Using Heart Rate with Power Measurement to Track Your Fitness

If you have a powermeter, why train with a heart rate monitor too? Jem Arnold, a registered Physiotherapist, cycling coach, and Cat 2 bike racer, digs into the details of why heart rate (HR) measurement is important.

Photo: Shannon Malseed, Australian Road Race Champion, on Instagram

You might have noticed that while power should always read the same number — 300 watts is always 300 watts — HR can change day-to-day for the same effort. How it changes depends on anything from the temperature, whether you are training indoors or outside, or how rested you are going into the workout.

So what is the value of heart rate if the number is never consistent?

The importance of heart rate measurement

Heart rate is important precisely because it is not consistent! HR is the best metric we can easily measure that reflects internal workload: how hard your body is working to produce the effort demanded of it. Whereas power is a measure of external workload: the energy transferred from your body to the bike.

Power is externally consistent: 300 watts will indeed always be 300 watts. Think of it like supply and demand, where power measures the demand you are placing on your body. Your body then has to expend resources to meet that demand via metabolic energy production, which reflects the supply. HR gives you a real-time measurement of how efficiently your body is able to expend those resources to convert it’s metabolic ‘fuel’ into power.

As we fatigue, our bodies become less efficient at producing power. We have to burn more metabolic fuel (internal workload) to produce the same power (external workload). This is intuitively obvious when we feel more tired at the end of a ride and feel like we can’t produce the same power compared to at the beginning.

How to track heart rate

The fact that HR can vary so widely for the same power is important because it gives you a clue as to the inner workings of your body and how your fitness is adapting over time. I use HR a few different ways, both during my workouts and after, when analyzing my data.

One of the measurable indicators of fatigue is called ‘Cardiac Drift’ or HR decoupling, which is the phenomena of your HR rising over time, for the same constant power output. The general advice is to respect cardiac drift and slowly decrease power over time to maintain a constant heart rate under your target.

If you were to continue at the same power while allowing HR to drift higher, it would result in you working harder (internally) than intended and accumulating greater physiological strain. This would delay recovery time until your next workout and possibly contribute to overtraining.

Here is an example of cardiac drift occurring during a fairly steady aerobic training ride.

HR (in red) begins to creep further above the athlete’s aerobic threshold (highlighted), even as power (in yellow) declines through the ride. The resulting cardiac drift (Power:HR in pink) ends up significantly altering the intended training stress of this ride.

Pulling back to a longer view of a full season, I can look at how average HR changes for a given constant power output, eg. 200 W.

Average HR (red line) decreases significantly over the course of the season, while average power (yellow bars) stays flat as expected within this power band (200 ± ~20 W).

Even more interesting is that aerobic threshold power (blue bars) increases through the season, showing clearly how the same external workload (200 W) costs relatively less aerobic capacity and therefore places a lower demand on internal workload as aerobic fitness improves over the course of the season.


Your heart rate monitor should be a critical part of your training equipment, just as much as your powermeter is. Both metrics can give you a perspective on your fitness, but using both together can give you the deepest insight into your physiology.

Cycling Legend Linda Jackson to be Inducted to the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame

On Sunday, September 30th, at Glencairn Golf Club in Milton, Ontario, Linda Jackson will be inducted to the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame.

Jackson was a three-time Canadian road race and time trial champion, competed for Canada at the Olympics and was third in World Championships in 1996, and in 1998 was second in the Giro d’Italia Femminile. She retired from professional racing in 2000, and four years later founded the 4iiii-sponsored team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank. It is the longest-running professional women’s cycling team in North America.

We caught up with Jackson to ask her about her reflections on her cycling career, past and present.

4iiii: Tell us about your first ever bike race. How did it go?

