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by Angela Reed-Fox
If you're a cyclist anyway, you'll want to be able to achieve a higher power on the bike for competition and personal satisfaction as well as the fitness that comes with being able to ride at a higher level.
However, there are benefits to be had for focusing on power, even if you have no plans for leaving the studio and striking out on the road. Power is a great indicator of your increasing fitness, whereas heartrate isn't (heartrate is a good way of training and monitoring your workouts, it just isn't so good at showing your improving fitness). As you focus on power, you'll be challenging your muscles more - this will help to build and strengthen muscle and speed up your metabolism, helping you to burn more calories.
So how do you do it?
Warm-up and Recovery
Obviously before you make any changes to your workouts, make sure that you're warming up adequately in the first place and giving your body the recovery it needs. These two things will serve to reduce the chances of injury, enable your body to get the most out of the workout, and then afterwards, to adapt so that you get the results you're training for. These two points are very often missed.
This is a technique where you take two or three days to do very hard workouts, and then you take the same number of days as recovery. So for example two days for workouts, two days recovery. This works by initially challenging your cardiovascular and muscular systems at a higher level than normal, and then providing the opportunity in recovery for the body to repair,build and adapt. Always ensure that there is approrpiate recovery before tackling your next block of training days.
Challenge yourself when you have a timetrial or long challenge - maintain the same cadence (ideally 80-90rpm) and then every minute increase the resistance but keep to the same cadence. If you find cadence is dropping, reduce the resistance and try again.
Intervals are great for giving you hard, yet short challenges. Build your muscular strength by maintaining a cadence of around 80rpm, stay seated, and fire off some 20-40 second high power intervals.
Effective cadence is the key - there is no need to go above 110rpm, in fact between 90-110rpm, you'll find your sweet spot where you can maintain the greatest power. Work on intervals of around 3-5 minutes to improve neuromuscular coordination, which enables you to work at a higher level. You should be aiming at the top of your aerobic zone (around 87-90% of max heartrate) drifting higher towards the end of each interval.
Functional threshold power
Do a functional threshold power test. Armed with your results, go for 75%. Do 75% of your weekly training at 75% of your FTP. the rest of the time you'll either be working at 90%+ of your max heartrate and between 105-150% of your FTP, or recovering from these high intensity hits. This ways you'll be building cardiovascular and muscular endurance as well as strength.
At the end of longer challenges such as time trials, go for a power finish - when there are only 30-40 seconds left on the clock, add more power (even if you're already tired) and go for broke.
And there you have it - six lovely ideas for boosting your power - and your results - regardless of your fitness goals. Don't forget the warmup and recovery!
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