Video: Everything You Need To Know About FTP, Workouts, and ERG Mode

Video: Everything You Need To Know About FTP, Workouts, and ERG Mode

New to training with power? Sarah LaRoque (YouTube channel “Everything is Photogenic”) breaks down some of the basics of structured workouts on Zwift and other indoor training platforms. If your eyes glaze over when people start talking about FTP and ERG, her conversational style might help!

First, she explains Functional Threshold Power (FTP) and the tests that help you find your FTP. This is the number that Zwift bases your workouts around to make sure they are at your level and have the right training effects. It’s more commonly defined as the power you can sustain for about an hour, but you might not be able to hold it for that long, and that’s okay.

When you’re not using a smart trainer, you’ll shift gears and pedal faster or slower in order to match the target power in workouts. A controllable smart trainer gives you the option of using ERG Mode. This changes the resistance in order to get you to the target power using whatever gear or cadence you’re using. Turn off ERG Mode and you’ll be in Resistance Mode, which works like a non-smart trainer except you can manually change the resistance.

Watch the video:

LaRoque also explains the different training zones and how they are represented on Zwift. (These are close to, but not exactly the same as, Dr. Andrew Coggan’s power levels. Learn more about how they compare, and how Zwift divides the zones, with the help of Shane Miller’s video.)

  • Zone 1 (Gray): Active Recovery. Not for building fitness.
  • Zone 2 (Blue): Endurance. All-day aerobic zone, where you should be able to ride for a long time.
  • Zone 3 (Green): Tempo. Brisk, sustainable, but challenging over time.
  • Zone 3+ (Green, Yellow): “Sweet Spot.” A well-balanced training zone just below your FTP.
  • Zone 4 – (Yellow): Threshold. At or near your FTP, this zone is always going to be difficult for any sustained amount of time.
  • Zone 5 – (Pale Red): VO2 Max. The power you can hold for 3-5 minutes, maybe up to 8 minutes, at a very hard effort.
  • Zone 6, 7 – (Bright Red): Anaerobic and Neuromuscular. This is your 1-3 minute power and your sprint power.

Zones 1, 2, and 3 primarily use fat for fuel, while zones 4, 5, 6, and 7 primarily use glucose (sugar). Zone 3+ is balanced between them. LaRoque points out that knowing your training zones can help you fuel appropriately before and during your rides.

Now that you know what to expect and what those colorful graphs mean, it’s time to get to work! Happy training!

About The Author

Karissa Minn

Karissa is a freelance writer and cycling enthusiast. She also volunteers and serves as an advisor for a community bike center called The Pedal Factory. She and her husband, an avid cyclist, live in North Carolina with their two birds, who have not yet learned how to ride a bike.

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David Knocke
David Knocke
8 months ago

Excellent video. Thanks for your hard work.

Patricia
Patricia
8 months ago

Fantastic video! Thank you for sharing! As a newbie on Zwift, it is very helpful!

Peter
Peter
8 months ago

very helpfull video to understand some things that arent really familiar

Michael Todd Sariano
Michael Todd Sariano
8 months ago

ERG Simplified. Thanks.

gus krassevich
gus krassevich (@gus-krassevich)
8 months ago

Great video! Very good information and well explained! Big Kudos Sarah!

David L
David L
8 months ago

Outstanding information. Thank you so much.

Gabor Kristof
Gabor Kristof
8 months ago

You could have said said the same thing in half a time!
Can you put more rings on your finger!
Still enjoyed it! Thx!

David
David
8 months ago

Perfect. I have been struggling since joining zwift in December and this video explains all. I must watch for beginners

Bento
Bento (@lirabento)
8 months ago

Great explanation ! Congrats

Lawrence McLellan
Lawrence McLellan
6 months ago

My erg mode does not appear when I go to load a workout. What do I need to do to get it back?

Amitabh Bose
Amitabh Bose
5 months ago

Great video I feel this video should be made mandatory as a tutorial as one subscribes to zwift . Was feeling lost so far …as if in the jungle trek all alone but with this feel like having a guide with me and now beginning to get answers to my why’s 👍

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