Jackson: It was the Morgan Hill Road Race here in California in the early 90’s. Friends had been telling me that I should start racing and I really didn’t want to race. My life in investment banking was competitive enough as it was, the last thing I felt I needed to do was to compete on the weekends as well. But, I got a license and went off to my first race. It was a pretty tough race, lots of rollers. I think I pulled for the whole race, dropped a lot of the field, and then went charging toward the finish line. Of course, someone was smart enough to sit on my wheel and come around me for the win. I was second. But, when I crossed that finish line, my life was never the same. Cycling was in my blood and then and there I started to think about how I could train to get better.

4iiii: What is it about the sport of cycling that inspires the kind of passion that drove your racing career and continues to inspire your involvement?

Jackson: Well to start with, cycling is a beautiful sport The freedom I feel on a daily basis riding my bike grounds me and sets me up for the rest of my day. Being in nature, feeling the wind on your skin, who could not love it?

But on a deeper basis, I found the sport late in life. I quit my investment banking career in ’93 to see if I could make it to the Olympics. I was giving up a lot to pursue my goal, so I always wanted to give it my very best. I was 100% dedicated to being the best that I could be and I trained really, really hard. It was very fulfilling to work so hard for something and to see results. The sport gave me a lot of skills that are critical for success in the “real world”. It gave me confidence, I developed a really gritty “never give up” attitude (ok, maybe I had that one before but it was so important in the sport), it taught me the importance of teamwork, it helped with my leadership skills, it dramatically improved my public speaking, etc.

When I retired from the sport, I was never too far away from it. I really missed it. When I got involved in helping female cyclists in 2004 it was to give young women the same opportunity that I had to chase my Olympic dream. My experience taught me how much cycling could give young women that would be important for the rest of their lives. It isn’t just about winning or losing, it’s about what this sport gives these women that will last a lifetime.

4iiii: What advice do you have for young cyclists (who may wish to one day race for your team, for example)?

Jackson, at right, offering advice to Amber Rais

Jackson: Train hard. Train your weaknesses. It’s no fun to train your weaknesses. You want to go out there and do what you are good at. Get a good coach (with the appropriate degree and coaching background) who has in-depth knowledge of training with power meters. Follow your program. Listen to your body.

4iiii: Tell us about when you first started training with power, and about your relationship with your power meter now.

Jackson: I first started using power in the 90s. I bought an SRM back when they were over $3,000. I put it on my bike but didn’t have a coach that trained me with power. I saw a bunch of numbers but didn’t really do anything with them. It really was a waste to not have fully utilized that information back then to reach my goals.

Times have changed over the past two decades that’s for sure! Training with power is now widely recognized as being critical to reaching your potential as an athlete. All of our riders train with power now, and we definitely look at numbers when we are considering a rider for the team. Training with power, in combination with heart rate, gives you so much more information. For me personally, I have a 4iiii power meter on my bike now that has breathed new life into my training. It’s very motivating even though I am just a recreational rider, to see the watts I am putting out in certain workouts and strive to be better.

4iiii: Linda, thank you so much! From all of us here at 4iiii, we are very proud to see you get the recognition you deserve and to continue to support your very successful team.

3 Workouts to Turn Your Road Fitness into Cyclocross Sharpness

By Jem Arnold, a registered Physiotherapist, cycling coach, and Cat 2 bike racer. Images by Jeannine Avelino of VanCXPhotos.

Canadian cyclocross champion Michael van den Ham demonstrating a good cornering technique.

It’s that time of year. The road race season is coming to a close, and the #crossiscoming hashtag has become the go-to theme on Instagram for many a bike racer.

As the leaves start to change colour and the days grow shorter, there are a number of things you can do with your training regime that utilize your powermeter to get ready for cyclocross season.

Capitalizing on Your Road Fitness

Assuming you’ve just spent the summer training, riding, and racing you’re probably in great shape right now. You’re smashing the weekly group rides, and your favourite Strava segments are rewarding you with new PRs, KOMs, and QOMs.

Now it’s just a matter of transferring that road fitness to cope with the sharper demands of a 45-60 minute high-intensity cyclocross race!

