Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | February 26, 2015

Using a Power Meter: Normalized Power

In previous posts on the Using a Power Meter series, I defined Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and its importance in the athlete development process, and described several methods you can use to estimate FTP. Next up is normalized power (NP), which is a very important concept when it comes to using a power meter. You are probably familiar with average power, which is simply the mean watts generated during a ride or a particular segment of a ride. Normalized power is an estimate of the power you could have maintained for the same physiological cost if your power had been perfectly constant such as on an indoor trainer. NP is the superior measure because it takes surges (i.e., harder efforts during a ride) into consideration.

For example, let’s say you complete a 1-hour, Zone 2 ride at a steady pace and your average power is 190 watts. The following day, you complete four hard 2-mile hill climbs and recover by spinning back down the hill. Once again, the total workout takes 1 hour and your average power is 190 watts. Now, was the physiological effect the same for both workouts? Absolutely not! The hill climb workout was definitely harder and would have created more physiological stress. That’s the beauty of normalized power. It takes the hard uphill efforts into consideration. With the first workout, your average power was 190 watts and your NP would have been very close to 190 watts as well (because there were no surges). Conversely, with the hill climb workout, your average power was 190 watts but your NP would have been much higher (e.g., 220 watts) to account for your hard surges uphill. Because of this, you should always consider normalized power when analyzing a workout or a particular segment of a workout.

NEXT POST – March 1, 2015

Cycle Log: Intensity Phase 2015 – Week 15

Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | February 22, 2015

Cycle Log: Intensity Phase 2015 – Week 14

Week 14 is the second week of the fifth mesocycle of my Intensity Phase for the 2015 racing season (click here for a detailed description of macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles). Here are my workouts for the week of February 16-22, 2015 (click here to download my Intensity Phase training plan):

  • Monday, February 16 – Steady Spinning (1.75 hours)
  • Tuesday, February 17 – Active Recovery (1.0 hour)
  • Thursday, February 19 – Time Trial Intervals (1.25 hours)
  • Friday, February 20 – Active Recovery (1.0 hour)
  • Saturday, February 21 – VO2 Max Intervals (1.0 hour)

I had another excellent week of training. It started with a Steady Spinning ride on my new TT bike. I think I can safely say I am comfortable riding in the aero position. My next step is to increase the power I can generate in that position. I rode my TT bike for Thursday’s Time Trial Intervals and had a great workout. I don’t have my power meter yet so I used heart rate as an intensity measure. I did 3 x 10:00 hard efforts with 5 minutes recovery. My average HR for 30 minutes was 160 bpm, which is my lactate threshold HR. My average speed for that time was 22.2 mph, which means I’m starting to generate some power in the aero position. I’m very pleased with those numbers in mid-February. Perhaps my best workout this week was Saturday’s VO2 Max Intervals. I did 4 x 3:00 hard efforts on the indoor trainer. My 4 hard efforts were 262, 268, 265 and 263 watts for an average power output of 264.5 watts for 12 minutes. My previous best was 257.25 watts on January 19. I am clearly getting stronger! I have a field test on Monday and then I recover. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a great week!

NEXT POST – February 26, 2015

Using a Power Meter: Normalized Power

Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | February 15, 2015

Cycle Log: Intensity Phase 2015 – Week 13

Week 13 is the first week of the fifth mesocycle of my Intensity Phase for the 2015 racing season (click here for a detailed description of macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles). Here are my workouts for the week of February 9-15, 2015 (click here to download my Intensity Phase training plan):

  • Monday, February 9 – Steady Spinning (1.5 hours)
  • Tuesday, February 10 – Active Recovery (1.0 hour)
  • Thursday, February 12 – Field Test (1.25 hours)
  • Friday, February 13 – Sprint Intervals: Long (1.0 hour)

I had a very good week of training, even though I couldn’t ride over the weekend. It started with a Steady Spinning ride on my new TT bike. I’m getting increasingly comfortable in the aero position. I rode my TT bike again for Thursday’s field test. It wasn’t my standard 2 x 8:00 test. Instead, I rode for 10 miles as fast as I could (28:24 on a relatively flat course in very windy conditions – a good first test on the new bike). The great news is I did the entire field test in the aero position. I have found my comfort zone. The next step is to increase my power in the aero position, which will become easier once I get my new power meter. It’s on order and should arrive any day. I finished my training week with another “40 Minutes of Hell” session on the indoor trainer. It’s 60 seconds ON and 60 seconds OFF (recovery) for 40 minutes, broken into four, 10 minute sets. Within each set, I increase gearing for each minute of hard effort (e.g., 53 x 19/17/16/15/14). It is a painful, yet awesome workout that works because you don’t give yourself enough time to recover. I have another hard week coming up including more rides on the new TT bike. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a great week!

