Time for an update on the power training and specifically the Computrainer

I have known for a while that power was the best way to train on the bike, to track improvements and monitor race pace, I have had a few turbo’s over the years that used power, I even had an SRM power meter for my bike in 2007 that I borrowed off a mate for the season.

It was a great piece of kit but I never really got into the whole analysis on feedback and how to improve.

Since December last year I have been able to consistently train both indoors and out, my overall fitness has seen a marked improvement in the position I am normally in this time of year and I hope to continue with this pattern in all of the 3 sports.

Its the results on the bike and specifically the testing I am doing to track this that are giving the most remarkable results. 

As part of purchasing a Computrainer you are offered a structured 20 week training plan to improve the watts (power) output from Day 1 to Day 140 and the ‘PIG’ (performance Improvement Guarantee)  says you can achieve at least 10% if you follow this plan. Well so far ( and fingers are crossed for continuous improvement) I am well ahead of mine.

I know a little late but this is the 2 month status report on how the Computrainer is helping to improve my overall cycling and how I intend to use it going forward.

Roll back to December 2010, selected to be the Face of Computrainer 2011 was a great boost to the confidence and a superb way for me to start the year with added structure to my coached training going forward. 

So I did the the first CP20 which resulted in 291.9 watts average (originally thought to be 293 – explained below), the idea is that you hammer the test for all you are worth for 20 minutes and the average is recorded. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I knew the pedigree of the turbo and it was going to be pretty accurate.

I also knew I was going to learn ‘how to ride a CP20’ once I had done the first one, everyone said I would go off too fast, and they were right, when you are not used to time trialling you inevitably go out too fast and suffer, I am still doing it a little even after 3 but I can see the light so to speak. 

I have never really been a time trial maximum effort kind of guy, I always leave room for the run, its instilled in years of IM training and racing, its hard to shift, but  I am learning fast. So after the first test I have now completed 2 more, Jan and Feb/Mar, I have put the Performance Reports in a side by side comparison below. The watts are slightly different from the Coaching Software screenshots further down but long as they are consistent I will base my outputs on the performance reports.

This is the performance report output from the 3 tests side by side.

I have highlighted 3 parts

1- this is the important info, shows the ave watts for the test, the ave HR and ave cadence. For the purposes of the test the main aim is to increase the watts by 2% each month.

2 –  This is the calibration of the Computrainer, I have to keep this as accurate as possible across the tests to ensure I am working to an even playing field.

3- This is the largest fluctuation I have so far in all the inputs, my weight, as you can see I have lost weight over the 3 months, this then gets fed back into the user data so I can stay consistent, just for clarity, this is my weight plus the weight of the bike.

While you are testing you are faced with a 3D simulation of two cyclists, me and a ‘pacer’, I can use the pacer to show what I did last time or just use him to keep me occupied during the test. The actual output showing all the relevant bits of data is below, this is a very useful tool that your coach can use to follow the whole test, I get one of these for every session.

December 19th

Jan 22nd

Mar 1

The screenshots and performance reports seem to report slightly different figures as the report looks at a more accurate figure and I have to make sure I stop the test immediately after the 20 mins so I don’t incur the drop off as I pass out ! I will be using the watts on the Performance reports as they look more accurate, by doing this I also get a consistency going forward. 

So the figures,  291.9w initial test to 311.6w at the 1st March. A 6.74% improvement and well ahead of the 4% PIG target, what’s more remarkable is that I am not just a cyclist, I am also swimming and running in amongst these sets, I am not solely concentrating on the bike, if I was I am sure I could be pushing this higher.


In terms of future and how I see the improvements going are largely based on my aims for this year, I am using the CP20 as a test for improvement but at the end of the day I am an IM triathlete, selfishly I want to see the improvement over the 5-6 hours I am on the bike. This is also part of their improvement promise, I am already noticing the on-the-road difference, hills and sudden bursts are easily coped with, my overall HR is dropping for the longer rides and I have no issues next day with recovery.

I am so impressed with the data from the Computrainer I am getting I have decided to buy a second hand SRM crank to use on the road, I am importing the CPT data I have into Training Peaks and WKO+ and having the extra road info will prove very useful. I will be doing test number 4 at the end of the month and certainly hope to be heading in the same direction.

SO what does the CP20 data equate to, the result on 1st March gives me 311w or an FTP figure of 295w. This is what I could potentially hold for an hour.

If I want to relate this to an IM, according to Coggan/Allen in their book on training and racing with a power meter  I need to look in the range of 68%-78% of my FTP for an IM. This is my ultimate goal, pacing an IM correctly. I normally use HR but this is a huge variable on the day, I have done well up to now in races but to have power as well will be a great advantage.

Their calculations give me a range of 200w to 230w. I would say that at the moment I would struggle to hold 230w for 5+hours but I suppose this is why the range is there to work from.

Conservatively I would go for the middle ground and aim to hold 215w. I now have a target, what I want to increase that figure to in the next year will be in my hands. If I get my 10% PIG improvement I will be looking at a figure of 223w for an IM. This is where I should be in May, my god, I have until September for the IM, I will not be stopping, improvement is addictive.

Computrainer Deals

If anyone is considering getting one of these baby’s then they have deals to break the cost up, no VAT increases, they have finance deals and you can even rent one to decide if its for you.

Happy training, til next time, Rosey.

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