Erg - Workouts more Difficult?

After a summer of outside riding I am back on the wahoo for the winter. I am pretty experienced at riding intervals on erg mode and was pretty consistent during lockdown.

What I have noticed lately is that erg mode just seems pretty difficult and I end switching to standard mode and standing out of the saddle for small breaks which seems to relieve fatigue and the difference between rating a workout Moderate/Hard versus Very Hard/Hard if I was to complete the workout 100% on erg mode.

For example I had a over/under workout this morning (Warlow +1). The over intervals were a minute long and I would spend 20 seconds out of the second. It seems to provide nice relief and I rated the workout moderate completing with 100% compliance. This is entirely different to 2 years ago when I was happy enough spinning a high cadence to avoid fatigue.

Question: Is there any downside to doing small periods out of the saddle at key points in an interval? Am I missing adaptions or necessary torture or are watts just watts?

I am back lifting in the gym for 8 weeks now and noticed I am more comfortable with a slower cadence now I guess due to increased length strength.

  • I would say that depends more on your training goals and what you plan to do with your fitness outside. I mix in plenty of standing efforts because I use them a lot outside (BMX, MTB and such) as well as using them for breaks from the seated position.

  • Generally speaking, this likely won’t hurt your training unless it is somehow very counter to your ultimate needs in use after the training.

  • Again, depends on your needs. The simplified statement, “Train like you want to race” gets to the basic point. Try to make your training align as best as you can, with your event or performance needs.

I think this is less about ERG (despite your title) and more about who you are in the moment and where you want to go.

For the record, I am a frequent ERG user and mix in some Resistance use when appropriate. I also advocate for standing breaks as needed for fitness or comfort. I wrote a guide about using shifting when in ERG to address the needs to alter cadence for typical standing efforts. As such, I feel you can use this method and stay in ERG vs switching to RES (as it sounds like you are doing now). So that may be a method worth trying.

Adding to that, experiment with various gearing combos while in ERG. High vs low gearing can be used to more appropriately mimic the feel and loading you may need in your training.

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Interesting. Warlow+1 is a tough workout.
You mention you are using a slower cadence.
I think that may be why you are struggling and finding you need to get out of the saddle.
You could work on your cadence during your easy endurance sessions. Many have drills you can opt to do.
Spinning a higher cadence will help alleviate the awful quad burn that hits in this kind of session.
If no joy , I would just lower the intensity a little, as I think you’d get more out of the session if you can maintain consistent power, in the saddle.
Or you’ve got to accept its a bit too hard ,and check the Very Hard box in adaptive training ! :hot_face: :hot_face:


Yes, this is what I was getting at. Is standing basically a cop out even when you hit the watts :smiley:. This was a moderate and had I stayed glued to the saddle I suspect would have been a hard.

Thought process was minimize pain considering it is only December :smiley:

I know my speed/cadence needs work and thinking I need to hit a 6 week high vol sweet spot block which has lots of focused drills.

I dont even use the erg mode anymore. What often happens in erg mode is, the workout drops the intensity but the kickr snap keeps the intensity high or, it elevates the intensity too much above the prescribed. (if anyone know what to do about it I would appreciate).
But yes, it does feel harder somehow for me.

  • It would help to have at least a screen shot of a related workout. Better would be a link to the actual workout for deeper review, if your TR account is set to ‘Public’ and not ‘Private’.

  • The first thing I check is cadence related to the the step changes. It is important to be smooth and consistent with your cadence, so the ERG system (app and trainer combined) can have a predictable condition to set the resistance unit to hit the prescribed wattage.

  • Even with the best cadence control, there is a delay in application and release of the resistance, and it takes some “effort” from the rider to wait that out and let the system stabilize.


In the context of 2-min under and 1-min overs… one reason to do over/unders is to generate excess lactate for a minute, then clear during the 2-min unders. Warlow +1 I believe TR is using a narrow power range, is it 98% unders and 110% overs? So it also relies on an accurate FTP estimate and setting.

anyways, back to your question. The point of Warlow +1 is to generate excess lactate for a minute, and then spend 2 minutes at your threshold. Those 2 minutes appear to be more race simulation than lactate clearance, where you are riding at your sustained power limit and bumping over for a minute. With a good estimate of FTP you can expect to accumulate a lot of blood lactate and create a more acidic environment in your muscles.

Standing for 20 seconds seems very unlikely to interfere, from an adaptation point-of-view. This workout is about suffering at threshold and bumping over threshold for a minute, as if you were in a 3 rider breakaway and each rider is taking a one minute pull. So then the next question becomes what Chad said, what do you want to work on in that type of situation?

