Intervals (outside) - normalized or average power?

Apologies if this question has an answer already, but I could not find it.

When doing intervals outside, what is the better metric: normalized or average power? I find my NP is higher as I occasionally will need to slow down or speed up over my target, resulting in a higher NP. But equally, perhaps NP is misleading when you’re aiming at measuring time in zones.

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Honestly I never look at my NP when doing workouts and intervals (no matter if inside or outside).

My approach is this, when doing an interval I have one section displaying raw avg power for 3 seconds (to minimize spikes), and the other section with the whole avg power for the current interval which I am doing. Works like a charm with keeping in line with the demands of each workout as prescribed in the plan/app.


Definitely average.

If normalised power is significantly different to average power (i.e. the VI is more than 1.02 or so), then you did the interval wrong.

But also… as the team say on the podcast, if you need to pause in an interval for a junction or bit of a descent, don’t go chasing the average power if it means you’re actually going way over target for too long. It’s a tempo interval, not a tempo / rest / threshold interval. So like @tomski86 says, use the 3 5 or even 10 second average power as well to keep yourself in the right zone.

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I use 3 sec smoothing on the head unit for everything. NP for any interval 2 minutes or less will generally be very low compared to average. Anything under 1 minute I don’t really look at the watts and go by feel and look at the data after the intervals. 1 minute or longer I glance at the watts to help pace.

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For steady state intervals, always average. If NP is >3w than avg, it was probably paced incorrectly. Under that, no need to worry.

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NP on the MTB for sure. Average can be deceitful especially on Garmin headunits. For some weird reason it’s always higher on the Garmin than on Strava. Probably because it doesn’t count zero’s even though I have it set to include zeros.

By the way, my second datascreen has the following:

Last lap stats

  • Time
  • HR
  • Normalized Power
  • Average Power