Longer (2+ hr) training rides...ERG vs resistance vs zwift

I want to get in some longer indoor endurance rides over the winter and a buddy of mine said I’d be nuts to do them in erg mode. I figure erg would let me just focus on cadence and then I can watch Netflix or something to occupy the time.

Is there any reason not to do these in erg mode? How do you like to do your indoor endurance rides…erg/resistance mode/Zwift?

Thanks for the input!!!

I always do them in erg mode but I’d say you should try both. Mix it up. Whatever.

Such things can get monotonous. So if trying erg/resistance keeps you engaged for another long indoor ride…do that. ;-D


Did he say why? The only time I flip off Erg is when I’m trying to do max-effort sprints. Maintaining focus on a low-intensity power target for 2+ hours sounds like a nightmare :laughing:


I think mostly because that alone could be boring but he said I was an outlier since people don’t due erg on long rides!

I do ERG mode for everything, as do most people I know, so your buddy is the outlier


What’s your goal?

If you’re trying to hold endurance wattage because you’re trying to build up that ability, then keep erg on. If you’re trying to learn what it FEELS like to hold endurance wattage, turn erg off and see what a pain it becomes.

For me, holding endurance numbers is crazy hard. I want to dip into the very top of zone one because it’s a bit more comfortable or I’ll end up into the wind and start pushing zone three. To HOLD a true zone two endurance ride taxes my brain WAY more than my body. So, if that’s your goal, then turning off erg can be a way to get there, but if you’re after the body adaptations, keep erg on and just pedal away.

As for Zwift, forget it. I find any time I try to ride “easy” in zwift, someone sits on my wheel and testosterone takes over. What was supposed to be Z2 is now Z5 and I’m whooped way earlier than I should be. For me, Zwift is best for climbing simulation.



I think he’s talking out his bum. Erg is love, Erg is life.

Disclaimer, since I guess this post was confusing: “Erg is love, Erg is life” is hyperbole for dramatic emphasis. I do not believe that Erg mode is always the best option for everyone in every scenario. I do believe it’s usually the best option for the scenario under discussion.


One of my goals is to get more comfortable at a higher cadence…90 is very comfortable on the trainer but I end up around 80-82 outside.

Other than that, I love long outdoor rides so I want to get in plenty of volume over the winter so I’m ready to roll next spring. I’m doing some intervals too but want to keep the volume up.

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  • Yeah… he is dead wrong and showing his prejudice or narrow knowledge.

As you have seen posted already (and may see more below) plenty of people do long Z2 rides in ERG on the trainer. I’ve done plenty and the ability to use that, keep to a prescribed power range, and watch movies or read is a great way to spend that time on the trainer. Multitasking is real and quite possible in those instances.


Thanks Chad!! Glad to see I’m not totally nuts (at least as it relates to long rides in erg mode anyway)

First…why? Who cares what your cadence is? I mean, if you KNOW a higher cadence is something you need, go for it, but there are plenty of top end triathletes that do 112 miles every weekend pedaling in the 80 to 85 range.

Second, if you do want to have a focus on cadence that’s even more reason to keep erg on. The wattage will hold with erg on. If you focus on your spin with erg off, you could find yourself fighting the gearing you have to stay in the correct zone.

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I tend to do all of my endurance rides in erg mode, primarily because I use the time to catch up on bible study and devotional videos. I have experimented with standard / resistance mode so that I’m familiar enough with them in case I want to use them during an interval workout. I’m not proficient enough to do an entire endurance workout in them (or Zwift) AND pay attention to the video, though, hence erg.

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Erg mode with a good selection of stuff to watch. I barely look at the TR screen, just zone out and spin away.

Everybody is different though. A friend has spent months trying to get used to erg mode and just hates it. Another is incapable of listening to or watching anything more engaging than music while riding indoors.

On the cadence thing, if you’re comfortable at 90 indoors it sounds like your outdoor cadence is simply self-selected rather than being any kind of physical limitation. In which case I honestly wouldn’t worry about it unless it’s manifesting itself in any kind of actual problems e.g. you feel inefficient/unstable at higher cadence, or you’re getting undue muscular fatigue on long rides from grinding at too low a cadence. Also worth noting that at least some of the difference may just be a function of how cadence is measured - I went through a period of being a bit obsessed with my cadence outside, was staring at the screen and trying to hold 90-95 whenever I was pedalling, but average was still coming out 5-10rpm lower than that due to all the times I either stopped or slowed my pedalling for corners, traffic, lights, etc (even worse in group rides where I do a lot of slow pedalling while in the draft!).

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I’ve done all of the above. Try them all out and see which combination you prefer. Longfellow (4hrs @0.67 IF) in erg with zwift running, 4hr group rides on zwift in resistance mode (gotta pick the right group), 4hr solo rides in zwift with resistance mode and self control to keep it in zone. Its all good. One of the benefits of erg mode is you don’t have to rely on self-control to avoid chasing that person or attacking a hill, or worse: dipping to long into z1.

Sometimes I’ll pre-ride as a z2 free ride or TR workout in erg, then hop into a group ride, then finish up solo. Just depends on what you need to keep yourself entertained and happy. Prior to zwift I did TV/movies/cycling races, etc. and after a couple of 4-5hr sessions didn’t do any trainer rides longer than 2 hours (burnout) until I discovered zwift over 10 years later.

I think the key is you need to find the right combination that works for you! If you aren’t enjoying yourself that is a path to burnout. You need to do something sustainable and if you aren’t enjoying yourself its okay to hop off the bike.

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I have been training on a Kickr in Erg mode exclusively for years. Now, Kickr is sold, I am using dumb rollers, no Erg Mode… I enjoy every ride much more and cant say I am less focused - the opposite: i am training much more to keep the same cadence and power level (same as outside)… here having no Erg mode is very helpful in my opinion.

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I want to work on cadence because I find when I get tired outside I drop into the 70s and this seems to have led to some knee issues/discomfort in the past. I had a bike fit last year and have since generally found a little higher cadence prevents knee discomfort.

Yes, there are reasons (plural).

Actually everything @tropicalcycling said in this post

I would list as reasons for making indoor training the same as outdoor riding. Even the ones listed as reasons for using Erg, I would say the opposite and its precisely why you should consider doing them in resistance mode.

Does that mean Jonathan the TR podcast host is talking out of his bum?

Texting and driving doesn’t make me a better driver.

I’m still using a Kickr and disabled Erg earlier this year. Like you I was somewhat surprised to find it improved my training.

@FrankTuna really up to you, try it yourself! Understand that Erg is a tool that allows your brain to disengage a bit. Erg is also a tool that somewhat discourages you from using cadence and gearing to vary power output, which is something I use all the time out on the road. Beyond the work to be done, are you interested in practicing and reinforcing habits? Are you interested in better calibrating your brain and body? Or simply wanting to check a completed workout box? There is nothing wrong with using Erg and being more interested in simply checking a box.

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  • That comparison is so non-sensical I don’t know what to say. :man_shrugging:

I don’t necessarily agree Chad.
By providing your brain with a distraction, and relying on ERG, one does disengage said brain from focusing on the effort at hand, technique, pacing, etc.
Thus the analogy. That distraction doesn’t help improve your cycling. It does make 2h endurance ride bearable though :smiley:

Yes, it is all good and a fun debating tactic.

You seem to be saying that Erg allows you to do long z2 rides AND watch movies or read. I could say the same thing about doing long z2 rides in resistance mode. :man_shrugging: