So what about a power meter? How will it help? A power meter is a good tool when you want to know a specific measurement of the power output from your body. It measures the force you are applying for a sustained amount of time in watts. Training at different intensity levels with a power meter can be done just as with an HRM.
- Power meters provide a measurement of real power output (watts)
- Power meters provide instant feedback so you know exactly how much power you are exerting at any given moment
- An HRM cannot detect a decrease in power output like a power meter can because your heart rate may remain the same over a specified amount of time
- You may be training at your normal heat rate while feeling tired but the power meter will tell you how much power you are actually producing
- Cost is a factor for many people
Most, if not all, power meters come with heart rate capability so a cyclist can have the best of both.
It may seem that power and heart rate are in direct correlation to each other, but this isn't necessarily true. If your heart rate is low, you may be producing more power than what you think. Just as if your heart rate is high, you may not be producing as much power as you think. One may believe the higher your heart rate is, the more power you should be exerting.
Can a cyclist be just as strong in speed and endurance training with just a HRM as with a power meter? This can be true, but there is still the probability that he could be stronger with the use of the power meter. The use of a power meter will enable the cyclist to better pace himself than with the use of an HRM. The risk of slowing down is greater with an HRM because the power meter will help you maintain better efficiency over a given distance.
So is a power meter a good investment? This question will ultimately have to be decided by the cyclist. With the comparisons made of the advantages and disadvantages, it would seem it would be very advantageous to buy and train with a power meter. However, if the cost is a major factor for a cyclist, then the use of a HRM will be the most logical tool.
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