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  1. #1
    Go, Dog. Go! learnmedia's Avatar
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    Was considering a power meter, then I read...

    ...this. Is the case he makes for HR a sound one?
    "He who cannot dance will say 'the drum is bad'" Ghana

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    Senior Member Smallguy's Avatar
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    HRM's and RPE are certainly still relevant means to train

    I train with an HRM

    but HRM's do have the limitations of being near useless for short bursts and they are heavily influenced by external factors, hydration and temperature for an example

    that doesn't mean you can't reach peak fitness using an HRM but that with a power meter you do not have to worry about external factors

    an example 2 nights ago I was warming up for my LTHR test dong 1 minute intervals at 95% effort... it took 20ish seconds for my HRM to tell me my heart rate was in the 170's but I was hurting with in 10 seconds.. after i finished the 1 minute interval I immediately began to soft pedal and it took the better part of a minute for my HRM to report I was taking it easy

    another neat factor I've found with power meters is the number of tests available to help determine where you are strong and where you are weak.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I use both a PM and HRM for training. Once you have a PM you'll see how inaccurate HR is. Not only does hydration and temperature affect HR vs power by a large amount, but fatigue does too. Or just having an off day.

    But, a PM (or HRM) is not required to be fast. Some of the faster guys I ride with don't even use bike computers. If you're thinking of getting a PM I suggest reading "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" by Coggan and Allen. If you finish the book exited to use a PM, get one. If you get bored and stop reading, then don't bother with a PM unless you're going to be getting coached. You won't be willing to deal with the data and the PM will be wasted.

  4. #4
    on a road near you... cmolway's Avatar
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    I love BikeSnobNYC's view on power meters:

    " If you're an amateur, buying a power meter to train is like hiring an accountant to tell you how broke you are or like buying an iPhone just to check your Cannondale stock. Yet amateurs not only buy power meters, but they think $1,000 for a power meter is actually cheap. Clearly then, I will make a fortune when I introduce my own power meter at next year's Interbike, since it will be the cheapest and most accurate one ever. Yes, for $5 you'll get an LCD display which constantly flashes the message, 'You suck.'"
    http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2009...ucking-it.html

  5. #5
    Go, Dog. Go! learnmedia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmolway View Post
    I love BikeSnobNYC's view on power meters: http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2009...ucking-it.html
    Haha. Love BikeSnobNYC's way with words. Seriously though, I'm not sure whether the Zinio viewer that's linked to to preview the article is too much trouble for y'all, but I'm surprised that the coach of a successful ProTour team like QuickStep basically shuns power for HR. He insinuates that HR is a more reliable metric. Looking at the graphs that accompany the article, it's clear that he's not simply a luddite either. He's definitely analyzing the data and using it to develop riders training plans. The old adage, "whatever works " comes to mind.
    "He who cannot dance will say 'the drum is bad'" Ghana

  6. #6
    Pat
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    Well, if you really want a power meter, get one by all means.

    Having one will not automatically make you a better or faster rider. But then again, it probably will not make you a worse one either. It is just another tool to use.

    Remember, years ago before either power meters, or heart rate monitors or even bike computers, there were cyclists who were so good that they were scary. So getting really good can be done without any of that stuff.

  7. #7
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat View Post
    Well, if you really want a power meter, get one by all means.

    Having one will not automatically make you a better or faster rider. But then again, it probably will not make you a worse one either. It is just another tool to use.

    Remember, years ago before either power meters, or heart rate monitors or even bike computers, there were cyclists who were so good that they were scary. So getting really good can be done without any of that stuff.
    A good rider is going to be good pretty much no matter what. A power meter and/or HRM helps get more out of more limited resources, when those limited resources are time and potential rather than money...

  8. #8
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Think about it...
    PM and HRM measure different things...
    if, the plan is to use them as tools to improve 'performance', then you'll really want to use both.

    PM helps measure how much WORK' the engine does. doesn't tell you thing one about how the engine is actually doin.
    HRM indirectly (the best indirect method at this point in time...) measures how hard the effort is to do that WORK... so it indicates how well the engine is working.

    you need both, in comparison
    to
    see how efficiently the engine is getting the job done. HR compared to Power. There certainly can be a lot more used to tuning the package, but this is the cornerstone.

    a rider could be grinding out 300 watts and be ready to detonate
    OR
    could be puttin out 300 watts and just be cranking strongly along...

    Power alone tells you not too much, HR alone only gives an indication how hard the engine is working.
    Empircally, you can get the same info in a group when you look over and see the rider next to you chattin away while you're chuggin like a steam engine...

    no numbers, but the story is the same

    from Wikipedia: "In physics, power is the rate at which work is performed or energy is converted"
    it says nothing about the engine involved, or its condition.

    as to being totally wired or 'Mr/Ms Natural'
    there's a whole universe between the rider who doesn;t care how fast or how far they ride and those who need all the numbers, all the time.
    There is no 'correct' - just pick your place on that continuum.
    Golden rose, the color of the dream I had
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    Quote Originally Posted by learnmedia View Post
    ...this. Is the case he makes for HR a sound one?
    Sure. Just hire a world class full-time coach and get a lab test every two months to monitor progress. Not cheaper than a powermeter but would probably be effective.

