Welcome to a whole new world of PAIN, MISERY and AGONY! And - most importantly - serious fitness gains and results out on the road or trails!
Using Virtual Watts can help you train at the right efforts during your workouts. With hard work and a smart approach; Virtual Watts can improve your power and fitness objectively.
BUT LET'S REWIND A BIT. IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND VIRTUAL WATTS, LET'S FIRST LOOK AT POWER.
Simply put, power, which is measured in watts (w), refers to how much work you're doing on the bike - how much energy you're putting through the pedals. The harder you work, the more watts you're generating (with some exceptions). It also means you're going FASTER, assuming you're on flat terrain or on a bike trainer.
Calculating power has typically been the domain of expensive power meters. Virtual Watts changes all that.
What we do is strap a minion to a trainer using a power meter and calculate the corresponding speed to power output. From this, we can use a mathematical formula to estimate the appropriate power curve to each trainer.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPEED AND POWER OUTPUT IS WHERE VIRTUAL WATTS COMES IN.
If you're using one of our compatible trainers and once you set up you bike with the appropriate speed sensor (find the list and the setup instructions here) you're ready to start training with Virtual Watts. You'll be accountable to hit some objective numbers - lucky you!
OK, BUT... WHAT AM I CAPABLE OF?
Good point. It's all well and good to have a power meter, but how do you make sense of the numbers? Is 100 watts (w) good? What about 200w? 862w? 1437? These numbers, in isolation don't mean much. The next step is to determine how long you can hold a certain wattage over a period of time. To do so, you need to get your Four-Dimensional Power (4DP) profile by riding Full Frontal, our fitness test.
4DP, EH? I'VE HEARD ABOUT THIS...
Yep -- it's the most complete way to analyse your fitness and set appropriate targets for you to hit during your workouts. Learn more about 4DP right here.
SO, I HAVE TO RIDE FULL FRONTAL?
Together with Coach Neal Henderson and Coach Mac Cassin at The Sufferfest Sports Science Division, we've designed a comprehensive fitness test called Full Frontal. You subscribe to the app, so you have this video available at your fingertips! Get stuck into it by following our lead-in schedule and pacing strategies here.
FULL FRONTAL DONE. CRUSHED IT, AND MYSELF. NOW WHAT?
You've fully exposed yourself with Full Frontal and now you have your 4DP profile. Awesome. You are on your way to smarter training. The beautiful thing is that our app will now make all calculations for you and prompt you to target a certain wattage according to the intensity of the interval.
KEEP YOUR SET-UP THE SAME FROM NOW ON
Remember how I mentioned that virtual power was a function of speed? Well, you need to keep the variables that determine the speed of your back wheel (as it spins in your trainer) consistent. The rolling resistance is the factor that will determine this consistency. There are two key things that you can do to keep your rolling resistance consistent and you Virtual Watts accurate over time:
- Keep your tyre pressure consistent. If your tyres were at 90 psi for your FTP test, make sure your tyre pressure remains as close to 90 psi. This is done best using a pump with a pressure gauge.
- Keep your 'trainer pressure' consistent. Trainer pressure refers to the contact between the turbo trainer and the rear tyre. To achieve consistent trainer pressure, make sure you adjust the 'roller' equally every time you install in the bike on the trainer.
YOU'RE NOW READY TO TRAIN WITH YOUR VERY OWN 4DP BASED ON VIRTUAL WATTS.
So, apart from being afraid, you should be excited. You now have some very powerful tools in your training routine. Enjoy!