Power Vs Heart Rate training
It is a hotly contested debate – as to whether power meters are worth the money, or whether HR and perceived effort is sufficient.
Heart Rate monitors and power meters are very useful training tools, but an athlete using them should also know the ‘feel’ of each heart rate zone and power level. I encourage individuals to learn about their own limits, to learn when they can push a little harder and know when to back off.
Having said that, it is also important an athlete to learn as much about themselves in the process of training and use as many tools as possible in order to ensure they are training in the most efficient manner.
Power output numbers provide a clear standard of your current strengths and weaknesses. Very importantly, your various power output power numbers produce power levels that provide a great way to monitor improvement throughout the year.
It is generally agreed there are 4 categories of power training levels and these are neuromuscular power, anaerobic capacity, VO2 max and lactate threshold. Most people have varied abilities across the four, as is shown in different race performances and abilities.
A very useful power measure is your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) this is the maximum power you can sustain for one hour. When looking at the variables that determine endurance performance—VO2 max (your upper limit of aerobic energy production), FTP and efficiency—FTP is the variable that is both easily measured and trainable. This is why training according to power is a very useful tool.
By testing yourself and then setting a benchmark FTP you can establish training power levels so you can best distribute your training time and work toward improvement.
If you don’t have a power meter, you can test and set heart rate zones to guide your training instead. In the same way power testing can produce power training levels, heart rate testing can also provide useful heart rate training zones.
Different training zones will target the similar energy systems at power training also targets. The underlying difference between heart rate zones and power levels is that heart rate is a subjective response to the work you’re doing, while power shows the objective, actual work you’re doing.
I believe you should test for and use both, during your training and racing. In reality, it is not always possible to be able to purchase all the training tools and equipment needed to constantly monitor and train to your power levels and heart rate training zones. Add to all these purchases your race entry fees and it all gets pretty expensive…. Throw in the mix that one day you may end up losing your power monitor or a battery may go flat, or it simply may fail mid way through a race…this is when you will be forced to race on perceived effort. This is also why I believe it is extremely important you train using whichever devices you can afford, but you also remain aware of what your body is capable of, because at the end of the day it is really about you, your mind and the real race to the finish line.
If you would like more detail, and a personalised training plan, using these training tools, please go to https://www.emmacarney.com/register/ and let me help you achieve your training goals.