Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton

What's on my Garmin? THIS SCREEN is Pretty Much All You Need.

Okay - I'm finding that I'm using this XertOnline stuff more and more, so here's my usual screen. If you care about wattage, about physiology, and about getting MORE out of every ride, this is a simple way to set things up.

Garmin 1000 Screen Xert

It's got my MPA and Power on the first 3rd of the screen, my Fat and Carb use in grams in the middle, and Xert's "Focus" and "Strain" on the bottom.

Obviously, I'll use MPA and rolling 3-sec power most, because it'll tell me, based on color schemes (Green, Blue, Black, Yellow, Red) what general 'Zone' I'm in, and basically how much Power I have left in the tank. I've described some of the details of this on a video I posted months ago, and it's also up on my YouTube page, so hopefully that explanation will help. Here are the links: and

Basically, if your power is Green, you can go forever. Blue is Tempo-ish, Black is Threshold-ish, Yellow is Vo2Max-ish, and means you've got less than 3 minutes of MPA left, and Red is Anaerobic, and it means you've got less than 30 seconds of MPA left. If it's Purple, congrats! You've had a fitness breakthrough!

Now, for the Fat and Carbs area on the screen, this is an interesting way to look at how we USE STORED AND INTERNAL ENERGY to GENERATE POWER, which in turn, helps us GET FIT. It also tells the cyclist just how freaking hard it is to actually BURN FAT. Remember, 1 gram of FAT yields 9 Calories, while 1 gram of Carbs yield 4 Calories. Our bodies prefer burning the Carbs, so this teaches you how to ride slower and in a zone that will burn more fat, thus preserving the carbs and teach the body how to better use that stored fat. Finally, I actually use it to help stave off bonks and also to try and stay on top of my hydration. If you know how many grams of food and sugar are in your pockets and bottles, you can come up with ways to mentally stay on top of your stamina through an eating and hydration schedule. The Carbs area turns red when you're mostly burning Carbs, or red when you're mostly burning Fat, and it's tied in to the information Xert puts in to your Garmin Express Code, so it's unique to every individual. Finally, if you're in to Polarized training, then THIS APP IS FOR YOU. I'll tie it in to the 3rd app next.

Now for the last 1/3 of the screen, I include "Focus" and "Strain". I don't want to get into debates about specificity, but readers, I have to tell you - this is a pretty darned cool app. If you've signed up for your free account with Xert, it'll ask you things like "What type of athlete are you?" And you look at a power-duration curve and basically think about where your strengths and weaknesses are, and make a selection. In this image, I selected "Breakaway Specialist", which in Xert's world means the focus will be on optimizing 5-minute power.

Xert Power Profile

Now, when I go for a ride, as soon as the app gets enough data, it starts telling me where my "Focus" is, in terms of minutes and seconds. Ironically, it doesn't take much to get that "Focus" in to the lower numbers, from 1-4 minutes, and it's MUCH HARDER to get the Focus in to the numbers that are higher. Now, where the tie-in comes is this: Let's say, like me, you dabble (and I do mean dabble) in the Ultra-Marathon Cycling World, and you're looking to train for great power over 2-6 hours at a time. Well, here's your truth-teller, right here. You'll be pedaling and generating so little power that you'll be S L O W, and your "FAT" grams ID in the middle will be RED, RED, RED, while your 3-second wattage in the UPPER screen will be GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. It's boring, it's embarrassing, it's risky when it's hot, you hate yourself, you hate everyone else that's passing you and probably having more fun, and you hate your coach for forcing you to do these "Old School" rides. But that FOCUS will help. Furthermore, if you're really wanting to hit your FOCUS goal, you can literally ride as hard or soft as you like, knowing that this is really a good way to "Focus" on specificity. We all waste our time on rides; that's actually kind of the point of riding - it's dynamic. But this FOCUS can really help you hit your goals, or truly see how hard a group ride is, let's say, in your current condition, so you can then "Focus" your workouts using Xert's workout generator.

