FTP is good for endurance, since if for example 120 mins @ 180 watts goes from 70% of FTP to 65% of FTP that's going to make it feel easier. But don't do them all the time as they're tough - I find mentally it gets hard after a longer block of training like that.


    100% I've done this already! Really difficult to stop the urge to jump straight out of the blocks after you've been interrupted.

    I'm still finding roads / routes locally where I can get a good interval in but it's difficult with traffic / junctions / traffic lights getting in the way sometimes.

    I've started uploading my rides to TR as they are a lot more in depth than Strava with power so will look at the plans.
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 676
    edited 6 May

    1/5/20min intervals are common ones to plot your power curve.

    In terms of FTP gains, rides with multiple 8min VO2 max efforts look to be very effective, closely followed by rides with a higher number of 4min efforts.

    While doing an interval, providing it's a fairly uniform gradient, a longer duration average is probably the most useful (typically 10sec on a lot of GPS computers). If the gradient changes a fair bit, 3sec might be more useful.

    On a hilly 60-100Km ride, where most of the hills are on my way out to the furthest point (typically near Butser/Wheatham/Harting Hill), if I try climbing some of the cat3/4 hills at Z4+, my legs suffer horribly on the way home. If I take the hills steady in easy gears, I'll hurt less but have a higher Normalised Power, typically somewhere the top of my Z2.


    On a "normal" ride I'm seeing my NP near the top end of my Z2.

    I've only seen it once at the bottom of my Z3 & that was when I was just going out for a blast for an hour.

    If I'm honest I'm not sure what my NP should be for any given ride, I guess that will come with time & more data.
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,737
    edited 6 May
    ibr17xvii said:

    Regarding intervals and average power - if you happen to drop off during an interval (e.g., traffic lights if outside) - resist the urge to go really hard to bring the average back up... That can mean you end up missing the point of the workout entirely, e.g., a threshold interval could quickly turn into a VO2 interval, sweetspot into threshold etc. so you won't be doing what you actually were planning.

    There's plenty of plans available online which include a progression in them, so I might suggest looking at something like that and working through it rather than doing the same 2x15 etc every week (personally I follow TrainerRoad plans and in those the intervals tend to get either slightly longer, harder or more numerous each week as you move through the block). It doesn't need to be rocket science though.

    You mention other sessions, you say you're focusing on endurance but a bit of VO2 work will never go amiss :wink: Several ways to do that, 3-5 min intervals as mentioned above or short/shorts (20:40s or 30:30s on:off in sets). IME they tend to give the fastest FTP gains, and a higher FTP is good for endurance, since if for example 120 mins @ 180 watts goes from 70% of FTP to 65% of FTP that's going to make it feel easier. But don't do them all the time as they're tough - I find mentally it gets hard after a longer block of training like that.


    100% I've done this already! Really difficult to stop the urge to jump straight out of the blocks after you've been interrupted.

    I'm still finding roads / routes locally where I can get a good interval in but it's difficult with traffic / junctions / traffic lights getting in the way sometimes.

    I've started uploading my rides to TR as they are a lot more in depth than Strava with power so will look at the plans.
    Oh, if you have and are paying for TR already - yes absolutely use their plans, IMO it's a waste not to if you have access. Sweet Spot Base Low Volume I is a great place to start. They have done loads of work in the last year or so on making good outdoor versions for every workout such that most of them (certainly I think all of them in the SSB plan) have a good outdoor variant (a lot of them weren't always that easy to follow in a less controlled environment on the road).

    Suggest to start with low volume and then add in extra endurance work if you find yourself with extra time, rather than pick mid volume and cut (that's always their advice). Personally I always pick the low volume versions of their plans even though I pretty solidly average 10-12 hours a week (more if the weather is good), I try to hit the workouts and then other stuff for me is Zwift racing plus club and social rides outdoors.

    SSBLV 1 and 2 has been a mainstay of my cycling life since 2016... Reliably gets me back in shape... Since COVID though I have been much more consistent with training and worked through the full cycle base-build-specialty, and am now on a Plan Builder plan for an event in August (if you have a target event, it will build a plan for you).
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,737
    ibr17xvii said:

    1/5/20min intervals are common ones to plot your power curve.

    In terms of FTP gains, rides with multiple 8min VO2 max efforts look to be very effective, closely followed by rides with a higher number of 4min efforts.

    While doing an interval, providing it's a fairly uniform gradient, a longer duration average is probably the most useful (typically 10sec on a lot of GPS computers). If the gradient changes a fair bit, 3sec might be more useful.

    On a hilly 60-100Km ride, where most of the hills are on my way out to the furthest point (typically near Butser/Wheatham/Harting Hill), if I try climbing some of the cat3/4 hills at Z4+, my legs suffer horribly on the way home. If I take the hills steady in easy gears, I'll hurt less but have a higher Normalised Power, typically somewhere the top of my Z2.


