power on flats vs climbs

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Delorre
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by Delorre

I've been using a stages power meter for a few months now, and it's still not clear why there is such a difference in power I can sustain for x minutes on flats vs climbs. On my rolers, I did an all out test of 20 minutes and calculated FTP was around 290w. On a 5 min climb, I can stay at 320w without to much suffer and can repeat this several times. On the flat, other story :-( I seem to max out at 260, 270w for longer periods. No way I could push 320w for 5 minutes or more on a perfect flat roud without headwind.

Has it to do with pedaling cadence (90 - 95 on 5% climbs, around 105 on flats), other muscles used for seated climbing? Or is it a mental question and do I have the feeling to suffer a lot more on flats, holding me back to push harder than i could in reality? Or is it that I've always trained a lot on climbs and not focused enough a flat speed? Strange thing is, with headwind, I can pull the whole group for an extended time, so hard in fact my team mates don't try to take it over from me, or even ask me to slow down a little... But even then, power stays well below what i can push when pulling hard on climbs.

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iliedanila
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by iliedanila

În my case, it's the other way around.. I can push 105 cadence on flat and go on and on without issue, but on the climbs if I try a cadence above 90, I hit the wall in 5 min max... I don't use a powermeter but my body sais it's about the same power... Why do you think is that?

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fromtrektocolnago
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by fromtrektocolnago

I can put out far more power on the climbs than on the flats. Different muscles, different stress on the cardio.
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prendrefeu
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by prendrefeu

Maybe you're just built for climbing?
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Fixie82
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by Fixie82

This article explains the same effort but differing power output quite well http://cyclingtips.com/2013/09/climbing ... -affected/

fromtrektocolnago
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by fromtrektocolnago

prendrefeu wrote:Maybe you're just built for climbing?


Don't know, but for an amateur my age I'm relatively impressive on climbs, not so much on the flats.
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Delorre
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by Delorre

Fixie82 wrote:This article explains the same effort but differing power output quite well http://cyclingtips.com/2013/09/climbing ... -affected/


Thx! :thumbup:

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Rick
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by Rick

This phenomenon has bothered me for a long time. I can put out significantly higher power for almost any given duration on a climb, and it happens at ridiculously low RPMs.
Because of this I do a lot of training to try to increase both rpm AND power at higher RPM, but it just never really seems to work.
I don't understand, except to resign myself to the idea that I am all "slow twitch".

bungis
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by bungis

Aren't the rollers a fair reflection of riding on the flats in terms of muscle firing? If anything the rollers would yield worse performance in terms of being slow twitch dominant because riding on the flats outside you still feel the constant air resistance.

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Rick
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by Rick

Maybe, in theory, the rollers are a fair reflection of "the flats", but I personally find that there are other factors there too.
The boredom and lack of scenery really bothers me for anything longer than about 5 min, and the instability of rollers inhibits me for shorter durations, where I would be going "all out" on the road.

Don't get me wrong, I really kind of like the rollers for taking my legs up to where they ache pretty bad at high RPM for a while, but I never get high power output and I am not sure they are really "representative" of anything. Maybe other people are better at overcoming these mental issues.

Multebear
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by Multebear

It's a known fact, that it's easier to sustain higher amounts of watts while climbing. It's because the climb constantly challenges you to keep up speed, otherwise the bike will stop very quickly. On the flats you have to keep pushing to sustain the same watts. Next thing is, when you are climbing you have a better position on the bike. Your pedaling is more like a kick downwards, like taking a step on a staircase. Your breathing becomes easier as well, because of the more upright position on your bike.

Rollers are a completely different thing as well. For some reason you can't compare the watt numbers when doing rollers to riding on the flats or climbing. Rollers force you to keep pedaling or else the rollers stop very quickly. On the flats you're able to coast for a second and still hold your cadence. Thats not possible on rollers. You need to test your ftp in each environment, you can't rely on your ftp from the flats, when doing rollers or climbs and vice versa.

TheKaiser
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by TheKaiser

Multebear wrote:It's a known fact, that it's easier to sustain higher amounts of watts while climbing. It's because the climb constantly challenges you to keep up speed, otherwise the bike will stop very quickly. On the flats you have to keep pushing to sustain the same watts. Next thing is, when you are climbing you have a better position on the bike. Your pedaling is more like a kick downwards, like taking a step on a staircase. Your breathing becomes easier as well, because of the more upright position on your bike.

Rollers are a completely different thing as well. For some reason you can't compare the watt numbers when doing rollers to riding on the flats or climbing. Rollers force you to keep pedaling or else the rollers stop very quickly. On the flats you're able to coast for a second and still hold your cadence. Thats not possible on rollers. You need to test your ftp in each environment, you can't rely on your ftp from the flats, when doing rollers or climbs and vice versa.


That is great advise about re-testing FTP in each training environment. Regarding your statement about the known fact that it's easier to sustain higher watts when climbing, I agree that it is more common and certainly true for myself, but I have seen people who seem to have the opposite condition, where they have a better power profile on the flats. Given the advantages you mention to the climbing position, and the inertia issue mentioned in the cyclingtips article linked above, I have suspected that it may come down to the type of training and terrain the person has been habitually doing.

Multebear
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by Multebear

I've been training with a couple of cat 1 riders in spain in the mountains, and they told me about how it's easier to sustain higher watts when climbing. It made sense to me. But maybe you're right, that it isn't true for all. But I think it's true for most riders.

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Tinea Pedis
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by Tinea Pedis

It's as much about specificity as the other factors already listed. I do all my interval work on my TT bike - either on the ergo or outdoors. As a result my best 20 minute powers over the last 18 months are all on that bike, in that position. Even up a gradient on the road bike I cannot generate the same power, simply as I do not spend as much time in that position.

It's been said by others before: specificity is king.

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HillRPete
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by HillRPete

Multebear wrote:I've been training with a couple of cat 1 riders in spain in the mountains, and they told me about how it's easier to sustain higher watts when climbing. It made sense to me. But maybe you're right, that it isn't true for all. But I think it's true for most riders.

This will certainly the case when your TT position is overly aggressive, and restricting you.

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