Fitness Improvement

I’ve been trying to convince my buddy Al that he needs to start bike training with power. You see, Al foolishly signed up for next year’s GranFondo, which is essentially a 120km bike race. Not only that, but Al loves gadgets and technology. He’s an Early Adopter. A lot of times he goes for rides for the sole purpose of collecting data from his bike computer (which is a Garmin Edge 705). Anyways, he doesn’t have a power meter and he needs one. Badly. Al naively asked me why he needs one and I said that it will make him go faster. And now I have proof from my own use of measuring power.

I did a baseline power test on my Kurt Kinetic trainer back in August. The general idea was to determine my Functional Threshold Power, or ftp for short. ftp is essentially the power that a person can maintain while doing a 40km individual time trial. The trick is to not actually do a 40km ITT to determine this number because a 40km ITT is hard, it hurts and is generally uncomfortable. It turns out there are a couple of substitutes. A person can do a 20min test, and the power result of that is approximately 95% of ftp. Or a person can do a MAP test. I prefer the MAP test, I find the 20min test a bit harder because of the mental concentration required.

Back to August though. My results showed that I had an ftp of 220W, and estimate VO2max of 44.5. Now after 6 weeks of training my ftp is 255W and VO2max is 50. As well, I managed to drop almost 2kg of body mass. Almost all of my workouts during this time have been what Hunter Allen refers to as “sweet spot training.” I think the idea here is that the workout is hard enough to induce a reasonable amount of physiological stress while being “easy” enough to concentrate on cardiovascular endurance. The purpose of SST workouts is to increase a person’s ftp.

I suppose I could have gotten similar results by using perceived effort and not power. Monitoring power allows a person to focus on the purpose of training as best as possible though, and gives feedback as to whether the training is effective and working.

I fully expect Al to have an iBike or PowerTap by spring of 2011. If he doesn’t, he risks being shelled by sluggo and left for dead on highway 99 during the GrandFondo. And nobody wants that. Except maybe sluggo.

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2 comments on “Fitness Improvement

  1. Did you sign up for the GranFondo? Erin did it this year and loved it…

  2. Yeah, I got suckered into signing up. The entry fee is *a bit* steep. But I’m sure it will be fun – in a tiring, sore and annoying type way.

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