Wattbike Training

by notfastenough   May 12, 2014  

Hey folks,
When I was in the gym on Saturday morning, I noticed that 2 shiny new wattbikes have appeared. I intend to try and snag one each saturday am for 40-50 minutes. However, I've not trained with power before, so I don't know my functional threshold or anything like that. I'd like to achieve the following goals:

Improve my TT performance over both 10 and 25 miles
Improve my climbing
Improve my pedalling technique (I read the wattbike review on here, so I know about the pedal force graphic and trying to generate a sausage shape)

So, I'm wading through the 150-page training guide from the wattbike website, but could do with some advice on specific workouts, baseline measuring etc. I have a couple of sufferfest vids I can use, but I don't know, for example, how many watts I can generate to equal 7 out of 10 for effort. Thoughts/advice?

Thanks all.

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Get hold of Joe Friels training bible, everything you need to know about training with power (he's literally a genius, most coaches base a lot of their work on his research). Also check out his blog; http://www.joefrielsblog.com/ - hes got loads of articles on training with power. The book itself explains a lot on how to make that transition between training by HR and training with power.

Try out the free version of Training Peaks too, that does a lot of "the maths" so you can start to figure out what your power zones are, so you can then translate that to specific workouts.

For TT stuff I do tons of tempo & higher zone workouts, like 10 min intervals at threshold, bit of rest then back in, but it's really making sure you mix it all, as you need to combine these long efforts with stuff that's gonna improve your bodies lactic threshold.

For the "peanut/sausage" thing on the wattbikes I always found doing short, high cadence spinny intervals a big help, where you really have to focus on keeping a smooth circle to maintain a good rhythm. When you go back to a "nomal" cadence, all that practice filters down.

Can't recommend Friel for training guides with power though, the man is brilliant.

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
12th May 2014 - 12:18

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Also (sorry!!) what gym are you at? Most gyms that buy direct thru Wattbike have to do a spot of training on them, so it's worth asking the staff their too, they may be able to provide some initial guidance though I'm not sure on the depth of their training sessions.

If all else fails, I'm sure if you email the guys at wattbike they might be able to help with training direction (they're lovely people).

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
12th May 2014 - 12:53

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Ok, I've just downloaded the pdf file "Training with Power" from Joe's website. For the trainingpeaks stuff, isn't that assuming that I can download a log file from the wattbike to upload to TP? Or can I just manually input some numbers into TP for it to do the maths bit? I don't know whether they'll like me plugging a USB stick into the wattbike or something... still, what they don't know etc!

I should add that I haven't even been training with HR - the opportunity to ride my bike is usually an escape from complexity for me, so I just ride, go hard when I feel good, try to pedal in nice circles, and try to beat my own times on climbs. The difference here is that we put the twins into the Gym's creche on a saturday morning, but their insurance doesn't cover you to leave the premises - hence, the best use of time while onsite (I currently do weights and cardio) will be to learn to actually 'train' (and train with power) rather than ride.

The gym is a David Lloyd, I don't know how much training they've been given on the product.

"combine these long efforts with stuff that's gonna improve your bodies lactic threshold. " - By this do you mean combining the long efforts with shorter ones, or is it not that simple?

I have got a cheap HR monitor somewhere, should I be using that as well? I need to replace the batteries but that's easy done.

Sorry for all the stoopid questions!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3228 posts]
12th May 2014 - 14:21

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Good questions!!

By the short intervals I mean the more high intensity stuff, think of it like things like doing a climb, recovering, then doing another. Or sprint for a sign, recover, sprint for the next one (to put it into real world examples!). Friel covers these different excersises quite well but you might wanna also check out the likes of Cycling Weekly (or BC) and also Cycling Tips (they're awesome!) for articles on more real world advise on training, you can then use those examples and join those up with the examples Friel gives.

Doing the short, high intensity low recovery intervals gives your muscles a chance to churn up a whole ton of lactic, increasing your ability to do these and then recover and then restart them can help your strength no end - as climbing and timetrialling, while usually is a long continuous exercise, actually takes in more of the top top end stuff than we realise. The body needs to learn to be able to go into the red, then futher into it, then back into red etc as much as possible without fatiguing. I find my best hillclimbs are done when I alternate my threshold, sweet spot (the "easy" bit just below threshold) and vo2max (the bit that you can only do until your lungs exploe - Friel covers this terminology) - acutally using sweetspot as recovery. None of that probably makes sense right now, but it will! Tongue

I'd also suggest Friels training bible, or at least the first bit, as if you've not been training with power there will be some terminology that Training With Power covers that might be a bit whooooooaa there cowboy, the Training Bible outlines the very basics of the techie stuff from an early point. I think you can get the first few chapters on PDF, and if you've a kindle or e-reader the bibles on Amazon (or at least was) very cheap.

