An athlete seeking to improve cycling performance needs tools to help track and monitor progress. TrainingPeaks.com is probably the single best all-purpose training tool in the market today. A free, cloud-based software application, TrainingPeaks enables athletes to plan and update workouts, import power meter files and GPS files, update daily metrics, map out training routes and track meals. The athlete edition is free, and the coaches edition is used by triathlon, running and cycling coaches to plan, communicate and monitor athlete workouts.
TrainingPeaks is an incredibly powerful tool, the depths of which will be explored over the course of several articles.
TrainingPeaks provides an easy-t0-use meal journal, which allows users to build a complete library of meals as well as individual food items, known as "Favorites." The searchable library has thousands of foods, including whole foods, packaged foods and USDA labeled foods. A user may search the database and either drag the food directly to the daily calendar where quantity, time of day and any notes related to the food can be added, or the food may be saved to the athlete's own library of favorites for later consumption.
The adjacent graph shows a search for "whey protein." The TrainingPeaks database immediately delivers 10 possible results. Brand name searches can further clarify the results so that the user can hone in on the specific food they wish to track. Select a food, and TrainingPeaks provides a full list of ingredients, calories and nutrients including calories derived from protein, fat and carbohydrates.
TrainingPeaks also allows the user to bundle foods together to a create a meal that can be saved to a personal database. Quantities of food can be specified, and the user can easily update the meal for quantities of foods consumed as well as switch foods in and out. Over time, a user can build a journal of dozens, if not hundreds, of commonly consumed foods and meals.
TrainingPeaks provides the user with daily, weekly, monthly and even annual reports on nutrients and calories consumed. A daily summary, when combined with TrainingPeaks' tool for determining daily energy expenditure, allows the user to estimate calorie deficit or surplus accurately.
The daily chart below shows the total calories and grams consumed along with the percentages of macronutrients derived from carbohydrates, protein, fats and fiber.
An athlete seeking to improve cycling performance by losing weight and getting lean can use TrainingPeaks to estimate daily caloric expenditure in relation to consumption. Within TrainingPeaks settings, a user may estimate Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), Average Daily Calorie Expenditure as well as Calories Burned by specific activity such as cycling, running, swimming, and strength training to derive an estimate of calorie expenditure for training activities. TrainingPeaks then adds calories expended from training to the estimated RMR to provide an accurate estimate of daily energy expenditure. If you use a power meter on your bike or a heart rate monitor that provides an accurate estimate of calories expended by activity, a user can further refine the estimate of calories consumed by uploading power meter based workouts directly into the TrainingPeaks.com daily log. A user can then compare daily calorie consumption with calorie expenditure to determine whether or not the desired energy balance is being achieved.
The chart below shows the relationship of calories consumed vs. calories expended for the first 6 weeks of the year for a particular cyclist. The red bars show days where calorie's expended exceed those being consumed, while the blue days show days when more calories were consumed then burned. This cyclist is seeking to lose approximately 12 lbs over four months, so the prevalence of red bars suggests that the athlete is moving in the right direction to reach race weight goal.
TrainingPeaks provides an easy-to-use tool to record daily metrics such as resting heart rate, sleep hours, weight, body composition as well as subjective measures relating to fatigue, sleep quality and overall state of being. By entering daily weight and body composition consistently at the same time each day (or week), a user may track their progress towards desired body weight and body composition. The graph below shows the progress of the above referenced athlete towards reaching a desired body weight of 164 lbs and 8% body fat percentage. The chart shows that our athlete is on track, having lost 8lbs since the beginning of the year, with body comp consistently within the 8-9% range, per the Tanita scale used to document weight and body fat percentage.
As you can see, for the cyclist seeking to improve cycling performance by improving body composition and losing weight, TrainingPeaks as an indispensable tool to track and monitor performance over time.