A Rant on Power-Based Training

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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TheRich
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by TheRich

Nefarious86 wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 10:09 pm
The reason the use of FTP and Zones are so common for a power meter is the fact that for the vast majority of mortals it's an effective method of building strength when used correctly.

This rant is a whole other level of pointless.

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Not using FTP, or a similar metric, is like using HR without knowing your max HR rate.

by Weenie


AeroObsessive
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by AeroObsessive

So let's look at FTP and why it may or may not be effective for some. AFAIK (and happy to be corrected on the exact history) the whole FTP concept was done by Dr Coggan. The zones were established after batteries of tests benchmarked them against key physiological "markers" (LT1/2) and the energy systems and (likey) adaptations that occur. So far, so good.

The biggest issues then arose from people, coaches, whoever, misunderstanding, misinterpreting, or misrepresenting how the zones are established and what FTP actually is supposed to be. This seems for some to have given rise to the classic "20min test" to establish what FTP is. Again, nothing particularly wrong with that, but that 20mins was never the sole intended benchmark and there were other durations that were supposed to be tested prior. From here, sometimes wildly, inaccurate calculations of the 20min power to FTP can occur. 95%, 92% *can* be waaaay off. Sometimes it's more like 88% for some. Making the 20min to FTP conversion incorrectly then skews zones more higher than they should be, and thus NOT a good representation of the zones of physiological markers/demands.

The net result of this is too much work being done in higher physiological demands for too long. Now, some athletes can suck this up just fine and get good gains from it, some get gains initially and then plateau, and some get overtrained. Overtraining, in my experience, occurs from not paying attention. There are a lot of indicators prior to overtraining occuring, and when people ignore them is when they get in the hole. Again, the tools being used are not at fault here.

It should be re-stated that the zones are not the training. You can use a 3, 4,5, or 7 zone model, the intention of program that is written for the athlete to meet the demands of their sport doesn't change just because of an arbitrary zone system.

FTP is an "easy" system for people to use, and plenty have used it to success, others not so much. *IF* the zones are calculated reasonably accurately the *intention* of the training zones is usually pretty good. Again, it is not the be all and end all. Some coaches use step tests, again to decent results. Some do lactate testing etcetera. If the data from the athlete is being monitored over time the testing becomes somewhat irrelevant for setting zones, especially if racing or other suitably hard efforts take place. Hell, even chasing those Strava segements can yield good data. A more modern example is Zwift racing, if you get your head into the game (so to speak) you can get some good efforts (and data) occuring.

Now, whether you use that data to shape a "threshold" focus training, polarised, reverse non-linear periodized whatever that's for you and/or coach to work out.

I generally work with racers from all cycling disciplines (except cyclo-cross, not big in Aus yet). *My* (not to be read as only) preferred method for establishing zones is to initially not to. Various rides, races, efforts etc are prescribed over a period of time, data collected and usually it becomes real clear which zones are where. I particularly like covering up any data/devices during a ride/effort, they have to ride "blind" as it were. Also gives a good insight to mental tenacity, ability to pace etc. Another little note is I generally prefer point to point tests over a set arbitrary time. It seems the psychology of getting from point A to B yields better results (mental and physical) than just "punch out as much power for 8 mins as you can."

Then once enough data is collected this is used to dial it into the prescriptive zones for the training ahead. Again, not the only way, but has worked so far. No study to back up any of this though.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

TheRich wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 9:29 pm
Actually, it was based on the strawman (among many) that people are exclusively using power.
How many people do you know that use power meters that have any concept of HR training zones? I don't think it's fair to call it a strawman. Anyone who buys a power meter is going to search on Google/Youtube on how to train with power meters. As mentioned, the vast majority of sources direct you to a FTP test and FTP zones, and few if any of these resources tell you to use a heart rate monitor.
Last edited by iheartbianchi on Mon May 27, 2019 5:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

