Newbie TrainerRoad questions - Plans and ERG

Good evening fellow Roadies.

I got some questions that you might help clarify my mind, as I am a person who persists on little things and needs logic to be at peace, or at least, compreehend why stuff works this way or another.

By that, let me say that i just started Trainer Road. From March 2020 until now I just rode Zwift and do whatever I could and I see some improvements of course, but lately, I felt a belt without a path and decide to invest in a structure plan for the first time and see what can happen.
Of couse, hearing the podcast helped me a lot in clearing some myths regarding training, recovery and nutrition.

For now and as recommended by Plan Builder, i’m doing Sweet Spot Base - Mid Volume I and as I’ve checked my weekly TSS, i found that my body is used to do a LOT of TSS, at least by checking what TrainingPeaks info tells the rides i did in Zwift (see image attached).TP_TSS

As I’m checking, the TSS evolves from week to week, but I still find it (for now) easy to do and this week i’m throwing an extra workout of 1h on the off day, as i’m used to Zwift and to the same.
The High Volume plan is not suitable for me regarding the time of each workout so the Mid Volume is right on spot, but, of course, it “seems” less than i’m used to… even my Garmin informed me that i’m getting detrained and my Vo2Max has decreased 1 point.

While I was Zwifting, i would do some 45m to 1h (on weekdays) and 1h30 to 2h rides (on weekends) but without any structure and i would give what i could whenever I could (therefore my TSS on those rides was high) and I’m just afraid of loosing fitness and becoming slower rather than fast.

I don’t have any events planned and I just want to be faster overall so I can go with my local group ride, that consists on some good and faster guys, all Masters aswell, without being dropped after 7 miles or so.

Also, I would like to ask if whenever we change to a different Plan, we need to go to Base I and II or can we just go straight to Build phase ? I do understand on this time and for me, base is necessary, as I’m a first timer into structure workouts, but after this, is Base mandatory for every plan change ?

I would really appreciate some guidance and help, as my head doesn’t stop thinking on this and i quite frankly don’t know what to do.

Thanks in advance

Mario

TSS will vary by FTP. Did you do a ramp test? Did it change from your Zwift FTP?

Well, actually, i did a Ramp test on Tuesday in Zwift and repeated on TrainerRoad on the next day and it gave me 7w less but since i had sore legs, i just kept the FTP i got the day before, with fresh legs.

Even so, how can a TSS change that much for the same FTP, as the image shows ? Also, besides the TSS is higher that doesn’t mean i’m good, fresh and in good form, as it shows…

The hv plan will get you closer with the tss. I’ve had weeks close to 700 tss with hv. You can chose whichever plan you want whenever you want. If mid volume feels too easy try HV if youve got rhe time, Ive been doing HV since November. If you feel it too much you can always go back to mid volume.

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Mario I want to start first by saying that not all TSS is created equal and that there is a significant difference between free wheeling with some big efforts and structured intervals.

To answer your questions

  1. Will I get slower doing less time? First I wouldn’t base my “detraining” on garmin metrics as they typically require maximal efforts to keep up appearances. As said above not all tss is created equally and you’ll likely encounter that structured riding for a duration is different than free riding.

  2. Is base necessary? Yes and no but in your case I would say yes. The reason being it is the “easiest” exposure period to trainerroad and the demands of structured training and is the foundation in which you build upon as your training progresses. By returning to base after each training progression (Base-Build-Specialty) you allow your body to rebuild the foundational fitness on the new baseline that was developed in build and a little bit of specialty.

Ime I would say trust the process when you’re starting out and as you get more time under your belt you’ll begin to know your body and when you can add more time on the bike (primary easy rides) to satisfy your drive.
Ultimately I wouldn’t fret over it too much as a lot of people have gotten faster on mid volume and low volume plans just by following the structure and keeping the consistency

Best of luck with your training

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I will refer to the other two replies as they articulated it well.

Thanks all. I’ve rebuild my plan and forgot about those TSS and just trust the program.

And what about ERG mode ?

I’ve always worked out with ERG on Zwift and for the 3 or 4 TR’s workouts i’ve done so far, and even change some gears sometimes. As im only beginning, i can match my power target always but when or if I cant it will show… so, my question is what are your thoughts of training with ERG and without ?

Is there any benefitial on running resistance ? What i can reckon, and correct me if Im wrong is that we have more mental stress to stay in Power Target and/or cadence and sometimes we might have few time to change gears in some intervals to match the current target.

Please share your thoughts as i would like to ear and to train the best way i can !

Cheers

How I use erg mode is very dependent on the type of workout and also the kind of focus I have in training.

