Wattage

Morton

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Apr 14, 2011
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Niigata
#1
I'm beginning to experiment a bit more while cycling and would like to learn more about wattage and what is normal, reasonable and should be expected.

I only cycle once a week on a real bike and generally go about 90k in total. I try to get into the mountains if possible. Other than that I use a stationary bike at the gym and cycle for 90 minutes every second day. On the real bike I tend to judge my ride by average speed and at the gym by calories. wattage it seems might be a better guide to my increasing/decreasing fitness.

I'm 43 and vary from about 86 to 88 kg and I'd say I'm pretty fit. I've only really started cycling again in the last year. What kind of wattage should I aim for?

I'm sure there are lots of variables but as a guide could I have some figures?
 
Jan 14, 2007
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japanichiban.com
#2
I'm 47. Aim for 44! :rolleyes:


Depends on many factors...you may need to get a power meter. :eek:
It's hard to take in a lot of factors when out riding in the streets.
Riding up steady hills you may be able to calculate wattage with some accuracy, but on the flats, in the wind and downhills you won't have a clue.

Peak wattage? How fast can you go on the flat with no wind?

I'd love to work on wattage and not worry about my heart rate figures but due to terrain and a lack of a power meter there is no real point in trying to calculate my wattage.

One of my team mates stopped recording distance and heart rate data and just concentrated on his wattage for a year. He had a Powertap though.

250 watt average/hour on the flat would be a fair workout for a beginner I guess.

How do you plan on calculating your output?
 

Morton

Warming-Up
Apr 14, 2011
44
0
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Niigata
#3
250 watt average/hour on the flat would be a fair workout for a beginner I guess.
This is my concern. At the gym I apparently ride at an embarassingly low wattage it seems. I put the bike in, what to me, is a high tension, and grind away. My heart rate is 140-ish, my rpm average about 72 and my wattage is around 170, though sometimes I get it up over 200.

On the road I probably average around 26kph and my rpm around 65.


Should I be riding in a lower gear/tension (at gym) and trying to up my cadence? Although I've got the cycling bug I primarily ride for fitness and feel more knackered riding in a high gear/low cadence rather than the opposite. Although fitness is my main goal I do want to improve as a cyclist and am confused as what to aim for.


As for calculating I was assuming that my garmin has the capacity to calculate power.
 
Jan 14, 2007
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japanichiban.com
#4
This is my concern. At the gym I apparently ride at an embarassingly low wattage it seems. I put the bike in, what to me, is a high tension, and grind away. My heart rate is 140-ish, my rpm average about 72 and my wattage is around 170, though sometimes I get it up over 200.

On the road I probably average around 26kph and my rpm around 65.


Should I be riding in a lower gear/tension (at gym) and trying to up my cadence? Although I've got the cycling bug I primarily ride for fitness and feel more knackered riding in a high gear/low cadence rather than the opposite. Although fitness is my main goal I do want to improve as a cyclist and am confused as what to aim for.


As for calculating I was assuming that my garmin has the capacity to calculate power.
The garmin has the ability to read a Power Meter. :warau:

The gym bikes only go up to 200w don't they? Those exercise bikes are pretty useless for wattage work outs.

You want your cadence to be above 90 unless climbing...and then it depends...

For 43 you can get your heart rate up above 160 and still have plenty of gas left in the tank for extra efforts. It's hard to get the heart up on a stationary bike though...you need hills, or wind, and plenty of road to work with.

I'm not a wattage expert so will leave the comments to those who know more than I do. Just had a look at power meters on wiggle. I can't justify the cost of them yet.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
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Kochi
#5
Just had a look at power meters on wiggle. I can't justify the cost of them yet.
Apparently, according to a reported email or twitter answer to a question posted on the Garmin site and leaks from people who know insiders, the Metrigear pedals will be debuted at Eurobike or Interbike in September, released around November and whilst orignally touted at $800-$1000 should be around $500. Power2max also is way cheaper than the other currently available options and haven`t read a bad word about it yet. But also, there are some rumours that Shimano might be about to debut one in the next 6-18 months, but haven`t seen any verification on that.
 
Jan 14, 2007
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japanichiban.com
#6
Apparently, according to a reported email or twitter answer to a question posted on the Garmin site and leaks from people who know insiders, the Metrigear pedals will be debuted at Eurobike or Interbike in September, released around November and whilst orignally touted at $800-$1000 should be around $500. Power2max also is way cheaper than the other currently available options and haven`t read a bad word about it yet. But also, there are some rumours that Shimano might be about to debut one in the next 6-18 months, but haven`t seen any verification on that.
The good thing about these pedal power meters is they'll record left and right power and show imbalances between each.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
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#8
wattage.......... oh man. You are really entering in to a whole new scientific world of riding and training and I have to say I am far from an expert on training with power.