Nefarious86 wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 10:09 pm
The reason the use of FTP and Zones are so common for a power meter is the fact that for the vast majority of mortals it's an effective method of building strength when used correctly.
It's also an effective way to plateau after a year or two, and also an effective way to overtrain, since it is so easy to use incorrectly and due to the large variations found between FTP to IAT/LT/MLSS or whatever else it purports to be based on, and since so few mortals seem to care about their HR during a ride. For me, best practices is to only use a power meter together with a HRM, and having an alarm setting when your HRM goes past a specified limit, regardless of whether or not you are in your prescribed FTP zone. I can count on one hand the number of recreational riders I saw doing this (or riders who actually slow down when their HR goes past their target zone) and I'm sure the same will apply to most of you.
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mattr
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by mattr

iheartbianchi wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 5:33 am
How many people do you know that use power meters that have any concept of HR training zones?
Almost all of them.
And if you limit it to properly coached riders, it's an even higher percentage.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

mattr wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 5:50 am
iheartbianchi wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 5:33 am
How many people do you know that use power meters that have any concept of HR training zones?
Almost all of them.
And if you limit it to properly coached riders, it's an even higher percentage.
Then you are living in a completely different world than I am. Because I rarely see any heart rate monitors on group rides, and most of the Strava accounts I am looking at don't even have HR data.
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Nefarious86
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by Nefarious86


iheartbianchi wrote:
TheRich wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 9:29 pm
Actually, it was based on the strawman (among many) that people are exclusively using power.
How many people do you know that use power meters that have any concept of HR training zones? I don't think it's fair to call it a strawman. Anyone who buys a power meter is going to search on Google/Youtube on how to train with power meters. As mentioned, the vast majority of sources direct you to a FTP test and FTP zones, and few if any of these resources tell you to use a heart rate monitor.
I'd say most, if not all of the people I ride with who use power have a decent understanding of HR and how to use it as a measure of fatigue and training adaptations..


iheartbianchi wrote:
mattr wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 5:50 am
iheartbianchi wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 5:33 am
How many people do you know that use power meters that have any concept of HR training zones?
Almost all of them.
And if you limit it to properly coached riders, it's an even higher percentage.
Then you are living in a completely different world than I am. Because I rarely see any heart rate monitors on group rides, and most of the Strava accounts I am looking at don't even have HR data.
Why do you feel your anecdotal little bubble should be considered the norm?

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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

Nefarious86 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 5:53 am

I'd say most, if not all of the people I ride with who use power have a decent understanding of HR and how to use it as a measure of fatigue and training adaptations..

Why do you feel your anecdotal little bubble should be considered the norm?

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I'm just going to post some random Strava segments. Obviously the leaders will typically be well-trained athletes and are more likely to use HRMs, but even for them, a rough eyeball shows maybe 50% usage. Now if you go to the latter pages, you'll see that a large majority don't have HRMs.

https://www.strava.com/segments/1542452

https://www.strava.com/segments/1389394

https://www.strava.com/segments/853374

https://www.strava.com/segments/568876

https://www.strava.com/segments/624513

Happy to post more segments if that will make you happy, but I think you can see a very clear trend.
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Nefarious86
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by Nefarious86

You do realise many people strip their data before posting it?

"I do 75% of my training indoors on a turbo trainer and I closely monitor my power on those sessions. But I do not do power-based training"

This comment in your first post pretty well paints the picture behind your logic. Watching you power for 75% of your training is power based training. Like it or not it's a metric you're using to shape your training.

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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

Nefarious86 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 6:02 am
You do realise many people strip their data before posting it?

"I do 75% of my training indoors on a turbo trainer and I closely monitor my power on those sessions. But I do not do power-based training"

This comment in your first post pretty well paints the picture behind your logic. Watching you power for 75% of your training is power based training. Like it or not it's a metric you're using to shape your training.

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I'm not in a position to guess whether people are removing their HR data. Obviously I think all pros and competitive athletes should be removing their HR data, but I'm not sure why recreational riders would do so.

Maybe it's a matter of semantics, but no, I don't do power-based training. Monitoring my power for progress is quite different than basing my effort levels based on power. I did an FTP test once and found that the zones were far too divergent from my HR zones and actual lab-derived lactate results, so I discarded it.
Last edited by iheartbianchi on Mon May 27, 2019 6:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Nefarious86
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by Nefarious86

Also this absurd comment.

You're saying Hunter Allen, Andrew Coggan, Stephen McGregor, Joe Friel, Stephen Seiler etc are nobody's? There are years of Studies on the subject not to mention the amount of research material on the subject that's a little more credible than a gander at Strava segments...