Finally, you've got "Strain", on the bottom. Like KiloJoules, Strain only goes UP. Now, it's NOT KiloJoules, but it's KiloJoule-esque, and if you put yourself through low-strain rides, it'll creep up, but if you put yourself through high-strain workouts, it'll jump up. Call it a new way to measure volume. Some of my indoor 60-minute workouts are in the 175 range (with a FOCUS down in the 2:30 range), and some of my longer, 3-5 hour rides with clients, at their speeds, are in the maybe 300-350 range.

SO - to sum things up on this screen....

  • MPA is there to tell me what I can do RIGHT NOW, THIS INSTANT.
  • Rolling 3-sec Power is there to give me an idea of zones as well as output. 
  • Fat Grams tells me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy. 
  • Carb Grams tell me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy. 
  • Focus is there to help me understand what I'm getting out of a ride,
  • Strain is there to tell me how much volume I've accomplished or not.
If you own a Garmin 520, 820, 920, or 1000, then I urge you to open a subscription at, and go through the process of establishing your fitness profile and training goals. We've been working with Baron BioSystems, the creators, on this technology for months now, and have been implementing it with several clients who have seen incredible results. In my opinion, it's the most convenient way to best determine just what you're accomplishing on a ride, and how solid your fitness or fatigue is as well. With the cost of power meters dropping to around $400, an entire setup can be had for less than $800, and you'll be able to take your fitness and knowledge from your indoor training at Cycling Center Dallas, to the outdoors, where it counts most. 

Enjoy the ride!


Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 5


OK, I know some of you guys cringe at the thought of a squat. You may hate doing them because they IMG_0898are hard. You may hate doing them because you don’t have adequate hip mobility, or lack mobility in other areas that effects the movement chain. Both of these things can be fixed with a little work (well, actually that is only half true); they are always going to be hard if you are doing them right. However, there may be a third reason that that you dread squats, which is that you are just not built for them, and this is not something you can change.

Mike Boyle touched on this in his lecture and provided a reference, which inspired me to research it further. Although I was aware people had different pelvis and femur structures, it was always more of a vague afterthought for me. After seeing the evidence in pics and doing a little more research, I now have a clearer understanding of how bone structure of the hip and femur effects squatting ability.

Take a look at the two femurs in this picture. The structure of the heads are very differefemurnt. This causes them to fit into the hip sockets differently, and at different angles. The hip sockets of different individuals can also have very different structures. Here is a link to an article which was referenced in the lecture, which I think you will enjoy if you find this interesting:

So those who feel the need to squat with a wider stance, or with toes outward versus straight ahead, or are unable to go as deep as others, may have structural reasons behind these things that makes certain stances and variations a better choice for them; just something to consider.

Although I would still make it a priority to work on having good hip mobility and strong legs that can push weight and support you, we will also listen to what your body is telling you and let it guide you in doing squats in the best way for you.


Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 4

The Sessions:

Eric Cressy: 10 years, 10 lessons: How to Perform Better in Training & Business

Mike Boyle: The new Functional Training for Sports Starts with Why? 

Eric Cressy and Mike Boyle are two of the biggest names in my industry, and I attended both of their lectures and hands-on sessions today. The IMG_0806combination they have of both scientific knowledge as well as understanding of what it takes to be a great trainer and a great coach is why they are among the few that rose to the top of their profession.

One of the biggest priorities I have when working with clients is fixing dysfunctional movement. If something is not functioning properly, there's no way you can build on top of it effectively, no matter what your goals are or what you're trying to do.
Getting to hear so many different people talk about the way they approach things helps me put a lot of tools in my toolbox. Coaching and training is a combination of an art and a science. Having the knowledge, and having been exposed to so many different ways of looking at a problem and breaking down what may be behind it is, is what I love about going to events like this. They give me more options in my toolbox to make use of, if the first (or second) approach doesn’t end up being as effective as we were hoping, or I might learn a differently way of explaining something that makes more sense to the person I am trying to explain it to. thumbnail_IMG_0808

If I can get somebody moving better, feeling better, and faster by doing the right things, by saying the right things, and by using the right systems, I can add more value to the experience of the session today, and provide something that they will take with them that
 may add to their quality of life long after they have walked out the door. And that is probably the most rewarding part of what I do.

