Calculating Improvement-Cycling Power Workout Analysis

Late last year I started teaching Computrainer classes at a new local bike shop with the purpose of creating a program to increase power over the winter and allow athletes to hit the ground running come spring time.    I have kept track of my own progress over that time period to essentially make sure that what I have prescribed for these athletes is working.  Since we are training on indoor bikes the only things that are relative are cadence and power.  The first screenshot below is from December 22nd, 2011 and the second screenshot is from the exact same workout done approximately 2 months later on February 23rd, 2012.

December 22: First Intervals 397-1:41, 396-1:30 Middle Intervals --6:02 329, 6:03-314, 6:14- 292 --End Intervals1:52 298, 286-1:45 peak 652

My first two intervals for both days are very similar, but I remember they were much harder back in December, but you'll notice its in part because I started off way too hard in Dec, where I had a pretty consistent wattage throughout yesterday.  Both intervals generated nearly the same amount of average power(397&396 vs 399), but I was clearly fading on the back end of both in December.

The Middle Intervals is where the real change took place.  The first 6 minutes in December was 329 with a 4.5% drop to 314 for the second an additional decline of 6.7% for a total 11.2% decline for the 3rd interval.   Yesterday I started off at 355 watts for 6 minutes and dropped 4.2% to 340 watts  on my second attempt and dropped 4.8% to 323 watts for a total 9% drop as opposed to 11.2% back in December.  In addition if you look carefully you can see I was clearly struggling to finish the 3rd interval in December where I was able to hold it "mostly" steady for the 3rd one yesterday.

Last intervals.. I start and finish this workout the same way, the initial short bursts are to get the neuromuscular activation that is desired before extended efforts and the final ones are to squeeze that extra little bit out of the workout and to make sure that the middle intervals, which are the meat of the workout, were done with enough intensity.   The last two are especially short and fun to really blast out and see how high you can get your power with what you have left.

What do I take away from this?  Overall I'm pretty happy with my findings my average wattage for the same exact workout went from 237 to 276 in a 2 month period which is an overall 16.4% improvement.  In addition I learned to be more consistent with my power instead of jumping early and fading late which most people tend to do.   The exception to that is the last four short intervals which is to "blow out everything you have left".  Even so I managed to top my peak of 652 in December with a peak of 709 which is still 8.7% improvement.  709 isn't my highest but I certainly don't stay there for long either.  I'm not expecting another 16% this time around but I'm looking forward to seeing my power continue to develop and I am excited to see what I will be able to do when I'm finally able to hit the roads this spring!

Feb 23: First Intervals 399 Watts-1:33,1:38  Middle-6min-355 watts, 6:08 340watts, 6:24-323-watts  Last Intervals 1:30-356 watts, 1:45-380 watts peak 709