Spin® Life Blog

Peak Power – Training at Our Highest Potential

Peak Power – Training at Our Highest Potential

Posted by Spinning® on Mar 1st 2019

Riders want to take power-based classes for the best results. But what if they don’t know their training ranges? We have a new workshop that explains how they can train with peak power!

The goals of wellness, fitness and performance in the SPINPower® program are achieved by increasing two things: aerobic capacity and muscle activation potential. With well-trained cardiovascular, pulmonary and muscular systems, riders will raise the amount of work their bodies can sustain while increasing energy expenditure. And they’ll feel good doing it!

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 in the body. Since the 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 every professional cycling team use power to train their riders for the world’s toughest races.

The measurement of peak power provides the rider feedback about their optimal performance at certain durations. Peak power is used by instructors and coaches to prescribe individualized, appropriate power output for students to complete during certain intervals. This can be especially useful when students don’t know their Personal Spinning® Threshold (PST), training zones or heart rate. Anyone can come into class and track their training goals.

What is Peak Power?

While SPINPower® Zones give a range of work (measured a student’s PST, max heart rate or rating of perceived exertion), not all students may know these numbers or ranges when they walk into class. Likewise, not all class profiles are based on SPINPower® Zones. The concept of peak power offers another method of training that can be tailored to suit the uniqueness of individual students and to meet specific training goals.

But before we understand peak power, we need to first define average power. Average power is the average amount of work done over time, providing an average energy output of the current ride or interval duration. On a Spinner® bike equipped with a power meter or power crank, the watts shown on the computer are a constant snapshot of your work rate at any given moment, with average watts displayed to the lower right (see left).

Peak power is the highest average power output recorded during a specific time. Peak power helps riders understand the average wattage they are capable of sustaining, giving accurate feedback on rider’s baseline fitness and optimal capable potential at various durations. It is also used to establish and incorporate the principles of individuality of each student and specificity in training. And they don’t necessarily need to know their training zones or heart rate for a particular class.

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How to Determine Peak Power

We can determine peak power values with the SPINPower® Computer (which comes standard on the Spinner® Chrono Power). Using the interval function (see right), riders can review a summary of the maximal average power sustained for that stage. Like a record-setting personal best, this remains the rider’s peak power for that duration.

The timed interval can be used to understand the effort the rider is capable of sustaining effort 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.

Instructors can create fun and motivating peak power profiles that ensure all participants train their individuality, and give opportunity to gear their work specifically towards their optimal performance, rather than comparing themselves to other riders. Remember that competition is not a part of the Spinning or SPINPower® program, and students should track their progression based on their previous rides. This gives instructors a number of ways to suggest appropriate timed work and rest duration interval stages and incorporate individualized power outputs for specific goals

How to Coach with Peak Power

Since peak power is often a full expression of one’s maximum potential, use techniques that elicit emotional responses to influence riders’ motivation and performance. This will heighten powerful physical and psychological responses, triggering endorphin activation, improving efficiency in movement, enhancing focus and proprioception, and boosting will power to achieve their potential.

To achieve peak power means overcoming high intensity. Intensity accounts for most of the physical exertion felt by the rider. Great instructors use their language, music and even visuals to help riders through efforts, boosting fun and motivation. Mentally prepare riders to relax them into performance, and boost their self-confidence so the mind/body works together in harmony. This strikes a balance between pushing them and supporting them.

Here are some tips to coaching riders through intensity:

  1. Before the ride event starts, make sure riders shave proper bike setup and understand on-bike safety.
  2. Use appropriate work-to-rest durations based on exercise science principles.
  3. Discuss the overall goal and the benefits on the efforts to prepare them for the ride ahead.
  4. Break down the process into manageable pieces to prepare them for the task at hand
  5. Have students visualize positive performance
  6. Change your focus from physical effort to the enjoyment of Spinning
  7. Get your students to believe in themselves, so they can do more than they think they can, before they start 

Even more tips are offered in the Peak Power workshop.

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 riders to come back for more!

Think you know Peak Power? Prove it! Take the quiz and earn 1 CEC toward your recertification.Take the CEC Quiz

This article was contributed by Angie Sturtevant, creator of the SPINPower® program.