Tom Danielson and Erg Mode

Tom D says is pretty anti-Erg. Review his post on instagram. Curious about your thoughts. I use ERG all the time on my Kickr. Am I short changing myself?

Here is a paste of his post.
" By programming your trainer to “force” you to do certain resistances, you are leaving out the most valuable components of your workouts that actually make you better.

Basically by doing your intervals in ERG mode, you are thinking you are learning to hit home runs, but you are really just playing T-Ball.
Being able to “hit” your target power should not be something you need hand-holding on. If you have invested in a smart trainer, you are likely to the point where you understand shifting and pedaling harder to create higher amounts of power.
So let’s put away the T-ball set up (ERG mode) and give attention to “how” you generate the power in your workouts.

I refer to the concept of proper “hitting the power” technique as Power Control™️. This is basically how efficient you are working a specific physiological zone.
Power Control™️ is made up of two components: a Power Floor and an Power Ceiling.
The Power Floor is the power number listed in your workout. With the PF your objective is to try and hold your effort right above this target number, avoiding dropping it, or “breaking” through the floor. This should be your primary focus with Power Control™️. As you become more in control during the interval with the number, you next increase your focus to include your Power Ceiling. The PC is how far you are deviating above the PF with occasional power spikes. The stronger and more efficient you become, the closer the PC lowers to the PF, without breaking through it.
As you become more advanced with your power zones, I recommend increasing the complexity in the structure of your efforts, cadences, body positions, and transitions to require more advanced the Power Control™️. I recommend doing your intervals on the changing terrain offered on @gozwift to make working the Power Control™️ in relation to how you would outdoors.

Overall, going fast in cycling is about not just the force the athlete can produce, but the technique of the athlete while producing the effort. To become a better and faster cyclist, the two must go together in sync.
Let’s put the T-Ball set away and play the game."


This is my thinking too. I think ERG mode is great for climbing videos or zwift but learning that self control must beneficial down the line.

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Yup, power meter and fluid trainer all the way. Part of the skill is changing your gears to hit your target smoothly. Also makes training more interesting imo.


I guess I don’t use my trainer to learn how to ride a bike outside. It is just a tool for working out inside.


I think there are pros and cons to either approach. I love erg mode. In fact, when I got my smart trainer I thought I’d be zwifting all the time, but in fact unlocking erg mode just drove me more toward TR. I think there is value with learning how to hit a power and maintain it, there’s definitely a lot of mental stuff that goes along with that, which is why I can’t really do structured training outside as much as I’d love to get out more. The other thing is I have an 8 speed road bike and my experience with structured training prior to getting the Hammer was that dialing in the right gear was a frustrating experience, and my cadence was either too high or too low a lot of times. Maybe I’d do better on 11 speed, but maybe not. Anyhow, I’m not giving up my erg mode anytime soon!


I agree with Danielson. I got a smart trainer a few months ago and tried erg mode a few time. It was okay but I found my cadence moves around during intervals from like 88-94 which then takes awhile for my power to adjust. I think its better personally to be in standard mode, help me be able to know how keep the power “steadier” when I’m outside as well.

I now use standard mode 98% of the time. Occasionally I’ll put erg mode on for a recovery ride so I don’t accidentally have the power creep up.


I really don’t understand the argument at all. I’ve read a few replies and of all the limitations on a turbo trainer this is by far the most silly.

I understand people when they start asking about bike handling skills or riding in weather you know you’re likely to be racing in.

On this topic you’re just talking about two different ways of getting the same work done. Continuing to pedal at a chosen cadence Vs changing gear and pedalling at that cadence. You’re doing the exact same thing in both instances except your swapping changing gears with automatic resistance.


Until anyone quotes some science here

His post also seems like some thinly veiled shilling for Zwift, so I lean even more towards his argument being fueled by dollars rather than data


It’s not an evidence based argument.

In fact to me it seems counter intuitive. Say you struggle to stay in the ‘powerzone’… this means the quality of your workout may be less due to a reduction in time spent in the required zone.

Erg mode or not is down to personal preference, that’s perfectly fine.


I have a lot of respect for Tom, but this is a battle he is going to lose trying to establish a name for himself post his pro racing career.

1st: He clearly does not understand erg mode deep enough. No smart trainer on the market today that operates in Erg mode locks you into an exact watt # (+/- 1 watt). When you don’t maintain the target, it’s not sub-second response time that the smart trainer forces you to be on target. Similar at the upper end, when you want to finish an interval strong, you can ramp up the cadence and drive the wattage higher. All of this is easy to see if you look at TR results of an interval session and see how jagged the yellow line is around target. So in essence, the smart trainer in erg mode allows this power floor and power ceiling he describes.

2nd: If results on the road matter, then I’m sure that there are many of us on the Forum who use erg mode on their trainer with personal examples to disprove him. My recent one was this past Sunday during early bird crit race being able to hang with the lead pack to the end despite surges, slow downs and everything else taking place a crit. And this was no @gozwift race.

3rd: There are many, many other and better ways to gain efficiency on the bike (where you would lump his “technique” comment into). Coach Chad covers many of these in his cues in the workouts, such as quadrant drills, breathing, relaxed upper body, etc. There are others as well.

Sorry Tom. You are barking up the wrong tree.


I tend to agree that there may be another agenda driving his post. For example, you can do work outs and ride ERG in Zwift; the same for TR.

Why did he specifically use a screen grab from TR?

Erg mode, for me, has many more benefits than costs.


And a screen grab for a session that is explicitly not meant to be done in Erg mode . . . .


I skimmed it. I’m going to go back to doing my core exercises.

Get it!? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Agreed @Sustainer. I find it ironic that he uses an 8 min test screen grab. :slight_smile:


There’s a few of these guys (Tom, Durianrider, etc.) who while they good/great cyclists on the road, in the strain of trying to build a name for themselves (and clicks) on social media and their online businesses they are wading into areas that they simply have no supporting data on.

A lot of the “facts” pushed by these guys are n=1 anecdotal evidence based on something working for them, so it must be gospel. Bring us proper statistically relevant data and facts or keep your mouth shut.

Durianrider has been bitching about disc brakes on his social channels for a while now. Just makes me turn it off as nothing said is based in fact.


PEDs also allow you to “hit the power” pretty easily. PED > ERG. :+1:


Does a blood bag beat recovery as well?

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Ugh, I just spent 10 minutes reading his Instagram post and the comments… I’ll never get that wasted time back :confused:.


That’s a technique called Recovery Control™. :grimacing:


Agreed…here’s what I wrote on the FB page:

Honest question: Do you guys think holding say 350W for 10 minutes in ERG is the same as holding 350W on a dumb trainer? Obviously the wattage is the same however, I can’t help but wonder what neuromuscular differences there are between the two? Maybe way too simple but, if you want to be fast at riding a bike it seems logical to ride a trainer as close as possible to the real thing for the most benefit. Conversely, I can see if ERG makes you stay at 350W for longer you get more physiological adaptation. When you take that adaptation outside on the real thing perhaps you lose a little but the gains outweigh the lose. Interesting…

And then this responding to someone else:

yeah I’ve used both and prefer to train w/o erg. I think there is a little more going on than people want to admit but, since I can’t prove it I can’t say one is better than the other. Just looking for real actionable data and really don’t care who says it. People rejecting (not you Alex but in general) what Tommy D says because they don’t like him is not my style. If he says something intelligent I want to learn from it. In the end, I highly doubt it matters much at all. We aren’t pros so we don’t need nor can we train like them. Even attempting to do the work is giving us regular joes good training stimulus…Cheers