Last year was my first off season training with a power meter working only with wattage data.

1 min max sustained wattage
5 min max sustained wattage
10 min max sustained wattage
20 min max sustained wattage
30 min max sustained wattage
1 hour max sustained wattage

It can be pretty complicated and I would seriously suggest reading up on it Joe Friel "Training with Power" was a very good book and helped me a lot along with the "Training Bible for Cyclists"

Also one thing to watch out for on training bikes is wattage resistance rather than wattage out put. My local gym has two bikes and one is a resistance trainer that will increase the wattage resistance, the other is just a spinner that shows wattage.

Now granted you may only be be putting out X wattage at a certain cadence but this is the great thing about training ONLY with a power meter and that is you can often see that dropping gear to up the cadence will often increase the wattage.

All in all a power meter is a pretty hefty investment and to be honest unless you are seriously thinking of competing its not really worth the investment, I know so many people with power meters that just use it as another figure to try and beat, like average speed and so on so forth and this totaly defeats the reason for having a power meter as it needs to be used hand in hand with results from tests that you perform at the start of your training.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
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Kochi
#9
At the gym I apparently ride at an embarassingly low wattage it seems. I put the bike in, what to me, is a high tension, and grind away. My heart rate is 140-ish, my rpm average about 72 and my wattage is around 170, though sometimes I get it up over 200. On the road I probably average around 26kph and my rpm around 65.

Should I be riding in a lower gear/tension (at gym) and trying to up my cadence? Although I've got the cycling bug I primarily ride for fitness and feel more knackered riding in a high gear/low cadence rather than the opposite. Although fitness is my main goal I do want to improve as a cyclist and am confused as what to aim for.
I posted on a couple of other threads that you should check out the `It`s Killing Me But`...thread from cycleforums. The first 20-30 pages are full of valuable information if you want to learn more about different training methods. The guy who did it, based all his training on a gym bike initially - over in Nagoya I think. As for the gym bike, then it doesn`t matter if it is accurate, just that it is consistent (for training purposes.) I would pay no attention to heart rate data (again read the `It`s Killing Me Thread` for an explanation.)

65/72 is a bit low, but it is common for newer cyclists to have lower cadence figures. But I`m usually only 80-90. One way to test optimum cadence, given that you have a wattage figure, is to try and maintain a set wattage for a certain length of time, and after each period change the gear and alter the cadence to match the wattage figure and see what feels best. There are of course, more scientific methods... Remember, speed is a combination of cadence and gearing.

By the way, if you are just getting into cycling 170-200 isn`t a bad figure - on the thread I mentioned, the guy started at 130. Even if you are fit, specificity (fitness for the task at hand) has a big part to play.
 
Oct 15, 2010
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#11
... and would like to learn more about wattage and what is normal, reasonable and should be expected.

...on the real bike I tend to judge my ride by average speed and at the gym by calories. wattage it seems might be a better guide to my increasing/decreasing fitness.

...What kind of wattage should I aim for?
I am by no means an expert, but am in the same situation as you I think, less a few years, ha. I recently got back into biking, and my local community sports center just got a bunch of top-of-the-line stationary bikes (www.cybexintl.com/products/cardio/750C/intro.aspx) that can measure from 20 to 900 watts. I agree that it is an accurate way to gauge weather one's horsepower, or fitness is improving or not. I put on some Offspring or Muse and am up to about 210 for 25 min, then a 3 min break, then a session at 180 and finally another 25 min at 150 watts. I keep my cadence at about 110. The machines also calculate calories, but as they do not account for my weight, I consider the information useless. In 6 visits over about 3 weeks, I have seen dramatic improvement. I started at two 25 minute sessions at about 140 watts. I can now sprint at 350 watts for about 30 seconds when the songs really pick up, where as before, this was not possible. Along the flat river I typically ride on, before, I would be happy with an average speed of 28km/h and feel happy if it ever got between 30 and 34km/h. Now, even in wind, my speed rarely goes below 30, and on my last ride in daylight, I was cooking along at between 37 and 41km/h for a good bit.