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    A good rider is going to be good pretty much no matter what. A power meter and/or HRM helps get more out of more limited resources, when those limited resources are time and potential rather than money...
    Isn't that the truth!

  11. #11
    soon to be gsteinc... rkwaki's Avatar
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    I have followed the PM debate at length and would love to try one but just can't justify the cash. I would rather sink it into travel to races, race entry fees, wheelsets and food.

    I will sometimes wear a HRM maybe moreso this year than last and though I understand that HRM results are affected by hydration etc isn't that what matters? If you know where you are strong and try to put yourself there but are dehydrated/under nourished would it not be impossible to achienve the numbers your PM says you should do? I am not trying to be ignorant I just don't understand PM's well enough. I do know if given the choice between an SRM and a set of Lightweights - my decision is easily going to the Lightweights.

    I can assure of one thing - if you race more you WILL be faster computer/hrm/pm or not.

    BTW I use my computer mainly for the clock
    "if you ride it the way it's meant to be ridden there's no way any wife is less of a ***** than a bicycle." - gstein

  12. #12
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkwaki View Post
    I will sometimes wear a HRM maybe moreso this year than last and though I understand that HRM results are affected by hydration etc isn't that what matters? If you know where you are strong and try to put yourself there but are dehydrated/under nourished would it not be impossible to achienve the numbers your PM says you should do? I am not trying to be ignorant I just don't understand PM's well enough. I do know if given the choice between an SRM and a set of Lightweights - my decision is easily going to the Lightweights.
    The problem is that HR can make it look like you are "hitting your numbers" when power would tell you that you are off.

  13. #13
    Slower than Yesterday chadwick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    The problem is that HR can make it look like you are "hitting your numbers" when power would tell you that you are off.
    Especially when you live where it's Africa-hot.

  14. #14
    jmX
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    The problem is that HR can make it look like you are "hitting your numbers" when power would tell you that you are off.
    Shouldn't heartrate still somewhat correspond to workload? Is hitting a wattage number really a better goal than hitting a target heartrate (intervals aside)? I'm no expert, so this is an honest question.

    I've been doing the time crunched cyclist training program, and while the heart rate is annoying for the short intervals, for the longer rides and intervals it seems workable. On the other hand, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't checking powertap prices every few days. I'm a numbers geek, the more stats the better.

  15. #15
    umd
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    Sure, it somewhat corresponds to workload, but one number is telling you many different things and you don't necessarily know what that is.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmX View Post
    Shouldn't heartrate still somewhat correspond to workload? Is hitting a wattage number really a better goal than hitting a target heartrate (intervals aside)?
    "somewhat", in that they're both numbers. On long climbs when I have a sustained HR of 165-170 I may be putting out 260 watts or 160. The latter if it's really hot and I am overheated. Here's numbers from three climbs (3300-3600' each) that I did last year:
    Climb Time Avg Power Avg. HR
    1 1:10 220 143
    2 1:13 211 157
    3 1:20 182 156

    By the HR numbers the second two climbs were at a higher effort than 1, but I can guarantee that wasn't true. Climb 2 is generally agreed to be about 2 min longer than 1 and 2 (it's 3600' vs 3200', but slightly shorter). So climbs 1 and 2 were close to the same pace, which shows on the average power. On the last one I overheated (it was 110 degrees) and went much slower. But by the HR numbers it was a higher output interval than #1.

  17. #17
    Go, Dog. Go! learnmedia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
    Sure. Just hire a world class full-time coach and get a lab test every two months to monitor progress. Not cheaper than a powermeter but would probably be effective.
    No doubt. However, can the amateur get good results with an approximation of this approach sans the full-time pro coach and lab visits? Cheaper than a powermeter but probably effective?
    "He who cannot dance will say 'the drum is bad'" Ghana

  18. #18
    Go, Dog. Go! learnmedia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    "somewhat", in that they're both numbers. On long climbs when I have a sustained HR of 165-170 I may be putting out 260 watts or 160. The latter if it's really hot and I am overheated. Here's numbers from three climbs (3300-3600' each) that I did last year:
    Climb Time Avg Power Avg. HR
    1 1:10 220 143
    2 1:13 211 157
    3 1:20 182 156

    By the HR numbers the second two climbs were at a higher effort than 1, but I can guarantee that wasn't true. Climb 2 is generally agreed to be about 2 min longer than 1 and 2 (it's 3600' vs 3200', but slightly shorter). So climbs 1 and 2 were close to the same pace, which shows on the average power. On the last one I overheated (it was 110 degrees) and went much slower. But by the HR numbers it was a higher output interval than #1.
    Would not perceived rate of exertion tell you this in approximate terms absent a PM?
    "He who cannot dance will say 'the drum is bad'" Ghana