You didn't used to be able to use the Wattbike stuff with normal garmins etc but they've recently changed that; http://wattbike.com/uk/blog/post/wattbike_connects_to_your_favourite_onl...

This means you'll need a Garmin or other compatible ANT+ device, if you've an ANT+ heart rate monitor this is always handy, as if you train with power you want to track your health and fitness along side it - HR is a good way of monitoring this.

The new Garmin Connect software (online) is really good if you don't want to use training peaks, but the algorithms that TP uses work really well for most athletes. Smile

I'd ask the staff at the gym for some guidance on the WB's too - they're there to help and I'd imagine they have been given at least a bit of training, usually WB do make sure people who provide them as a service can advise clients to certain degree. My coach, for example, runs a WB studio and the WB guys regularly visit him to make sure he's advising his clients properly. Smile

Hope that helps, sorry if it's a bit gobbledygook!!

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
12th May 2014 - 14:51

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I would suggest working out what your functional threshold is to start with 1st and then go from there. see the attached file. this is from the BC cycling website.
Also, maybe don't go onto the watt bikes until you've done this 1st and then you will at least have some understanding of how 'hard' you can push yourself.

Threshold.JPG
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posted by Noelieboy [89 posts]
12th May 2014 - 15:10

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Noelieboy is spot on - training with power is largely meaningless till you have worked out an FTP figure. Theres several different ways to go about this, the procedure Noelieboy shows is about right- normally you take 0.95 x average power (95%) for the 20 minute test segment to get your FTP number. This number dictates any power based training plan you go for. This is what is commonly called the "20 minute test". There are some variations like the 2x10min test, but I think the 20 min gives a good balance between easy to do and accuracy.

FTP is basically just a measure of the maximum power your body can sustain for a 1hr period. The most accurate measure would in theory be a 1 hr FTP test, but for many reasons this doesn't actually work that accurately. Your body will not perform the same as it will on a race day, you simply can't push as hard in a test environment, no adrenaline etc. The 20 min/2x10 try to compensate a little for this. The FTP number is the baseline for training plans.

You'll ideally want to redo the test every 6 to 8 weeks, depending on how often you train. The 20 minute test should be ridden flat out at a time trial pace, but don't go out so hard that you can't sustain the pace. If you've never done one before, I'd recommend doing a test, then another one a week later. On the second run you'll have a much clearer picture of how to pace yourself. In my experience its rare for someone not to push too hard at the beginning of a test the first time, ruining the results.

posted by giobox [293 posts]
12th May 2014 - 20:49

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Ok, so I was expecting the bit about establishing my FTP. Reading the Train With Power pdf, I note that Joe suggests just using the kit first so you get used to the screens and the readouts before doing anything serious. I've got the measurements from my bikefit, so I'll take a tape measure to try and replicate that. So:

1. This weekend I'll try and bag one of the bikes (I don't know how popular they are proving to be) and just use it for a sufferfest workout. I've done that enough times on the turbo or one of the Gym's spinning bikes. I'll use Angels or Downward Spiral, and already know how hard I can go. It'll be interesting to see what power I can produce. (Bets anyone? First person to say less than 100 is banned from the internet! Big Grin )

2. The week after, I'll try the 20-minute test. I like the idea of testing critical power at CP0.2, 1, 6, 12 and 30, but I'm not sure when I'll do those. With only 1 wattbike session per week, there's a risk that I could spend all my time faffing with tests and none actually training. That said, I really like the idea of being able to train each critical power duration with accuracy.

Joe suggests testing every 3 to 4 weeks, but I'm not getting enough miles in for testing that often to be worthwhile, I don't think. However, he also suggests testing towards the end of a recovery period, so I'll just try and arrange further tests around those.