Long story short, I would say, aim for faster cadence, and over a month or two, try and get your average wattage to 250, with 30 - 60 second sprints of 400 to 450 watts when you feel like it. That is what I am going for anyway. On the bike, I just care about average speed to measure my ability. I can check my stationary bike wattage for 200 yen a visit, and as it is just a hobby, do need to spend a lot of cash on a power meter. When I am on the road now, I am often thinking, hmm... yah... this feels like about 200 watts, lets kick it up to about 220, and it seems to get me moving along....
 
Jan 14, 2007
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japanichiban.com
#12
If you don`t know, apologies if you do, Metrigear were bought out by Garmin in January (I think) so the pedals will come out under the Garmin name and the timescale mentioned was from a couple of weeks ago.
Didn't know. Have not even considered a meter for over a year until I saw this thread so have not been on the look out....

The prices will most certainly come down and could become near standard issue (hopefully) in the next 5 years or so.
 
Nov 2, 2010
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Tatsuno
#13
Take a look a this table for a rough guide to power levels for cyclists, ranging from untrained to professional.

http://www.cyclingtipsblog.com/2009/07/just-how-good-are-these-guys/

As you can see the important number is not 'wattage', but watts per kilogram, for two reasons. 1) The amount of power you can put out depends on your body size (more muscle, larger heart etc -> more power.) and 2) fortunately, cycling performance depends more on relative power, more so for climbing, much less so for flat time trials.

From the table you can see that at 85 kg, 170-200 W, which is 2-2.4 W.kg (for an hour) would be pretty reasonable for a complete beginner, perhaps a bit low if you've been riding a while. (The story changes slightly if some of those kilogrammes are excess!)

Just to show that it really is relative power that's important, for me 200 W is a pretty good effort, and I've won hillclimb races with averages of 260 W. But I only weigh 52-53 kg.

Also, be aware that gym machines can be wildly off and inconsistent.

The 'It's killing me but,...' thread is excellent. Wonder whatever happened to Tyson - is he still in Japan?
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
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#14
Just to show that it really is relative power that's important, for me 200 W is a pretty good effort, and I've won hillclimb races with averages of 260 W. But I only weigh 52-53 kg.

The 'It's killing me but,...' thread is excellent. Wonder whatever happened to Tyson - is he still in Japan?
Man, that`s light. You must be on the level of `weight per inch` of pro-climbers (1.8 lb per inch). If I could get up to 5W a kg... :pray:

He did have a Japanese wife and child, so presume Tyson is still knocking around Nagoya, but he did seem to lose motivation at the end. As I mentioned, he posted here a handful of times and then disappeared. Maybe we will have to head up to Lake Biwa one October to see if we can spot him duelling :gun: with `The Smoker` :smoke: whilst hanging on the back of the Nagoya cycling express :p
 

Morton

Warming-Up
Apr 14, 2011
44
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0
Niigata
#15
Had a look at the thread on cycle forums but is going to take me a while to digest and understand it. For what it's worth today I did this at the gym.

I rode for 90 minutes and kind of split my workout into 3 sections although I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

1. I started off at level 8 for the first quarter/22.5 minutes. Wattage was around 170 and rpm around 70. This is a hard level for me.

2. The next quarter I dropped to level 7. Wattage and rpm both went up to around 190 and 90. Every so often I threw in a sprint for 7-10 calories (I use calories as my towel is convers the clock). When sprinting I got my wattage up to an average of 255 but sometimes over 260. The rpm were often way over 100. Can't remember how high they got but maybe 122.

3. The last half of the workout I went down to lever 6. And for the last 45 minutes I consistantly did 7-10 calorie sprints and 20 calorie recovery. Again when sprinting the wattage was over 200 and the rpm over 100. During the 20 calorie recovery my wattage had, by the end, went down to 130s and my rpm 60s.


I left the machine soaking but feeling pretty good. In the end doing this helped me smash my calorie record on this bike. What is all means though and how to progress from here I have no idea.
 
May 22, 2007
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halffastcycling.com
#16
Isn't it wonderful how cycling can be so many things to different people; or to the same person at different times.

For me, it's most frequently a way to get to and from work without having to suffer those trains. On the weekends it gets me from one beer stop to the next much faster than walking. But on the Sado Longride (not a race!), I found myself thinking "I can overtake this guy if I try", and I had a great time picking them off one-by-one. I've never worried about my power output. I can push the pedals hard enough to tear the BB off an aluminum frame... quite proud of that!
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
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Kochi
#17
Had a look at the thread on cycle forums but is going to take me a while to digest and understand it.
Well done. If you aren`t used to the terminology it will indeed take a while to digest. The main reason for suggesting the thread is that it works as a kinda master/apprentice model, with the master giving his eager pupil enough to keep going and test how committed he is, and then the pupil proving he is up to the task and hence the master slowly moving the goalposts and as it turned out, the apprentice asking all the pertinent questions at the right time. It is in effect a layman`s guide to training with power, rather than the more technical books around.

