Erg mode watts the same regardless of cadence?

In Erg mode, sometimes it is difficult to maintain watts at the higher rpm’s being asked. But, I can do the watts asked at a lower cadence. So, while I struggle to maintain 200 watts at 100 rpm for a given riding segment, I can do 200 watts at 80 rpm for the same segment without the struggle. It is still pretty hard but I can do it. I can’t maintain 100 rpm over the same segment.

This makes me wonder if I am really doing 200 watts in this segment.

Does the wattage in Erg mode require the RPM being asked Or is Erg mode resistance correct regardless of RPM?

There are others here who can probably explain this better than I, but the short answer is yes, assuming your smart trainer is doing what it is supposed to. As your cadence decreases, the trainer will apply more resistance so that your power output matches the 200 watts. I think that just about everyone has cadences that are more comfortable for them. For me, the higher cadences, once you get above 100 or so, are harder.

Take the 3rd interval in Defender, for example. That interval requires the same watts as the others, except you are supposed to try and hit 100 RPM for the entire 8 (?) minutes. That is incredibly difficult for me, where the other intervals at cadence 85, 90 are more manageable.

I might suggest that if the interval calls for cadence 100 and you can only manage 80, that you might want to take the intensity down a notch or two, so you can come closer to the cadence being asked, even if you can’t quite hit 100.

Ha! It was indeed Defender that prompted this question. LOL. Did it yesterday and worried that I had found some “cheat” with lower cadence.

I am interested to know why you would recommend lowering the work of watts to achieve the work of higher cadence in Defender. My thinking was that Defender is trying to increase FTP through time in watts load.

What’s your thinking about privileging cadence in Defender? I would appreciate another perspective.

Funny! Yes, that interval is hated by many.

Well, I am certainly not a coach, so I wouldn’t say that I was “recommending” anything. :slight_smile:

For me personally, it feels like that large of a cadence difference over that long of an interval is starting to get away from whatever the workout is supposed to be accomplishing during that interval. That I am not really doing the workout as prescribed.

I agree that other perspectives would be helpful!

@Teagan @Perplexed1ne I am not a coach either. I have a similar issue but in reverse. I do well at a higher cadence and struggle more at a lower cadence. What I am gradually doing is pushing myself to get closer and closer to the lower cadence target and it seems to be working.

There is a coaches article on the topic of cadence that you might find helpful:

From the Coaches: Why does cadence matter?

Mathematically, Watts is torque * angular velocity.

In a more layperson’s language, Watts is the force you apply to the pedal multiplied by the rotational speed of the pedal.

To maintain a given wattage in ERG mode, if your cadence increases then the trainer must remove resistance.

Similarly, if your cadence decreases, the trainer must add resistance to maintain the wattage.

I would answer yes, you really are producing 200W but the increased cadence is taking its toll on you and making it feel like hard work.

There is a chart (see below) that says for each SUF workout whether to focus on hitting the power targets or the cadence targets. For most of the workouts it’s more important to hit the power targets and just get as close as you can to the cadence.

That’s a very helpful chart and makes total sense, with one exception. While “suck it up buttercup” is pretty clear, I’m unsure what it means to soft pedal. How does one soft pedal?

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Because you can’t soft pedal forward in erg mode, you can pedal backwards.

If you are in level mode then you can pedal slowly with only a little power on the pedals or shift into an easier gear.

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Right, I couldn’t think of how you could “soft pedal” in Erg mode. Mystery solved. Hadn’t thought about backpedaling and will give that a try when I blow up but don’t want to pause a workout.


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Take a look at this article

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