If you’re seeking to improve yourself, in whatever shape or form, there is always one key ingredient around which you can develop, organize and improve your training process. It doesn’t matter if you’re strength training, technique perfecting or even if you’re trying to work on the mental aspects of your performance. In order to maximize your gains, you always need reliable, consistent, and accurate feedback.
Over the years technological advancements have been very kind to cyclists, resulting in all kinds of specialized equipment meticulously designed to improve every single aspect of your ride. The basic first step to leveling up are heart rate monitors, power meters and cycle computers.
Heart Rate Monitors
Heart rate monitors are pretty common to most physically challenging sports or even to passionate sports lovers who bet on the Super Bowl and want to make sure the win or the loss doesn’t send them into overdrive! Over the years they have gotten cheaper, more accurate and available to everyone.
Tracking your pulse and heart rate will tell you how intense your workout is and you’ll be able to modify your approach in order to get the biggest results. By using well-established formulas, you can calculate your personal zones of performance, each affecting a specific segment of your training. For example, if you’re doing recovery or injury prevention, you should be aiming for a lower heart rate. But when looking to maximize your speed and performance, you’ll need to get your heart pumping to the highest rates. It’s best to consult your physician before adding heart rate monitoring to your training, just to make sure you’re safe at all times and not overreaching.
A cycling power meter is a device that is designed to measure your power output. It will help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll be able to quantify and track specific movements in order to optimize your efforts in training. Different power meters are placed on different parts of the bike, and they can be added to the rear hub, the bottom bracket, the crank meters or to the pedals. Similarly to using heart rate monitors, you should calculate out your zones by using the standard Functional Threshold Power Test and plan your training accordingly.
The biggest perk of this device is that you will instant data about your ride available in terms of speed, distance, and cadence (pedaling rate). The newer models have additional features like GPS, maps and navigation, specialized training programs, and they can also integrate with your heart rate monitors and power meters. There are many apps available that can be used as an alternative, but the potential downside could be that you’ll be relying on your phone’s battery and data, which isn’t the best option for long training sessions or for when you are out on the countryside.