Erg mode - pros/cons podcast


Thanks for the lengthy reply. We live in a world where coaches who do regular podcasts or well done youtube videos somehow become the goldstandard for coaching advice, even though many of them dont have the experience to be good coaches. Its alway beneficial to hear the background of the coach giving advice to validate that advice. Thanks!

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But why do they need to be? Everything doesn’t have to be absolute, although sometimes you wouldn’t think it on here! There’s comments about here being the centre of the erg mode universe, when we know that one of the main guys does most of his work on rollers or outside ffs! Why can’t we just accept somethings are N=1?

Before I had a smart turbo, I had both wheel on and wheel off dumb trainers. I also had a period where hybrid rollers was the only option I had for several workouts a week even after I had a smart trainer. Now maybe it is affecting my real world performance, but it reduces my cognitive load and helps my consistency both overall and within a workout, and that’s my personal N=1.

I couldn’t agree more with this statement. I think we see a lot of people trying to convince others what is best and why they should do it. Though I do not think that most folks mean to come across that way (maybe they do though :man_shrugging:)

My n=1 lines up pretty well with yours. I use ERG almost exclusively. So are we at n=2 now? :wink:

I did listen to most of the @empiricalcycling podcast. Missed his post on my brief skim when I noticed no-one was changing their minds :joy: I actually chuckled through a lot of the first half of the episode because him and Kyle spent so much time talking going back and forth between the pros and cons of it using ERG and ended up with what I thought were more pros than cons. And I think it is great that he commented here with what I also took as my main take away from the episode - that if ERG works for you keep using it.


Very interesting topic.

Last year I noticed I like the feeling of resistance better than the feeling of vo2max on mostly anything above Tempo. My HR seems to be more steady and lower when using resistance than using ERG at the same power level.

Now I use ERG anything under 60% power and anything above I use resistance.

I dont think there is a one size fit all and both provide different benefits. All of us should probably be using a combination instead of using one.

That why I think TR should provide a way to create a wo that can select which one to use on different areas (resistance for v02max, ERG for recovery).


Am I the only one using erg mode because my trainer bike has shifters and other components close to two decades old? Every time I think with fresh rings and chain that it is the right time to try a few resistance mode workouts the gear I need for the interval doesn’t ride smoothly.

I fine-tune everything for a straight chain line, b-tension, and burn that single cog for a few weeks then repeat it for a fresh cog before wear starts to show. I’m very sensitive to vibrations & resonance from the drivetrain on the trainer bike. Sub 15t on the cassette is unusable no matter what I’ve tried.


I feel old now, I remember being too cheap to upgrade TO a Kurt Kinetic.


Fo’ realz. Funny to see that old Road Machine price point of around $300 was once considered the “top end” trainer in a world of lackluster wind, mag & poorer fluid trainers. In those times, the CompuTrainer at $1,XXX dollars was beyond crazy for all but a dedicated few :stuck_out_tongue:


I agree with most of his points. He does seem to confuse sim with erg. In sim mode (Zwift free ride etc) you are modulating power yourself and get all the RPE benefits he discusses.

I think his points are mostly geared toward the newer rider. I spent the majority of my cycling life pre-power meter and I think I have a well enough developed RPE that I am not worried. I enjoy the benefits of erg controlled indoor interval workouts and have no trouble modulating or perceiving effort when needed.

Yes, and for myself it started with Wahoo’s claim about Erg “the ultimate way to train - with power!” and more recently TrainerRoad’s Erg support article “One advantage of smart trainers is how they keep your power exceptionally smooth. Check out the distinct difference in how closely Target Power matches Actual Power between the same workout done on a regular trainer (top) and on a smart trainer in Erg mode (bottom).”

The one thing I learned from using Erg - respecting the low power of recovery intervals. That was the only game changer for me. N=1 and all that.

For two years I accepted the industry promotion of Erg as the best and then turned it off. And discovered benefits in training both the brain and body. You may not. Thats why it is a training tip, like one leg drills, or cadence drills, or short sprints at the end of a workout, or … Use it if you find value.

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I wonder if preference for ERG is correlated to trainer type/brand/quality? That would be an interesting poll.

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This is one of the reasons I use ERG so often. I bought my Saris H3 because it was so solid in ERG mode. Now i’d feel bad not using that key feature.

I use a Kickr Core and have the option of three apps to control my workout:

  • Wahoo - on level mode;
  • Zwift - w/ Companion app to switch ERG on/off when needed (actually learnt this when doing Base Camp rides).
  • Rouvy - on a friend’s family subscription

No Garmin device to control the trainer, but rather to control the time for each interval/recovery.

Don’t use TR, as I have my own workouts designed by some good coaches and a coaching education programs.

Bought the Kickr so I could experience what my athletes go through, and advise accordingly. I previously used a wheel on CycleOps, which is okay, but not as great as a direct drive trainer. Still use my 4iiii left side PM on the bike to record power on and off the trainer. The Kickr is purely to control the avatar on those virtual apps.

FWIW, I like the “crude” nature of the podcast, even if it’s triple sanitised. In the words of Peter Sagan, “Why so serious”.


I laughed out loud when he said that. I’m from the same area as he is and people have mentioned I can be an A-hole, when I’m really not trying to be. It is what it is and unfortunately us massholes are sarcastic and blunt at many times. Maybe that’s how the term “masshole” came about. :joy:


One thing that kind of annoyed me about the podcast is the thought that once you set ERG mode on, you’re stuck there. Like, have you not heard of the + or - button? You do know you can change the wattage right? They kept hammering it like you could be set higher than you should and your workout is ruined. Like the example of an endurance ride where you ride at 200W, but you should have started at 160 and increased to 240. You can do that in erg. If RPE feels off you can just change the ERG target.


True, but I suspect most people don’t, even/especially those who should be going easier on their easy days, but in fact are riding above LT1 every day. That’s a big part of the issue.


I think some feel that would be failing the workout. For instance struggling with a threshold workout and the thinking goes; I couldn’t possibly change it to 90% as it’d then be sweet spot and the workout ruined.

What are you basing that on? I’ve been on ERG for almost 5 years and have always used +/-. Particularly when doing z2 and or recovery rides.