Updated: Dec 3, 2020
In my experience as a women's endurance coach, a lot of the clients that I work with seem to be under the impression that power meters are only for hardcore racers, but because cycling is unique in that we have a direct way of measuring our power output - taking advantage of this can take a lot of the frustration and headache out of building bicycle-specific fitness... especially so now that power meters are being more widely used and have become more affordable.
What Do We Mean by Power?
Before getting into the details, let’s talk about what power is, exactly.
Power is measured in watts and is a snapshot of the work you are doing at any given point in a workout or ride. When using a power meter, if you suddenly mash down really hard on your pedals, the computer will display a number (in watts) that is directly relative to how hard you pushed your legs. For some perspective: One horsepower is equal to 746 watts.
The coolest part: coaches can use that measurement to tailor your bike workout to your specific ability!
"Truly, when we get back to the basics of fitness, no matter what the discipline, focusing on improving ourselves should always be our baseline focus, and using a power meter is an excellent and direct way to accomplish that."
Excuse me, but what's a Power Meter?
A power meter is a device that is integrated into your bike or bike trainer, that can directly measure the work you are doing while you are spinning or pedaling. It connects to another device, like your smartphone, bike computer, or laptop (or all 3) to give you an instant reading of how much effort you are using to spin the pedals.
In practical application, where power meters really shine: they give you the ability to more accurately gauge your effort for your planned workout or ride.
Smart Trainers Have Power Meters Built Into Them
Smart trainers such as those manufactured by Wahoo, Kinetic, CycleOps and Tacx have truly “changed the game” when it comes to indoor training because they come with power meters integrated into them. Smart trainers also provide resistance variance controlled by the trainer itself (i.e.: feels more difficult or easy according to the workout you program into it, or the terrain you are cruising on in a virtual world