The intermediate and advanced level British Cycling Sportive training plans use heart rate or power to gauge and monitor effort. Many users have heart rate but should you go one step further to purchase a power meter? The team are here to bring you the pros and cons of investing in your training.
Before making any purchases, even if it’s a must have bargain on the last days of the January sales, you need to understand what the benefits and pitfalls could be once you have it on your bike. Below are a few hints and tips from our Insight Zone experts on purchasing a power meter:
Real time: Heart rate can take time to rise to the expected level; a power system informs you from the first pedal strokes if you are within the correct zone.
Accuracy: Irrelevant of temperature, fatigue and weather conditions, power is absolute, will not change and will always accurately report your performance. This becomes really helpful when riding indoors in the winter, as heart rate can often not accurately reflect the effort you’re making.
Pace practice: If your goal is to ride a specific time for a time trial event, power can be used very accurately to gauge the effort required. You can also use a power meter to pace hills and to ensure you don’t go too hard.
Cost: Power systems are far more expensive to buy than heart rate monitors, starting at £600 without a computer and escalating to over £2000.
Versatility: Swapping crank based power meters between bikes can be time consuming and laborious. Hub based systems leave you with the dilemma whether to race on a training wheel or train on your racing wheels.
Intensity: Power meters do not tell you how hard your body is working; only the power you are generating. Combine power with heart rate and you’ve got an incredibly powerful system for monitoring your training.
So if you have the money and want the accuracy, take the plunge with a power meter and you will be in data delight.
But remember – any data is only as useful as the person analysing it, so be sure to know what you’re doing with the numbers.
You can find more information on improving your fitness with the British Cycling in the Insight Zone, where you can find hints and tips whilst using the British Cycling Sportive Training Plans.
Not using the British Cycling Sportive Training Plans? Get involved through the member benefits page.