I will share a few things I learned in Eric and Mike’s
sessions over the next few posts.

Flexibility and stretching 

“Stretching isn’t about today’s workout; it’s about preventing an injury six months down the road.“

This was taken from one of the IMG_0823_copyslides but I thought was a great quote. One of the controversies about stretching is that research has shown that stretching results in an increase in elasticity of the muscles for a period of time afterwards, and that has been shown to reduce power outputs in the range of 5-7%. This is the very reason I usually use a dynamic warm-up before training session and save the static stretching until afterwards.

However, Mike Boyle was adamant about this being a non-significant factor when the goal is long term movement abilities. He stated that the anti-stretch research is not compelling, and the health benefits far outweigh any short-term power reduction. I was glad to hear him voice this stance. He also included this comment in his lecture:

“Tightness of the anterior hip structures results in increased compressive loading to the facets during the push-off phase of the gait, since the femur cannot be brought back into hyperextension. Therefore, the lower extremity is placed behind the body by extending the pelvis under the lumbar spine”

Translation: If your hip flexor (the muscle you use to raise your leg up) is tight, your leg can’t extend back as far and your pelvis has to compensate for that, which in turn puts more stress on the lumbar back area it’s connected to.

I include both static stretches and movements that stretch the muscles by working them through full ranges of motion.  When working with some of my clients I could (and sometimes do) make an entire workout out of these stretches and movements.
The people with limited mobility have commented IMG_0831 on how hard they felt they were working during these sessions. I love to hear that, because I know they are getting a multitude of benefits out of the session, increased mobility being the priority. 

So, if you are someone who spends a lot of time at a desk or in a car for your job, take note.  There is a good chance you are starting to lose mobility in your upper T spine, hip flexors, and hamstrings.

I can show you some things to counter that, most of them needing minimal or no equipment and can be done anywhere.

Hearing the best of the best give information on what I am already doing is reassuring, but also keeps me on my path and reinforces the need to include both stretching and mobility work in the small group and private sessions I do with clients. Now I will confess I do, and have had a handful of clients that just do not need it.  In these cases, I don’t do much mobility work beyond recovery to work out some soreness, and we generally substitute stability work instead.

Coach Wharton

Using Xert's MPA and Time-to-Exhaustion Apps, and the Strain/Focus and BioShift Apps, in REAL-TIME, on my Garmin 1000.

Clients and Prospects;

I've been using XertOnline.Com's ConnectIQ Apps for a couple of weeks now, and I am really excited about what they're telling the cyclist. The MPA as a model for power and duration is really solid, so I built two videos explaining just what's going on, and how it can be used for training. Have a look, and leave your comments on the YouTube channel. 

And here's the work on the Strain/Focus and BioShift Optimizer App. 


Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 3

Session: “The foot 101”

This session was great.  It brought more life and footmore knowledge to concepts I have already been using, and that I believe are extremely important.  I've always been a big fan of bare foot running as a tool to increase foot and ankle strength.  One piece of information that stuck with me was this:

“There are 206 bones in the body. There are 26 bones in each foot.  52 bones total.  ¼ of all the bones in your body are in your feet”

Your feet are a big deal.  The bottoms of your feet provide the stability to the ground and the signals that are sent to the rest of your body. If things are not right with your feet, that can create a whole host of other issues through your entire body.

