General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh? Rss Feed  
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2013-09-02 8:43 PM

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Subject: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?

Riding the trainer is, for most of us, draining and tough - more so mentally than physically.  Or so I thought...

I've been looking at this and have found that my Wattage on the trainer at the same heart rate as on the road is routinely 30-50W lower.  At or around my HIM HR target, I'm 35-50W lower indoors - so it's not just that it $uck$ to be on a trainer, it seems to be harder.  It's not just RPE, but W/bpm that are different (even when I get down into aero, as sitting up is about 6-8 bpm higher - so this is in the same aero position).

I have tried putting the front wheel higher and lower - no big difference.

What am I missing here?  Thoughts/comments much appreciated, as ever.

Thanks.

Matt



2013-09-02 9:11 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
I am making the assumption that you are using a powermeter that you calibrate before each ride (trainer or outdoor).

The biggest thing I can think of is the temperature difference. Usually, it gets warmer in my home gym even with the fans going. Outdoor, I have a lot more cooling from the wind.
2013-09-02 9:16 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
I think most agree that the trainer is much more difficult than riding outdoors, but much more consistent. I'd think this is for a couple reasons: 1. It's always flat. You never get to let up and coast without immediately losing speed. 2. You don't have a breeze. I usually set up a fan, but it certainly isn't the same as having a 15-20 mile breeze on my whole body. I know for long training rides, some people only do 80-85% of what the planned workout calls for, to allow for it being more difficult. Just my two cents...
2013-09-02 9:55 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
Cooling is the big difference. It is very common to see lower numbers on the trainer than outdoors.

Shane
2013-09-02 11:49 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
Are you using Trainerroad or just independent Powertap, etc?

I don't use a Powermeter for outside (don't have one), so I just go by Trainerroad. I don't know if it's different for me outdoors, but I'm consistent indoors, so that's okay. :D

However, I DO notice that my HR for the same RPE is vastly lower in the trainer. I thought it's just me, but I've done quite a lot of trainer rides the last couple months that my HR Zones is 1-2 zones different. On hills outdoors, I have NO problems getting my HR into 165-175 bpm at Z3-4 (yes, I know a wee bit high), but I have such a hard time reaching that indoors. For the same RPE indoors, I'm at 135-145.

For me, I feel like turning the cranks is much harder indoors, I've tried to keep it light tension, same PSI every time, etc, I am nearly in my easy gears indoors for the same amount of pedal pressure/strength outdoor in harder gear. I am frustrated with this one. I see so many people easily put out higher power than I do on Trainerroad....:-(

Anyhoo...as long as you're consistent indoors and the numbers are consistent, I wouldn't get too hung up on the numbers differences. I could be very wrong with this advice. :D
2013-09-03 12:49 AM
in reply to: gsmacleod

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?

Originally posted by gsmacleod Cooling is the big difference. It is very common to see lower numbers on the trainer than outdoors. Shane

Yup, you would need a fan(s) big enough and strong enough to blow 18-22 mph wind over your ENTIRE body to simulate the cooling you get outside. 

In addition, the trainer puts more resistance on the dead spots of the pedal stroke.  When we are out on the road, we can choose to put the more of our effort into the most efficient parts of the stroke (between 2 and 5 o'clock) and less effort during the dead spots.  On the trainer, we have to grind through the dead spots a bit which increases effort that doesn't result in equivalent power output.



2013-09-03 7:20 AM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?

Welcome to the alternate dimension of Trainer reality!

As others said very common especially on non-adjustable fluid trainers.  Regardless of Power or HR, do trainer specific testing and use the zones for that result.  Do not mix Road W/HR with trainer W/HR.  I can get my HR LT test 4-6 bpm higher outside than on the trainer.  My 5' max power test is about 4 mph slower than outside.

2013-09-03 8:40 AM
in reply to: Donto

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
Originally posted by Donto

Welcome to the alternate dimension of Trainer reality!

As others said very common especially on non-adjustable fluid trainers.  Regardless of Power or HR, do trainer specific testing and use the zones for that result.  Do not mix Road W/HR with trainer W/HR.  I can get my HR LT test 4-6 bpm higher outside than on the trainer.  My 5' max power test is about 4 mph slower than outside.



why are you comparing an indoor and outdoor 5 min power test in mph? if you are training with power you shouldn't care what the mph is, only that you are working enough. my power climbing a mountain is much much higher than my power cruising down a rolling road, but it is much slower.
2013-09-03 1:24 PM
in reply to: Clempson

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
Originally posted by Clempson
Originally posted by Donto

Welcome to the alternate dimension of Trainer reality!

