I worked at one of the cycle studios in Melbourne where watts were used as the primary coaching tool – and it all made sense to me. There was a way, other than level of perceived exertion, to determine how hard a participant was working in class and how effective their training was. It’s individual – you each have a number corresponding to your performance.
Bicycling.com best explains it by stating “Power is the rate at which energy is used (energy over time) and is measured in watts. In cycling, energy is your output in terms of work (such as how hard you have to work to climb). It’s a constant snapshot of your work rate at any given moment.
Your functional threshold power is 95% of your 20 minute power number. You can use this number to build on and anchor your training.
This is a measurement of how much power you can sustainably over an hour and is a fundamental metric of fitness. It’s often expressed in watts produced per kilogram of body weight (see w/Kg). Want to test your own? The protocol is a 20 minute all-out time trial, typically on a steady climb. We will do this in class for you.
Watts can only be accurately measured in terms of Power to weight. So, if a person who weighs 90 kg can sustain a threshold (20 min) of 180 average watts – that’s their threshold number and it’s double their bodyweight. If someone who weighs 50 kg can sustain that 180 watts for 20 min – that’s over triple their bodyweight – so they actually produce more power, though the number is the same! That’s why you shouldn’t stress about the screen!
Each person has a different weight, body composition, and muscle type preponderance – some might be sprinting machines, pushing maximum watts for short bursts, others may sustain triple bodyweight and beyond for a full 45 min class.
The fun bit for you will be determining your strengths and addressing any weaknesses. This is what I’ve done in studios and gyms around Melbourne with participants reporting better numbers and stronger performance, both on Wattbikes and on the road – which means overall fitness has improved, body often been recomposed for more muscle and less fat, and threshold (watts) increased – no more getting dropped on the hills!
Remember, everybody is different – with different goals, different starting points, and different life experiences. You needn’t worry about any of this info to enjoy the feel and flow of a class. You can simply enjoy the room and music and general atmosphere – and still improve your watts!
2000 Watts P/L offer training for everyone – please don’t be afraid; we quantify your goals and ability and coach you to exceed them with the most direct and realistic training necessary. You’ll discover your limits are temporary, and accomplishment sweet.