In this hands-on session, we looked at the foot structure of a few volunteers with foot issues.  He demonstrated how to check mobility of the calcaneus, metatarsals, and big toe, which we looked for with asymmetries between feet. We then went on to some barefoot mobility and strength exercises, all designed to increase mobility and increased strength of the tensile tissue and bone through all the vectors of force that your foot has to deal with in the real world. We got to watch him demonstrate, then participated in numerous exercises. The foot mobility and strengthening exercises were all done barefoot and included the following:

Inverting and everting the foot in a standing position


Standing on one foot and doing a floor touch

Hopping from side to side.

Hopping forwards and backwards.

Hopping and adding a twist.

Lunging movements in each of the movement planes (sagittal, frontal and transverse)

Hopping in place


 A variety of shuffling drills


Although nothing was super brand new, I did catch myself thinking at more than one moment during the session, “what a great idea; how come I never thought to do that?”  Working the foot through so many different force planes and force vectors is so much more effective for strength and mobility than simply jogging barefoot, which basically works the foot in just one plane of movement (sagittal).   They are all things that can be done as part of a warmup or in between other things.


It left me with some great ideas on how to incorporate them into some of my small group classes in individual sessions to help strengthen, rehab, and prevent foot issues. I also realized that I was neglecting including these things in my own training. And I plan to make use of them for myself as well. 





Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 2

Day 1 

This was the actually first day of the summit.  All IMG_0787_copy1the vendors were set up, and had some cool stuff they were showing off.  Free Motion was also having a challenge on one of their incliner treadmills to see how many feet you could climb in 5 minutes.  It looked like fun (and hard) and I thought I would probably throw my hat in the ring and try it out before the end of the weekend.


Since I registered for this conference, I planned on going to a hands-on session that was titled “Ropes, Bags and Body Weight”; 3 of my favorite methods of core and strength training for multiple reasons. The guy presenting had created a bodyweight and battling ropes training system, and had a video that was available on  I love the ropes, and had my eyes on a set-up of new sandbags with 7 different grip options that you can adjust the weight of by unzipping and adding fillers to it. I am always looking for new ideas to keep things fun and effective with functional training both for myself and my clients. However, the session was only offered once, and happened to be at the same time as another one-time session given by the speaker from the day before.


The speaker I previously mentioned talked about the best practices of the most successful businesses in our industry, and everything he said really resonated with me. Since I decided that I probably needed information and advice on the business side of things more than the training side of things, I switched my plans and decided to attend that session instead. I was OK with it, since one of my concerns with going to “Ropes, Bags and Body Weight” was that I wouldn't learn anything new.  I love the topic, I have already done so much in terms of attending seminars, reading and learning about the practical use of these things.  I have even been in a situation where I went to a day-long course on a similar topic, only to end up teaching the material to those that were in my small group, which was frustrating considering how much I paid to be there.  Ultimately I am well aware that the business side of things is a weak link and my training knowledge is a strong link, so I decided to go to the business talk.  It was great and built upon the session from yesterday as well.  I wrote down a to-do list during the session of things I plan to do to improve my programming, and the structure of class offerings. I also took down the contact info for possible further consulting.


There were too many sessions to do a write-up on each one, so I am going share below the few I thought I got them most out of.


Session: “Core Connections”

 This was an interesting, hands-on session. The name of the session pretty much summed up what it was about, but we went through numerous movements and got to feel how energy was transferred to the core and opposite sides of the body work together during movement. I got several new ideas for exercises, and particularly for partners in group exercises. None it was brand-new stuff, but one of the great things about coming to the IMG_0784_copyseminars is it teaches you how to use old movements and concepts you already know in brand-new ways.  This adds variety and fun to sessions as well. The importance of training your body in multiple planes of movements vs traditional crunch and ab machines was discussed, and then we participated in doing some of the movements (which was the fun part).  Several tools and approaches were presented to not only strengthen the core, but to improve power transfer through the middle and the way the opposing sides of the body work together to generate force and provide stability. Some of the movements we can to experience included:

Passing items to each other while holding the straight arm plank position.

