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Cycling power meters provide objective data allowing you to quickly understand your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete, monitor and adjust training loads with precision, and monitor progress. If you’re new to training with power or are considering purchasing a new power meter, here are some steps to get started:

Choose a power meter

Various types of power meters are available, including pedal-based, crank-based, and hub-based options. Choose one that suits your budget and cycling setup. Consider factors such as compatibility with your bike, accuracy, and ease of use. The correct choice depends on your bike setup, goals, and budget. It’s worth discussing your options with a mechanic or coach to decide which option is best for you. 

Options for power meter placement:

  • Pedal 
  • Crank Arm
  • Crank Spindle
  • Spider
  • Wheel Hub

Warranty and Customer Service

Today’s power meters are much more reliable than they used to be, but they will still fail occasionally. Power meters are not inexpensive, and it’s important to purchase a power meter with a warranty and from a company/shop with reputable customer service. 

Single-side or Dual-side Power Measurement

To reduce cost, many companies offer single-side measurement. In single-side power meters, the power measured from one leg is doubled to provide a power reading for both legs. Measuring only one side can result in less accurate readings if you have a notable leg power imbalance, ride a lot of technical terrains, or perform a lot of explosive sprint efforts. 

Garmin Rally Pedals can be purchased with single or dual measurement. The spindles can also be moved between different pedal bodies. 

Understanding power metrics

Familiarize yourself with the power metrics provided by your power meter. The most common metric is watts, representing the power you generate while cycling. Additional metrics include normalized power, average power, training stress score, etc. Learn what each metric means and how it can be used to analyze your performance.

At Move Up Endurance Coaching, we utilize TrainingPeaks for planning and monitoring daily training. We also use WKO5 software and the associated terminology to analyze data and communicate with athletes who train with power.  

Example of WKO5 metrics. These metrics are based on the athlete’s power-duration curve.

Establish your baseline

Data collected from power tests, races, and training are used to determine your strengths and weaknesses as a cyclist and guide training decisions. We recommend performing a series of structured tests within a 7-10 day period to set initial training zones. After the initial testing period, continued data collection is helpful to refine your understanding of your abilities further and identify areas for improvement. 

If you want help with testing and data analysis, we offer a free two-week coaching trial for all new athletes. 

Set goals and plan your training

Once you’ve decided on a goal, we can determine the power requirements needed to achieve that goal. We then compare the power requirements of your goal with your current abilities and begin formulating a plan to bridge the gap. With a power meter, you can train using zones that target various energy systems and precisely monitor your training load.  

Some expert advice on goal setting with your new power meter is not to be too specific with the numbers. For example, if your FTP is measured at 200 watts after testing, don’t set your goal as a particular wattage, such as 240 watts. The better approach is to identify a more general goal, then establish a timeline for working on that goal and strong action steps to guide you in the right direction. The SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goal-setting approach is helpful here, but you can be too specific in athletic training. 


Focus on improving FTP for the next 12 weeks. 

Action Steps:

    • Perform two FTP-focused sessions per week
    • Increase training frequency from 3x/week to 4x/week
    • Gradually increase total riding volume by 20-30 minutes per week

While a more generalized focus on FTP improvement rather than a specific number might seem like a cop-out, the reality of training is that it’s impossible to predict the rate of progress. One athlete might be able to improve their FTP by 40 watts, while another athlete will only improve by 20 watts in 12 weeks. Understanding the general training goal for a specific period is sufficient to guide training decisions. The real magic happens in the action steps. 

Monitor your progress 

Regularly review your power data to track your progress. Look for trends, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your training accordingly. Over time, you’ll gain insights into your strengths, weaknesses, and the effectiveness of your training program.

A great example of continued improvement over the past year of structured training

Incorporate specific workouts

You can use the power meter to perform targeted workouts focusing on your cycling performance. This could include intervals at specific power levels, hill repeats, or tempo rides. Structured workouts can help you maximize your training time and improve your power output.

Listen to your body

While power meters provide valuable data, listening to your body is also important. Pay attention to how you feel during rides, your perceived effort, and any signs of fatigue or overtraining. Balancing the data-driven approach with your overall well-being is crucial for long-term success.

Remember, getting accustomed to training with a power meter takes time and practice. Be patient, consistent, and have fun with the process. You can fine-tune your training and progress significantly as you become more familiar with the data and your body’s responses.

Coaching Packages
Kent Woermann

Kent Woermann is the owner/operator of Move Up Endurance Coaching. He is currently a certified personal trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and holds a category 1 license in road, mountain bike, and cyclocross disciplines.

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