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Power meter for beginner?

Old 05-12-17, 04:06 AM
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Power meter for beginner?

I'm sure this will spark a lot of debate, similar to every other accessories I guess for cycling

Can a Power meter help train a beginner cyclist?
If you do have a Power meter, has it helped?

I know there are people who have a different thought on cycling, no accessories, just a steel bike and personal fitness and then there are others who have computer, gel packs, garmin rear smart lights, power meters etc
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Old 05-12-17, 04:20 AM
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A power meter is only a tool. If you don't know what to do with it or if you don't put in the work, it won't help you -- even if you are a very experienced cyclist. But if a beginner goes to the trouble to learn what to do to get the benefits a power meter offers AND then goes out and puts in the miles and effort to get those benefits, of course a power meter can benefit a beginning cyclist. For a beginner, if they take the time and effort necessary to do it right, the benefits will be more dramatic than for most.
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Old 05-12-17, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by boshk
I'm sure this will spark a lot of debate, similar to every other accessories I guess for cycling

Can a Power meter help train a beginner cyclist?
If you do have a Power meter, has it helped?

I know there are people who have a different thought on cycling, no accessories, just a steel bike and personal fitness and then there are others who have computer, gel packs, garmin rear smart lights, power meters etc
For a beginner, just using a Heart Rate Monitor should be plenty of data to get your base fitness. In a year or two, maybe 3, it would make sense to look at a Power Meter.

But that is just my opinion, and you are not going to *hurt* anything by having a Power Meter.
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Old 05-12-17, 08:05 AM
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I think it's more important for a "beginner" to first learn the basics (e.g. holding a line, smooth pedaling, comfort in groups, etiquette, proper bike fit, etc) before caring about the tons of data provided by power meters. A heart rate monitor should be more than enough in the meantime.

Now that I think about it, I started with a simple Cateye computer without even HR data and worked my way up to a fairly high level of (recreational) cycling. I finally bought a Powertap wheel when I started racing.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:30 AM
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If you're brand new to the sport, I would say take at least the first year learning the basics, bike handling, riding with groups and clubs etc. Depending on your level of fitness and disposition to sports, if truly new to cycling, you'll likely make MASSIVE gains in fitness in the beginning just by riding more. Enjoy that!-it doesn't get any easier after that! Then if/when you find yourself really wanting to focus on goals and improvement and making incremental gains in your abilities, then look into getting a power meter and learn how to use it. It's simply a tool to help you get better, but you still gotta sweat and endure pain and be disciplined.

The good news, the barrier for entry these days is much more affordable then in the past, with lots of competition and models on the market.
My take.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by boshk
If you do have a Power meter, has it helped?
Yes, absolutely.

It's been good for my fitness. It's improved my understanding of riding a bike, often in subtle ways. It's a fantastic pacing tool. It helps me maintain a healthy weight because I actually know how much energy I've used on the bike. It gives me a target to use for intervals. It's even given me some insight into which among some of my gear is faster/more aerodynamic.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:39 AM
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I have to agree with everything that has been said already. Take the time to really get good on the bike, and worry about the data after a year or two. HR is all you need to start.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo
A power meter is only a tool. If you don't know what to do with it or if you don't put in the work, it won't help you -- even if you are a very experienced cyclist. But if a beginner goes to the trouble to learn what to do to get the benefits a power meter offers AND then goes out and puts in the miles and effort to get those benefits, of course a power meter can benefit a beginning cyclist.
+1.

Yes a beginner could benefit from using a power meter, but in no way is it necessary.
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Old 05-12-17, 11:31 AM
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+1 what's been said before. Another option is to get a smart trainer that has power meter built in, for in door use when you don't have the time to ride outside. Throw your bike on it, get on Zwift or TrainerRoad and do structured training with HRm and Power meter.
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Old 05-12-17, 11:46 AM
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A PM could even be counterproductive for a beginner, IMO. People have posted on this forum before about getting a PM within a few months of getting started in road cycling, and then obsessing over power numbers and getting discouraged when they don't improve for a given effort over a given time because they were focused on the wrong things and weren't enjoying the sport.
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Old 05-12-17, 11:50 AM
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If you have the budget and the knowledge, I say go for it.
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Old 05-12-17, 12:47 PM
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Another thing I like about having one is when riding unfamiliar roads. The first time I'm on a new route, it's hard (for me) to determine if I'm doing work, or not. Roads I'm familiar with, I know how they should "feel" but new routes it's harder to tell. So if I want to get a workout in on new routes, it's very helpful to know what power I am producing, if my sense of what feels right is incorrect. This is especially true with a beginner, as you'll generally have less idea of your fitness and what kind of effort you can do. If your goals are to improve your cycling fitness, there really isn't a reason not to get one early on.
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Old 05-12-17, 01:08 PM
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Personally, I'd say a cadence sensor would be the most useful device for a beginner. Of course, most power meters have some sort of cadence sensor built in.
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Old 05-12-17, 01:30 PM
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But if you don't have a power meter, how will you know how to dial it up to 400W when you drope the hamer?

I am joking, I would agree no need to rush into getting one. The prices are coming down anyway, so give it a year or two unless you gots money to burn.
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Old 05-12-17, 02:15 PM
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As a beginner or as a seasoned rider you have other ways to measure power. You just won't know the number to quote.
These are still the primary way my kid (seasoned) trains.

You can use a set course and set distance.
-Time on flat
-Time on hill
The thing I like is you see the total result. More power does not always mean more speed. For example you can be positioned for max power and lose some aerodynamics. There are many things that affect speed besides power.


You can have a cycling specific weight routine
-Leg press etc that equates to power.

