Updated: 7th of February 2018



Controlling training loads with Watts or Heart Rate

Are you using heart rate or power to control your bike training loads? This series of blog posts will look at some of the research available on the effectiveness of power or heart rate monitoring on cycling training. My hope is that this series helps you to use this great technology effectively for your own training.

40 years of training champion cyclists

In this series I have also drawn on examples from my own experience of training champion cyclists over the past 40 years including my opinion on what works well and how to get the most benefit from whichever system you decide to use.

Technology cyclists and triathletes

Cyclists and triathletes have embraced technological developments and used heart rate monitors extensively for many years. Over the last number of years the of use power meters for training and competition by triathletes and cyclists has also increased.

Power meters are now reasonably priced so a lot of cyclists and triathletes are now using them.



Tour De France

Heart Rate is clearly an important part of training and racing data for a lot of pro teams. During hot mountain stages of the Tour De France heart rate monitor chest straps are usually visible as riders climb with open jerseys. A lot of these pros would also have been using Power Meters supplied by their team’s sponsors.

As well as power feedback, the heart rate at the various power readings will show the level of fatigue that the rider is incurring. RPE (Rating of Perceived exertion) or how the rider actually feels is also an important element of data gathering.

Extreme views: Power V Heart Rate

There is sometimes polarised views about the benefit of heart rate monitors compared to power meters. Some power meter aficionados consider power to be the only way to train and that using heart rate monitors are of little or no benefit.

However the facts are that some research studies have found that training based on power only is not more effective than training based on Heart Rate.

6 week cycling training tips for 100km cycle

Quotes and links to research

“The current general perception that prescribing training based only on power is more effective than prescribing training based on heart rate was not supported by the data from this study.” Comparison Power Heart Rate

“This study indicates that there are no noticeable advantages to using PM to increase performance in the average recreational cyclist, suggesting that low cost HR monitor are equally capable as training devices.”


The next blog post in the series will look at pros and cons of RPE(Rating of Perceived exertion), Heart rate, and Power from a coach’s perspective and experience.

See Power Meters & Heart Rate Monitor Research: Part 2 here.

Paddy Doran High performance cycling coaching for beginners to elite

See testimonials here Contact Here



Follow me

Paddy Doran

Coach at Peak Endurance Coaching
I have been consistently the most successful coach in Irish Cycling in the last 30 years, training Olympians and Professional cyclists including a number of Ras Tailtean Winners and medalists at World & European levels. Cycling and coaching is my passion and I specialise in peaking for major events.
Follow me

FREE 6 Week Training Tips for 100km Cycle

Download our 6 weeks of training tips, completely FREE!

You have Successfully Subscribed!