Watts. It is that number that you often see scroll across your display on the exercise bike or elliptical. It changes all the time, and you might not realize what you are doing or not doing to make it change. But what does that number even mean, and is it important to your workout?
Watts is a measurement of the power you are producing. It is how much energy is needed to overcome inertia and make things go, like pedaling your bike, climbing stairs, powering the elliptical or even running on a treadmill. Simply speaking, the more power you are producing, the harder you are working.
So, should you be more involved with this number, or can you do without? The answer depends on your desired outcome. You could also get a performance enhancing and weight loss workout using other methods such as heart rate training, but following your watts could give you an edge. Observing your watts gives you immediate and quantifiable feedback regarding the intensity of your workout. Heart rates can be affected by outside factors such as fatigue, sleep, hydration, and illness. Watts is a real-time value, not influenced by outside factors.
Using watts is another way to evaluate the intensity of your workout. By maintaining or setting the machine to operate a specific watt load, you can work at a consistent level of intensity. You could also use the watts feature to determine your caloric burn for a period of time, if weight loss is your goal. Simplified, without a long physics lesson, we can use the following formula:
Energy (kCal or calories) = Av Power (Watts) x Duration (hours) x 3.6
Knowing this, setting your machine for a specific workload or watts for a specific period of time, you can expect to burn a specified number of calories during that time of exercise.
Athletes often train using watts, training their bodies to create power to achieve optimal results. Cyclists and rowers specifically have used watt training to enhance their fitness and improve their performance. Knowing a specific value of power, workouts can be performed to improve upon their watts, much like one would train off a program designed to improve cardiovascular function based on heart rate.
Setting your correct watt value may seem challenging or confusing, but Elite Sports Clubs’ West Brookfield and North Shore locations can help make your experience with watts an exciting one. With the introduction of the Matrix iC7 indoor cycle bikes, all members can use watt training during cycle classes. Often times, watts training on a bike is thought to be reserved for “serious” riders or elite cyclists, but Elite can deliver the same experience in their regular scheduled cycle classes, taking your workout to the next level. Whether you take class for general fitness, weight loss, or a personal challenge, everyone can use watts, and use them effectively!Set up a Free Fitness Consultation
Written by Melissa Radmer, CPT, Group Exercise & Fitness Director at Elite Sports Club-West Brookfield