The nature of CX racing is, you spend much of the time at a baseline intensity already very near your threshold, then you have to repeatedly spike your effort to jam up a hill, jump an obstacle, power through a sand pit, or shoulder your bike up a flight of steps. You have to be able to handle those repeated efforts and recover quickly without dropping your power.

The type of training to do now should be focused and specific to these kinds of efforts, to sharpen your top-end for when #crossishere.

4iiii-sponsored athlete Mark McConnell of Hot Sauce Cycling takes a few seconds to recover on a downhill.

Practice the Technique

Without a doubt, cyclocross is a lot more technical than road riding. The first thing to do will be to throw your leg over your ‘cross bike and start practicing those tight turns, dismounts and remounts, and bike-handling in technical conditions.

These workouts aren’t focused on power, but they might be the most important for a successful CX season. Your power won’t matter if you can’t get around the features on the course and maintain some speed.

Your local racing scene might have a weekly cyclocross practice session, with friends, rivals, and coaches to help you polish your technique. If you’re on your own, find an open park and start practicing your skills. You can even challenge yourself by laying out a mock ‘cross course and trying some hot laps!

Masters ‘cross racer and 4iiii ambassador Jordan Behan powers up a (paved!) climb.

Power Based Training

Your key workouts for the week can be short, but need to be very hard to replicate CX efforts. You should focus on repeating short anaerobic efforts of 30s-2min, with reduced recovery time and slightly harder recovery intensity than you’d be used to from road training. Your heart rate should remain very close to threshold through the entire workout.

In general, the best recommendation is to stick with no more than 2x high-intensity workouts per week, with the rest of your riding remaining easy in order to prioritize the effort required in those two key workouts. Your easier rides can be where you practice skills work, but you should aim to keep your heart rate (HR) below 145 bpm and give yourself plenty of recovery opportunities.

Elite cyclocross racer Craig Richey zips up while powering through a speedy section of the course.

Try to have one or two easy/rest days between high-intensity workouts to make sure you’re fresh, and don’t worry too much about training load (TSS, CTL, etc.) since those numbers might appear ‘inflated’ from the summer road season. Just focus on hitting your workout targets and polishing your skills, and you will naturally be at the level you need to be for racing ‘cross.

One of the most underrated benefits to having a 4iiii left-side or dual-sided power meter is that as long as both your road and cyclocross bikes use the same drivetrain and bottom bracket, you can easily switch your left-side crank arm between bikes, meaning you’ll have consistent power numbers to train with across disciplines.

Masters racer Gail Harrison takes a fast line through a twisty corner.

The Workouts

A good place to start is with microbursts, which will help kick-start your high-intensity energy systems for the on-off nature of CX racing. This workout is based on some of the research presented here.

VO2max Microbursts
Warm-up (at least 20min)
10x reps of 30sec @ 130% FTP | 15sec @ 60% FTP
Repeat 3x sets, with 3-5min recoveries between sets
Cool-down (at least 10min)

Power targets are very approximate for this kind of workout, but aim to begin your sets at least at 130% FTP (read more about how to determine FTP here). HR should rapidly reach threshold and remain there through the entire set.

Lactate Stackers & Finishing Sprints
10x reps of 1min @ 130% FTP | 2min @ 70%
4x 8sec sprint | 1min @ 75%

These 1min efforts won’t be hitting any new power PRs, but the focus should be on repeating the high-level efforts and maintaining tempo during your 2min ‘recovery’ intervals. Finish the workout with some ‘positioning sprints’, where each sprint effort should be a near-maximum effort, with the final sprint at full gas, like you’re sprinting around the final few corners of the race.

