The OutSeason® is a fun and valuable time of year for our Team: the noise and stress of training specifically for a race drops away, and we’re able to focus our athletes on a few simple tasks:
- Learn the value and simplicity of WORK.
- Learn that WORK WORKS!
- Gain a new perspective on what WORK is.
- Create good habits and systems that ensure you get the most benefit from your hard WORK.
Perhaps no other metric captures the essence of all of this, at least on the bike, more than watts per kilo.
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A measurement of the work your body is producing as you ride your bike, in real time. As you become more fit, you are able do more work and therefore produce more watts. More watts = the bike goes faster!
The most common “how strong are you” benchmark used in the power training world is your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), the average watts you can hold for a sixty minute time trial effort.
For example, you begin your OutSeason® with an FTP of 200 watts, as determined by some initial testing at the beginning of your plan. You ride, ride, ride, test again in Week 8 and your FTP has risen to 215 watts. Train, train, train and test again in Week 14, the last week of your OutSeason, and your FTP increases again to 230 watts.
By training effectively your body has become able to perform more work, to produce more watts. More importantly, your 200w FTP Old You struggles to hold onto the wheel of your 230w FTP New You.
If you don’t have a powermeter on your bike, please investigate TrainerRoad as another solution.
A unit of mass, or weight for our purposes here. 1kg = 2.2 pounds. You begin your OutSeason® at a weight of 170 pounds, or 77.27kg. If we divide your power (FTP) by your weight in kg, we get your watts per kilogram.
200w / 77.27kg = 2.58 watts per kg
This number is, literally, your power to weight ratio, and bigger is better! More importantly, this single number captures two very important elements of becoming a faster endurance athlete:
- Watts = the ability to perform work, as fitness improves. More watts = the ability to perform mork = you’re more fit = that’s a very good thing!
- KG = your body composition. By creating a goal and implementing sensible and healthy lifestyle changes, we can create healthy body composition improvements, usually by decreasing our percent body fat.
In our experience, many athletes focus on the fitness component but don’t apply that same attention to detail to the body composition side of the equation. For example, our Hero exits the OutSeason® in Week 14 having improved his FTP from 200w to 230w, but his weight has remained the same, at 170lb, or 77.27kg:
Scenario A: 230w / 77.27 = 2.97w/kg, a 15% improvement
However, let’s say that he had applied that same attention to detail to adopting healthy eating habits, resulting in a sensible weight loss of .5lb per week for 14 weeks, or 7 pounds, for a finishing weight of 163 pounds, or 74.09kg
Scenario B: 230w / 74.09kg = 3.10w/kg, a 20% improvement
Of course, Scenario B is better because B is a bigger number and bigger is usually better! But Scenario is B is also better because it encourages a few things in our Hero:
- Observe and absorb the lesson that Work WORKS! Do the work, do it smartly, and the numbers go up.
- Develop the habits and systems to eat healthy and improve body composition sensibly over time.
- Learn that addressing both sides of the equation yields the greatest gains.
Focusing on and improving watts per kilo is a powerful tool that we want all of our athletes to adopt. And so we’ve created Koach Dick’s Watts Per Kilo Klub, a tracking spreadsheet and forum thread where our members are tracking and encouraging each other towards the accomplishment of their power to weight ratio goals.
Cool things happen when you publicly state a goal and then plug yourself into a community of athletes who are working towards their own goals, parallel to yours.
The WKK is just another example of how we and our community think outside of the box to create simple and fun solutions towards achieving our performance goals.