Also, I only know what I have picked up through reading and using it to devise my own training plan, so it is better to suggest something that you can read and decide for yourself what you agree with/what you don`t. Also, different people have different capacities for different training programs and respond in different ways. So what works for me - I love long L4 intervals - might not work for you. For instance, today was 2 x 26/28 L4, followed by 3 x @4min L5. The main thing to be aware of is that a lot of training protocols you will come across have very little, if any, science behind them.

The main comments I would make (caveat emptor applies):-
1) Focus on overall watts. Even though level 7 felt harder, level 6 was more `work` assuming the machine is consistent. Maybe it is worth doing a test to check - for one given level, vary your cadence proportionately and see if the wattage reading varies accordingly. It also seems you are more efficient at the higher cadence figure - there are tests to ascertain your personal optimum cadence level, but you can change it with training.

2) putting a sprint in with your long interval means you are targetting two training zones at once (see the Coggan power training zones for more info) So do the long interval/s, and then if you want, add in sprint training afterwards purely in your last session.
http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articles/cycling/power-training-levels,-by-andrew-coggan.aspx

3) For people starting out, the consensus I found is that working at raising your threshold level is the best bang for buck in terms of increasing power/FTP. So for now, I would stick to the kind of training Tyson did - either 2 long sessions (2 x 22.5 as you stated - did you have a recovery between them? - or variations on them, e.g 1 x 45, 3 x 15) and then once you have built a base fitness level, start adding in different elements. Here, the main thing to be aware of is that some people go for the intervals at threshold level (L4 in Coggan`s tems) whereas others go for Long Steady Distance (L2 for 4 hours). I`m with the L4 camp. See this thread for increasing FTP
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/Triathlon_Forum_F1/Adding_10-15_watts_to_FTP_(Final_results)_P2932430

4) I think consensus again says that improvements will take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to show through, so don`t expect to suddenly be able to increase things in your next session. The improvements come from your body adapting to the stress you have placed on it in training and then repairing/recovering and making itself stronger so recovery/rest is a crucial part of any plan.

5) For any training plan, what counts is not any indvidual day or ride but the overall consistency and cumulative nature of the plan and your ability to do the work required. Hence, it is important that your plan is sustainable in the long-term if you want to make progess.
 
#18
Isn't it wonderful how cycling can be so many things to different people; or to the same person at different times.

For me, it's most frequently a way to get to and from work without having to suffer those trains. On the weekends it gets me from one beer stop to the next much faster than walking. But on the Sado Longride (not a race!), I found myself thinking "I can overtake this guy if I try", and I had a great time picking them off one-by-one. I've never worried about my power output. I can push the pedals hard enough to tear the BB off an aluminum frame... quite proud of that!
you tore the BB off of a frame ? What are you ? the Hulk ?

I don't think I could do that.. even with tools !
 

Morton

Warming-Up
Apr 14, 2011
44
0
0
Niigata
#19
Sikochi, thanks for your comments.


The higher cadence wasn't all that physically hard for me but it is not natural. I found that I had to concentrate while doing it or I would lapse back into my natural slower rhythm.

I also didn't stop at all over my 90 minutes. I used to run a lot and while doing intervals I always only slowed.


Sundays are the days I go on long, meandering rides. Once I'm out of bad traffic I ride at a comfortable but not easy pace. Come the mountain or any hills on the way I try pretty hard to "attack" the slope in my own novice way. My Sunday rides are becoming longer and probably faster. I am certainly feeling stronger. Primarily these rides are for fun, overall fitness and the buzz I get from a good ride in the countryside.

Given these weekend tours, could I pin you down and ask what you think I should do exactly in the gym? I will use the gym bike 2 or 3 days a week, the alternate day I do weights.


One last thought is that the other day at the gym I was really surprised to burn more calories at a lower setting.
 
Oct 15, 2010
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#20
If you want to get your cadence up (apparently more efficient) listen to The Offspring or something. That will get you going. If I rely on Phil Collins or whatever other random stuff they have playing, and there is no wind and not much to look at, my cadence would be a lot less too...