Is this how training works now or is it an equip issue pls?

Notice: this ended up being longer than I’d planned. If you make it through and can help, I just wanted to say thanks in advance.

56 y/o. Been riding for over 40. Road racer back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Have done quite a bit of riding on a track bike, fixed, on rolling trails in my area. I know how to spin.

Used a Kicker/TR combo 6-7 yrs ago but I do not remember ever having the issue I’m having now.

Did my Ramp Test to set my FTP.
Problem: On my training rides, when I hit peaks power plateau’s for the plan that day I am unable to maintain my power output per the data.

Initially, the thing I really didn’t understand though is: I am in my biggest gear, 52x10, and my cadence is 110-115+. I am maxed out on my spinning. Why is the resistance not harder?

I just did Parker. It has 3 sets of intervals. 3.5 mins push, 2 min recovery. I am in erg mode (is this the correct mode???)
I don’t have my gearing in front of me so I’m going to go with gear number vs gear size here on out. I am on a 10 spd cassette.

Initally I started in 17th, spinning to maintain power. It did not take long before power was dropping off. So I’d move on up into 20th fairly quick. Less than half way through the 3.5 min push.
Even in 20th, spinning 110+, I could not maintain power.

By the last set of intervals I would start in 15th, spin at my max till power dropped. Rinse-repeat-until i was in 20th, 110+ rpm, watching power drop.

Does this sound normal for how training progresses? Specifically, needing to spin so high vs pushing a bigger gear?

Is this how training is done these days? Focusing on output from high cadence vs bigger gears?

If you made it this far, thank you again for your time and input.
Cheers to all!!!

Related to ERG, you should not normally be shifting.

  • Pick a gear, pick and hold your desired cadence, then let the app and trainer maintain power.
  • “Chasing power targets” by shifting and/or speeding up your cadence will only cause problems.

Check out this great video for detailed background.

You can sure try other modes. Depending on your device connection, you should have Resistance and/or Standard modes. These work like older trainers where you shift and adjusting your cadence to hit power targets.

So I’d suggest experimenting a bit with them all and pick what seems best for you.


This sounds like the problems that I had with the Direto XR in ERG mode before they finally got an update that seems to have fixed it. Granted, I haven’t tested it fully since I use resistance mode for threshold and VO2 workouts, in the way Chad described.

It’s not clear from your message what trainer you are using now. Are you still using the Kickr from 6/7 years ago, or is this something else? If it’s an Elite trainer, you may need to do the update (with their Upgrado app). If it’s the Kickr or another trainer, there might be a software or hardware issue. You may need to contact the maker to find out more–or if you give us more details on your set up, someone else may know more. Either way, it sounds like the ERG mode isn’t working, and it may or may not be fixable.

I’ll add, though I don’t think this is the problem, that most advice I hear for ERG mode on modern trainers is to be in the small ring in the front and somewhere in the middle on the back (and stay there). So that could be contributing to your problem, but it doesn’t sound to me like it’s the only problem.

Chad…thanks so much. This has answered a lot of questions.
Without reposting everything from another thread I started last week, if i may ask your opinion since I see you are mod and have used TR for a while.

I live in AZ, 1100 ft-ish elevation. Training for a ride in CO in May, 48 mis. Trying to offset lack of elevation training with intensity and distance.
I’ve selected Masters, Low Vol., for training.
Is ERG mode for me? Or is Res or Std better suited, in your opinion please?
I will research the others, but to get a jump on direction I’d like outside info.

Thank you so much for your time.

Cheers Sir

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Ah, sorry for not giving all the info needed. Thanks for checking.
It is a brand new Kickr Move.

From the vid Brad posted, I’ll play around with the different modes and see what changes. What i will prob focus on is holding a cadence and see what changes with regards to resistance.

i.e. power output goal of 80 during the recovery vs 110 during the higher level phase.

Thank you and Cheers also!

  • Finally getting to your question, sorry for the delay.

Honestly, trainer mode is likely secondary and not a way to win or lose your personal goal. Lots gets made of these modes at times but I’m of the opinion that the delta between them is low single-digit if even that.

