Erg Mode Noobie - Share your experience, tips, and tricks please!

Hi all,

I just recently got a Neo and have started training using Erg mode rather than resistance mode. I wanted to ask about people’s experience when they started using Erg mode and see if it matches mine.

For me, Erg is kicking my butt. Hard. I’m used to a roller training setup and hitting watts via cadence changes. There, I can do 2-3 hour rides no problem at my target HR and wattage. Now I’m struggling after about an hour.

It’s a bit odd but my legs just feel dead if I stop pedaling. I find that if I stop after about an hour I can’t keep going. Mentally i’m also feeling like its just really hard to continue even though I’m still hitting the same HR and power I always have.

I’ve also started making sure everything is dialed in. Erg sessions have me I’ve started taking in sports drinks and targeting cadence to make sure it isn’t too bad. Post workout protein and carbs as well and I’m trying to get more sleep. Today, after an hour and a half session the day before, I was just ravenously hungry and just really fatigued.

I just wanted to ask if others had this feeling when they started using erg. How long did it take for you to transition to this approach over a resistance style? Any tips for those starting to use erg mode more heavily? Also, do you find your outdoor rides being easier due to erg mode; do you feel as though erg is strengthening you more than if you were cycling outside?

Just would love to hear people’s thoughts about this

When you were on the rollers how were you measuring power and how did you set your FTP? Did you have a crank based power meter? What was your roller based set up? Have you done a ramp test on the Neo?

If you had not done a ramp on the Neo then I would do this first, as the Neo may provide you a lower FTP than what you are used to riding. Basically, if you are riding at a higher than normal FTP you would be shattering yourself.

On a side note, if you stop in the middle of an interval in ERG mode it is hard to get it back up to wattage. I have the Neo and noticed this also. The key is not to stop :slight_smile:

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Yup, measured power on the rollers before. Hub based. Ramp test on the queue for today as I suspected that my FTP is lower than before. That said, I’m still hitting the same HR levels on the Neo as before which is weird.

Yep that’s what you would need to do then. Set a new baseline for yourself. I don’t even use my Heart Rate anymore I use power an perceived exertion. For your heart rate you may be hitting your max/usual max and then bombing out of the interval. Good luck. I would be curious to know how you went with the FTP comparison as the Neo accuracy is supposed to be +/- 1% I believe. I have read reports of users who have other power meters or trainers that read 10-20% higher than their “new” FTP recorded on the Neo

Thing is, RPE wise even, the efforts arent that hard. It just feels more like my leg muscles are fatigued than anything.

Erg mode feels as though I’m always pedaling through something muddy; there’s a constant resistance through the entire pedal stroke. It’s an interesting feeling and it feels like I’m under tension a lot more. I think this is going to be very beneficial strength wise.

As for power meter accuracy, it will be interesting to see the difference. I’ll report back from my ramp test and let you know.

Just finished my ramp test. My FTP is now 248, down from 267; a 7% decrease.

A number of caveats about the decrease. Previous FTP test was about 6 months ago and I’ve had inconsistent training due to illness and trainer issues (finally all resolved). I’ve also been weight training the past 3 weeks on a linear progression program with squats so my legs are really fatigued. I’m also dieting as well so definitely not fueled as I should be.

That said, I think (only) a decrease of about 19 watts given my circumstances is a fine restart point. I don’t think it speaks about the accuracy of my previous power meter and I don’t have something to verify the numbers with the Neo (no pedal or crank based power meter unless someone wants to give me one :slight_smile: ). My hunch is that the rollers I used previously (feedback sports omnium) give a similar “outdoors” type FTP number which tends to be higher than indoor. Again, a hunch with no data to back it up.

Anyways, I’m more curious about people’s experiences with doing Erg over time rather than discussing what my correct FTP is. Erg training feels very different to resistance and I wanted to know what others noticed as well.

What exact gearing are you using in ERG on the Neo?

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50-14. Big ring and 5th cog. Straight chain line.

First two times in small ring my outer quads were on fire. Watched the gplama video about gearing in erg and switched to the big ring to be more quad dominant. This feels better but I could see the case to be in the small ring most of the time to work on my weaknesses. I tend to excel at lower cadences 85-80 vs higher

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I really used to struggle with ERG. I didn’t like the sensation it gave me when training. I found the fact it took a little while to catch up during changes in target power. Now though, for the majority of training sessions on the turbo I’ll use ERG. The exception will be sprints where i’ll stick with resistance.

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How long did it take for you to get used to the feeling?

Probably about 5 or 6 sessions until I’d figured it out. For the usual type of stuff I wouldn’t go back to resistance mode now.

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100% my experience also. :slightly_smiling_face:

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What stuff do you use resistance mode for now?

Sprints.

  1. Cadence is king. Focus on holding your cadence as smoothly as you can, at your desired cadence.

    • If you are not steady, you are making the app and trainer work harder to hold the desired power target from the workout.