Sweet Spot Accelerations
2x20min @ 90% FTP
Including 4x 15sec @ 175% FTP every 5-8 minutes
5min recovery between sets

This workout maintains the hard ‘baseline’ effort of a CX race for a full 40 minutes at 90% of threshold. Every 5-8 minutes on an unpredictable schedule, add a big gear acceleration where you shift up two or three cogs (or find a hill) and wind up the gear for 15sec. These can be seated or standing. Then settle back into that “sweet spot” effort. Get 4x accelerations during each 20-minute set.

Masters cyclocrosser Carmen Marin shoulders his bike on a run-up.


So get out on those knobby tires, find some mud, grass, and hills, and start sharpening that summer road fitness into cyclocross power! And don’t be afraid to get your 4iiii Powermeter wet or dirty. With its small form factor and protected location inside your crank arms, and its waterproof, mud-proof and sand-proof seal, you’ll be ready to push your limits this ‘cross season!

Which Leg is Stronger? Using a Dual-Sided Power Meter to Investigate

This article about analyzing asymmetry between left and right legs with a dual-sided power meter is written by registered Physiotherapist, cycling coach and Cat 2 bike racer Jem Arnold

The author, on the right, chasing. Photo by Tammy Brimner

Using 4iiii Precision Pro to Investigate Left/Right Power Asymmetry

I’ve been using a 4iiii Precision Pro dual-sided power meter for the past two seasons. Having a dual-sided power meter has been critical for me, as I have a chronic injury which produces a significant Left/Right power asymmetry.

A single-sided power meter that just doubles left leg power (my weak side) would give me unreliable data, not to mention I might never have realized I had such a severe imbalance at all.

Having a true dual-sided power meter like the 4iiii Precision Pro has allowed me to investigate the asymmetry and take steps to correct the issue through treatment and rehabilitation exercises off the bike.

This article is a summary of a more detailed investigation I published on The original article was not sponsored or influenced in any way by 4iiii, but I thank them for allowing me to publish this summary for their site.

L/R Power Balance

L/R balance should be 50/50 on average, but a mild asymmetry of +/- 2% either direction is nothing to worry about. If you observe a consistent imbalance greater than 2% that might warrant further investigation.

For me, my left leg begins to drop power as intensity increases past threshold, leaving my right leg to cover the difference. Let’s take a look at a stress test I did the other day that was designed to demonstrate this power imbalance at its worst.

Note, the charts below come from WKO4 Training and Analysis Software, produced by TrainingPeaks.

The first chart is a simple display of power, heart rate, and cadence for the workout.

  • Power is shown in yellow. The dashed yellow line is my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) which gives context for medium vs high-intensity effort.
  • Heart Rate is shown in red. HR rises toward the dashed red line, which is my Lactate Threshold HR (LTHR).
  • Cadence is given in green.
  • The legend along the top shows power, HR, & cadence over the cursor at time 23:42.

This stress test included a ramped warm-up, some work at threshold with various cadences, and some high-intensity intervals. It appears that I hit my power targets and my HR reached threshold. All seems normal so far.

However I could feel my left leg begin to fatigue at some point during the stress test, so I know there must be something going on under the surface.

L/R Power Balance

Let’s look closer. By using the L/R balance reported by 4iiii Precision Pro power meter, we can split power into left and right legs independently.

  • Total power for the same point (23:42) is shown in the legend for reference.
  • Single-leg FTP (FTP / 2) is the yellow dashed line on the chart.
  • Left leg power is the red line.
  • Right leg power in the blue line. (These numbers are what each leg is doing independently)
  • L/R Balance is shown in white, smoothed to easily visualize and compared to 50/50.
  • Average, min, and max L/R Balance for the workout are also given.

It’s very easy to see where my L/R power balance begins to drift away from 50/50 as the intensity rises. This corresponds very closely to the increased left leg fatigue I felt during the workout.

For example, at the cursor (23:42) my power is 449 W. This is what I would see on my power meter at this moment. However my left leg was contributing only 207 W, while my right leg was overcompensating at 242 W. By the end of the stress test, my left leg power (red line) and right leg power (blue line) were mismatched by as much as 50 W!

