Confession: I don't follow SYSTM and Coaches 100%

As with a car GPS driving unit, sometimes I think I know the best route ahead and don’t follow the audible directions 100%.

If you are like me, and with regards to your cycling lifestyle, what directions do you not follow that is in contrast within SYSTM and or to your Coaches advice?

Here is my list, show me yours.

  1. There is advice to mix up riding on the IDT by using ERG and Level modes, and not always to ride in ERG mode. I confess that I solely ride in ERG mode, even those workouts that suggest to ride in Level mode, only exceptions are Standing Starts and FF. What am I missing out on by not mixing it up and riding sometimes in Level mode?

  2. Good training advice across platforms is to mix up cadences and effort (power output). I will likely follow the suggested cadences on the workouts, easily and easier done when in ERG mode :smirk: and here I confess, I usually see myself ramping back up to the 85-95rpm. I refer to a low cadence at a higher effort and low cadence at low efforts, also the converse of those with high cadence at low and high efforts.
    I am aware that I will not create a greater range of muscular endurance by continuing this. What other benefits am I missing out on by not interchanging my cadences?

  3. Who else doesn’t stand when the red ping banner alerts on the screen? I confess I don’t always stand, and there are many times that I do stand when not invited to. You too?

  4. Invariably I confess to let a rest day become an active recovery day which sometimes leads into an inspiration day. My 5 active day a week sometimes is a 7 day cycle week with the emotional suport that I didn’t suffer on two of those days, but did I give my body a rest? Who else struggles to work those rest muscles?

I am sure I do more of my own things, beer and pizza is one that comes quickly to mind.

What confessions do you Sufferlandrians have?


I can’t answer all you questions. But have two comments.

I’d add Violator to your level mode exception list. It good to really go all out on the short intervals. They are short enough that no pacing is needed. Otherwise, like you, I almost always ride ERG.

You lose neuromuscular training and learning how to recruit all the muscles needed at exactly the right time to help you develop a smoother, rounder pedal stroke. You also lose the opportunity to train yourself to vary cadences while outdoors. I found that the first, obvious, huge improvement to my outdoor riding endurance and speed was my new-found comfort at multiple cadences. Having given up the habit of same cadence until it’s too steep, I now adjust cadence to manage both muscular and aerobic recovery during my rides.


And any confessions from your side to not following the training ethos/coaches wisdom 100%?

I tired Violator on fatigued legs, did the first 4 efforts in Level mode and saw the green spikes were lower than the grey spikes, had the thought that I was not reaching the required expected numbers so went ERG to meet it :rofl:


I pretty much follow the workouts as designed. It took a while to learn how to stand on the trainer at lower powers, but I pretty much figured that out. In fact, on long workouts, I sometimes stand unprompted to stretch my back.

I don’t always follow the plans 100%. Partly because of life and partly because the outdoors beckons on nice days. The terrain where I live is very hilly (lots of shortish, steep hills) which, especially when combined with traffic, makes following a workout outside almost impossible for me. So I don’t even try.


I am a well trained, attentive, and obedient Sufferlandrian hamster. Stand? Sir, yes sir! Cadence 130 rpm? My pleasure. Ride in level mode at 197W and 95 rpm? I’ll do my absolute best, sir!

I’m relatively new to SYSTM starting 11 weeks ago after coming from Zwift and Trainerroad. So far, I’ve stuck religiously to the plans and instructions. I figure it’s uncomfortable and demanding by design. I’m quite satisfied with the results so far.


Did that work? Is it a mental thing that you are better able to grind it out when the machine sets the power than when you just try to go for it?

@Dan I sometimes use ERG when the instructions are to use Level but it depends on the workout profile.

I also don’t always stand and I sometimes do too much on a rest day.

I also don’t always complete the active recovery - especially if I have a busy day and/or am traveling.

However for the most part I follow the plan and make use of the yoga and/or breathing every day, strength 2x per week and extra core sessions.

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So I won’t be seeing you in the flogging station you Angel :wink:


Quite disciplined, poster child for SYSTM :upside_down_face:

Without hijacking this thread, and maybe one you could start yourself, but curious, why did you leave TR? Zwift I can get due to its mainly gaming feature which neither TR or SYSTM have.

And welcome, got a storming of the castle lined up yet?

Yoh, I am picking up a good vibe here of fear for reporting to the flogging stations for failing to adhering to sound advice and guidance.

