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Old 04-10-10, 07:47 PM   #1
Stymieman
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Watts & Training

Please tell me my stationary bike watts meter isn't working right! I have been training VERY, VERY hard for my first races (20 mile and 50 mile mountain bike) and have been looking on the web for the best measurements to use to check training progress. I found a lot about watts but am very concerned because the watts levels that they are showing are well above what I am producing on my bike.

I'm 45, 145 pounds. I've been building my training up for 7 months riding, running (infrequently due to a bad knee) and lifting weights (focusing on upper body). The past few months I've been stuck training inside due to the snow. I have my stationary bike set to its highest level (16) on crosstraining. So, there are extended times at the highest level, intervals between mid-level and highest level, as well as other variations but none going below the mid-level. Over 30 minutes I am averaging 10 miles and only 130 watts which is low even for a casual rider from what I've read! My average heart rate while riding is 140-145 which, according to what I saw on Wikipedia, is on the lower end of hardcore training.

So, am I doing something wrong or does it seem like my watts reading is just off?
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Old 04-11-10, 09:01 AM   #2
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I use a PowerTap on all my rides so I have some interest in this. Others may have more info.

I have no idea if your numbers are accurate but what's not apparent is whether you're a "spinner" (easy gear, high cadence) or a "grinder" (hard gear, low cadence). Depends on your body type and what feels best to you. Both can produce the same wattage but have dramatically different affects on the body. Try reducing the difficulty and increasing your cadence to achieve the same wattage. The trick is to find the difficulty and cadence to achieve the power you want that feels best.

Then once you find the sweet spot, you have two options to increase power; increase cadence (angular velocity) or force on the pedals through the stroke. Cadence is easiest, just turn the pedals faster. Force is generally a function of your muscles and technique (which includes bike fit). There's tons of threads on all of these items individually.

It sounds like you're doing the right thing, intervals. Intervals have the most benefit when you come close to or above your Lactate Threshold. Several threads on this to. Hope that helps. GL
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Old 04-11-10, 07:03 PM   #3
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So, am I doing something wrong or does it seem like my watts reading is just off?
Yes
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Old 04-12-10, 05:39 AM   #4
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Yeah, your reading sounds low. I wonder if there such a thing as a stair-climb chart that could factor the amount of time and the number of steps you climb to find your wattage.

If you know the amount of ft/lbs lifted in "x" amount of time - you can find your wattage.

Here, I went out and got a link to a crude "watt" testing protocol.

Last edited by Richard Cranium; 04-12-10 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 04-13-10, 08:37 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info. I was pointed to something on the web and it came out to 233 watts which seemed a little more realistic. I checked out the 20 mile course and finished well past the estimated 45 to 60 minutes per 10 mile lap. I think that I'm more cut out for distance. I just can't seem to sprint well, especially when there are hills. I can go longer distances if I can go at a steadier pace.
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Old 04-19-10, 01:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Stymieman View Post
Thanks for the info. I was pointed to something on the web and it came out to 233 watts which seemed a little more realistic. I checked out the 20 mile course and finished well past the estimated 45 to 60 minutes per 10 mile lap. I think that I'm more cut out for distance. I just can't seem to sprint well, especially when there are hills. I can go longer distances if I can go at a steadier pace.
If you are averaging around 10mph, you are probably much closer to 130 watts than 233 (unless you are climbing a mountain). 130 sounds about right, but I wouldn't worry too much about the accuracy of the watts. If you have a wattage meter on your trainer, just try to keep improving the number rather than worrying what the number is. Get outside and ride now that the weather is nice, you will get stronger/faster.
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