So my right leg had to drag along my left leg as I worked above threshold.

The author, on the left. Photo by David Gillam.

Further Investigating L/R Asymmetry

4iiii Precision Pro collects even more advanced pedaling metrics, allowing even greater insight into pedaling technique and L/R symmetry. Next time I’ll discuss how Torque Effectiveness and Pedal Smoothness can be used to investigate how each leg generates power through the pedal stroke. For a more in-depth version of the analysis in this article, head over to

Bonus video: Go onboard with Jem in the final lap of the Tour de Delta UCI road race in 2017, complete with power data for the final sprint: 

Why a Powermeter? 5 Reasons Why Power Measurement is Useful to Cyclists

Power meters have become a lot more popular in recent years. What was once the domain of pros only, power measurement is now prevalent in all forms of racing and has trickled down into recreational cyclists as well.

Ask your fellow club cyclists where their sudden boost in strength came from, and you’re likely to head them tell you about their powermeter. But we’ll be first to admit—the powermeter itself doesn’t make you any faster. It’s all in how you use it. So why buy a powermeter?

1. Track and Measure your Power So You Don’t Tire Too Quickly

Whether it’s a race, a fondo or even just your weekly club ride, it can be easy to ride too hard, and end of having to limp home after the dreaded “bonk.” With a powermeter, you can be a lot more careful about the energy you expend, and have a better idea of what you’re capable of. Heart rate measurements work for this too, but with heart rate, there is lag. If you put in several sprints, for example, your heart rate might not even ride until after the effort is over. Watts are watts though, and sprints take a lot out of your legs. Only a powermeter can give you an accurate measure of just how much energy your ride is costing you.

On any given ride, factors like headwinds, whether you’re drafting other cyclists, or the grade will affect your time and your heart rate. Only a powermeter will give you an accurate measure of the actual effort.

2. Follow Prescribed Workouts from Coaches or Training Programs

Ask a coach for training tips, or look at any training program for cyclist online, they will recommend some form of interval training. Intervals are efforts that are harder than your average pace, for a shorter durations of time, and are designed to build strength. How they often work is by taking a baseline measurement (FTP is a popular place to start) and then following a prescribed workout with intervals and recovery based on a percentage of your FTP. For example, you might do several 4 minute efforts at 120% of your FTP, with several minutes of recovery in between.

3. Make the Most of Your Training Time

With interval training, you can maximize your training time on the bike. Before the advent of powermeters, the prevailing wisdom was to log log miles in the saddle; a process that would take most of a weekend. If the ride was outdoors, this could mean many long hours in miserable, cold weather in preparation for a season of riding or racing.

With powermeters and interval training, racers and recreational riders alike can maximize their training time and build more strength with less time spent.

4. Recovery Properly, With True Recovery Rides

You can only train as hard as you can recover. If you’re not taking time for recovery, you can easily fall victim to overtraining, and do more hard than good to your level of fitness and strength. Training programs as prescribed by coaches often have a healthy dose of recovery rides scheduled into them. These are rides when you have to have the discipline to not put out too much power, so your legs can remain active without tiring you out further.

That kind of discipline can hard to maintain, especially when you’re being passed by other riders on your usual loop. With a powermeter though, you can watch your watts, and feel secure in the knowledge that you are staying within the prescribed power zone and getting a good recovery.

5. Sharing and Analyzing Your Data After Rides and Workouts

Cyclists come in all shapes, sizes, and disciplines, but that doesn’t stop us from comparing all of our power numbers. With your powermeter connected to a program like to 4iiii app, Strava, TrainingPeaks or the like, you can brag to your friends about your FTP, your maximum sprint power, or measure your performance against your numbers historically. Measuring your efforts will give you a better idea of any gains you experience.

You can do periodic FTP tests, or even measure your power output on your favourite segment out on the road. Having a historical record will give you a better idea of your progress, and before long you’ll be the one answering questions from your club mates about where all your newfound strength came from.