What I personally think matters more than the mode is your gearing used on the trainer, along with your expected riding needs on the bike outside.

  • Meaning that if you are training for higher speed, higher inertia type of riding… using a similar higher gear most of your time on the trainer makes sense to me.
  • Similarly if you are headed into a slower speed, lower inertia ride… using a similar lower gear, yadda yadda.
  • It’s about the “specificity” of loading and applying the “train like you plan to race” ideology. High or low speed, whatever cadence range you will be using and stuff like that should be considered when making these gear and mode choices.

With your Kickr, ERG mode can likely hit all the high and low power targets in any gear you choose based on your need. But you can also make similar gear choices even in Resistance or Standard modes.

  • You can set Resistance between 1-100% as needed. Lower values will lead to using the higher gears and higher values will lead to using lower gears. 20-40% seems common.
  • Standard does the same as above with a 1-9 setting scale. 1-3 seems common.

Back to modes, you really just need to try them. ERG is counterintuitive to many riders since it acts in a way that is different to standard trainers and outside riding. I use it a ton, but I know it is NOT the right mode for everyone.

Resistance is good (potentially familiar to some) and gives more direct control to the rider. The curve is more linear as to what happens when you speed it up. It mostly mimics the old magnetic trainer feel.

Standard is well liked by many and has a more progressive (non-linear) ramp rate for speed. It is more like a fluid trainer from the past.

If I had to tell you which to try first, I’d say Standard and see what you think. Depending on that feedback, you may prefer a different one but it’s hard to say. How’s that for a mess of info and ambiguous guidance? :wink:


My n=1 is that I always use erg. It reduces my cognitive load and helps me be more consistent. And I have used TrainerRoad on “dumb” trainers, hybrid rollers…


Barring any technical thing that might be causing your issue, I had the same feeling in erg mode. Like I’d push and push and the resistance just kept falling away. It was more mentally taxing for me cause it was so counterintuitive and backwards from actual riding outside.

I find a mode more like Standard to be much better for me. Shifting isn’t a big cognitive load for me and I like the feedback of “Pedal Harder/faster → Power Higher” like it is outside.

But others love Erg, so I’d play around with them and see if one works better for you than others.

Just to say, it’s staying on power rather than “shifting” itself. Always too high or too low. And then with the dumb trainer and dumb hybrid rollers, the gearing changes as they warm up. n=1 it increased my cognitive load compared to just focussing on the work.

… which is bad advice. To best simulate cycling outdoors, you want to be in the largest gear possible.


I’d like to come back to this part of the question. I’m not sure what you mean by “mis”. Miles? If not, how many miles is the ride you’re training for?

As for the elevation part of the question, how much elevation gain will there be? Is it mostly rolling? Or big long climbs? Are you used to climbing? Or do you mostly ride where it’s flat? Do you have the gears for the climbing to allow you to spin fast? Or will you be grinding the gears uphill?

There’s a lot to unpack there, and as someone who lives at sea level, that jumped out to me. If you have a lot of elevation gain on the ride and aren’t used to that, you’re going to want to train not just for the distance but also for the climbing.

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Except, to best simulate cycling outdoors, don’t use ERG mode. This is one of the reasons why I use resistance mode (at least for work intervals–I do switch to ERG for rest intervals).

This advice, where I have seen it, is more technological than training oriented, and I’m sure it depends on the trainer you have, etc etc. As I mentioned before, I have a Elite Direto XR which was a little notorious for it’s trouble with ERG mode (until a recent update), though I think the advice applies any time you’re having trouble getting ERG mode to give you the right power. It took longer to get to the target power and it had trouble staying there, instead tending to go lower whenever I changed cadence. You’ve got to get the technological to work before worrying about ride feel in ERG mode (and, again, why are we worried about ride feel if we’re choosing to be in the least realistic trainer mode?)

Try this as a test: create a custom workout with the following ramp pattern:
2 minutes @ 50% of FTP
2 minutes @ 55% of FTP
2 minutes @ 60% of FTP
2 minutes @ 65% of FTP
2 minutes @ 70% of FTP

Do this in ERG Mode. Don’t shift at all during this test, and try and keep a constant cadence. Once you’ve completed the workout, take a look at it in TR and see how your actual power conforms to this workout. If it does, then everything should be working fine. If it doesn’t, then you should reach out to Wahoo Support as this indicates that the issues you are facing are technical.

