In the gym …

I am in the gym more these days training on the spinning bike.

I like the spinning bike. In 45-60 minutes, I get a good workout. Together with my Suunto M5 heart rate monitor and the power meter on the Keiser M3 spinning bike, I can monitor the work rate and set realistic goals.

Cycling inside is different. Hotter! There is no wind to help cool you off. There is no traffic. No stops signs. No traffic lights. It is continuous pedalling. There is a flywheel which means no coasting. But the biggest difference for me is the integrated power meter.

Power is the rate at which energy is used over time and is measured in watts. Tour de France riders average 200-300 watts during a 4 hour stage. I have been averaging 225 watts over a 45-60 minute workout including a warmup and cool down. During a warmup I am pedalling at 90-100 rpm and expending approximately 150 watts. During climbs, I am pedalling at 70-80 rpm and expending 250-300 watts and, during sprints 400+ watts.

These are not great numbers compared to younger, more competitive cyclists but they provide a benchmark and give me something to work at and improve upon during the winter months.

I have worked out on the Keiser M3 Indoor Cycle for years. I prefer it over a trainer. For one, it reduces the wear and tear on my road bikes. And, I like going to the gym instead of spinning in the basement. There are others to talk to and learn from. A TV to watch if you want. And, other equipment to help vary the workout. But, most importantly, I can relax in the steam room afterward.

I train with a Suunto M5 heart rate monitor with an integrated coach. It tells me how frequently to workout, at what intensity and duration taking into consideration my age, weight, current fitness level and fitness goal.

Yesterday, the M5 recommended a 55 minute workout maintaining a heart rate between 110-125 bpm. For me, that was like a steady 5% gradient climb requiring an average 210 watts output. I could have worked harder but I am careful to follow the workouts recommended by the watch.

Today, my “coach on the wrist” recommended a “hard workout” – 35 minutes maintaining a heart rate between 130-144 bpm. It was like climbing one of the local mountains. Equivalent to a 12 km climb with a 5-7% grade. I completed the workout in 36 minutes, averaged 247 watts, burned 400 calories and maintained an average heart rate of 136 bpm. Again, I felt like I could have worked harder and gone longer.

These numbers are not precise. They are estimates at best. But they serve as a marker, a starting point for the next few months spent mostly inside on the spinning bike. The goal is to see improvement, particularly more power. I am following a 6-week training program prescribed by my “coach on the wrist” that is best completed on the spinning bike.

What is it with these M numbers? Doesn’t BMW market an M Series? Are Suunto and Keiser related in some way?

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