Historically, riding the trainer has been the enemy of virtually every competitive cyclist. Riding indoors was the last resort to get through a harsh winter or stretch of bad weather. But advances in technology, along with (let’s face it) the pandemic, have brought the many benefits of indoor cycling to the forefront.
Training attitudes and approaches have changed. Athletes are starting to replace their outdoor road sessions with indoor trainer sessions to help maintain consistency in training or facilitate certain workouts.
This change in attitude is partly thanks to the development of ERG mode, which makes indoor training more reliable and efficient.
What is ERG mode?
ERG mode lets the cyclist control the desired load (power) at all times. The trainer’s resistance adjusts automatically in ERG mode, regardless of speed, cadence or momentum so that the rider is always generating a preset wattage.
This allows training to be much more controlled since the trainer will adapt to our output. If your cadence changes, the trainer will automatically adjust. It will simply apply more or less resistance to keep your power output constant.
Imagine, for example, that you want to ride a long interval session around your functional power threshold. If you try to do this session outdoors, you’ll undoubtedly find it difficult to maintain constant power due to all the variables you encounter: traffic, speed changes, wind, hills, etc. It’s really difficult.
That’s why ERG mode is such a great innovation: it allows you to stick precisely to your training plan. All you need is a smart trainer and a compatible app.
Tips to get the most out of ERG mode
Now that you know how ERG mode works and its benefits, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your workouts:
- Once ERG mode is set, the only factor you have total control over is cadence, so forget about power. Focus on keeping your cadence on target.
- When your cadence drops, it takes a lot of power to bring it back up. Also, a lower cadence requires more force per pedal stroke. If you don’t want to overload your muscles early, try not to let your cadence drop.
- When there’s a variation in your cadence, the trainer sets a new resistance, but it takes a few seconds to execute that change. If there are rapid cadence changes, it may be impossible for the trainer’s resistance to adapt quickly enough to maintain the target power output. Try to maintain a constant cadence without large or frequent spikes.
- Keep the gear in the mid-range of the cassette most of the time. This is the easiest way to achieve a stable cadence.
- If you want to do high cadence work, use the largest gear you can. It will help build momentum in the flywheel!
- ERG mode has its advantages and disadvantages. If you only train in ERG mode, you can lose the feel for using your gears effectively, an essential racing skill. Use ERG mode only in very specific sessions.
- ERG mode is a stress relief tool. With it, you don’t have to worry about controlling your pace, so take advantage of it to relax on mentally challenging days.