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Power Meter, heart rate monitor or both?

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Power Meter, heart rate monitor or both?

Old 06-03-14, 06:29 PM
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Power Meter, heart rate monitor or both?

As I am getting more serious I am going to invest in these. My thinking is that a heart rate monitor would be best because I feel tracking my body to be more important. Are the power meters accurate? How do they account for headwind?
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Old 06-03-14, 06:42 PM
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I have no experience with power meters; some with heart rate monitors. I kind of viewed a HRM as a tachometer for the heart. Using one lets you know how hard you are working your body and maybe more importantly gives you permission to slow down on recovery days. I found it a useful tool. Now I am an old curmudgeon and ride for pleasure with no monitoring tools (HRM or computer or GPS or whatever).
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Old 06-03-14, 06:45 PM
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What exactly are you trying to track/accomplish?

A power meter is superior to the HRM for training purposes. Downhill, uphill, headwind, tailwind it will always tell you exactly how much power you're making. The PM doesn't account for headwind per se but when you're only doing 8 mph into a gail force wind it'll record the 400 watts you produced to keep moving forward.

The HRM tells you how fast your heart is beating and while that has it's merits and is the next best thing for someone who can't afford a PM your heart rate can fluctuate at a specific effort based on other factors such as diet, fatigue, illness, caffeine etc. If you use a computer without power all it knows is that you had x avg at y HR and therefore can't account for wind and so on.
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Old 06-03-14, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
As I am getting more serious I am going to invest in these. My thinking is that a heart rate monitor would be best because I feel tracking my body to be more important. Are the power meters accurate? How do they account for headwind?
For training purposes, power meters are superior to heart rate monitors (HRMs). That's because heart rate is a "lagging indicator". Start pedaling up a hill and it may take several minutes before your HR starts to rise. A power meter, in contrast, will immediately know that you've started to do more work. Conversely, when you get to the top of the hill and start to coast down the power meter will know immediately that you've stopped working while your HR may continue to be elevated.

Most of the "big name" power meters are reasonable accurate. PowerTap, Quarq, and SRM are all known to be accurate. I don't know about the Garmin Vector and Stages power meters. I believe that the iBike power meters aren't nearly as accurate as some of the others I've mentioned, though I haven't looked at their most recent products.

Power meters record the actual work that you do to pedal the bike, so they're not affected by headwinds or tailwinds.
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Old 06-03-14, 09:17 PM
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If you're building fitness a HRM should be fine. I've used one for several years. If you're training, actually training not just riding long and fast, I'd like to have both. With a head wind, speed is down but a HRM or a PM will tell you if you're putting in the effort or not.

I've got the Stages on my wish list. It's good enough for Team Sky, I think it will be good enough for me
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Old 06-03-14, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo
What exactly are you trying to track/accomplish?

A power meter is superior to the HRM for training purposes. Downhill, uphill, headwind, tailwind it will always tell you exactly how much power you're making. The PM doesn't account for headwind per se but when you're only doing 8 mph into a gail force wind it'll record the 400 watts you produced to keep moving forward.

The HRM tells you how fast your heart is beating and while that has it's merits and is the next best thing for someone who can't afford a PM your heart rate can fluctuate at a specific effort based on other factors such as diet, fatigue, illness, caffeine etc. If you use a computer without power all it knows is that you had x avg at y HR and therefore can't account for wind and so on.
Perfect explanation, @CharlyAlfaRomeo, and the takeaway for the OP should be "both PM+HR".
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Old 06-04-14, 01:15 AM
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HR monitoring is significantly cheaper - you can always start there. HR is affected by a variety of external factors though... condition, fatigue, temperature, caffeine. Power meters pretty much tell it straight up - how much effort are you putting into the pedals right now.

