Spanish Needle ERG vs Std Mode

Ok, confession time, while being a TR user for some time I have avoided Spanish Needle until now. Friday will be my first attempt. However, I’m curious do most users complete this workout in Std. mode or ERG mode with their smart trainers. I can see advantages and disadvantages to both options.

ERG all the way. Some may disagree, but the intervals are actually too short to pinpoint them yourself. I think it’s best to let ERG think about them. You may get better at doing it yourself with practice, but because the workout is so precise with so many quick starts and stop, I think even a practiced person will find they lose their ability to be precise 99 times just 15 seconds apart.


What trainer and gearing do you typically use?

I haven’t done it in resistance mode, but ERG mode on a Kickr Core worked well for me. Like @russell.r.sage said, I’d rather the trainer handle the resistance for such short intervals rather than trying to hit the right gearing every time myself.

I would agree that ERG mode may work out best since the time to get to the power target is short. But, I used the standard mode the past week or 2 and I am starting to like it because i can change gears to get that resistance and reach and maintain the power target. In ERG mode I find myself spinning too high and I have to really slow down to allow the ERG system to adjust. I have the Wahoo Snap and it may not react as fast as the off wheel trainers. Once you get the setting right, you know which gear is needed and how each gear affects cadence, like being outside on the road. So, if I were doing that training, I’d probably do it in the standard mode to see how it goes.

I haven’t done Micro bursts in Std mode on my smart turbo, but have done them on a dumb turbo and dumb hybrid rollers. The issue on the dumb trainers is maintaining the cadence for the bursts and the recoveries, as per the workout text. So if available I do them in ERG.

I was pretty happy with Erg mode on a Tacx Neo 2. The transitions were a little better in a big gear (to slow them down somewhat). I’ve also done it on a dumb trainer (Kurt Kinetic), and it involves a lot of practiced gear changing.

ERG all the way. No problems with Kickr1 or Neo1. Get to your target cadence and stay there even during the “rest” intervals.

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Level mode. Erg mode is great for endurance or long and steady intervals but these are about recruiting more muscle mass really fast. With ERG you will get your target power values but you want to be able go as hard as you can get. In this case standard work relly nice (as for anything short power related). This is my way of thinking.

I don’t have a smart trainer, so take everything I write with a grain of salt. But it seems to me you’d learn different things in different modes. One thing that takes one or two intervals is to get the initial power right — what does 130 % feel like? In the beginning, I’d overshoot and I have to reign myself back in. I find that helpful to gauge efforts, especially those where I don’t have a power meter at hand (on my mountain bike). Plus, it forces me to be consistent throughout the interval — which is not easy. The other thing it helps is that it forces me to choose my cadence. Playing with cadence on VO2max sessions has been extremely helpful, lowering the cadence (from 110+ rpm to 95ish) has helped me to finish VO2max workouts.

Given that you have never done 15-15s or 30-30s, I’d recommend starting with erg mode, though. Keep it simple for VO2max workouts are hard enough.


How do you hit power targets on dumb rollers? That’s all my current setup is, and I’m struggling to hit the 140% FTP microbursts on things like Spanish Needle without either dropping through my entire cassette (need to be in 53/11 essentially to hit target) or “recovering” at ~15rpm. Any tips?

They’re actually hybrid rollers (Poor persons Omnium. the minoura version) and it has resistance settings.

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I did Spanish needle -1 today on a dumb trainer. in the warm up sprints And first few sprints of the first set I find the gear and roughly The cadence needed for hitting the targets. It Worked fine for me. Every effort wasn’t perfectly matched but I Did matched power on a majority of the efforts.

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