Death to erg mode

…for suprathreshold efforts.

I just switched from erg to standard for my 3-min vo2 max repeats and it was way, way, way way, way easier.

I don’t think this is the case with all athletes, but for people like me who have yet to really dial in the ability to precisely sustain a given cadence without thinking about it too much, switching from erg to standard/resistance mode for suprathreshold work could be really beneficial.

I think what’s happening in ERG mode is is that my concentration flags, my cadence drops, then I get into a miniature death spiral. In order to escape the death spiral, I have to do a brief spike in wattage. If this happens repeatedly (and for me it does), those little efforts really add up, and you’re on a one-way train to bonksville.

If anyone else is finding their build phase to be obscenely difficult (rather than just…very difficult), I’d suggest giving this a try before concluding that your FTP is set too high.

I’d be interested to hear other peoples’ thoughts. I really think that the perceived difficulty of the build phase may have a lot to do with cadence fluctuation above threshold.

1 Like
  • I think your title is “click bait” and not really part of the conclusion from your content.

Seems to me that people should be made aware of the available options, try each and choose what works best for them. As such, I and others handle these efforts in ERG just fine. There’s no need to proclaim ERG is the worst or best, because it’s neither. It is a tool in the chest, and people should pick that one when it suits there needs, just like RES/STD has purpose as well.


I can do these fine. VO2 isn’t hard, especially 3min. It’s when it goes anaerobic, like Tabatas, then it’s ERG off, for me.

The quick resistance changes can make or break a workout, as I would overshoot the start, and then come down, with ERG futzing with that throughout it can be annoying and cause a missed interval.

If you have problems, then do try ERG off. You don’t need to hit the power target exactly.


I like the thread title… don’t change it to appease the bores.


I’m usually fine with ERG with my current FTP for about an hour at 100rpm. It then starts dragging me down as you describe. When I drop to 70rpm I switch to resistance mode and can finish the session at 70rpm for a minute then gradually recover to 90rpm. ERG doesn’t let me recover it just drags me into a spiral of death. ERG seems however to have made me a more regular pedaller (perhaps less punchy but 10x more sustainable) and I like the challenge so I leave it on as long as possible :+1:



If I had a Nickle for every time I’d been called boring (or having the emotional range of a Vulcan… by my wife)… I could retire now :stuck_out_tongue:


I use ERG for everything and find as long as you keep a smooth cadence it’s fine, I even use it for 10s 200% sprintervals no issues


This probably is influenced by your trainer. I have an Elite Direto. Never once had a spiral of death.


On a related note, I think looking at power on a bike computer or TR app should inform your efforts, to help you to gauge feelings with different efforts.

Riding a bike outside, and using resistance mode on the trainer, both of those encourage an active engagement between mind and body. Its possible to do that with erg, but it is also quite easy to mentally checkout and drone away at a specific cadence in order to satisfy the erg algorithm.

Here is my reaction to Erg on first Kickr workout in Zwift:

After using Erg for a couple of years, I turned it off earlier this year and went back to Resistance/Level/Standard mode. I’m not sure if I’ll bother turning erg on again, for any efforts. Literally just finished an hour of tempo with 5 sec bursts on the trainer, really really really convinced after ~9 months that there are more advantages to training in resistance/standard mode (and no downsides).


In addition, given how the Direto responds in ERG mode, I can easily “override” a prescribed wattage to quickly spin up to a given wattage faster than the trainer would respond in ERG mode. So even with suprathreshold efforts, I can quickly hit the wattage required while the trainer plays “catch up”.

same here on the Kickr direct-drive, although I’d say its a bit of a learned skill (modulating torque/power). I’ve no complaints about Erg in terms of hitting targets in TR workouts that can be ‘Erg challenged’ like Spanish Needle, however once you want to do max efforts it is time to switch Erg off. Of course, very few if any TR workouts call for max efforts…

1 Like

This one weird trick will get you a 400w FTP! (large red arrow points to random circle on TR app)


Speaking of click bait! :laughing:

I find I have to stay ‘on top of the pedals’ more when using erg mode. Like you, if my mind wanders and my cadence drops a little I get the mini death spiral / increasing resistance feedback loop. My solution has been to focus on driving the pedals and ride with a higher cadence than normal so I can keep on top of it instead of bogging down and getting behind. Just because I am in erg mode doesn’t mean I don’t have to attack the intervals.

The only real downside I see is it has been more difficult recently when I have to ride with lower cadence / high force / high power but am more used to high cadence / lower force / high power.

1 Like

Yup same here.

1 Like

Interesting. I’ve got an Elite Direto as well and do have issues with the spiral of death on occasion. But I’ve learned to ‘anticipate’ them and make cadence changes to prevent them sometimes. It does seem like the start of every workout it will make me do 2.5-3x the prescribed power for 5-10 seconds before it settles in to the appropriate workout.

As for the original post, I do find I prefer turning off ERG mode for 3 minute VO2 max efforts. I just feel like I have more control. And if I get tired legs and my cadence drops I’m ok with missing my power target for a few seconds rather than the trainer adjusting the power due to me dropping 10-20 rpm lower for a few seconds

Erg mode for me was the best thing about riding indoors. Greatly improved my cadence consistency and did help smooth out my pedalling.


I’m taking bets which title will show up next: ‘Coaches hate this trick’ or ‘The last training plan you ever need’. :crazy_face:



The best strength training plan for everyone.

How to bounce back from any cold or flu.

The right cadence to rule the world.

How to make your power meter and trainer ‘match’.

Fix saddle pain with this one hack.


I might be the only one on this forum who doesn’t know how to turn ERG off… :rofl:

1 Like