"That was never the contention. The contention is, HR based zones are tried and tested. FTP zones are not. HR based zones are backed by decades of research. FTP zones are backed by...nothing. It's literally an invention created by...nobody actually knows, and nobody actually knows based on what other than hypothesis and theories which have not been tested in any study. Tested vs. guesswork. Which is superior? Who knows maybe the guesswork will turn out to have been pretty accurate in the future, but nobody knows." Image

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Nefarious86
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by Nefarious86

iheartbianchi wrote:
Nefarious86 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 6:02 am
You do realise many people strip their data before posting it?

"I do 75% of my training indoors on a turbo trainer and I closely monitor my power on those sessions. But I do not do power-based training"

This comment in your first post pretty well paints the picture behind your logic. Watching you power for 75% of your training is power based training. Like it or not it's a metric you're using to shape your training.

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I'm not in a position to guess whether people are removing their HR data. Obviously I think all pros and competitive athletes should be removing their HR data, but I'm not sure why recreational riders would do so.

Maybe it's a matter of semantics, but no, I don't do power-based training. Monitoring my power for progress is quite different than basing my effort levels based on power. I did an FTP test once and found that the zones were far too divergent from my HR zones and actual lab-derived lactate results, so I discarded it.
I'm a nobody and I still limit what people can see when I'm training for a specific goal. It's not hard to do and an easy way to keep your form from being seen.

And you didn't get the results you wanted to see from FTP so it's useless?

How often are you lab testing?

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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

Nefarious86 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 6:10 am
You're saying Hunter Allen, Andrew Coggan, Stephen McGregor, Joe Friel, Stephen Seiler etc are nobody's? There are years of Studies on the subject not to mention the amount of research material on the subject that's a little more credible than a gander at Strava segments...
Did you actually read the Seiler study, or his other research? In fact, I was the one who cited the Seiler study, before Aero or somebody else called it "hideous" and "vague."

Seiler is actually a huge proponent of HR based training and his major research on polarized training actually exclusively looks at HR-zones.
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by TobinHatesYou

iheartbianchi wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 6:08 am
Nefarious86 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 6:02 am
You do realise many people strip their data before posting it?

"I do 75% of my training indoors on a turbo trainer and I closely monitor my power on those sessions. But I do not do power-based training"

This comment in your first post pretty well paints the picture behind your logic. Watching you power for 75% of your training is power based training. Like it or not it's a metric you're using to shape your training.

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I'm not in a position to guess whether people are removing their HR data. Obviously I think all pros and competitive athletes should be removing their HR data, but I'm not sure why recreational riders would do so.

Maybe it's a matter of semantics, but no, I don't do power-based training. Monitoring my power for progress is quite different than basing my effort levels based on power. I did an FTP test once and found that the zones were far too divergent from my HR zones and actual lab-derived lactate results, so I discarded it.

Are you trying to look for a static correlation between Coggan's power training zones and Friel's HR training zones? Hint, it correlates for some, not for others...and not all the time. It's all loosely linked based on statistical averages. IMO a healthy endurance athlete that can sustain above a certain power-to-weight will generally see Friel and Coggan zones line up reasonably well.

I don't get your beef with power based training. The only time I don't train based off power is when my HR is busted and clearly a limiting factor. In that case, I'm better off taking a break. When HR and power are both working as expected, I use power because it is an instant metric. Training off HR simply doesn't work for short intervals. Even when doing 5x5s, my HR ramps up too slowly during that time. HR will tell me if I can dig a little harder in the midst of power-based training, but I really can't imagine using HR exclusively. It's way too variable and it's way too laggy.
Last edited by TobinHatesYou on Mon May 27, 2019 6:24 am, edited 3 times in total.

by Weenie


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by iheartbianchi

Nefarious86 wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 6:13 am

And you didn't get the results you wanted to see from FTP so it's useless?

How often are you lab testing?
Part of my job is working with U21 track cyclists so I'm in the lab fairly often (every 3-4 weeks or so). I don't test myself much anymore since it's a waste of time and resources and nobody wants to spend any extra time in the lab testing an old has-been. Back when I was competing I would be testing maybe once a month, sometimes as often as once a week.
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