Using power on the HT vs Gear shifting


I have another noob question.

I realized that I wasn’t using my home trainer properly (it’s a Tacx Blue Motion, a very dumb HT) with virtual power. I didn’t understand that I had to select the proper equipement in the settings. I just took the first one on the list (yeah, I know…). So when I took my ramp test, I was on 2 on my HT and was very happy when TR told me I had a 240 FTP.

I wish.

Then I started wondering, 1 Month into my training, how VP worked and how it could tell whether I was on 2 or 5 or 10 on my Tacx. And then it hit me.

So I put the right data in TR (ie Tacx Blue MOtion level 2) and did the ramp test again. It was a very humbling experiment, as my FTP is now at 140 (I weigh 66 Kg).

I understand it doesn’t change much, as it’s all about relative power, and it doesn’t change the fact that I was training at 50, 70 or 115% FTP before and that improvements will come.

Anyway, here’s my question : I was wondering what the optimal way of training was ? On what setting should my HT be if I want it to feel as much as riding on a flat road as possible ? Is it better to raise the resistance on the HT, or to raise it with my gears ?Would it be easier to do 90 RPM with my 34 on my bike and at a 5 or 6 resistance on my Tacx, or 90 RPM with my 50 at 2 on the Tacx ? Is it all about which muscles are working, or is it the same FTP anyway, and resistance is resistance ?

Just curious !

  • If you plan to follow TrainerRoad plans and workouts, using Virtual Power with your trainer, you MUST follow the settings they define. So, use the trainer setting at exactly what they assign. That is the only way you will get the proper Virtual Power data that corresponds to your training zones.
  • Using any other setting, without adding a dedicated power meter, will give you different VP data, and will likely skew your training.

This site shows two settings (4/10 and 8/10) of the trainer for comparison. It’s far from comprehensive or enough to draw any real conclusions

You’d really need a power meter and to perform the comparisons you mention to learn anything useful outside of using RPE. I’d ignore those options and follow the TR setup.

I didn’t realize there were assigned settings. I just thought you could choose 1 - 10 and let TR know which one you selected.

I know that on Zwift for example they will tell you what setting you should be on, but I assumed that if I selected the right one on TR (ie level 2 for my Blue Motion), the data would be coherent for my training. As long as I didn’t change it during the plan.

  • Well, what does the setup screen look like when you are selecting the trainer? Can you post a screen shot?

It’s not a screen shot, it’s taken from the How to section of TR, but it’s exactly what I have on my screen.

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Same for me, I ran a quick test on the mobile app. Looks like you can define your own setting from 1-10. Based on that and the review of the power curve above, this trainer (like most magnetic standard trainers) I don’t think there will be a bunch of difference between a high or low setting.

Considering your FTP, you may be best with the middle to low settings, but that is a guess. You can sure experiment. Maybe try a short workout with a 1 setting. Then repeat again with a 10 setting and see what happens at the extremes.

Overall, I don’t think the relatively flat curve of the trainer won’t give too much difference in the “feel”. The main issue may lean more towards the fact that you may or may not be able to hit the max and min wattage set in the workouts at one setting vs another.

Meaning, even if the curve is identical, a 10 setting may not allow low enough resistance (even in your lowest bike gearing) to allow proper recovery. And a 1 setting may be too low to allow you to hit higher wattage even in your highest gearing. The main issue is to find a single setting that allows you to hit the high and low wattage within the range of your bike’s gearing.

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This does make a lot of sense.

I still think an FTP of 2 is a bit harsh (I mean, come on !), though I am in the bottom 30% in Strava on segments, but the settings are correct.

The good news is that now all I can do is improve. I’ve been following Low Base for a month now and I can really tell the difference on the road, especially in terms of VO2 max and recovery

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Nothing wrong with your FTP. Here is a thread worth review for some motivation and inspiration.

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