Friday, September 19, 2008

Power vs Weight

When there's hills involved there's two ways to increase your speed to the top. Increase your power, or decrease your weight. Increasing your power will require specific intervals, an increased training load, and a lot of pain. Decreasing your weight involves a whole lot of sacrifice and discipline. Neither are easy. Depending on your current abilities, one may be easier to tackle than the other.

For example, I don't have a problem generating power. But I'm also 85kg and would likely work to lose 5kg if I wanted to increase my climbing speed. It would take a LOT more work (90% more work for an extra 5% gain) to increase my power with my current training load. My current power to weight ratio at threshold is approximately 5.2. If I were to keep my power the same and loose 5kg I would increase that ratio to 5.6. That would be relatively easy given the alternative. I would need to increase my power by almost 50 watts (a significant figure) in order to get the same results.

If you are already very lean then there's only one way to go. Increase power output. Assess where you're at and decide which strategy is more achievable.


stevestandrews said...

Can you increase your power by doing "shorter" hilly rides? What is the drawback if you're riding at a lower cadence? If you're trying to increase your power with hill climbs, should you maintain a higher cadence uphill (80-100) or a lower cadence (60-75) and grind?


Wade Wallace said...

Hey Steve,
When you ride at a low cadence you are training "strength". There is a lot of force on your pedals and you are creating a lot of torque. This is an excellent technique for strength training. However, when you put it all together, in my opinion, you should be spinning at 80-100rpm. This will make better use of the slow twitch muscles which have better fuel (glycogen) reserves and will be more sustainable in the long run. I'll write a post on this tomorrow.

The "shorter" hilly rides suit bigger and more powerful riders better than the long climbs. Guys like me can power over those short hills with a lot of power and still manage to get over them without too much fatigue. When the long climbs come into play (over 500m), the little guys sustain a decent amount of power but with their low weight, their power to weight ratio can be very high. The steeper the climb, the better for them. This allows them to climb at such a blistering pace!

Hope this helps...