Cycling Training Tips

Ironman Increased Threshold Power with 62 Watts in 12 weeks

Image by Unplug
Image by Unplug.

Dave Simonson had finished three ironman competitions before he entered the power meter project in 2007, so I knew he was a very experienced athlete. However, if you don’t know about training, it is doubtful that you can finish three ironman competitions.

Dave entered the project because he recently had purchased a power meter. He had bought a Cycleops Pro 300PT (Powertap indoor) and wanted to learn more about power meter training and get some experience. VO2 max also improves your performance at lower workloads.

Another reason for doing intervals close to race speed is learning the pacing strategy, which is made more accessible than ever before by development of power meters.

Thus, Dave’s program combined short 3min intervals to build VO2max, repeated 6min bouts of high aerobic intensity, and finally, long 15min pacing control intervals. By frequently doing the intervals, he had an excellent chance to get familiar with the pacing strategy.

Optimizing of physiology for an ironman athlete

The goal for Dave was to increase his average power output on long distances (112miles/180km). This is often trained with very long rides at a comfortable pace, but I believe in building up this endurance with intervals close to race speed and even intervals performed at VO2 max once in a while. The reason for these tough intervals is that a higher


Bike training with high intensity does not require the same time as training with lower intensities. Dave performed 6 to 8 hours of weekly exercise, which was enough to significantly improve his 5min and 20min maximum power output. It is also worth remembering that these increments are achieved with solid indoor training.

Have a look at these numbers that illustrate his impressive progress:

Maximum Power Tests5sec1min5min20minBody Weight
Week 1 (Watt)850W450W290W219W90.6kg/199.8lbs
Week 1 (Watt/kg)9.4W/kg5.0W/kg3.2W/kg2.4W/kg 
Week 6 (Watt)978W512W326W264W90.0kg/198.4lbs
Week 6 (Watt/kg)10.9W/kg5.7W/kg3.6W/kg2.9W/kg 
Week 12 (Watt)894W498W346W281W89.8kg/198.0lbs
Week 12 (Watt/kg)10.0W/kg5.5W/kg3.9W/kg3.1W/kg 

Interview with Dave Simonson after the Power Meter Project
After the project, I asked Dave a couple of questions to get his opinion on power meter training:

Your 20min maximum power went from 219Watts in week 1 to 281Watts in week 12. What impact has this increment had on your performance?

Dave: “My improvement has made it much easier for me to gauge my effort on long rides. Also, I can ride long distances faster with less exertion.”

How will you describe your progress through the project?

Dave: “I was surprised that I made progress. I did only 7-8 hours/week of training. The training program you created for me really enlightened me to the need for specificity for each workout.”

Have you adapted some of the ideas from the power meter project into your daily training?

Dave: “I have adapted your training plan to my continuing training and now exclusively measure my training performance and training progress using power. I download my power data into CyclingPeaks software and evaluate my progress and plan my training from a power perspective.”

Want to know more about Ironman training? Here is an introduction to ironman training for beginners.

7 thoughts on “Ironman Increased Threshold Power with 62 Watts in 12 weeks”

  1. @massarob – These values were not tested. There is a strong correlation between 20min power and CP30/60, so thesenumbers were probably also significantly better in week 6 and 12.

  2. Hi All –

    As I recall, my CP60 went from 185 to 240. I did not measure CP30. My computer hard drive fried last year so I am unable to retrieve the actual power data.



  3. Hi Russ,

    I was able to to ride more comfortably and keep my bike pace even. This made the run easier for me. For me, the advantage of increased watts happened on the run.



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