I use both, not as rigorously as I should.
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Old 06-04-14, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by CharlyAlfaRomeo
What exactly are you trying to track/accomplish?
What I am trying to do is get into fighting shape again after almost 20 years of sedintary lifestyle. 10 years ago I did a lot of touring but I want to start racing followed by some tri events and a couple ironman events per year. I would like to start racing next year or the year after and the ironman in about 3-4 years.
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Old 06-04-14, 10:03 AM
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Iron man in 3 years is a helluva goal! Start with a HR monitor, figure out what your LTHR is and design yourself a training plan. If you haven't already put 500 miles in the saddle this year, do that first.

This fella writes a lot about power and HR training - Joe Friel

Chris Carmichael has a few good training books out there as well, including one I should buy called "The Time Crunched Cyclist"

Power meters are reputedly very beneficial for time trials (I don't do them, so this is second hand), particularly flatter time trials.

Once you have a power meter, if you're still super serious about it, find yourself a coach. trainingpeaks.com has a sort of remote coaching situation you can get yourself into, but most coaches won't coach you without power data.
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Old 06-04-14, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
What I am trying to do is get into fighting shape again after almost 20 years of sedintary lifestyle. 10 years ago I did a lot of touring but I want to start racing followed by some tri events and a couple ironman events per year. I would like to start racing next year or the year after and the ironman in about 3-4 years.
The more important question is: what's your budget? Heart rate monitors can be had for $100 or less. Power meters are going to be around $1000 if you need both the PM and an ANT+-enabled bicycle computer (ex: Garmin Edge). Assuming you have a compatible crank, the Stages power meter is probably your cheapest alternative. They start at around $700 for the power meter, plus whatever you'd spend to acquire a Garmin Edge head unit (ex: $200 for a Garmin Edge 500 + $60 for a HR strap if you want HR data and obviously more if you want a fancier Garmin).
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Old 06-04-14, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by daviddavieboy
What I am trying to do is get into fighting shape again after almost 20 years of sedintary lifestyle. 10 years ago I did a lot of touring but I want to start racing followed by some tri events and a couple ironman events per year. I would like to start racing next year or the year after and the ironman in about 3-4 years.
1st I would get a book like Joe Friel's Training Bible followed by a PM if you can afford it, may as well get an HRM while you're at it. Read the book, multiple times, do the testing required in it with the PM, start following the training protocols. If you're really serious get a coach.

2nd I would start racing as soon as possible, there is no better way to get into shape. Most if not all people just can't put forth the effort on their own that they find themselves doing in a race when people are watching and pride is on the line.

Start with criteriums or if there's a velodrome near you try it out. They're short in duration, cheap, fun, really high intensity and will teach you some tactics and handling skills that will serve you for the rest of your racing days.
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Old 06-04-14, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
Iron man in 3 years is a helluva goal!
I never said I was going to be comptitive, I just was to complete. 3 years is short, My brother took 4 before competing from 240 lbs. He has been doing 2-3 per year for the last 4 years and he is pushing 55 years old.

Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
If you haven't already put 500 miles in the saddle this year, do that first
I am doing between 80 -120 miles per week, 2 or 3 10 mile rides at over 20mph average (somewhat flat)


My bro just bought a PM this spring thought I am not sure what for. At his last Ironman in 2013 he came 25 overall with a time of 13:23:11. Not bad for a ex clyde himself, let alone a 54 year old.
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Old 06-04-14, 04:11 PM
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I think i could do the run portion in 13 hours, which would give me 23 minutes to ride a century to keep you with your bro. Hm.

And I think even completing an iron man would be a helluvan accomplishment. My knees hurt just thinking about it.
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Old 06-04-14, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
I think i could do the run portion in 13 hours, which would give me 23 minutes to ride a century to keep you with your bro. Hm.

And I think even completing an iron man would be a helluvan accomplishment. My knees hurt just thinking about it.
It was an ordeal just being there for support if he needed.

The other week I was pleased when we both did a 50 mile and I was only 2 mph average less than him, until I noticed he did about 2000 feet more of climbing on the same ride. LOL
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