Coaching: W’ Power And Effective Workouts (Podcast #54)

What is W’?

W' is the brain child of Dr. Phil Skiba.  He describes W' as the amount of work (in joules) that an athlete can perform ABOVE their Critical Power.  Critical Power, or CP for short, is essentially the power a muscle can provide without fatiguing significantly.  It is similar to functional threshold power, but there are a few differences on the physiological level.  For the purpose of this podcast, we'll consider CP and FTP to be the same since they are numerically quite similar.

Essentially, W' is a measure of energy, specifically a measure of Anaerobic Work Capacity, or how much anaerobic effort an athlete can put out before fatiguing to exhaustion.  If you look at the chart above, you'll see a black line drawn through the power curve.  Although this represents an effort during a workout, it perfectly illustrates W'.  Everything below that black line would be considered aerobic work that can go on for a LONG time.  Everything above that line would represent W'.

As a clearer description, Dr. Skiba has likened W' to a battery in the past.  He has suggested that each effort above CP/FTP causes your battery to drain a little bit.  Once you let off the gas and drop below your CP/FTP, your battery begins to recharge.  Unfortunately, the recharge is slower than you think, especially the harder you work UNDER your CP/FTP.  So it follows that if you burn your battery up, and then continue to perform just below your CP/FTP, your battery will recharge VERY slowly.  All the energy that would go into recharging your battery is going to power your performance.

Once you've expended all of your W', it's game over, you blow up and you're done for the time being.

There are some hypotheses about what causes W' to recharge and what happens when we expend all our W'.  Those are for another podcast, where we'll talk about how to possibly improve W' recharging, but for now, we'll deal with the practical application of W' using Golden Cheetah.

Check out the video podcast for some information on W' and how you can use it to interpret your training (assuming you're training using something like a Stages Power Meter.)

wprimevideo from Rob Manning on Vimeo.


Efficient Functional Threshold Power (FTP) – Podcast #47

In this age of power meters and quantified training, athletes spend hours upon hours, days upon days poring over power files and searching for a way to get ahead of the competition.  They hope against hope that there's a magic bullet out there that will suddenly catapult them to the front of the pack.  And all too often, they believe that magic bullet is raising their functional threshold power (abbreviated as FTP.)  But is a simple number the key to destroying your rivals on the Sunday group ride, the Saturday criterium or the Tuesday Night Worlds?

In today's podcast I discuss the concept of efficiency as it relates to FTP or what I refer to as “Efficient Threshold Power”.  I'll talk about some of the following concepts:


Choosing A Power Meter – Podcast #44

Power: it's the ultimate in training metrics.  Nothing beats the pinpoint accuracy of training with an output measurement such as power.  You can know at each moment of each ride how hard you are working, if you're burning matches and if you're going to be paying for this effort later in the day.  The question most people end up asking themselves is “which power meter should I choose?”  And rightly so.

With the myriad of power meter options on the market, offering tons of different features at different price points, where should you start looking in your quest for technological bliss?  And when it comes time to plunk down your hard earned cash on (arguably) the biggest training tool you'll have (aside from a coach), which one should you choose?

In this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, I talk about some of the ins and outs of choosing a power meter, from considering how much mechanical ability you have to how much money is in your bank account.  As you listen, you'll hear me discuss:


Strength Training For Cyclists – Part 1: Podcast #42

Want to be a stronger cyclist without touching your bike?  Did you ever wish there was a way to build cycling prowess without sitting on the trainer for hours on end during the dark and cold winter?  Do you dream of a lean, muscular physique like the sport's top rouleurs?  Well, there's definitely a way to go about making that happen, if you're willing to put aside some bias and start hitting the gym (or the home gym if you're motivated enough.)

For years, many coaches thrashed the idea of strength training for cyclists.  But those attitudes are (thankfully) on the way out.  Frankly, a coach who doesn't believe in strength training is either not well versed in physiology or is just not interested in developing weight based workouts for his/her athletes.  In fact the recent success of numerous former track athletes in the professional road race ranks should have people clamoring for some weight lifting (most trackies are avid weight trainers during the off season.)  Think of guys like Brad Wiggins, Michael Morkov, Jack Bobridge and Geraint Thomas if you want a few examples of trackies who took to the road successfully.  So what's your reason for not hitting the weight room?

With that in mind, today's podcast will discuss some of the components of strength training and exercise adaptation.  I'll discuss the physiology of how your body adapts to exercise, so check out the show notes after the jump and follow along with the podcast.


5 Tips To Accelerate Your Fitness (Podcast #37)

First ride of springHere in the northeast spring has officially sprung (despite the recent short stint of cold, rainy weather) and that means everyone is starting to take their training outside.  The big question is how do you get that boost to your spring training that makes you nigh on invincible on the Sunday group ride?  You may have been putting in countless hours on the trainer and rollers over the winter, but you may still have trouble when the speed ramps up or you find yourself unable to cover those massive group surges.  A little adjustment to your training, a little specific work to boost your higher end energy systems, and you'll find yourself pushing the pace at the front of the group instead of dangling off the back.

On this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, I'll talk about:

  • The importance of having goals for your outdoor rides
  • How important it is to build your FTP (Functional Threshold Power)
  • How to ramp up your Zone 5 fitness
  • The importance of repeatability
  • The Fartlek concept
  • Why your recovery rides may be hurting you more than helping you

As always, if you enjoy what you hear, head over to the Tailwind Coaching Podcast on iTunes and rate it 5 stars.  Don't forget to post any questions to the Tailwind Coaching Facebook page, and don't forget to support our sponsors and help to keep this podcast free.

With the racing season quickly approaching, don't get stuck at the back of the pack or shelled on the first climb.  Check out my modular training plans in my online store and get started on the path towards killer fitness today.  And don't forget to save 10% with the coupon code in this week's podcast.