Tom Danielson and Erg Mode

I feel like I have to be more mentally engaged when I’m riding in standard mode over erg mode. Lots of people say with erg you just pedal and don’t have to worry about what gear/shifting/ect. I also like being in standard for things like Bays where they have the 20 second seated sprints in there. Instructions even say think about taking it out of erg so those sprints could possibly be done at a higher power, something about not shorting yourself. Thats resinated to me.

I teach this when I am coaching MTB for rolling hills. It works great when they are tight to medium spaced.

It really doesn’t make much sense (to me) on road since the transitions are much more mellow and longer, but it could help in some particular places.

Yeah, it was just a bit of light mocking on my part.

The principle of stringing together terrain features off-road is well established, but nice to see someone trying to reinvent it :slight_smile:

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Right??? It isn’t real until someone slaps a name on it and sells it to us :wink:

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I think erg mode allows me to be lazy in a way that sometimes reduces my training effectiveness. So I don’t think he’s totally wrong. But I’m going to ignore him because what I’ve found is that it doesn’t really matter when I get out on the road.

What I have found is that if I don’t train standing up on the trainer, then I’m not as good at standing on the road. And vice versa. But that has nothing to do with erg mode.

Here’s what another pro rider has to say on the matter:



I love my rollers. More people should use them.


No surprise that an intelligent & deeply thoughtful person like Amber, comes to a conclusion like many of us already shared. The reality is that each choice has merit and should be considered for it’s benefits as much or more so than the deficits.

In a perfect world, we would use a mix to capture those benefits and even add some needed variety to our training.

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I have zero respect for Danielson (why would you?)…riding the trainer is a means to an end and erg mode makes these sessions a bit more doable, my progression this year is the same as previous years with a dumb trainer



Driveo + ERG for some workouts.
Elite rollers with ERG for some workouts.
Kreitler rollers for other workouts.

Different tools for different objectives.

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This is a pretty common technique on the road, he’s just given it a fun new name to make it a “technique”. Pretty certain Sepp Kuss describes this on one of the VN podcasts but not in bro speak.

What he’s describing is what most strong climbers tend to do on longer undulating climbs and you definitely see it in the higher categories more where the guys are seriously fit.

Most riders flog themselves on the steepest sections of a climb because it’s all they can do to get to the top. Better climbers tend to accelerate and crest the hill while pushing harder into the flat/downhill following. The lower gradient means more speed for equal power so you’re putting the hurt on the guys who are pinned just to get to the top and opening a gap on them. Lookout has a bunch of these little rollers and so you can use this technique over and over to hurt your friends and make them hate you while keeping momentum and using less energy. This only works if you’ve got the legs to hit the steep sections and keep a little extra gas in the tank.

I’ve got no opinion on TD one way or the other but figured I’d point out it’s a decent tip. Just not described very well.


I’m happy to be anti ERG as I don’t have it.
For interval work up to say 3 minutes - yeah totally fine.

For 10 minute sweet spot though or threshold - I wish I had erg. It’s impossible to match desired cadence with power - The choice comes in 10rpm increments either 80, 90 or 100rpm and that’s with a not totally dumb trainer either.

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+1 for roller use. I use them for all the tempo workouts like Petit. My rollers don’t have enough resistance to be useful for intervals, I can only get to 250W which is around 3.4W/kg, enough for a great aerobic workout though.


maybe I should dig out my rollers

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So you worked all day long and are mentally fatigued, but still want to do a workout:

  • Option 1: go in ERG mode, train your muscles and kinda rest your brain;
  • Option 2: go in resitance mode and try to hold the prescribed power with your fatigued brain having to focus on that.

I don’t buy this at all.

I think he’s too locked into an old school mentality. Erg mode I’d relate closer to riding hills, you’re locked into a resistance yes but it’s your responsibility to maintain a cadence that doesn’t lock up your legs too low or fatigue you when the cadence is too high, it’s not as if the machine is doing the work for you. Yes there are benefits to both erg and resistance and without a doubt you’re going to have fitness gains by using Erg mode.

Either way I don’t support Tom’s claims at all.

Also, can we talk about all these people that come onto Trainer Road forum and talk Zwift?? go away please, it’s not our fault that your video game does not have a forum to support your training, be a part of the solution and help others train or you’re a part of the problem and just plugging up the feed.



Well my n=1 experience is that it isn’t any better with 11 speed on a dumb trainer. I found a lot of workouts, but especially cadence drills, always a compromise between cadence and target power. I generally overshot target power, which I’m not necessarily sure is a good thing. For short and micro VO2 max intervals, I could never maintain cadence inbetween them as per the workout text. Chad normally says try to maintain the 100plus cadence in between.

That’s just on the workouts - for low intensity rides I really enjoy being able to mentally switch off and watch a show or film. Different to the mentally switching off outside, but I still find it beneficial.

I couldn’t go back to resistance only at this stage - erg mode was the next game changer for me after a couple of years doing TrainerRoad. It’s also enabled me to use an old hack 7 speed as permanant turbo bike, which has defintely meant I’ve ridden more (both frequency and duration).

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@JKEMPFREY, I recommend that you reconsider the comments in your final paragraph.

  • Zwift actually does have their own forum.
  • The TrainerRoad forum is open and contains discussion about many things related to training.
  • Importantly, it is not restricted to TrainerRoad users or TrainerRoad discussion only.
    • There is no explicit or implicit requirement to that effect, even though TR is the host.
  • We actively discuss competing products and services for the benefit of all involved, including TrainerRoad and it’s users.
    • These may highlight pros and cons of the alternatives and help stir discussion about direction. I think there is real value in reviewing these, even if they only serve to validate the chosen direction of TR.
  • We also have an “Uncategorized” section that is effectively our Off-Topic area.
    • It contains our non-training related discussions, as well as some that may be training related, but not appropriate in the other categories. Some of the Zwift related discussions are in this area.
  • There are many topics and discussions here, and people are free to participate in them or not, at their discretion.

Disclaimer: I am not a TrainerRoad employee. I am an active forum member with interest in promoting active, positive and helpful discussion. If I have misspoken or overstepped my role as a moderator with what I stated above, I will update and correct via direction from TR reps.


As Chad mentioned, we want the TrainerRoad Forum to be a place for healthy discussion for all athletes, even non-TR users :slight_smile: . Discussion related to our competitors is a real and valid point of discussion, and we aim to avoid any and all censorship of ideas and opinions.

Based on a massive amount of data from all of our users, as well as plenty of personal experience, I have to agree with you on that one :wink:


Based on the fact that I about fell off my bike after the final interval of Spencer this morning in erg mode, I’d say Tom’s off his rocker.