Endurance: Resistance bc the focus is on being fluid and smooth and not necessarily the exact power targets. Although will do erg if I want to catch up on a show or watch a movie so I don’t get distracted and miss the mark on the workout

Tempo: a mix of both depending on if the workout is steady or has different blocks. Pretty similar to endurance workouts

Sweetspot: Erg during base but resistance during build and specialty. During base precision is my focus but once build and specialty improving my ability to lock in and hold specific power is more desirable to me

Threshold: see sweetspot

Vo2: erg unless I’m feeling cooked at the end of a workout and want to “give it my best shot” without the risk of getting caught in the “spiral of death”

Anaerobic: typically erg bc of simplicity. Would check the “tips for big changes in erg mode”

Sprint: resistance bc these efforts are best done in resistance to get the feel for your abilities

In terms of erg vs resistance the thing to remember is that outside is like resistance mode so it’s good to have the association with your rpe, intuition and power output so you can hold steadier efforts and what not. Ultimately it’s a preference thing so I would doing every other interval in a different mode in a workout or doing workouts where you feel like you have the mental focus to focus on the targets do resistance but if not do erg.

Hope this helps a bit and was clear. If not I can try to word it better

Its clear enough yes.

But is there any physical benefict on doing in ERG or Resistance ? Or the most important is to do the workout and match your target/cadence, regardless ?

Ive read that we dont need to shift gears while in ERG but sometimes i do shift so i can pedal faster or slower, depending on the feel… but the purpose is always to match the power target.

On most trainers you never need to shift in ERG mode (some have wattage floors & ceiling that require it) if you want to have a faster or slower cadence you can just alter you cadence and the trainer will alter the resistance to match.

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Yesterday i did Reinstein and after those 10min recovery spin i would start the interval pedalling at between 85-95rpm but the power was 10-15w off… (to match i would need to go over 100rpm and i dont go there often by choice except harder wattage) as soon as i put a smaller gear and keep those same rpm’s, the power was matched.

Today i have Glassy workout and will probably use ERG because why not ?

Is a specific workout mode better than the other ?

In ERG mode you should be able to pedal at any cadence you want (75, 90, 105) without shifting. It should then only take a few seconds to settle in to the target, but the ERG should control the power and take you to the target. Some people who are new to trainers try to “chase” the target and don’t just pedal and wait for ERG to catch up, and then just end up over and under correcting constantly. Instead, just pedal at the cadence you want and ERG should do the rest.

If that is not working, what trainer are you using? What is the source of your power readings.

Im using an Elite Evo (thats the model name here) which i think is the model Qubo Digital Smart +

The whole thing about this is just if using, or not, ERG, will make me lack anything or being a step behind.

Resistance simulates better control, shifting and outdoor road feel right ?
But then again… if i dont pedal correctly in ERG mode, the power isnt matched with the target, and the result will be the same.

Am I understanding anything wrong ? Got myself overthinking this a lot since yesterday… damn.

Did you see my comments about “just hold your cadence steady and erg will settle to the correct power”? Are you doing this? Or “chasing the number”?

I’m still not clear on what the problem is.

As for “is erg or not erg better”, well, that’s like asking if Sweet Spot or Traditional or Polarized is better. Everyone has an opinion. I prefer erg because it lets me pay attention to the television or zwift, which lowers my RPE. Others prefer to turn erg off and pay more attention to the training.

With erg the biggest thing to get used to is that your trainer will take a few seconds to ramp up to the target so they most important thing is to keep your cadence steady during these times. If the jump is significant (vo2 intervals) lowering cadence 5s before and ramping up to 100rpm is a good trick to reduce the ramp time.

In terms of benefits between resistance and erg from a training benefit POV I don’t believe there is any but I could be wrong on that. I wouldn’t bother with shifting as you can just as easily speed up or slow your cadence in erg and it will adjust resistance to match the target watts

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There isnt actually any problem. Im just wondering if theres any benefict on training on ERG or Resistance mode… and any of the modes brings more benefict than the other or if both brings the same gains in fitness as long as if you complete the workout successfully.

Resistance is closer to what you do on the road. ERG let’s you turn off your brain. As far as getting better at pushing watts they are the same. Personally I rarely use ERG anymore, only sometimes for 30+ min intervals.

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Or you can use power meter to calibrate feelings and get to the point where you can put out smooth watts in resistance by feel. Once it’s second nature you get a win-win for putting down power both inside and outside.

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I don’t buy into that argument, but I know many do. In the end, I would still use ERG for the RPE benefits of being able to watch TV/Zwift. Not saying that’s right for everyone though and I don’t race.

I didn’t ‘buy into the argument’ - tried it and it worked.

:wink:

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