Do I need to workout how I'm going to export data from the wattbike? My garmin is the 200, so isn't ANT+ compatible.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3228 posts]
13th May 2014 - 12:35

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You can grab session data if your gym have the bikes hooked up to software (you should be able to request this if they don't already, as a lot of folks will more than likely want to use their session data regularly) - I'm not sure about using the data for other apps like Garmin Connect but you can import the file to Training Peaks at least; http://wattbike.com/uk/wattbike/training_peaks

BUT I think you need to be under a coach or premium (don't buy premium it's a rip off) edition of TP. Might be worth asking your Gym guys if they have a coach edition training peaks that you can register under.

If you can't get the session data into your preferred software platform I would just make sure you note down all of the session information, grab things like average power, length of intervals, you can then type them in manually to your application of choice - not ideal but at least you'll have some of the numbers. Smile

On testing, I only do one every 6 weeks and thats between 12 and 20 hours of training a week (though I usually use my 10mile timetrials as one so thats once a week normally) - unless you're hammering it, don't worry about Friels advice to do every month, that's just crazy talk Tongue

One note of warning, the stock saddles that WB come with are POO, maybe coax your gym into getting their "sport" version for one of them for the more serious athletes Smile

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
13th May 2014 - 13:04

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mooleur wrote:
You can grab session data if your gym have the bikes hooked up to software (you should be able to request this if they don't already, as a lot of folks will more than likely want to use their session data regularly) - I'm not sure about using the data for other apps like Garmin Connect but you can import the file to Training Peaks at least; http://wattbike.com/uk/wattbike/training_peaks

BUT I think you need to be under a coach or premium (don't buy premium it's a rip off) edition of TP. Might be worth asking your Gym guys if they have a coach edition training peaks that you can register under.

If you can't get the session data into your preferred software platform I would just make sure you note down all of the session information, grab things like average power, length of intervals, you can then type them in manually to your application of choice - not ideal but at least you'll have some of the numbers. Smile

On testing, I only do one every 6 weeks and thats between 12 and 20 hours of training a week (though I usually use my 10mile timetrials as one so thats once a week normally) - unless you're hammering it, don't worry about Friels advice to do every month, that's just crazy talk Tongue

One note of warning, the stock saddles that WB come with are POO, maybe coax your gym into getting their "sport" version for one of them for the more serious athletes Smile

Hmm, I can just see the gym staff being a bit 'meh' about records of session data, or perhaps more accurately a bit 'eh?!' when it goes over their heads. Their high turnover of staff is, I think, not a coincidence, and the good ones don't seem to stay that long. Therefore I'm inclined to just rely on what *I* can do to give me what I need. Given that the Wattbike expert software is free, will that do what I need for tracking tests and fitness gains, or is that more for the realtime visuals rather than analysis and trends after the event? If it will suffice, then the next question is whether I the Wattbike Expert software will import a session file. I'm thinking I could use a USB drive to record the session then upload when I get home. Then again, if everyone starts doing that, I'm unsure if malware could get transmitted via the WB, and then the fun will really start...

Failing that, I might have to try going the whole nine yards and hook up a laptop to record the session onto WB Expert in real time. Only issue with that is that my laptop is a Macbook. I have VMware Fusion hosting a Windows VM, but I might have to sort out bootcamp, depending on whether the app likes the virtual bridging for the USB port to the VM.

Re the saddle, from the quick glance I had at the weekend, the saddle looked like a road bike saddle, perhaps they are already the sport version you mention? I'll make sure to take a pair of good shorts!

One other thing (sorry!) - my road pedals are Speedplay, so incompatible with the WB setup. Is that SPD or SPD-SL as standard on the WB? I realise I can turn the pedal over and use trainers, but I've tried that in spinning classes and found that, when giving it the beans, I can feel the pedal pressing through the trainer soles and it gets painful eventually. Besides, if the whole point is to measure power, then use of flexible gym trainers seems self-defeating. Now it's not entirely bad as I've been thinking about a new pair of shoes anyway, so I can relegate the current pair to WB duty if necessary, but what cleats do I need? I then need to ensure that my (Spesh Body Geometry Expert Road) shoes can take those cleats.

Thanks for all the help so far everyone!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3228 posts]
13th May 2014 - 15:59

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Ahahah I know what you mean about gym staff! Yeah don't see why that wouldn't work though (with the USB and free software) - I'm not sure how in depth the archival data is from the sessions but I know you can export the data into spreadsheets and the like using their software, I'd imagine if they have those sorts of figures the session is recorded fully. Though it might even be worth asking WB on that one!

Good shout on the saddle, not sure if they just started shipping those type anyway as I think there was a lot of sore bums when they first came out!

You should be able to plop your own pedals on there like a normal bike, I used to bring my looks along to sessions back in London - as far as I'm aware it should just be an allen like a normal set of cranks, I guess again it's just a case of making sure with the staff that it's OK to do that, can't see why it'd be a problem though Smile

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
13th May 2014 - 16:47

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I think maybe you're right about asking WB about the data question. Unfortunately I might have a little more time than I thought to sort all this, as one of the babies picked up a cold in creche that he has kindly passed on to me - the 2nd in a month! (How do pro athletes train and cope with lurgy from the kids - use nannies?!)

As for the pedals, well they have a strict rule against pedal changes on the spinning bikes thanks to some dimwit cross-threading during a changover and thus writing off a crank, so I imagine they would feel the same way about a £1k specialist bit of kit.

Anyway, thanks for the help all. Time to find out just *how much* more power than me that the pros produce...

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3228 posts]
14th May 2014 - 11:34

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TP often post up power profiles from pro's btw! Their blog/news articles are pretty awesome for that sort of stuff.

Although sometimes it makes me want to cry.

Dean Downing posts his power on strava when he uploads which is pretty cool too Smile

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
16th May 2014 - 11:20

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I'm going to cover the basics of power training as if you understand you'll benefit in your approach to what you are doing. There's not too much difference between power and Heart rate work outs. Power adds the benefit that, as your heart is a muscle, it can improve, or be suppressed. Depending on your previous work outs, so you can be working out hard and not move get your heart rate beyond 159 bpm, or your heart rate races and it seems higher than usual. But power is the single determinate if your work, whatever happens to your heart.
That all said, if your training and goals remain the same your heart rate may not fluctuate all that much. The trick is that to maximise your results you need to create work overload and with periodisation you are more likely to put strains on your heart which lead to changes in your HR.
"Power training" is not really any different to HR training, just a different emphasis on the figures. If you are not able to implement a global training plan then using the Watt Bike won't make an appreciable difference. But it is certainly good for smoothing the pedal stroke.
As Mooleur says, interval training is the way to go. Get the heart rate up and down. But building your base is key.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1153 posts]
16th May 2014 - 23:00

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Righto, so this cold has found its way onto my chest, so no training today. However, I did test everything. Went to the gym, set up a user and recorded a session (only a couple of mins easy pedalling) onto a thumb drive. Installed Wattbike Expert in a Winxp virtual machine on the mac, imported fine. The only bad news is that my pedalling technique, it turns out, is shocking!

Thanks for the help everyone.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3228 posts]
17th May 2014 - 17:42

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You'll be pacing Sir Brad up a Col in no time.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1153 posts]
17th May 2014 - 19:56

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notfastenough wrote:
Righto, so this cold has found its way onto my chest, so no training today. However, I did test everything. Went to the gym, set up a user and recorded a session (only a couple of mins easy pedalling) onto a thumb drive. Installed Wattbike Expert in a Winxp virtual machine on the mac, imported fine. The only bad news is that my pedalling technique, it turns out, is shocking!

Thanks for the help everyone.

Awww hope you feel better soon mate.

Keep us updated on how you get on with using the WB! I'd be interested to know how you find it Smile

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
19th May 2014 - 9:16

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Will do. Once I've determined the FTP and relevant CP numbers, I'll work out the numbers I should be hitting for the intervals on my sufferfest vids (Angels climbing intervals are 8 minutes, and Downward Spiral is just that, so should provide a spread of interval times) then use those for now.

Incidentally, I approached one of the "fitness coaches" at the gym, and asked if they had a "trainingpeaks account for the wattbike?" His first response (I'm not joking) was "training what?". His second answer was "I know the wattbike is like a computer". Bless him, don't think he'd had any training, and didn't seem to know of anyone who had.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3228 posts]
19th May 2014 - 9:49

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That's a bit scary, you'd hope they'd at least be able to advise! Ho hum!!

Had to chuckle at "Downward Spiral" - I've not used the Sufferfest, oh lols!

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

mooleur's picture

posted by mooleur [542 posts]
19th May 2014 - 10:49

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