Getting the Most Out of ERG Mode

August 24th 2017

We may already know about ERG mode as a potent training tool, but Coach Kevin Poulton says we’ve got things to learn. According to Coach Kevin, a secret to getting more out of ERG mode training is changing your pedaling speeds, even while ERG mode controls your power output.

“We used to say that a watt is a watt,” says Coach Kevin. “But watts at different cadences employ different muscle fibers. Use ERG mode wisely and your body will learn to find power from different resources.”

Need a little more explanation here? Unfamiliar with ERG mode? Don’t sweat it. Start with this intro to the topic.

As for the veteran ERG mode users in the crowd, you can start pedaling toward improved fitness in almost any upcoming workout. The next time you’re in ERG mode and riding base miles, or even riding at a steady pace but in a higher training zone, try alternating your cadence by 10 rpm every five minutes. Spin faster, or slower.

“Watch how your heart-rate responds,” says Coach Kevin. “If your power remains the same but your heart-rate changes, you’re recruiting different muscles to produce that power.” The more muscles you get in on your workouts, the stronger you’ll become.

Coach Kevin says that in combination with ERG mode, changing your cadence can also effectively turn long stretches of flat Zwift terrain into mountains. “Let’s say you need to train for a 30-minute climb,” he says. “In ERG mode, slow your cadence and you can work the muscle fibers that you usually use for long hills.”

Cool details to know the next time you hit the workout button. Just remember: While ERG mode controls your power, you have the power to control your pedaling!

Coach Kevin Poulton is a World Tour coach with extensive experience at the highest level. Under his guidance, athletes have won Paris-Roubaix, World Tour Classics, Grand Tour Stages and competed at the Olympics. He’ll make you faster.