Today I will explain what does the total output mean on the peloton, and most importantly, what’s the difference is between your average output and your total output.
As a whole, the peloton total output is the amount of energy you generate expressed in kilojoules (kJ) throughout the peloton class, and it’s the valid measure for training load. Things that will impact your total power output are exercise intensity and class duration.
What Is Peloton Total Output
In general, the total power on the peloton is one of the bike metrics that allows you to calculate and track your effort level. The total output will be dependent on individual fitness level, as well as exercise intensity in which exercise is performed.
What I love about the peloton total output score is not only the reflection of my progress but also an indicator of my current performance. However, I don’t use the total output as a way to compete with others.
There are dozens of things that will affect everyone’s total power output like individual fitness level or power-duration relationship, which makes it unrealistic to compare with (more on that later).
What is the power-duration relationship? In short, the power-duration relationship means that the increase in power requirement (e.g higher intensity) leads to higher muscle fatigue and lactate buildup, which results in the decrease of the workout duration.
In other words, taking a 20 minutes peloton HIIT ride will require a much higher effort level (resulting in faster depletion of muscle glycogen) which lowers total output.
On the other hand, the 90-minute power zone endurance ride requires less intensity, but you can maintain your pace for longer, which will result in higher total output.
That’s why comparing two different types of classes is not a viable way to evaluate your progress.
How Is Peloton Total Output Calculated?
In general, the peloton’s total output is calculated by taking the average output you’ve maintained throughout the class, multiplied by the time of the class in seconds, and divided by 1000. For example, doing a 20-minute ride with an average output of 160 watts will result in total output of 192 kJ.
The difference between peloton total output and average output is that average output is the measurement of power (in watts) per second. The total output is the summary of your total effort level at the end of the class.
In general, your average output will have a direct impact on your total output because of the formula.
At the end of each class, the peloton software will calculate your average output as well as your total output. Plus, you also have access to historical data where you can compare your achievements in peloton analytics.
What Should My Peloton Total Output Be?
Your peloton’s total output will depend on how much time you spend on the bike, your resistance, and your cadence. A good total output for the 30-minute ride can vary between 300 to 700 kJ, depending on your age, fitness, and even bodyweight.
In other words, there is no hard rule for your total output because this number will depend on multiple factors.
- Age – Aging leads to changes in muscle mass, as well as lower the ability to generate peak power output and VO2 max for a long duration.
Studies have shown that “anaerobic power output during cycling decreased by approximately 7.5% per decade following the teenage years” (Martin et al. 2000).
- Gender – It’s not a secret that men are stronger than women and can generate significantly more total output on the bike.
Studies have shown that “men demonstrate up to 103% higher power output, and up to 71% higher VO2peak, compared to women” (Hegge et al. 2016).
- Bodyweight – Your body weight will have an impact on the total output on the peloton bike. People with more bodyweight will typically generate more power.
I already covered everything there is to know about “does your weight impact peloton output” in my article, which I recommend you read.
How To Use Peloton Total Output
One thing I love about the total output metric is it’s non-competitive, as well as it can be used for everyone, regardless of their level of fitness.
Here are a couple of ways you can use the total output to measure your progress.
- Per class – You can use peloton total output to monitor each workout, as long as you compare it to the same classes. This means if you do the HIIT ride twice a week, you should only compare your total output with that rides, and not with other individual classes.
Of course, you still can do other classes, but if you want to look at the total output for the individual rides, you should stay within the same category.
- Per month – Another way to use total output is to look at all the rides you did within the month collectively. I think this is more realistic for two reasons.
First thing is that most people change their classes every week to keep the variety (I know I always do). The second is you get more realistic improvements after 30 days, not just the 7 days.
See the graph below.
As you can see, it is much easier to track progress at month-by-month intervals. Then, after 30 days you can take your average total output for the month, and set up the goal to beat that number for the next month.
Peloton Total Output vs Calories
The peloton total output and number of calories burned are completely different metrics but they share one thing in common; they both can be used to track your progress.
Some people are used to tracking their calories burned and prefer these metrics as a way to “know” if they trained hard.
However, please remember that the peloton bike calculates calories based on the outdated METs formula. Many things that are not related to your effort level (e.g. body composition) can affect calorie estimate, which makes this metric inaccurate.
You can learn more about “peloton calories accuracy” in my article here.
On the other hand, the total output is a more realistic and precise way to assess your performance because it’s calculated based on the power sensor, not on the reference baseline.
Using peloton total output is a viable way to monitor your progress in a personalized, non-competitive way. Several factors can influence total output, which is why I don’t recommend trying to compete against others on the leaderboard.
The best way to use total output is as a progressive overload indicator on either class by class or month by month basis.