Amid the standstill caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a surge of cycling activity continues to be recorded. Cyclists all around the world accumulated 8.1 billion miles and elevation gain of 400 billion feet, according to Strava’s Year in Sport, covering October 1, 2019, to September 30, 2020.

As more people cycle for mobility, recreation, and sport, the demand for bicycles and accessories like power meters is also expected to rise. Once exclusively known as tools for professional cyclists and athletes, power meters are becoming accessible to all kinds of riders, including those invested in their fitness.

Today’s power meters are available in various types and price ranges. Stages, for one, has been known for their cost-effective devices such as this power meter for Shimano DA 9100.

Do you really need a power meter? These reasons say you do.

Reason No. 1: Improve Performance

A power meter is first and foremost a cyclist’s tool for improvement. It provides an accurate measurement of your effort on your bike. This power is expressed in watts. You can use this data, as transmitted to your computer, to track and improve performance.

Whether you want to increase your speed, get better at climbing, or be more physically fit, among other specific goals, you can do so with the power meter as your guide.

This device installed on your bicycle gives you an objective assessment of your riding performance. It will point out your strengths and weaknesses, which present opportunities for development.

Continuous improvements can lead to favorable results, like Olympic gold.

Reasons for Using a Power Meter
Power meters provide an accurate measurement of your effort on your bike. Photo by Simon Connellan on Unsplash

Reason No. 2: Add Structure to Training

Power meters can help you train better, whether it is indoors, outdoors, or a combination. Training outdoors presents unique conditions, such as wind, road surface, terrain, and weather that can affect your ride.

And you don’t have to guess the effect of those factors on your power output because you have numbers to show and measure against.

Your main task is to make sense of the readings from your power meter and turn these insights into concrete actions. With the help of a coach or a fitness expert, you can develop a structured training plan tailored to your goals and aspirations.

Power-Based Training for Improved Performance

A structured training program avoids wasting your time and energy, especially when you have limited time to train. You can set targets and focus on key areas of improvement.

There are two critical aspects of your training using a power meter:

  1. FTP, or functional threshold power, is one that you are able to maintain in a 20-minute or one-hour ride. This number will be used to determine your training zone and track improvements.
  2. Training zone refers to the intensity and duration of a specific training plan with examples here.

Reason No. 3: Monitor Progress

It’s certainly fulfilling to see yourself making progress in quantifiable terms. You become even more motivated to work consistently and repeatedly to achieve your desired results as you see the numbers trending upward and notice improvements week after week.

Power meters measure power in real-time, which makes them different from heart-rate monitors. The watts reading shows how hard you’ve been pedaling in contrast to how your body reacts to the action based on your heart rate. Between the two, power meters paint a more accurate picture of the effort.

While power meters and heart-rate monitors have been pitted against each other, they can work together in determining recovery, fatigue, and so on.

Reason No. 4: Pace Yourself

Training with a power meter helps you better pace yourself. This is demonstrated in time trials and races where you don’t want to start too hard or too fast because it could lead to fatigue that cuts your speed.

If you’re pushing yourself too much, your power meter logs will show that you’re struggling with your rides.

An effective cycling training program includes periods of rest and recovery. Doing so will help your muscles recover and avoid worsening injuries.

There are dual-sided power meters that measure left and right leg imbalance. This can help those who have suffered leg injuries when they get back for training.

Reason No. 5: Maintain Fitness

Cycling is one of the most doable exercises out there. With a bike and a power meter, you can enjoy its benefits for your health. Keeping yourself fit and active by cycling is a good enough reason to invest in a power meter.

This investment pays off over time and doesn’t have to cost you much. You can easily get a power meter below $500.

Are You Ready to Power Up Your Ride?

Power meters sound sophisticated and expensive. But they don’t have to be. Like any tool, they serve a variety of purposes. The main one is to give you an accurate reading of cycling power to save you from guesswork and send you straight to training.

Do your research on power meters, and take time to understand how they can help you achieve your goals. Feel free to ask experts for more information.

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