You can measure relative position is a group ride over many rides.

Then...for some $$
You can get a yearly VO2max/power test. A guy in San Diego (https://www.fitstop-lab.com ) charges $100/repeat test.

Having a HRM for these activities is good as is measuring your morning resting HR.
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Old 05-12-17, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge
There are many things that affect speed besides power.
Speed = power * all opposing forces.
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Old 05-12-17, 05:09 PM
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Yes but I'd recommend a very good trainer first. My Kicker plus TrainerRoad has made me a better cyclist than my power meter.
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Old 05-12-17, 07:22 PM
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I think the real answer is there are two kinds of cyclists: those who benefit from power meters, and those who don't.
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Old 05-12-17, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
I think the real answer is there are two kinds of cyclists: those who benefit from power meters, and those who don't.
Yeah. Plus, experience level isn't a good predictor of who'll benefit: some novices will benefit, some won't. Some long time racers will benefit, some won't. It's a tool, not a bolt-on motor.
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Old 05-12-17, 07:47 PM
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I would suggest holding off on a PM purchase. There are a number of different types that "affect your bike" in different ways. A Quarq is pretty much dedicated to the bike you install it on (which might be fine for you). A Powertap lives on the wheel on which it is installed (so if you have everyday wheels and race wheels you might have an issue here). Garmin Vector Pedals can kind of go almost anywhere (at least in the Road Bicycle world). Hard to know right how which trade-off is best for you and, as others have said, it isn't crucial at this point.

FWIW, I would hate to loose my Vector pedals (but it would hardly be the end of my cycling world).

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Old 05-12-17, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Yeah. Plus, experience level isn't a good predictor of who'll benefit: some novices will benefit, some won't. Some long time racers will benefit, some won't. It's a tool, not a bolt-on motor.
I think if you ask somebody "are you a numbers person?" you'll have a pretty good idea if they'll see value in it right away when it's on their bike. People who aren't can still figure out how to benefit from them, of course.
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Old 05-12-17, 08:25 PM
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I love my power meters (I have 3). I got my first one when I'd been cycling for around 1.5 years.


I have benefited greatly from them, very much a game changer for me on many levels.


I am in no way a numbers person, but I am a physiology person and very organized, somewhat addicted to challenging myself. I like structured training and I like interval workouts. (I even like the trainer, although I rarely do my workouts on them.)


Benefits of a power meter/ways that I use mine:
1. Opened up a wider variety of coaches to work with, its hard to have a remote coach without power data
2. Accurate definition of efforts during interval workouts
3. Tracking cumulative fatigue over time
4. Pacing a TT or endurance ride
5. Better understanding of the generation of power, how its a product of cadence and torque and how identical power numbers can be generated at different "cost" physiologically (dependent on position, terrain, wind, muscles engaged, fatigue, etc)
6. Tracking calories, managing weight, understanding fueling strategies on long rides
7. Aero testing
8. Calling BS on RPE when something feels "too hard" on a given day but you know from experience that you can do it. In which case, HTFU and do it anyway.
9. The ability to see beyond results and know when a ride or race was good, even if you didn't place well. Or maybe just the ability to see what was good and what was bad about a race.
10. Improved focus during long TT intervals
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Old 05-12-17, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Heathpack
I love my power meters (I have 3). I got my first one when I'd been cycling for around 1.5 years.


I have benefited greatly from them, very much a game changer for me on many levels.


I am in no way a numbers person, but I am a physiology person and very organized, somewhat addicted to challenging myself. I like structured training and I like interval workouts. (I even like the trainer, although I rarely do my workouts on them.)


Benefits of a power meter/ways that I use mine:
1. Opened up a wider variety of coaches to work with, its hard to have a remote coach without power data
2. Accurate definition of efforts during interval workouts
3. Tracking cumulative fatigue over time
4. Pacing a TT or endurance ride
5. Better understanding of the generation of power, how its a product of cadence and torque and how identical power numbers can be generated at different "cost" physiologically (dependent on position, terrain, wind, muscles engaged, fatigue, etc)
6. Tracking calories, managing weight, understanding fueling strategies on long rides
7. Aero testing
8. Calling BS on RPE when something feels "too hard" on a given day but you know from experience that you can do it. In which case, HTFU and do it anyway.
9. The ability to see beyond results and know when a ride or race was good, even if you didn't place well. Or maybe just the ability to see what was good and what was bad about a race.
10. Improved focus during long TT intervals
Nice list. Currently, I'm mostly using mine to generate accurate and precise records of level and trend in how much I suck.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung
Nice list. Currently, I'm mostly using mine to generate accurate and precise records of level and trend in how much I suck.
Haha, well that too.

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Old 05-12-17, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Heathpack
5. Better understanding of the generation of power, how its a product of cadence and torque and how identical power numbers can be generated at different "cost" physiologically (dependent on position, terrain, wind, muscles engaged, fatigue, etc)
This wasn't a reason I bought a power meter and I don't think it's something I expected to get out of having one (it's been years now) but I've appreciated this immensely. Also, working with the critical power curve puts things into a new perspective while you're out on the road. My understanding of how everything works together got much stronger when I got mine.

Originally Posted by Heathpack
3. Tracking cumulative fatigue over time
This is a big part of why I got one. Pacing, over the course of a ride but also long term. The Performance Manager Chart was love at first sight, at least once it filled in. You can just look at it, and pretty much know what to do to get ready for an event, even when to taper. I don't mean to take away from having a coach, but for people who don't, this is a hugely valuable tool.

I've been experimenting with Firstbeat's approach to training load lately, and it's working impressively well. But I'm training for a trail run.
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