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Resistance does end up with the “push harder to get more power” aspect of riding outside, but it’s not what I would consider the “best simulation” either. That stems from the fact that it is essentially a linear resistance curve which is not usually what we experience outside. It happens to be more like the old magnetic dumb trainers from the past. Unless you ride at very low speeds, the nature of wind resistance as speed increases is rather different from Resistance mode.

Standard mode in TR (aka Level or Slope in other places) is a step better since it is a progressive (non-linear) resistance curve. It is more like the fluid trainers of old, because those aimed to mimic that ramped resistance level as speed increases. Kinetic Road Machine or the Lemond Revolution were the kings for feel and resistance curves of the era. New smart trainers in these modes seem set on replicating at least most of that feel.

In either case above, the reality is that once you find a gear and cadence for a steady-state effort, there is not much magic here. Assuming the rider is able to hold a cadence with a decent range (say +/-3-5 rpm) the feel of pushing that maintained power will be very similar between all trainer modes (assuming same gearing in all case). There may be very subtle deltas in the feel due to the pulsing nature of our pedal stroke, but I think this is a minor delta in the grand scheme. The larger differences seem present when you start dealing with large swings in power targets.

The demands on the rider via loading, shifting (or not) will surely vary and may be what matters to many riders. I guess it may also depend on the style of training in place as well with someone doing mostly steady-state vs someone doing more hits & recoveries may find one better than the other. We see this commonly in the on/off discussions with many pushing the non-ERG side for some good reasons, but I and others also seem happy with ERG. So the “horses for courses” can play here as much as a person’s preferences.

If “realism” is the ultimate preference here, a rider should be using a Simulation based mode via apps like Zwift, Rouvy and others since those are more “realistic” than even RES or STD. R&S end up with a static load for a given cadence and gearing as mentioned above, while Simulations here are potentially changing dynamically over time (assuming non-flat courses). These are the most like outside riding that I know, so people wanting that can use those apps and replicate the process of hitting intervals based on terrain or whatever they want.

To read some of these “this mode vs that mode” discussions, you’d expect we are talking large single-digit deltas in outcome at the very least. If that were the case, it seems to me this would be easy to demonstrate and prove which mode really is “best”. But from all I have seen in the decade plus I have used and tested these modes, there is not a clear difference in actual training impact to the rider. Plenty of anecdotes on feel but most seems to boil down to preferences. I have not seen actual science or proof of substantial differences between any of them. I’m happy to read it if anyone has related studies.

And as an aside, I also wonder how many people with the “like outside” preferences are using motion rollers, rocker plates and such? Because unless they roll outside on training wheels, there’s nothing realistic about a trainer that locks the bike in a vertical plane :wink:

Joking there a bit, but I’d wager most people have drawn a line somewhere with their training practices and setup that falls short of a true “simulation”. I actually think that’s a GOOD thing when we do so deliberately base on consideration of the pro’s/con’s between the many choices we have. There can be very good reasons to deviate from the “outside” ideal which leads to worthwhile benefits. Most of these options have some level of compromise & benefit and I think embracing that where appropriate is better than pretending we have made no concessions despite the obvious truth that we have.


Also, “riding outside” I’m usually not looking at maintaining a specific power number except in some limited circumstances. If I’m in a race, reacting, I’m not looking at my power number - I either have the legs or I don’t, much like erg mode!

To better mimic the inertial load of cycling outdoors. It will still be like pedaling up a hill slowly, but being in the small ring is even worse.

My comment has absolutely zero to do with ergometer mode. Even if you prefer not to use the latter, you should still use the largest gear possible.

Is there any evidence or is this just a best guess based on how important specificity is?

You were responding to my comment about how to get ERG mode to work. You even quoted from my earlier post where I specifically mentioned ERG mode:

Apparently I should not have assumed that your post was made in the context of what you were replying to/quoting. In which case, though, I do not understand why you would make the comment at all.