    On a "normal" ride I'm seeing my NP near the top end of my Z2.

    I've only seen it once at the bottom of my Z3 & that was when I was just going out for a blast for an hour.

    If I'm honest I'm not sure what my NP should be for any given ride, I guess that will come with time & more data.
    1 hr Z3 blasts are fun!
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 676

    ibr17xvii said:

    1/5/20min intervals are common ones to plot your power curve.

    In terms of FTP gains, rides with multiple 8min VO2 max efforts look to be very effective, closely followed by rides with a higher number of 4min efforts.

    While doing an interval, providing it's a fairly uniform gradient, a longer duration average is probably the most useful (typically 10sec on a lot of GPS computers). If the gradient changes a fair bit, 3sec might be more useful.

    On a hilly 60-100Km ride, where most of the hills are on my way out to the furthest point (typically near Butser/Wheatham/Harting Hill), if I try climbing some of the cat3/4 hills at Z4+, my legs suffer horribly on the way home. If I take the hills steady in easy gears, I'll hurt less but have a higher Normalised Power, typically somewhere the top of my Z2.


    On a "normal" ride I'm seeing my NP near the top end of my Z2.

    I've only seen it once at the bottom of my Z3 & that was when I was just going out for a blast for an hour.

    If I'm honest I'm not sure what my NP should be for any given ride, I guess that will come with time & more data.
    1 hr Z3 blasts are fun!


    Not having a PM never really done anything like that before (apart from on Zwift) & I'm not gonna lie my legs were sore for a couple of days after!
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 676

    ibr17xvii said:

    Regarding intervals and average power - if you happen to drop off during an interval (e.g., traffic lights if outside) - resist the urge to go really hard to bring the average back up... That can mean you end up missing the point of the workout entirely, e.g., a threshold interval could quickly turn into a VO2 interval, sweetspot into threshold etc. so you won't be doing what you actually were planning.

    There's plenty of plans available online which include a progression in them, so I might suggest looking at something like that and working through it rather than doing the same 2x15 etc every week (personally I follow TrainerRoad plans and in those the intervals tend to get either slightly longer, harder or more numerous each week as you move through the block). It doesn't need to be rocket science though.

    You mention other sessions, you say you're focusing on endurance but a bit of VO2 work will never go amiss :wink: Several ways to do that, 3-5 min intervals as mentioned above or short/shorts (20:40s or 30:30s on:off in sets). IME they tend to give the fastest FTP gains, and a higher FTP is good for endurance, since if for example 120 mins @ 180 watts goes from 70% of FTP to 65% of FTP that's going to make it feel easier. But don't do them all the time as they're tough - I find mentally it gets hard after a longer block of training like that.


    100% I've done this already! Really difficult to stop the urge to jump straight out of the blocks after you've been interrupted.

    I'm still finding roads / routes locally where I can get a good interval in but it's difficult with traffic / junctions / traffic lights getting in the way sometimes.

    I've started uploading my rides to TR as they are a lot more in depth than Strava with power so will look at the plans.
    Oh, if you have and are paying for TR already - yes absolutely use their plans, IMO it's a waste not to if you have access. Sweet Spot Base Low Volume I is a great place to start. They have done loads of work in the last year or so on making good outdoor versions for every workout such that most of them (certainly I think all of them in the SSB plan) have a good outdoor variant (a lot of them weren't always that easy to follow in a less controlled environment on the road).

    Suggest to start with low volume and then add in extra endurance work if you find yourself with extra time, rather than pick mid volume and cut (that's always their advice). Personally I always pick the low volume versions of their plans even though I pretty solidly average 10-12 hours a week (more if the weather is good), I try to hit the workouts and then other stuff for me is Zwift racing plus club and social rides outdoors.

    SSBLV 1 and 2 has been a mainstay of my cycling life since 2016... Reliably gets me back in shape... Since COVID though I have been much more consistent with training and worked through the full cycle base-build-specialty, and am now on a Plan Builder plan for an event in August (if you have a target event, it will build a plan for you).


    Not had much experience with TR either. It seems really in depth & a lot of it is over my head if I'm honest. I'm not that pro unfortunately........
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 9,737
    Just pick a plan and do as it says :)

    The plan builder thing designs the plan for you based on what your target event is, so if you use that you don't even need to pick the plan yourself! You can set any random ride as a target event if you want, and don't have any actual events, pick a challenging route to do etc..

    If you set the workouts to outdoors it will push them to your garmin/wahoo if you follow the steps to set it up (you only need to do that once and their instructions are pretty clear). Then you just follow the intervals on the day. You hit the lap button to start the intervals so you don't have to worry about starting till you find a good road etc.

    If you have access to it, you may as well give it a go and see - there's nothing to lose really.
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