What is ERG Mode?
Smart trainers (for example Wahoo KICKR) include a load-restricted mode called ERG Mode. When using this mode, your resistance will be set for you. Think of it as a bit like cruise control; there is no need to shift as the trainer will change your power output (intensity) according to the target powers within your workout.
Your FTP will need to be correctly set up in your TrainingPeaks settings to ensure you train at the correct intensity. See this article for more on How To Determine Your Bike Thresholds.
The bike workouts in your training plan work well in ERG mode for the following reasons:
- Helps to avoid under or overtraining.
- Focus on your ride position and smooth pedal stroke.
- Let the workout and trainer think for you.
- Helps you pace your workout (preventing you from overcooking in the early stages of the ride).
- Avoid spikes in effort when transitioning between intervals.
- Helps maintain lower efforts (when you are tempted to ride harder) during recovery or base training endurance rides.
As with all your training sessions, keep RPE in mind. If your sessions start to feel too easy, or too hard, consider repeating your fitness test and updating your threshold settings.
When possible take your longer endurance rides outside to practice bike handling skills and gearing for optimal cadence and riding economy.
FTP Testing - Turn ERG Mode Off
When determining your current FTP with our FTP Test, ERG mode needs to be off. Switching ERG mode off enables you to self-select your own power output throughout the test. That way, you can push harder or ease off, depending on how you feel at any given moment.
If you have a bike training device with its own "FTP" test protocol, you could use that instead.
Shifting gear is not necessary in ERG Mode. Select a gear that is quiet and smooth, and your smart trainer will adjust the resistance so that you achieve your target power.
Choose a cadence that optimises your riding economy, 80-100 rpm is ideal for many riders, learn more here: High Cadence or Big Gear?
With ERG mode switched on, as the resistance will lighten as you increase your cadence to maintain your prescribed power output. And vice versa, slow your pedalling and the resistance will feel heavier.
Note: If your plan includes Torque workouts, the cadence will be shown on-screen as you train. For lower cadence targets you may need to choose a bigger gear.
Your FTP can vary on any given day according to accumulated fatigue, stress, sleep, nutrition and hydration. Some days you may feel ‘fresh’ and able to ride harder. On other days you might feel fatigued and need to keep the intensity lower.
ERG directs you to a fixed % of FTP power target somewhere in the middle of the power range prescribed in the workout. However, this targeted output may not always be right for you on any given day.
Some apps (for instance Zwift) have a +/- 10% feature to adjust the difficulty as you ride.
Alternatively, you can switch ERG off and follow the upper or lower end of your prescribed power range. Or ride using feel or heart rate.
If you don’t have the opportunity to ride outdoors for a period of time. It can be useful to occasionally follow your endurance rides without ERG turned on.
This will allow you to focus on continually adjusting your own resistance and cadence to meet your power targets.
Ride a route that reflects the elevations and nature of your event, and get used to switching gears and managing your cadence for optimal ride economy.
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