The computer industry has an acronym: G.I.G.O which stands for:
GARBAGE IN = GARBAGE OUT
It refers to the idea that if your input data/information is inaccurate (GARBAGE IN), then any computations, using that inaccurate data/information can't be anything other than GARBAGE OUT.
Over the years I've come to believe that you should carefully consider G.I.G.O as it could apply to the Heart Rate & Power training you offer in your classes.
Spinning® Master Instructor Danielle Foster alerted me to this article: Three Reasons To Rethink Heart-Rate Training from running.competitor.com. While they don't identify G.I.G.O by name as the cause of their concerns, a quick read through their list shows, and I'm confident you'll agree, that's the case…
1. Fluctuations Do Not Correspond To Effort Levels
Perhaps the biggest limitation to heart-rate training is that many changes in your heart rate do not correlate to your fitness level. Sleep, stress, and dehydration can all raise or lower heart rate on any given day. As normal people with jobs, families, and otherwise busy lives, these outside influencers are common and can have a drastic affect on your heart rate readings.
“Sleep, stress, and dehydration can all raise or lower heart rate on any given day.” I don't know about you, but if I don't get enough sleep I can feel like >>> GARBAGE. So anything my HR Monitor or Power Meter shows me will be potentially inaccurate. Same goes for; stress, hydration levels, illness, training frequency / amount and also if you're in the doghouse… because you forgot your wedding anniversary.
2. Lack Of Concrete Data Needed To Establish Training Zones
Another inherent drawback to heart-rate training is how difficult it is to establish your max heart rate and the accurate training zones that result from that figure. While a quick Google search reveals a myriad of formulas to help you find your max heart rate, the problem with formulas is that they are based on an average. What if you’re not average? Not only that, but is maximum heart rate really the best predictor of training zones?
Sally Edwards says using shoe size would be as accurate a predictor of maximum heart rate as any age predicted formulas. So what should you use to determine your training zones? If you're really serious, I'd take a graded exercise metabolic assessment. Yes they're expensive and you might have to travel a ways to find a provider.
What about a the 20 minute threshold field tests other's promote? They may work for the true endurance athletes in your classes. It's only after hours and hours of training that most have the fitness, and have learned to tolerate (and enjoy) the pain, that is working at threshold continuously for 20 minutes. Without either, your riders are probably not really finding their actual threshold HR or watts = G.I.G.O. Any zones they build from GARBAGE will be… GARBAGE.
Were always adding new members, so in case you missed (or haven't found) my series of posts from 2011. They describe why I don't feel long threshold field tests get the results we intend.
Most of your riders don't really fall into that endurance athlete category?
Then I'd suggest you promote what ACE recommends. This video is best Zone Methodology for the Club Athletes that make up most of our classes.
Note: you can easily substitute a watts # for both VT1 and VT2, instead of a HR BPM. I do every week!
John is a member on the AFS (Association of Fitness Studios) Advisory Council.
Holding certifications from; Schwinn, Heart Zones, Team ICG and Life Time Fitness, John's held regularly scheduled cycling classes between 1998 and 2015 when he moved to Florida.
When the weather permits, you'll find him riding and leading outdoor groups by himself or with his Tandem partner (wife) Amy.