With Peak Power you can put your power to the test! Benchmark, track and improve your power output with this training technique used by competitive cyclists.
The goals of wellness, fitness and performance in the SPINPower® program are achieved by increasing two capabilities: aerobic capacity and muscle activation potential. With well-trained cardiovascular, pulmonary and muscular systems, you will raise the amount of work your body can sustain while increasing energy expenditure. Yes, that means more calories burned!
Since different physiological responses occur at different intensities and durations, determining maximal training effort needs to balance the work efforts with recovery to cause specific adaptations. Since a power meter can accurately measure work intensity in watts, power-based baseline markers and training zones are the most effective means of setting these intensities. That’s why professional cycling teams use power to train their athletes for the world’s toughest races.
The measurement of peak power provides the rider feedback about their optimal performance at certain durations. This can be especially useful when riders don’t know their Personal Spinning® Threshold (PST) or heart rate. Using peak power, anyone can get on a bike and track their training goals.
What is Peak Power?
Before we can understand peak power, we need to first comprehend average power. Average power is the average amount of work done over time, providing an average energy output in watts for the whole workout or interval duration. On a Spinner® bike equipped with a power meter or power crank, the computer or app shows your current and average watts at any given moment.
Peak power is the highest average power output recorded during a specific time. For example, your 30-second peak power is the highest average power output you can sustain for 30 seconds. Peak power helps riders understand the average wattage they are capable of sustaining, giving accurate feedback on baseline fitness and optimal potential at various durations.
How to Determine Peak Power
We can determine peak power values with intervals when you sustain the highest output possible at a steady cadence. Like a record-setting personal best, this remains the rider’s peak power for that duration.
Bike computers and apps have interval functions that will record average power during those periods. The timed interval can be used to understand the effort the rider is capable of sustaining for a specific period of time. For instance, after a proper warm-up, the instructor may coach riders through a five-minute interval. The rider’s goal is to work at their maximal sustained potential, noting their maximal average power at the end of the stage. This is noted as their five-minute peak power. Riders with established peak power values recorded in tracking software can compare their past results to determine if they have established a new personal best. This baseline marker can now be used as a motivational target in future efforts.
Spinning® classes that incorporate peak power tests create fun and motivating training sessions, giving riders the opportunity to gear their work specifically towards their optimal performance, rather than comparing themselves to other riders.
Peak Power Tips and Guidelines
Since peak power is often a full expression of one’s maximum potential, instructors will use coaching techniques that elicit emotional responses to influence motivation and performance. This will heighten powerful physical and psychological responses, triggering endorphin activation, improving efficiency in movement, enhancing focus and proprioception, and boosting willpower to achieve their potential.
To achieve peak power means overcoming high intensity. Language, music, and even visuals can help riders through efforts, boosting fun and motivation. Mentally preparing for the performance and boosting self-confidence helps the mind and body work together in harmony.
Here are some tips for success with peak power efforts:
- Be well rested and hydrated, and ride with proper bike setup.
- Use appropriate work-to-rest durations based on exercise science principles.
- Set your mind on the overall goal and the benefits on the efforts.
- Break down the process into manageable pieces to prepare for the task at hand.
- Visualize positive performance.
- Change your focus from physical effort to the enjoyment of Spinning®.
Peak power intervals create fun, calorie-scorching rides that quickly boost fitness and performance. As you train and improve your fitness, your peak power should improve as well, showing progression and inspiring you to come back for more!
This article was contributed by Angie Sturtevant, creator of the SPINPower® program.