  19. #19
    jmX
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    "somewhat", in that they're both numbers. On long climbs when I have a sustained HR of 165-170 I may be putting out 260 watts or 160. The latter if it's really hot and I am overheated. Here's numbers from three climbs (3300-3600' each) that I did last year:
    Climb Time Avg Power Avg. HR
    1 1:10 220 143
    2 1:13 211 157
    3 1:20 182 156
    I guess my point was, isnt training by shooting for a certain exertion level more valid than shooting for a wattage? Even though your 3rd climb was at 40 watts less than the first, it seems like it would have been as beneficial as your first climb, or more so.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmX View Post
    I guess my point was, isnt training by shooting for a certain exertion level more valid than shooting for a wattage? Even though your 3rd climb was at 40 watts less than the first, it seems like it would have been as beneficial as your first climb, or more so.
    No. You should make your last one MORE work than your first just to ensure that you aren't doing less. If you are doing climbing intervals, the purpose is to maintain a certian muscle work level. If you drop the wattage, you are no longer working at that level and not getting the resonse you are training for. - TF

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    Quote Originally Posted by learnmedia View Post
    No doubt. However, can the amateur get good results with an approximation of this approach sans the full-time pro coach and lab visits? Cheaper than a powermeter but probably effective?
    You can definitely get good results with a HR meter. A powermeter is just another toy. A fun one if you're obsessive about numbers but at the end of the day the only way to improve is to do the work. Neither a powermeter nor HR monitor will do the work for you. I like a powermeter because of the convenience for doing short intervals and tracking performance gains during the course of the year but there are work arounds to this.

    If you have access to hills (which by your location I assume you do) and a GPS you can easily time your climbs and monitor your performance that way. Measuring HR and monitoring TRIMP will also give you a good indication of your training load.

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    If you train seriously and have done a field test to determine your LT then a power meter is the only way to go. Heart Rate lies. If you are half way through an 8 minute TT interval and stop pedaling for 10 seconds your heart rate will be unchanged, your power will be 0. Heart rate zones are only a suggestion, Power zones are science.

  23. #23
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    The problem is that HR can make it look like you are "hitting your numbers" when power would tell you that you are off.
    Hear, hear!

    I'm strictly a hobbyist/fred/wannabe, but a Power meter has been utterly helpful in my improvement and enjoyment.

    There are some things you can do with a power meter that cannot be done with only an HRM.
    After only one year of use, the best things I've learned from my power meter are:
    a) to resist the tendency to clench up when putting the hammer down, and that remaining relaxed & supple during intervals enables me to continue conscious, deep, yoga-style breathing (rather than clenching up & letting my breathing just happen) lets me increase the watts dramatically toward the end of the interval, without the corresponding spike in HR.
    b) higher-rpm is a great way to generate more power, BUT you must get accustomed to spinning at that higher rpm first. This might sound lame, but a power meter can teach you how to be a more efficient engine, rather than just stomping on the pedals.

    When I was only using the HRM, I could jack my heart rate way up, just by spinning faster than I was accustomed, or by clenching up. But without knowing my power output in either of those situations, I was just doing cardio without really improving.
    Last edited by calamarichris; 11-16-10 at 03:19 PM.

  24. #24
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    HRM and PM are both helpful tools. Looking at Eric's posted climb numbers, the thing that strikes one is that his last two climbs are at the same HR. So that's what he went by, not the PM. So when that happens, you know your power is off, but what are you going to do? You still have the rest of the ride to do. If you try to hold power, you'll crack and really lose time, so you watch your HRM. So they're both useful.

    In place of a PM, I used my competitors. I learned how to ride fast by watching my HRM and figuring out how to ride with and then beat people who were better and younger than I was. There's a major stimulus to figure it out when the wheel in front of you is inching away. Group rides are the real deal, IMO. Then you can apply what you learn with the group to your solo rides. But if you have the bucks and don't mind the disadvantages - one on every bike? - weight? - limited component selection? - then get the PM, too.

    I have a friend of the same weight who ran a PM on his bike so that was kind of cool. He'd holler at me to fergawdsakes back it down off 300 would you?

  25. #25
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Looking at Eric's posted climb numbers, the thing that strikes one is that his last two climbs are at the same HR. So that's what he went by, not the PM.
    He wasn't necessarily "going by HR". He could have just been doing all he could do and it happened to be the same HR. That's often what happens when I fade, my HR stays consistent and high but my power just drops off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    So when that happens, you know your power is off, but what are you going to do? You still have the rest of the ride to do.
    This is not a given. You can often cut a ride short, and/or back way off. If you are doing intervals, that is a good sign to stop doing them. You aren't getting the training effect and you are just making yourself more fatigued.

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