I also breath every day, but mostly every few seconds :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I don’t/didn’t actually grind it out with Violator. Those NM and AC efforts I was over 100 rpm, but in ERG mode. I just felt I could get to the expected power easier when in ERG than when I tried in Level. I could (should) have perevered with Level but I didn’t, the student always knows better right :roll_eyes:

Not a mental thing, a lazy thing more like it. Or probably an inadequate physical thing as I don’t train it hence why I found it easier in ERG mode.

My comment stems from having completed Rabbit Mountain for the 4 time yesterday and this time hearing @Coach.Neal.H words about mixing it up with ERG and LEvel modes, instead of just listening to him talk his way through the workout.

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Here are my responses, but remember I am a heretic. :slight_smile:

  1. Aside from trainer response to power changes, riding in Level mode allows you to develop a feel for riding that is useful outside. When climbing, do you check your power meter to determine how hard you should go, or can you tell from how your body feels what the appropriate rate is? That being said, I generally ride in ERG mode, and do that type of indoor riding on Rouvy.

  2. I generally follow the cadence I feel best except during drills, and when there is a intended training benefit (like that 3rd section in Defender –sorry @Glen.Coutts ). I am not sure what you mean by muscular endurance, but varying cadences helps with muscular recruitment. If your neurons cannot fire properly, you can have all the mitochondria in the world, but you will not be able to use them properly.

  3. I almost never stand because I never stand when riding outside, even when climbing. When I do ride “Elements of Style”, I do stand because the latter part of the workout is attempting to improve your climbing ability so I am willing to give it a try.

  4. I do not find the spacing (and sometimes the order) of the workouts in a plan optimal for me. I use a combination of how I feel, and Xert’s Adaptive Training Advisor here. Sometimes, I will skip an Active Recovery workout just for a complete rest, especially if I am trying to coordinate with strength sessions.


IF I make it to the 3rd interval I’ll do what I’m told, lol!


Confession -

I skip Elements of Style every time. Found studies that showed your body reverts to what is most efficient for you. Pedaling in “circles” is not necessarily a benefit as it incorporates muscles that fatigue quickly and are limited in how efficient they can become over time. If someone can find a reliable study with a control group that shows improvement from this, I’m all ears.

Because I know how beneficial they are, I ALWAYS add yoga, strength training and mental fitness to my plans. I ALWAYS fail to attempt even 35% of these.

Recovery week is an imperative for me being over 40. If during this rest week the weather is nice and the wind drops, I refuse to waste the opportunity to crank out a PR on a 35 mile segment. I then fail spectacularly on Nine Hammers the following week but place most of the blame on suboptimal carb ratio or work stress.

I love the “a week with” hard rides. I’ll swap in Rabbit Mountain for anything from Revolver to endurance.

My butt gets sore on endurance rides after about 20 minutes. No amount of standing or position changes helps. Must be due to placing more weight on the seat since I’m not pushing down as hard on the pedals. Thus I am more likely to go for a walk or lift than ride in zone 1 or 2 for 2 hours.

In the summer I aim to complete two of the interval workouts from the plan each week and the rest is whatever I feel like outside. This is why I am faster in the spring when I’ve more closely followed the plan.

I will extend the cool down for up to 20 minutes if it means getting to a certain round number or completing the climb to the top of the Alp in Zwift. Sometimes this means the cool down is more watts than the workout.


This is almost impossible to do because each group in the study knows what it is doing. This is a problem with almost all research about activity and recovery, double blind studies are very difficult to do because everybody knows what intervention they are participating in.

In addition, just to show how different every one is, I have found Elements of Style a great help, and I can sit on endurance ride for hous.


I always thought that this was part of all plans but just not written down explicitly. No?



Sounds like you might need a different saddle. Or some fit adjustments to your bike. Or a stronger core.

Yeah. I have saddles on my road (Spec Toupe) and mtb bikes that I can ride outdoors for hours on end no prob, but not on the trainer. I believe it’s the lack of motion and movement on the saddle that’s the culprit. Agree it’s less of a prob in more energetic workouts, but endurance workouts are butt killers. I’ll periodically shift to a high gear, drop cadence way down, and stand for ~30 second. I can get 30-40 minutes into an endurance workout before having to do that, then can go 20 minute intervals before having to stand again. I’ve long considered building/buying a rocker or full motion platform, but haven’t done it yet.


I am sure you have more than 4 “confessions” to muster being heretic and all?

Interesting, what % of riding do you do with Rouvy an SYSTM?