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Why Watts Matter And Can Boost Your Winter Workouts

Winter brings most exercisers indoors. Cyclists come off the roads and runners put their miles in on treadmills.

Fitness equipment can provide clear measurables of your workouts (exact miles on the treadmill screen, calories burned on an elliptical) and offer a great opportunity to work on improving performance.

One great way to gauge your workout intensity is to pay attention to watts. They represent the power you’re producing during a workout and they don’t lie. In an indoor cycling class there are three big ways to measure intensity: perceived exertion, heart rate and watts.

“Perceived exertion is the least accurate but it is a place to start,” said Mike Michels, the manager of user experience for ICG. “Heart rate is better but there are variables to heart rate training like drugs, illness and overtraining, that make it less accurate. Also, heart rate is the result of power output (watts). Watts matter because they are the metric of truth.”

Setting target watts and reaching that target is a great way to guide yourself through a challenging workout. With ICG indoor cycles, exercisers can set a Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is defined as the most power that an exerciser can sustain for an hour. FTP is an essential metric for serious cyclists.

“Once you've established an FTP you can then set training zones accordingly,” added Michels. “These zones provide accurate and effective training. After 8-12 weeks, retest your FTP and adjust your zones to keep the cycle of accurate and effective training going.”

Determining power is essential to this type of performance training. The IC8 Power Trainer has the most accurate power meter in the industry. It employs photocells to directly measure the torsion of the spindle. 

“IC8 is a better power trainer than other indoor cycling bikes because of the direct power meter in the primary drive,” explained Michels. “The spindle in the primary drive is measuring the amount of torsion the rider is creating. This gives us better than 99% accuracy in the watts reading on the console.”

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