Updated: 26th of June 2019

Heart rate or power for great cycling

Are you using heart rate or power to control your cycling 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.

How you can get the most improvements to your cycling  from whichever system you decide to use.

Technology cyclists and triathletes

Cyclists and triathletes have always embraced technological developments. They have used heart rate monitors and power meters extensively for many years.

In the not so distant past these tools were often only available to professional and international athletes.

This has changed and over the last number of years price and availability have dropped considerably.

So these tools are now extensively used by club racers and sportive riders.

Tour De France

Heart Rate is clearly still an important part of training and racing data for a lot of pro teams.

During the hot mountain stages of the Tour De France heart rate monitor chest straps are visible as riders climb with open jerseys.

Most if not all of the pros and their sports science teams and coaches use Power Meters.

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 coaches and athletes consider power to be the only way to train.

Some consider that using heart rate monitors are of little or no benefit.


However using power without heart rate and perceived exertion can be a very blunt instrument.

This can very easily lead to over training if the cyclist pushes too often to meet power targets and ignores HR and RPE.

If you prefer to train by Heart rate

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

Power Meters & Heart Rate Monitor Series: Part 2

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