How cycling continues to change my life

A 4iiii employee profile with Jerold Hoshowatiuk, Customer Experience Specialist

This is the story of how Jerold from our customer service team became a tester in our labs and rediscovered himself as an athlete. This year, Jerold has embraced training with power, has participated in a number of events, lost over 120 lbs, and has set goals for where he’d like to take his training. We’ll follow his progress in a series of updates this year.

My love of riding

I love how riding makes me feel. I know it sounds cliche but when I ride, I forget about everything. I don’t care about anything except feeling free. When I ride it’s just me, pushing me, wanting to be a better version of me.

My history of training with power

I started training with power when I was asked to be a test rider at 4iiii Innovations. Right away it turned into a competition: we kept a running tally of the maximum power that we would hit during our sprints. I peaked at over 1600W and was proud to see my name at the top of the list for a long time.

Testing was fun and hard. We spent a lot of hours in a room with some of the smartest people I have ever met. They would push us and the equipment to the edge of what we were capable of. One time, I was on the fourth or fifth interval, and I cracked—I was face deep in a garbage pail. One of the techs helped me get back on my feet. Another, who was in charge of data collection, gave me a snack bar and a bottle of water and asked me to go again… I wasn’t finished. Believe it or not, this is a fond memory and I’m sure a lot of other athletes can relate.

The author, before and after

The Tour of Sufferlandria, a true test of strength and resolve

This winter I took part on the Tour of Sufferlandria, a virtual tour consisting of trainer workouts, hosted by The Sufferfest. It was fun and not fun at the same time. Riding the stages were really tough but I worked through it. Each day, I had it planned to ride and I did. Some were harder than others, but that doesn’t mean that any of the stages were easy. There is a Facebook group for ToS and people from all around the world encouraging each other. We came up with the idea of making a video of myself and Martin, another 4iiii staffer, riding one of the stages outside, in -30C weather here in Cochrane. That was a lot of fun for us, but recovering was harder than I bargained for. I don’t recommend it.

A return to cycling, and training with focus

2018 is kind of a return to cycling of sorts for me. I have always been a guy that struggled with weight. I love to eat! There was a time in my life, before working at 4iiii, that things just went off the edge and I managed to pack on enough that I tipped the scales at over 410 lbs! I was 38 and I was on the couch watching TV with all my snacks when I saw a show called “too fat for 40.” That was my ‘aha’ moment.

One major catalyst for getting back on track was meeting my buddy Dan. He owns a boutique bike shop in Cochrane and when I met him I was huge. We worked together to build a bike that would hold up under my weight. I pushed myself, I cried, and I tried, but I kept going on. My wife was amazing through this ordeal.

Fast forward to December 2017. My friends from work introduced me to The Sufferfest. I rode a few times and I started watching my food. My first 4DP Fitness test was brutal. The thing that was amazing was that my legs just seemed to remember how to do this. It fired a spark. I’m down over 120 lbs from my peak weight, and my power on the bike is returning in a big way. I feel better, I look better, and most of all I acknowledge that there’s still work to do.

New life goals, events, and family fun

Some of my goals this year involve racing BMX again and being able to be on the track with my boys. Being on the track with them is amazing.

I am going to ride in my third MS Bike Tour this year as well. It’s a great cause and I look forward to riding with my team, The MS Spokes People. As the year progresses, I’ll add more events to my calendar and train to achieve goals.

The importance of training with power

Training with power is key. I have always been a strong sprinter, but I don’t always have the gas to hold the power that long. By having a power meter, I am able to measure my efforts, building them up to last longer. To train against that weakness. Using programs like Sufferfest and my PRECISION PRO powermeter enables me to train smarter—to get myself to where I am able to produce more power and hold it longer.

An enduring love for the bike

These days I feel really good being part of the bike industry. Working with so many great riders and teams, teaching my kids about how fun and awesome bike racing is—that’s what makes me want to be better.