As others said very common especially on non-adjustable fluid trainers.  Regardless of Power or HR, do trainer specific testing and use the zones for that result.  Do not mix Road W/HR with trainer W/HR.  I can get my HR LT test 4-6 bpm higher outside than on the trainer.  My 5' max power test is about 4 mph slower than outside.

why are you comparing an indoor and outdoor 5 min power test in mph? if you are training with power you shouldn't care what the mph is, only that you are working enough. my power climbing a mountain is much much higher than my power cruising down a rolling road, but it is much slower.
Due to the simple fact I don't have a power meter.  I train by virtual power on the trainer.  It was only a note of comparison like the HR.
2013-09-03 1:43 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
Originally posted by mcmanusclan5

Riding the trainer is, for most of us, draining and tough - more so mentally than physically.  Or so I thought...

I've been looking at this and have found that my Wattage on the trainer at the same heart rate as on the road is routinely 30-50W lower.  At or around my HIM HR target, I'm 35-50W lower indoors - so it's not just that it $uck$ to be on a trainer, it seems to be harder.  It's not just RPE, but W/bpm that are different (even when I get down into aero, as sitting up is about 6-8 bpm higher - so this is in the same aero position).

I have tried putting the front wheel higher and lower - no big difference.

What am I missing here?  Thoughts/comments much appreciated, as ever.

Thanks.

Matt




Matt,

As many have said there is a big difference indoor and out .....but 50W ....ouch...that's a lot especially on HIM pace.

Are you should you calibrated the same in both circumstances ? The PM can have big variations indoor and out if not calibrated because of temperature

Did you have some cooling when using the trainer ?

Could it be your HR was running high ? I can have a fluke where my HR base will be 5-6BPM higher. If I do one early in the morning and the other mid afternoon 1 hour after a meal I can get a good difference.

Maybe a combination of all of the above ?
2013-09-03 2:52 PM
in reply to: marcag

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Subject: RE: Trainer vs. road W's very different at same HR. Huh?
Originally posted by marcag
Originally posted by mcmanusclan5

Riding the trainer is, for most of us, draining and tough - more so mentally than physically.  Or so I thought...

I've been looking at this and have found that my Wattage on the trainer at the same heart rate as on the road is routinely 30-50W lower.  At or around my HIM HR target, I'm 35-50W lower indoors - so it's not just that it $uck$ to be on a trainer, it seems to be harder.  It's not just RPE, but W/bpm that are different (even when I get down into aero, as sitting up is about 6-8 bpm higher - so this is in the same aero position).

I have tried putting the front wheel higher and lower - no big difference.

What am I missing here?  Thoughts/comments much appreciated, as ever.

Thanks.

Matt

Matt, As many have said there is a big difference indoor and out .....but 50W ....ouch...that's a lot especially on HIM pace. Are you should you calibrated the same in both circumstances ? The PM can have big variations indoor and out if not calibrated because of temperature Did you have some cooling when using the trainer ? Could it be your HR was running high ? I can have a fluke where my HR base will be 5-6BPM higher. If I do one early in the morning and the other mid afternoon 1 hour after a meal I can get a good difference. Maybe a combination of all of the above ?

I noticed 20-25W on the road bike last year, over the winter, but the couple rides on the tri bike have been higher (probably averaging closer to 40W for the few experiments).

On thinking about it, and with the emphasis on temperature, I suspect the basement was cooler when on my road bike (winter - smaller difference), and I was sweating like a pig the last couple times as it was late summer and much warmer (no fan - going to change THAT in a hurry).  There's still a big difference inside to outside.

Hadn't thought about time relative to meals and such, and I am also now realizing that although I calibrate every time I ride outside, I don't recall ever calibrating as I put the bike on the trainer (might have done so out of habit, but it's something I do in the driveway or parking lot before an outdoor ride, so not the same behavioural triggers and I might not at all in the basement).

Lastly, the recent trainer ride with the largest difference (40W rather than 30W) was the first leg-based effort (had swum the night prior is all) after pulling my hamstring, so it's also possible that I was guarding some and working harder/less efficiently - although I think this one is a stretch as far as driving any differences...

All in, could well be multi-factorial in putting me into SUCH a different power state.  Looks like there will be a difference in W from indoor to outdoor, period, but that it shouldn't be so large - I just need to base my workouts on "trainer vs. road" zones. 

I'm going to try to control for the above over the next couple weeks and see where the differences fall.  I'm consistent on my outdoor numbers (W/bpm), so maybe fiddling with the basement setup and conditions will get me a consistent number that is closer to the outdoor one (and if not, I'll just hamster along in different zones).

Thanks all for the very useful input, as always.  I'll post up when I've retested a couple times... lots to consider.

Matt



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