If you’re serious about improving your cycling performance, the journey starts here.
Head Coach Richard Wharton is a pioneer in the science of wattage-based fitness training for cyclists. By translating information from a power meter (Watts) into established biomechanical protocols for training, recovery and health, he became one of the first coaches to use wattage training to improve cycling performance. He is also the author of Watts Per Kilogram, the first-ever indoor wattage training manual for cyclists.
Beyond the realm of power meters and intervals, Coach Wharton is also one of the most knowledgeable proponents of hydration/fueling and sleep/recovery strategies.
In 2013, researchers published the first studies using the new W1 metric. Coach Wharton was one of the first coaches to adopt W1 for cycling. In fact, it’s the basis for all our PerfPro training plans.
W1 is a calculation of a cyclist’s “Anaerobic Work Capacity”, or “AWC.” This is a measurement given in units of energy (Joules), that shows just how big your gas tank is, how quickly you’re using it up, and/or how quickly it is being replenished. This is critical information, because when a cyclist knows their W1, they can ride within limits, know when they can push and recover, and can also train to increase that W1 value through specific intervals.
We determine W1 by performing three simple tests of 3, 8, and 13 minutes duration. The results are entered into a calculation that gives you both W1 and your “Critical Power”.
What’s Critical Power? It’s a wattage value above which you’ll be anaerobic and drawing from your AWC. Below Critical Power, you’ll be aerobic, and will be replenishing—or not using—your AWC.
The intervals we build for clients at this level are based on Critical Power and W1. They’re specific to each athlete, and they work both above and below Critical Power.
Under Coach Wharton’s mentorship, you'll learn with greater precision how hard you can go and how much recovery time you’ll need before you can go hard again. You’ll also learn that training in a state of depleted resources yields greater gains. The goal for these programs is to constantly raise Critical Power and W1, so you build a bigger engine that is more efficient and delivers more energy to draw on when pedaling hard, above CP.
Xert is a training model for measuring Maximum Power Available (MPA) at any moment of a ride or effort. Testing is easy (there’s no formal need to test for Critical Power).
Intervals are very specific in their duration, intensity and frequency, and they’re focused exactly on the specific riding skills you want to optimize.
There’s much more to Xert, but let’s stick to MPA for the time being. MPA takes the foundation of W1 and Critical Power to an even more precise level. Cyclists obtain their levels of Threshold (measured in Watts), High Intensity Energy (HIE - measured in Joules and similar to AWC/W1 described in the previous section), and Maximal Power. These are collected during outdoor rides or with some specific indoor workouts. Then, using a “Power-Duration” curve, MPA is calculated as wattage intensity increases or decreases. Time spent above Threshold taps into and decreases MPA, while time spent below Threshold increases and replenishes MPA. The difference between W1, CP and MPA-based workouts is that MPA workouts utilize shorter, harder intervals that tend to deplete W1 below zero.
This may lead to confusion about ability and improvement. The MPA model is much more accurate. Training zones shift with fatigue, so if you're tired from the previous day's ride, Exert will automatically adjust today's ride to match your energy. The rate at which MPA rises and falls with effort will change as well.
Xert workouts are much more focused and harder to complete. But the results speak for themselves: higher MPA, greater HIE, and raised Threshold, meaning more capacity and smarter, stronger, rides with less strain.
MPA is the most accurate wattage-based training and cycling metric developed to date. And, and as of this writing, Online Bike Coach is the only coaching program anywhere in the world to have implemented it.
To learn more about how our coaching and training plans work, check out our Let’s get started page.