Pedal smoothness and mechanics

I have been using TR for a couple of years now and been following coach chads pedalling exercices, but I feel I am not improving my pedalling smoothness.

As an example, I just did a 2x20 min and was hoping to be at an average wattage of 250W, unfortunately my power was all over the place and trying to over-correct kept driving me nut! The average on the first segment came down to 246W. Workout intensity was set initially to 103% so I would hit 250W but increased it to 105% (255W) just so I can average higher, yet I still manage to miss the mark.

I am on erg but use the power from my power meter (Quarq DZero). I have exactly the same issue everywhere (indoor / outdoor). I do understand some fluctuations are expected due to how pedalling works but what I am seeing just makes me wonder if my riding is ineffficient and wasteful.

See my ride here

I have had a look at a couple of other 2x20 on Gray or other workouts from other TR users who track very well (actual non-trainer power meter readings), and averaging spot on a very close what the interval power specifies. I am not sure how to improve. Is it a cadence issue?

What is going with your pedaling after start of the interval? Because the beginning of the first interval looks quite ok.

Do you use restitance or this is done in erg mode?

  • Already stated in the OP.
  • So he is on ERG with PowerMatch.

Sorry my mistake. I have just returned from business trip and my mind is quite hazy.


And for the pedal stroke it becomes a lot worse with your fatigue (looking at the workout). It is like you push pedals very hard vertically to mee the power targets and not pulling the pedal to smooth the stroke? (So little bit to literally like a two pistons)

I suspect your problem might be a bit of this. You shouldn’t try to correct ERG. ERG will just be ERG. Don’t worry about the power, worry about your cadence. If you hold a cadence of 95 let’s say, then ERG will settle into the appropriate resistance for a 95 cadence. It’s much easier to keep a consistent cadence than it is to match a power and when you try to match the power, ERG will constantly be chasing you, which isn’t ideal.


Whew, I didn’t want to start with that, but I feel it is a likely issue here. So, to reinforce the point…

Cadence is king, ignore power, let the system do the work.

Additionally, quite sweating a few watts one way or the other. Your body won’t know the difference and you are only stressing about stuff that really does not matter. There is no way that a few watts over or under should be the difference between success and failure in your training. Close counts and there is no benefit to sweating the details as much as you are.

Note, I say the above as a reformed watt-worrier. :stuck_out_tongue: I did similar tricks to hit the wattage averages. I have since relaxed my clutch and focus more on the overall feel and function of the workout, with minimal focus on the discrete watts along the way.


This is done completely in erg mode. And so are 99% of my workouts on TR (except the 20 min FTP test).

Thanks a lot Chad, for some reasons these little fluctuations are getting to me and I somehow let them bring me down. I will keep that in mind for my next workout!

One other reason I tend to worry is when I look at TrainingPeaks provided efficiency and variability index. They look kind of high…


Great point, I never thought of it that way (chasing the system). I will try to keep an eye on cadence only and let the system do its work.

You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

For a test, I suggest the real focus on cadence on some steady state workouts, and really ignore power. Once you do, I suspect you will actually smooth your pedaling and get a smoother graph (which is nice, but not necessary… but another discussion), and related VI / EF values (also not critical, IMO).

I think your habit of over-attention to power has had an opposite impact on your results, specifically because you are using ERG, and more so with PowerMatch. Trying to control power in ERG is a mistake and leads to more issues in every case I have ever helped diagnose.

Stop watching power, pay attention to cadence and things will start to fall in pace. Having PowerMatch in the mix adds to the delay in adjustments, so watching and trying to “fix” the power really just adds to the issues.

Exact issue?

Scanned your outdoor rides back to May 1st, and this is the only comparable interval session:

outside looks normal.

Zooming on your cadence in the first interval:

:man_shrugging: looks ok to me, I’ve got climbs that look like that too.

I was just anchoring on the definition of the metrics from TP:
Variability Index is covered here
And Efficiency is covered here

I guess I think about efficiency on how it relates to my HR avg on the two segments.

How smoothly you pedal has essentially no effect on those metrics.

Good point, thanks for digging into this. I appreciate. I remember this workout: an TR workout which I took outdoor. My wahoo showed a range of power to be maintained, which helped me not focus on power so much but stay consistent. In general when I am outside I almost pay little attention to power unless I have to.

I don’t understand what you mean. From this other post:

On variability index:

How steady is your power output? The more spikes of power you have during your ride, the harder and more fatiguing it will feel. VI is simply NP divided by AP. A Variability Index of 1.0 is a very smooth ride. This is a very important metric for time triallists and triathletes where pacing is key.

Is that incorrect?

Yes, it is incorrect, or at least misleading.

VI and EF are calculated using NP, which uses a 30 second rolling average. That steam-rolls any short-term power “spikes” due to choppy pedaling.

The reason that your VI is 1.09 for the workout you posted is because it includes much longer periods of pedaling at varying power outputs. If you look at the VI for just one of those 20 minute intervals, you’ll find that it is very close to 1.00.

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VI = NP / AP

  • So indeed, the discrete 20m intervals are 1.0 VI for both.

All said, VI is not a great way to evaluate “pedaling” issues specifically.

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Oh I see. Can’t believe I had this wrong this whole time. Thanks for enlightening me ;-).