At this stage of my life, I like being able to throw my leg over the top tube, clip in and smash the watts with the younger kids on lunch rides. I may not be as fast as I once was, but I can feel myself returning to that former glory and I’m not done yet. Not by a long shot.

We’ll continue to follow Jerold’s progress and provide updates on his training and events. Have a training story you want to share with us? Leave us a comment or email Jerold directly at to share your story.

A Beginner’s Guide to Zwift

For some cyclists, racing and training outdoors all year round isn’t always feasible. With the kind of weather we get here in Canada for example, that means a lot of indoor training, and for many, it means riding in the virtual world of Zwift.

Zwift — The Basics

What is Zwift? It’s a 3D virtual world, connected to the act of training on a bicycle (or a treadmill). It’s like a video game where you actually have to do the pedaling to advance.

Taking the components of “gamification” and adding them to the act of sweating on a bike trainer, Zwift has grown in popularity all over the world.

Athletes have several options. They can explore the various online “worlds” within the game: there’s a London course, the 2016 World Championship course from Richmond Virginia, and their own world called Watopia, with volcanoes, underwater tunnels and all manners of “scenery” to keep you in the spirit of riding.

As a rider, you can also choose whether to just ride, to follow one of Zwift’s training programs (like the 4-Week FTP builder), or you can make or upload your own custom workouts. Whatever option you choose, your mileage earns you points toward in-game upgrades like kit designs and fancy wheels and frames for your virtual bike. And whatever you choose, Zwift guides you through a ride, encouraging you to work harder as you ride among other virtual riders from all over the globe.

They also have group rides and racing, which is where things get interesting, and where an entire sub-culture of road cycling has emerged. The key metric in Zwift is “watts per kilogram,” so riders are expected to enter their weight honestly.

How to Get Started

To ride in Zwift, you need some means of connecting your bike to a device like a laptop, mobile phone, smart tv, or Apple TV. The app is available for download to a computer, or on a mobile device.

For the truly dedicated, this means buying a smart trainer, one that can respond to the game mechanics. For example, to ratchet up the resistance on a climb. But the minimum requirement is a means of reading the data from heart rate monitors, power meters.  If you’re using a 4iiii powermeter and/or Viiiiva heart rate monitor, the device you’re playing Zwift on may read the bluetooth signal directly.  Most modern devices like smartphones, tablets, and Mac or Windows laptops support bluetooth directly.  Some devices (like windows desktop PCs) may not have either ANT+ or Bluetooth – in this case, you may need an ANT+ USB stick.

What Riders Think

Janna Gillick on the road

“Over the course of a week, I make use of all the different types of Zwift rides in order to meet my training goals for the week,” says Zwift Canadian Champion (yes, Zwift has National Championships) and Women’s BC Premier Series Champion Janna Glick. “If I have a long ride, I’ll either pick a Fondo event or choose a long route to ride in its entirety. For workouts with specific power targets, I’ll add my own workout into their system.”

Her advice to new Zwifters? Janna, who races with Glotman Simpson Cycling, says: “Run what you brung! I’m usually on rollers with my iPad mini on a fold-up music stand that I found by the side of the road at the end of a ride. I’ve got good, consistent data coming from my powermeter and heart rate monitor and that’s all you really need.”

Stuart Lynne is a race Commissaire, racer, and bike race organizer with Escape Velocity Cycling Club in Vancouver. When he’s not doing the timing at a Spring Series, crit or cyclocross race, he’s training or racing on Zwift.

“I find doing structured workouts on the trainer and IRL boring and hard to finish,” says Lynne. “Doing the equivalent with Zwift Racing works for me. Effectively every race is an unstructured workout with a mix of high intensity and VO2Max Intervals, and recovery at tempo/threshold. Zwift trainer workouts are also very time effective—I don’t have to drive or ride somewhere to do a workout or race. More quality time on the bike, less wasted with prep and overhead.”

