Training

Improve your power-to-weight ratio

Power-to-weight ratio sounds complex, doesn’t it?  But in reality, it’s simply the amount of power you can output per kilogram of weight. Simple! Improving your power-to-weight ratio will help make your summer sportives more enjoyable for a number of reasons, read on to find out more…

Climbing

The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 route features two significant climbs, but take on another sportive and you could face far more undulating terrain. If you enjoy your sportives or road cycling, your power-to-weight ratio is a key metric, as you’ll often need to get your body mass up (and over) hills.

If you’re riding in a group, the heavier riders will need to produce more power to ride alongside the lighter members of the group up a hill. In the example below, if Adam produces an average of 300 watts and weighs 95kg and Laura produces 250 watts and weighs 71kg then you might easily assume that Adam would cycle faster up a hill as he is producing more absolute power than Laura.

Power-to-weight calculation

  •     Adam: 300/95 = 3.15w/kg
  •     Laura: 250/71 = 3.52w/kg

After discovering the riders’ power-to-weight ratio, it becomes clear that while Laura is lighter and produces less power, she actually has a higher w/kg and therefore will climb quicker than Adam.

Downhill

When you’re on a descent, the tables turn and gravity is in your favour in your weigh more. This means that, generally, the larger and heavier riders like Adam will descend more quickly than lighter riders like Laura.

Top tip: Lighter riders like Laura can benefit from a slipstream effect by tucking in behind larger riders on a descent.

How to improve your power-to-weight ratio

The two main ways to improve your power-to-weight ratio are either lose weight or increase your sustainable power output.

Dieting simply to attain your ideal cycling weight can actually be counterproductive as you could lose muscle mass during your weight loss; you’ll find your ability to produce power also reduces.

The best option is to focus on optimising power while balancing diet and weight.

Using a Wattbike you can begin to truly understand your power-to-weight values. From your test results you will be able to build a structured training programme, which will see natural weight loss and increased power bringing an overall much more enjoyable cycling experience.