There are two main arguments I hear from people who don’t ride with power meters:
- “I don’t need one”
- “They’re too expensive”
Neither makes sense to me.
First, to the people who think they don’t need a power meter. I ask you this; do you want stay healthy or get fitter and faster, and would like to use your bike to help you with that goal? If you answer yes to any of this then yes, you need a power meter. It’s NOT just a racing tool! Though, there’s a huge benefit to racers.
If you’re trying to lose weight, do you measure your food intake? If you exercise do you measure your calorie burn? Of course you do! If you don’t measure you can’t make adjustments. The same applies to riding with power meters! By riding with a power meter you can measure precisely how much work you’re doing and how many calories you’re burning as a result. Heart rate monitors use approximations that are over exaggerated. A power meter gives you the truth.
Even beginning cyclists benefit by riding with power meters. They will expedite the time it takes you to achieve your goal by giving you precise feedback on your progress. Some people ride by perceived exertion, ride hard and hope they are going the right direction. That’s not an efficient way to go about reaching a goal. Perceived exertion is your own, subjective perception of how hard you are working. The main drawback of this type of training is that your perception can be highly variable. The longer you ride the more fatigued you become and the higher your perception of exertion becomes, even though nothing may have changed!
Believe it or not, just riding with a heart rate monitor isn’t much better. The problem is that while all of us have a heart in our body, no two hearts are alike, so the beat-beat-beat of different hearts are difficult to quantify precisely into comparative fitness levels.
Heart rate tells you how hard your heart is pumping. As you put greater and greater strain on your heart by riding faster or using greater force, your heart has to pump faster to provide the oxygen for fat burning and blood flow to support those pumping legs. That would be great if those were the only factors that affected heart rate. But heart rate is also affected by humidity, air temperature, stress in your life, core body temperature, and rest. As your fitness improves, your heart rate often goes down, reflecting the greater efficiency of your cardiovascular system.
Second, for the people that think power meters are too expensive. This one is really easy. There’s an inexpensive solution available that’s every bit as awesome, accurate, and dependable as the most expensive power meters on the market. It’s the iBike Newton power meter.
Do you have questions regarding nutrition, weight loss, training, or technology? I can help. Please contact iBikeBlog. Thank you!