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Ergometer (def) - "a device that measures the work or energy expended by a person during a period of physical exercise."

Once confined to athletes in the exercise lab, the tools and technology to accurately measure work or power output are today available to anyone who wants to get the most relevant feedback from their workouts and learn how to exercise most efficiently. After all measurable and meaning feedback is an important aspect of any exercise program, whether you are an athlete or just trying to lose a few pounds. Unlike heart rate, power is a measure of the actual work that goes into your workout. And the more watts you can generate and sustain, the more calories you expend and the faster you can move.

The first cycle ergometer was built in the 19th century by a French medical student. Today a variety of high tech "ergs" that can be found in select fitness centers. The principal feature of an exercise ergometer is that it's entirely powered by the user as opposed to say a push-button treadmill. It also precisely measures and simulates the same activity done outdoors, whether it be cycling, rowing, nordic skiing or swimming.

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Erg training enables you to train smarter by applying basic training principles that are difficult to apply without power. Power is an immediate measure of work and HR is a DELAYED physiological response to that work. HR response should not be confused with the actual stimulus. Where power is the actual stimulus, HR is one of many physical responses.
The main difference between an ergometer and most of the exercise machines found in gyms today is that an ergometer is a self-powered exercise machine as opposed to motor driven one. Of course ERGO also means "therefore" which is also relevant to fitness because if you want to improve there fore you have to work.

Now we turn our attention to the concept of the ”threshold”. Historically we have searched for the exercise intensity that represents a critical point demarcating clearly submaximal and sustainable work intensity, from the intense, fatigue provoking, and ultimately unsustainable intensity range that characterizes many of the endurance events our athletes perform.