Common Power Meter Questions, Answered

ACTIVE: How can you integrate power into your training plan?

CB: Once you know your FTP, you can set up your power zones. Andrew Coggan and Hunter Allen came up with the go-to zones for power analysis.

Zone 1 (recovery): Below 55% of FTP
Zone 2 (aerobic development): 56-75% of FTP. The vast majority of an athlete's time should be spent in this zone.
Zone 3 (tempo): 76-90% of FTP. For triathletes, their goal IRONMAN power will be on the lower side of this zone, and for a 70.3 their power will be on the higher end of this zone with intervals usually 30 to 120 seconds in length.
Zone 4 (threshold): 91-105% of FTP. An important zone for Olympic-distance and sprint-distance athletes. Also very important for bike racers. Intervals usually from five to 20 seconds in length.
Zone 5 (VO2 max): 106-120% of FTP. This is the zone that really makes you faster, but it also takes a lot out of you--use sparingly but to great effect. Intervals are three to eight minutes in length.
Zone 6 (anaerobic capacity): 121-150% of FTP. Use for intervals of 30 seconds to 2:00. 
Zone 7 (neuromuscular power): Above 150% of FTP. Important for developing muscle tension and crucial for sprinters. Intervals are 15 seconds and below.

Use this general guide to integrate these zones into your weekly training:

Zones 1-2: 75-80% of your time.
Zones 3-4: 10-15% of your time.
Zones 5-7: 5-10% of your time.

ACTIVE: What are a few tips all beginners should know when first getting started with power?

CB: Be warned, the power number jumps around on the screen. This seems to frustrate a lot of athletes who are used to the steadiness of heart rate training. Don't worry about it--try to smooth out the jumpiness by improving your pedal stroke. Pioneer is doing some really cool work where you can see how smooth and regular your pedal stroke is right on the computer display.

I watch real-time power alongside average power for that particular interval, and as long as I'm close to my goal average power for that interval, I know I'm on the right track. As with a lot of these tools, try to relax into the newness of it. You don't have to be perfect!

ACTIVE: What performance advantages does training with power give you?

CB: Training with power lets me hit very specific training targets and track my improvement over time without the guesswork of heart rate training. Racing with power lets me pace perfectly, knowing if I'm riding too hard or too easy during long-distance races while maximizing my ability to run well off the bike.

Follow professional triathlete Chris Bagg on Twitter. Learn more about Pioneer's dual leg power meter system and beginner-friendly Training Assist feature.

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