Regarding Erg, I definitely notice a difference between erg and standard. Standard is more like riding outside. Erg doesn’t feel as natural, sometimes it feels like I’m fighting with the bike. But after a few workouts I stop noticing until riding outside again. I used Erg for 2 years because so many people, from Wahoo’s blog to this forum, talked about how it was a game changer. Nowadays I’d rather make indoors behave like outdoors, and so I use standard/level/slope mode. Again its more personal preference.

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Hi Chad, thanks for your input. I will bear that in mind and get back to it in here in case I get the same problem: screenshot and so. Thumbs up.

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I quit using ERG mode two years ago on my Kickr. Resistance/normal mode for me. Might be a coincidence, but once I stopped ERG, my ftp went up considerably through the last two years, and had my best results on the road.

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I don’t know if its psychological or physical but in resistance mode I perhaps can have a 2-3 sec micro break and achieve a higher output than with ERG. It might be the thought of that or just that with no let up ERG chips away at me.

ERG seemed to kick in too hard and fast for me too and would lead to me straining things and only work at a high cadence (or else I’d be sucked in to the spiral of death), whereas resistance mode there is no sudden resistance change to injure me and I can work at varied cadences so for a while I was doing all my workouts in resistance mode. Since TR re vamped powermatch though it seems to be ERG is less aggressive and I am using it when I want to watch or listen to something.

I personally never use erg. I think it’s more important to decide to produce the watts and do so than to have it set at the wattage and you just hang on to it. Maybe it’s the same physically, but not mentally. Also, shifting and controlling your cadence matters without erg and is what it’s like to actually ride outside.

I’d think you want to sit for over unders, since they’re a controlled effort. It’s basically about staying in control while riding hard. I don’t think you’d ever stand while in that effort outside unless you’re on some pretty steep gradient where aero doesn’t hurt you. You might be having difficultly producing this power indoors rather than outdoors bc your ftp has increased relative to your previous indoor experiences. Of course, I agree w others who say it’s about what your goal is for the workout so maybe standing works in your context.

I am the outlier here, but I’m way more comfortable in Erg than resistance mode (Neo OG). With resistance, I’m constantly chasing the watts and never feel like I’m where I should be. With Erg, I just spin my legs and magic happens.

I’m not sure what that has to do with standing breaks though. I stand all the time in Erg for booty breaks and I don’t worry about shifting. I’m not really concerned if the watts go up or down 5-10% for those 20 seconds I’m out of the saddle.


Resistance control on the Stages SC3 gym bikes has a knob with both a 3 speed shifter and resistance knob. That works pretty well for ‘shifting’ between recovery and tempo/SS and above threshold efforts. My best 30/30-sec intervals were done on a Stage SC3 bike by slamming the shifter back and forth between ‘gear1’ and ‘gear3.’

On my Kickr its never resistance, always slope/standard/level mode. That mode increases resistance as you ‘go faster’ and I can set level=2 and use 3 gears for all workouts including sprint-ervals.

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Note to self:
Don’t put YouTube on over your workout screen and use ERG while doing VO2 workouts. You’ll be caught off guard and wonder why it feels like you need to push 1000 watts just to get the pedals spinning again… 😮‍💨


Yeah, I giggle a bit when people mention the “ERG and just pedal…” comments. It is generally true, but if you are doing anything with bigger steps, as SS or above, it’s still a good idea to pay attention for then the trainer “bites” into those work intervals :wink:

ETA: Guess which sprint interval I wasn’t paying attention to on this one last weekend…


Bring your own entertainment… just be careful with it
-TR’s new slogan


clearly the last one because you freaked out and used that shot of adrenaline to put the pedal to metal!

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LOL, good guess, but not quite.

I got smoked on the 1st one since I was gawking and nearly stalled out. I clawed back while ERG held it steady.

The 2nd & 3rd were “better” since I was paying attention and “jumped” hard on the step. I swapped to my big ring to lower cadence before the interval, and then hit it on the GO, and spin up like I am doing a “gate start” on a BMX track.

It’s my hack for sprints in ERG and my way of exceeding the target to just get what I can get for peak power. Kind of like the big gear stomps approach.

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That was my attempt at humor :wink: A cycling version of the jack rabbit in the headlights LOL.

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I have a snap and notice the same things. The efforts are bang on, but the rest periods where it should be like 120w sits more like 160-170w. I think it has a lot to do with the fly wheel, I find it happens worse when using the big ring with a straight chainline (big gear), it doesn’t seem to happen much when using a small ring and a straight chainline (low gear).
I beleive it might be the inertia in the fly wheel causing it.

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