NEXT POST – February 22, 2015

Cycle-Log: Intensity Phase 2015 – Week 14

Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | February 8, 2015

Cycle Log: Intensity Phase 2015 – Week 12

Week 12 is the third week of the fourth mesocycle of my Intensity Phase for the 2015 racing season (click here for a detailed description of macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles), which means it is a recovery week. Here are my workouts for the week of February 2-8, 2015 (click here to download my Intensity Phase training plan):

  • Monday, February 2 – Field Test (1.0 hour)
  • Tuesday, February 3 – High-Cadence Spinning (1.5 hours)
  • Thursday, February 5 – Active Recovery (1.0 hour)
  • Saturday, February 7 – Active Recovery (1.0 hour)

I had a pretty uneventful week. I had slightly tired legs for Monday’s Field Test. My first 8:00 hard effort yielded 246 watts average power, which is 4 watts off my personal best. Not too bad but I didn’t have much energy after that. My second effort lasted for 5:14 and generated 233 watts average power. I was definitely missing a gear or two for this workout. I did Tuesday’s High-Cadence Spinning session on my new TT bike. I’m starting to get used to the aero position and I can really fly when I’m on the aero bars. I was cruising at 21-22 mph without pushing very hard at all. The Trek Speed Concept 7.0 is a very fast bike (a lot faster than I am)! I recovered the rest of the week and I should be ready to go hard again. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a great week!

NEXT POST – February 15, 2015

Cycle Log: Intensity Phase Week 13

Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | February 5, 2015

My 2015 Race Schedule

As a competitive cyclist, one of the most enjoyable things I get to do is create my race schedule at the beginning of each season. It’s a relatively simple process but a very important one. The most effective way to select your races is to set seasonal goals and then create a schedule designed to help you achieve those goals (click here for my 2015 Race Season Goals). That’s exactly what I have done to create my race schedule. I also took two significant elements into consideration:

  1. I don’t want my season to be more than 6 months. I have burned out both mentally and physically in past years trying to stretch the season out for 8 months.
  2. I only want to do flat time trials. These are, by far, my favorite events and I have gotten tired of climbing over the past few years. Therefore, I omitted events such as the South Mountain Time Trial and Mount Lemmon Time Trial.

I am very pleased with my schedule. Racing begins on February 28 and ends on September 13 with the state championships (a 6.5 month long season). It includes 12 USA Cycling sanctioned TT races, 7 training races and my two favorite tours: The Tour de Mesa and the Tour de Scottsdale (TDS takes place after the race season is complete). Click here to review my full competition schedule.

NEXT POST – February 8, 2015

Cycle Log: Intensity Phase 2015 – Week 12

Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | February 1, 2015

Cycle Log: Intensity Phase 2015 – Week 11

Week 11 is the second week of the fourth mesocycle of my Intensity Phase for the 2015 racing season (click here for a detailed description of macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles). Here are my workouts for the week of January 26 to February 1, 2015 (click here to download my Intensity Phase training plan):

  • Monday, January 26 – Steady Spinning (2.0 hours)
  • Tuesday, January 27 – Active Recovery (0.75 hours)
  • Thursday, January 29 – Time Trial Intervals (1.0 hour)
  • Friday, January 30 – Active Recovery (1.0 hour)
  • Saturday, January 31 – Sprint Intervals: Long (1.0 hour)

I got my strength back! I ended the past week with tired legs and still felt some fatigue during Monday’s Steady Spinning ride on the trainer. However, I hung in there and by Thursday I was back to full strength. It showed during my Time Trial Intervals workout where I completed 3 x 7:00 hard efforts at 232, 235 and 233 watts for an average power output of 233.33 watts for 21 minutes (I recovered for 4 minutes between the hard efforts). I also had a great Long Sprint Intervals session. I did a variation of that workout I like to call 40 Minutes of Hell! Basically, it’s 60 seconds ON and 60 seconds OFF (recovery) for 40 minutes, broken into four, 10 minute sets. Within each set, you increase gearing for each minute of hard effort (e.g., 53 x 19/17/16/15/14). It is a painful (yet awesome) workout for the indoor trainer. I have another field test this week. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes. Have a great week!

NEXT POST – February 5, 2015

My 2015 Race Schedule

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