If you haven’t already, try Zwift for yourself.

Need a powermeter and a heart rate monitor with a Bluetooth connection to use as a bridge to Zwift? Check out our shop to learn more about our PRECISION and Podiiiium models.

What is FTP? Why does it matter for Cyclists?

FTP – What is it?

FTP stands for Functional Threshold Power, defined as the highest power that you can maintain in a quasi-steady state, without fatiguing, for approximately one hour (measured in watts). Both FTP and the commonly used 20-minute testing protocol were developed by Dr. Andrew Coggan, co-author of Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

FTP – Why it Matters

When we explain the value of powermeters in cycling training, we sometimes use a simple analogy: You wouldn’t load up a barbell at the gym and just start doing squats. You’d take a careful approach to how much weight you could handle, for how many repetitions, to achieve a desired kind of growth. In cycling, powermeters give us the ability to measure our effort and follow prescribed workouts to maximize the effects of our time spent training.

In 2018, Alex Stieda, the first North American ever to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, explains the benefits of training with power.

Your FTP serves as a baseline measurement of your strength and informs your workouts. For example, a coach or training program might suggest a series of intervals of three minutes at 120% of your FTP, followed by three-minute rest sets at 50% of your FTP. Without FTP as a measurement of your current strength, you’re blindly “loading the bar” with no idea of the implications it will have to your training.

But what about your local hill climb or time trial? Isn’t that a good enough indicator of your strength? Simply put: No. Any number of factors can affect your time: headwinds, tire pressure, clothing, humidity, equipment…the beauty of power measurement is that it doesn’t lie. If you were 20 seconds slower on your local time trial because you were battling a headwind, your power numbers will tell the story accurately.

FTP – What can you do with it?

Measuring your improvement.

Understand what effort levels you can sustain for different durations.

Use training software programs to calibrate your training zones.

Setting the Standard: The 20-minute FTP Test

To determine your FTP, you need a powermeter and some form of training program or measuring device. Most training programs and head units will automatically note any increases in your 20-minute power numbers, and some will even guide you through the testing protocol. You can take the test outdoors or indoors, as long as you have enough road to ride an uninterrupted 20-minute all-out effort. Below, we’ve highlighted a protocol for an FTP test.

To take a self-directed test, follow Dr. Coggan’s steps:

  • 20 minutes easy warm-up
  • 3 x 1-minute hard effort wind- ups with a minute rest between (100 RPM pedal cadence)
  • 5 minutes rest, pedaling easy
  • 5 minutes all-out (hard at first, but make sure you can complete the 5 min)
  • 10 minutes pedaling easy
  • 20-minute time trial effort- This is the actual test. Pace yourself so you can last the full 20 min, maintaining the highest level of average power that you can
  • 10 to 15-minute cooldown

At the end of the 20-minute test, take your average power number and 95% of that figure is your FTP.

20min power X .95 = FTP

Cyclists love to compare FTP figures at the cafe, but how your numbers compare to that of another rider isn’t the whole picture. Your FTP is just for you. The highest FTP won’t always win a race, for example. The rider with highest power-to-weight ratio will have the easiest time on a hill climb — but even in a flat time trial, factors like drag and pacing will help determine the winning time and not a rider’s FTP. Still, it is a measuring stick and thus comparisons will be always be made.

Training to Increase FTP

Once you’ve established your FTP, it’s time to choose a training program, if your desire is to improve FTP over time. Training programs like Trainer Road,  Zwift and The Sufferfest have prescribed training programs, or you can enlist the help of a coach to guide you through a program that is purpose-built for your goals. In future articles, we will go into greater detail about these training programs, including advice from coaches and athletes who use these workouts successfully.

With regular training, it’s a good idea to retest your FTP every six weeks or so. That way, if you’ve seen some gains in your numbers, your prescribed workouts will change to your new number as well and you can continue to get stronger.