With Wattbike's becoming a much more common feature in many commercial gyms, we decided to provide our top tips on how to make sure your facility is getting the most from this fantastic piece of equipment.
Invest in Wattbike Education for your Team
This may seem like an obvious starting point but the impact of having appropriately trained staff when introducing the Wattbike to your gym’s offering is crucial. By appropriately trained we unfortunately don’t mean L2 Gym Instructors, L3 PTs or Strength and Conditioning Coaches. The Wattbike is a truly unique and complex piece of equipment and to really capitalise on the technology we believe it’s essential that at least some of the gym staff attend the Level 1 Wattbike Training Course. Not only does it provide a full insight to the bike’s functions and features, it gives staff the knowledge needed to let them apply the technology to the different types of client that they work with in the gym.
Download and Read the Wattbike Training Guide
Having worked with many gyms and fitness facilities to supply and service Wattbikes it has become evident that in facilities where the staff aren’t provided the official education, or don’t make the effort to learn about the bike in their own time, the bikes are often underutilised. There’s a reason that these bikes are used by elite trainers and coaches, however the knowledge behind the bike is what really unlocks its potential.
One cost-effective way to upskill your staff in order to maximise utilisation of the Wattbike is to use the informative official training guide. This is a great resource written by Eddie Fletcher, Wattbike’s Sport and Exercise Physiologist who has travelled the world demonstrating the Wattbike and its uses to sports scientist, cycling coaches and individual cyclists at the highest levels. You can download this here; https://wattbike.com/uk/guide
Use the Bike for Both Testing and Training
The testing features on the Wattbike are a coaches’ dream and often an athelte’s nightmare with countless videos of the brutal 3 minute aerobic test doing the rounds on social media (LINK). It may become apparent that majority of readings during tests focus on power: average watts, max watts, maximum minute power etc. However, as part of the Wattbike’s Max Ramp test the software uses a formula which returns data on maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) via a formula using body weight (Kgs), age and maximum minute power to determine the result. Compared to physically measuring oxygen uptake in the lab with the proper equipment, it gives a great estimate [±6%] which is accessible to the everyday trainer.
At the same time, it’s important to make sure that the Wattbike is not only used as a testing tool. The training guide mentioned earlier has a whole host of programmes and sessions which can be adapted for use with clients or made available in their current form.
Incorporate the Wattbike into Your Gym’s Culture
The Wattbike has a reputation, amongst those who have an understanding of the bike – it’s well known as world class training tool but to the majority of the gym-going population - it’s a tool used by the elite athletes. In order to stop the bike developing this stigma in your gym it’s important to create a culture where it’s accessible for everyone and is used in the induction or fitness testing process for all members.
Through staff having a strong understanding of the bike’s testing features it can be used across the board (not just for elite athletes) as an extremely accurate fitness testing method to assess client’s fitness and crucially, their progress.
Provide Guidance on Riding Position
The bike, having been designed in partnership with British Cycling and having a background in elite sport, unsurprisingly promotes a fairly aerodynamic and athletic riding position. Given the presence of the drop handlebars, it may be a good idea to ensure that novice riders don’t jump straight into a racing position that will eventually become uncomfortable or worse, cause injury.
At the same time, spending the time with a regular cyclist to ensure are in an appropriate riding position is definitely a worthwhile exercise. The correct saddle and handlebar adjustments will help them ride more naturally and efficiently. In addition to this, regular riders will notice the impact of smaller discrepancies between the bike’s setup and their everyday riding position faster than less conditioned riders.
If you’re not able to take everyone through bike set-up individually try to makes sure there is some signage available to give users guidance.
Power’s great… but don’t forget Heart Rate
Power isn’t anything new anymore, but it’s still the aspect for performance talked about in the headlines. While it’s great to be able to measure MMP, max power output and in turn VO2 max – it’s crucial to remember that heart rate is the way to link all of these to a consistent level of physical exertion.
For example 300W over 5 minutes one day, and 310W over the same 5 mintes in 4 weeks’ time indicates an improvement on the face of things. However it’s only by a fair comparison between these 5 minute efforts, when the max HR percentage is consistent. Otherwise those extra 10W could easily be attributed to an increase in physical exertion during the second ride.