Does ERG mode allow you to push beyond your limits?

Hi everyone!
I have seen in the forum several passionate debates between advocates of ERG mode and people against.
However my question is:
Does ERG mode allow you to push beyond your limits?
In my particular case, I had systematically failed at breaking the barrier of 300 watts for 20 minutes for the last year.
I decided recently to create a Trainerroad workout with an interval of 20 minute at 300 watts, and try it out in ERG mode and I finally could break this psychological barrier.
Do you guys think ERG mode helped or this power for this duration was always in me?
Thanks for your thoughts in advance!

Did you use the same gearing for all attempts in ERG or Resistance modes?

Any other specific variables that may have been different or did you absolutely control as much as you could so ERG vs RES was the only variable?

a good question. i personally feel ERG allows you to focus on form and holding watts, whereas a “dumb” trainer/resistance mode requires you to keep tabs on cadence/gear. it simplifies things for me as you have also experienced it seems.

ERG mode FORCES you to do things you don’t think you can, and makes it “easier” to hold power since you can just focus on cadence and breathing instead of keeping on target. It’s been beneficial for me


I definitely have not kept gearing the same compared to previous attempts to be honest since they had been outdoors.

In my case as I fatigue I have tend to use mash more and this is hard to reproduce outdoors, definitely I feel it simplifies holding a target power.

So you are talking about not only different gearing, but totally different conditions (inside on a trainer vs outside on a bike)?

In the best of circumstances, this is still a massive variable that comes with potential impact from cooling, motivation, and who knows what else. Simply having to pay attention to the road, cars and such could be distraction enough to cap your power compared to blindly pedaling with no other care besides cranking power.

Again, you have to include ALL the variables, and I suspect with what you shared, ERG is one piece of a much larger puzzle.

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That is my exact feeling, as long as you can keep pedaling with ERG mode you just do the power, even if you finish mashing it at 55 rpm. And I am of the view that if you can do the power at whatever cadence then any power below that it will feel easier both in the mind and physically.

The wording of your question almost makes it sound like you’re asking if ERG helped you in the sense of “giving” you watts, which is obviously not the case. Whether you did it in ERG vs resistance does not change the fact you did 300W for 20minutes. Now, could you do that outdoors? In resistance? Who knows. You’d have to test those scenarios by controlling for other variables.

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IMO ERG forces you to a target, if you are ambitious a bout your target you can push to it which might potentially be beyond your limit. However, if the target is not ambitious it’ll hold you to it and not allow you to go beyond your limits. :+1:

  • No opinion there. Holding a power target is the express purpose and defined function of ERG mode.

    • It is a closed loop system that aims to hit a value (power target) and will adjust one variable (resistance unit setting) based on the input (cadence and the related power at the current resistance setting).

Think of ERG as having infinite gears. Outdoors or without ERG, you will never get to choose a perfect power and cadence.

I’ve a huge fan of ERG mode, and I think for almost all efforts near threshold or below it is fine.
I have a mouse in easy reach, and can easily bump things up or down as needed. I think having the intensity be adjustable easily is key for ERG mode to be useful in harder/longer intervals. This is how I do the Kolie Moore FTP test - I can choose my preferred cadence, and dial in the power target to get the right feel.
Where it become problematic is very short intervals (10s of seconds) (depending on trainer), and intervals that should be close to ‘all out’ (a few minutes). For things like hard-start vo2max intervals, I think it would take quite a it of tweaking to get the ERG profile right, and this likely wouldn’t hold for all intervals in a session.
I think ERG mode could help in hitting targets like yours, as in ERG mode your choice is to stop completely, or keep hitting the number (within what the control loop can do). In other modes, it is easier to back off a little without quitting, and this can make it harder to hit a longer target power. Erg mode is the coach yelling at you the instant you start to back off :slight_smile:

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I don’t have a mouse on Wednesday night worlds…

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Exactly, and in addition, the way I see it is that if you hit the power target in theory your body should adapt to that target… so squeezing all the watts your body can possibly do will trigger adaptations beyond your current limit. ERG for me its a great tool!
On the down side (when the mouse is too far from reach) on a bad day it does not offer the opportunity to back things off a little, but still completing a productive workout. Then again some people say that if you can’t meet the power target it is not worth getting tired, though I am not sure I agree with this one.