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Competitive Cyclists use Power Meters to Improve Performance — an article on the Smart Living Network
September 24, 2010 at 12:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Competitive Cyclists use Power Meters to Improve Performance

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Bicycle racing has become more and more popular as a sport and a great form of exercise. Competing at that level involves many key elements, including speed and intensity. The training methods that a cyclist uses are crucial to the outcome of their races because they need to be adequately prepared. Recently, a scientific test revealed the value of a new tool that can measure the intensity levels of a cyclist, leading to limitless possibilities for improving overall performance.

Training, Intensity, and Performance

Although various bicycle training regimens are considered effective, not all of them will work the same way for every person. In order to increase a cyclist's performance level, trainers have used weights, drills, and other equipment. Often times, it takes a lot of trial and error to understand exactly what will be the best training program for a particular athlete. The maximum intensity of the cyclist is a primary focus when a trainer designs the training for a competitive event. When a cyclist knows their output level, it makes it much easier to target the specific things that will boost their skills. However, this usually requires a series of extensive tests that are done on very expensive equipment.

The Power Meter

Attempting to replicate elaborate cycling tests handled in a lab, some exercise scientists at the University of New Hampshire conducted an experiment with minimal equipment. In fact, they used two things that are easily accessible to most competitive cyclists: a power meter and a stationary bicycle trainer. The power meter is a computerized display that informs the cyclist of variables in their training, such as heart rate and intensity level. By training at different intensity levels, an athlete can better condition his or her body for an upcoming challenge. Power meters allow athletes to know what level they have reached at all times, so they can then adapt their training accordingly. The devices are readily available with several features, as well as a number of styles, at sports equipment stores and online.

The Stationary Bicycle Trainer

Training on a stationary bicycle is never quite the same as riding one's own bicycle. Therefore, a stationary trainer was invented to provide the cyclist with a way to ride their own bicycle without the need to balance it. The bicycle is mounted through a different rear tire, keeping the original front tire in its normal position. On a stationary trainer, a cyclist can pedal at maximum speeds and concentrate on building their strength, endurance, and pedal strokes. During the University of New Hampshire tests, the power meter and the stationary bicycle trainer were combined, and a cyclist delivered an all-out performance for three minutes. The information gathered proved that their intensity levels could be accurately measured with this method. Competitive cyclists now have the option of using this less expensive system for determining which forms of training to select. Gradually, the speed, performance, and intensity of a cyclist are raised, and the athletes are prepared to reach their cycling goals.

Sources: http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2010&issue=09000&article=00020&type=abstract

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100830152540.htm

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56862&page=2

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