    • So, make sure to pedal with intent to hold your cadence above all else. Ignore power… let the trainer and app do the work of setting the resistance to reach and maintain the power target.

    • This includes changes up and down in the workout. Let the trainer and app make the change. DO NOT CHASE THE POWER! If you do, you are making the adjustment period more complex and longer than necessary.

    • When you start getting fatigued, it is common to start slowing your cadence. But you must fight this and resist slowing. When you do, the trainer and app increase the resistance to hit the power target. When left uncorrected, this leads to the “Spiral of Death” that ends with the rider pedaling locking to a stop under heavy resistance.

    • When you lose cadence, you MUST accelerate into the trainer and get back to your desired cadence. This means you will be facing increased resistance from the moment that you accelerate until you reach your target cadence. When you do, and hold that cadence, the trainer and app will reduce resistance.

    • Understandably, this is more difficult to do in the moment, but it is what is necessary, to make the most of ERG mode. It is one reason some people regard ERG mode as more difficult compared to Resistance mode. ERG mode punishes the rider if they aren’t prompt and firm with their cadence changes.

  2. There are more tricks to add with respect to some power target changes, but the somewhat contradict the axiom I shared above. You can include them, but I feel it is more important for people to nail #1 before adding the more complex use.

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I switched to a smart trainer last fall after 30+ years on “dumb” trainers (I started when wind trainers were as smart as it got).

It took awhile to get used to erg mode. And, after an entire indoor season on it, my notes for 2020 start with “spend less time in erg mode.” :wink: For every workout it helped me finish, there was one where it drove me to quit. I also hated the fact that I had one target power and it was pass fail. The effective training zones are not a single number and I found myself failing workouts i could have made by reducing my target while staying in the effective range but, it took me a while to embrace the workout intensity setting buttons. But just introduces another step, why not just be in resistance mode and make those adjustments with my legs rather than fiddling with my iPhone? Then there is the whole depressing mental aspect of doing a workout at 90% - I prefer the mental trickery of just going slightly easier without putting a number on it :wink: And don’t even get me started on those times I was feeling great but erg mode kept me from spontaneously having a breakthrough workout or interval.

Erg mode did, on balance, help me get through a lot of workouts on target but, I do feel being a slave to it led me to have my worst indoor training season in a number of years.

I’m not going to abandon erg mode entirely - it is great for longer steady state rides where you want to let your mind drift and a good ass kicking on harder stuff is fine too. but - its OK to hate erg mode now and then and its even OK to hate it more often than not!

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Thanks for your experience! Coming into a trainer with a real honest erg mode is such a sea change, I really like knowing how others like me have come to deal with it too. The tip on changing intensity is good as well as I am one who doesn’t easily admit the workout should be made easier :smiley:

You mentioned that erg led to the worst indoor training season though. What do you think you would have done differently that would have improved it? One day on erg, one day off?

  • Counterpoint: Why hate a tool?
    • That is all ERG mode is… a tool for training.
    • It is one method to follow a workout and apply stress/strain (I always forget which is correct in this context).
    • Most importantly, like any tool… it has intended use and requirements for use.
    • It is not perfect for every job or person to use, but it works really well when used as intended.

Sadly, I think ERG is often misunderstood for what it can (and importantly cannot) offer to the user. It is tool that makes following a prescribed workout a bit easier in ways, but it is not magic. It must be used with appropriate inputs from the rider and app, and used with realistic expectations of what it will yield. When those points are considered and used well, it is an amazing tool than can give great results.

The comments about adjustments are accurate, but all you are doing in Resistances is applying them in different ways. And the issues related to having “good” or “bad” says is a whole different topic really. It is more to do with how people can or should follow the prescribed workout on any given day. It has implications well beyond a single workout and applies to the overall plan the person follows.

Linking that to a training mode is a mistake IMHO. True, the way anyone can make an on-the-fly adjustment between modes varies, but I don’t think that should take priority over the training intent in the workout at hand.

This whole topic strays off into another direction that is probably not relevant here, and was discussed in depth a while ago.

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Thanks for your tips chad!

Its the targeting of cadence for me that is a bit strange. A few workouts in now and, yes, I’m starting to get the hang of that specifically. It’s double hard for me because I learned from my bike fit that my best power is around 85-90. Anything above and my power goes down. Perhaps this is the time that I start working on that pedal stroke :slight_smile:

Maybe in a bit, after I get some experience, then I can ask about other tips too

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Yes, using ERG is a great way to improve performance at different cadence ranges. ERG gives you the ability to very minutely adjust cadence.

  • That is something that is much tougher to do with Resistance mode and shifting on a cassette. There are ways to improve Resistance mode on a smart controlled trainer and cadence work. One is to use the Resistance percentage adjustment up or down a few percent to nail a desired cadence.
  • But that is easy with ERG as you simple increase or decrease your cadence to the desired speed. Let the trainer and app adjust power and you are set. Pedal away and change cadence to a different rpm when you want. It is one of the advantages of ERG than can be quite beneficial.
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