Polar Precision Performance vs. Computrainer

28 12 2008

The last few days I spent playing with the data from the computrainer, trying to figure out how to best use it. Lets face it, the Computrainer Coaching Software isn’t the best user friendly tool.

I started researching a software that could import and analyze the data from the computrainer and I found TrainingPeaks WKO+, which is a pretty neat application. It can not only import data from Computrainer (i.e. .3dp files) but also Polar files (.hrm). It keeps a log of your training and provides you a LOT of graphics. I tried the software until the trial expired, and I was tempted to buy it, but I already spent a lot of cash on all my toys… plus, it is a bit hard to use. A few cons were:

  1. It does not have HR zones per sport. For example, my AT biking is 155 bpm, running is 165 bpm. Having said that, you can use Power Zones for biking and HR zones for running.
  2. I found it kind of useless for swimming. When I use Polar Precision Performance 4 (PPP4) I can either use the laps with distances (i.e. I time every set and then add the distance for the lap) or I can simple add an exercise with total time and distance. On WKO+, there is no option (at least I didn’t find it) to enter a manual workout with duration and distance.
  3. To import all my data from PPP4, I would have to go one by one, setting the sport. It imports one default sport, so you can’t use the sport information from Polar… which is quite some work when you are importing 2 years of data!
  4. Perhaps because it has a lot of options, WKO+ is pretty confusing to use. I used to be a software developer, so I consider myself a fairly savvy user, but it took me quite a bit to get used to the user interface. There are a lot of different graphics, views, options. I found it hard to find the simple things, like:
    1. the distance of a specific workout
    2. a graph summarizing the total time (or distance) per week at a given interval
    3. changing the units to metric (you have to change it for each graph!)

Unfortunately my trial expired before I could find out more about WKO+, but considering that it costs US$99 and I have PPP4 for free… I went down a different avenue: How to import the data from Computrainer to PPP4?


Comp CS Export Options

Comp CS Export Options

Computrainer CS has a feature to export data and you can chose the fields. The problem is that my Polar  (S625X) is set to store data every 5 seconds and the data provided by Computrainer is every few milliseconds! Moreover, it is not the same interval every time. I suppose it must be proportional to the speed or cadence? I don’t know. I know that when I set TOS to 15 (on the export option of CS) it gives me each reading every ~700 ms (690 to 720 ms range). Therefore I had to create a formula that would get the closest reading to 5 seconds. 


To make a long story short, I used the grade and distance of each reading to calculate the altitude (I’ve assumed I started at zero meters). Using basic trigonometry, that gave me the Profile of the ride! I also imported Heart Rate, Power, speed, cadence, Left and Right balance (i.e. Left Balance from CS) and even Pedaling Index (SpinScan). Most importantly, it takes me around 1 minute to import the data. 😉

It is a bit too busy when you look at all data at the same time, but here is a screenshot of the PPP4 workout graphic:


I know, it is busy, but depending what I want to analyze, I will chose what data to show on the graphic. If you are familiarized to PP4, you know what I mean.

Power Distribuition

Power Distribution

Above you can see the Power Distribution for the exercise, which had an average of 175 Watts, although I spend a lot of time between 170 and 220 Watts. (Note: the unit on the graph for watts is Watts/10)

To import the actual data, I used an old hrm file and changed the following fields:

  • SMode=111111100 (this sets what data is available, like speed, cadence, power, etc)
  • Date=20081225 (date of the exercise)
  • StartTime=20:01:55.0 (time of the exercise)

Then I pasted the data I calculated on a excel spreadsheet (where I copied the CS data) to the HR Data in the HRM file:

  • [HRData]
  • 76 225 46 0 138 17460
  • 85 264 57 0 170 17970
  • 92 270 58 1 178 18225 (by the way, this is only 15 seconds of data)

Just out of curiosity, the last number 18255 is the Pedaling Index x 256 + Left Right Balance… took me a while to figure that out!

Well, two “copy and paste” and I have the data from Computrainer in PPP4! Plus I didn’t need to export and import all my existing data from PPP4 to a new software!

If anyone is interested, I can provide a copy of the spreadsheet too, it is not that complex.



4 responses

7 01 2009

Would you mind sending me a copy of your spreadsheet to format CS data for PPP4 use. I would like to do the same and it looks like you could save me some time!



7 01 2009
Hans Winter

Hi John,

I sent you the spreadsheet. Let me know if you have any questions.

Good luck!

4 08 2011

Hi, would you mind sending me a copy of the spreadsheet too? I plan to import data from Golden Cheetah to Polar instead of compuware, but it should be of help anyway.

4 08 2011
Hans Winter

Hi Arturo, I’ll send you what I have. I haven’t used it in a long time, but if you have questions send me a note and I’ll try to remember how to use it!
I’m now using WKO+, which takes care of importing data from each device…

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