Chops with an elastic band - one partner anchors the band overhead and the other perform a full body chop toward the group, including a split squat of the lower body.

Medicine ball rotational passes which included the split-squat movement.

I was also introduced to, and played with, a new toy I had not yet heard of, called the active motion bar. It was really fun to work with and adds a new concept to traditional bars.  Check out the video that explains what it is.  

I ordered one and when I go it I liked it so much I went ahead and ordered the rest of the set.  Come on by for a small group class or private session if you want to try it out! 



Functional Movement Summit Write up

I have separated the blog into two separate blogs. The blog tab on the main menu of the website will now drop down into a Cycling Training blog and a Strength Training and TRX blog. Not those of you who only want one information on one or the other, don’t have to sort through blog post on both topics. Richard will be the main contributor to the cycling blog, and will be putting out some really great content on the Xert software, the Moxy, and Q and QXL rings. I will be posting content on strength training, TRX, functional training for cyclists, and related stuff.

The Summit 

Last weekend I attended the Functional Movement Summit, in Orlando Fl.  It was four days of Class IMG_0775_copyA presenters giving sessions on topics such as the importance of the foot, evolution of the squat, reducing clients’ back pain, and the “why” behind what we do in functional movement training.  There were also several sessions with information on providing a better experience to clients and the business side of running a top notch studio.  I was already familiar with several of the presenters, through books and DVDs they had released, and I was super-exited to learn more from them in person.   

I decided to write this up, not only to let you guys know about some of the cool stuff I learned and will bring to our sessions and classes.  But also, because it was so much information, this will help me remember more of it, and give me a chance to go through it all again now that I am back home.

Thursday’s pre-conference lectures consisted of two 2 ½ hour lectures.  One of them was given by Gray Cook, who is one of the original developers of the software that I frequently use to help spot movement dysfunction, and which gives me some direction on correcting the problems (this is the system I use at the studio to identify and fix bad movement patterns; many of you may have had a workout with me already in which this software was used).  This lecture was great; I learned about several new screens for motor control and postural integrity that I plan on utilizing for certain populations.  He is also rolling out a new course on these two subjects, which I fully intend to take at some point in the future.   I have seen him lecture several times, and I have spent numerous hours watching his training videos. Yet every time I hear him I feel like I learn completely new things (as well as new ways to use old things).

The bottom line here is that every person is an individual with individual strengths, weaknesses, and possible issues.  No matter what their goal, or limitation, or deficiency, there is no one size program that will be the most effective for everybody.  His approach is all about solving each individual case by looking at all of the layers that make up that particular individual, to find the best path to get them to where they want and they need to be (improved performance, just feeling better, moving better or preventing injuries in the future).  

To illustrate this, he used the example of a volunteer from the audience who wanted to increase his IMG_0766_copyvertical jump to enable him to dunk a basketball (the volunteer was once able to dunk, but now cannot).  It was clearly a hit to his ego, and that was a big deal to him. After running through the assessments, it was determined that although the basic movement patterns were functional, he had some moderate pain and mobility limitations in his right ankle joint. These prevented him from being able to perform an effective counter movement before the jump to make use of the elastic energy.   It was amazing to see him work through the process, like fixing a car by looking first at each individual part, and then analyzing how each part interacts with all of the other parts, in order to identify the source of the problem. To truly fix a movement problem, you need to look beyond the symptom of the problem, and peel the layers off one by one until the problem is identified.  Some of the approaches to improving movement and poster seemed so obvious after seeing them. Such as the examples he used of one arm carries from overhead to down by your side, and the farmers walk, which is a two arm carry. 

The next lecture was presented by a guy named Rick Mayo. He runs a successful studio that is a larger version of the TRX and Strength Corner I have at Cycling Center Dallas.   I share his philosophy, and have implemented in my space at CCD many of the things he does, so it was a relief to see that I have been on the right path all along.  His studio does have some systems that I felt were better organized than those which I have right now, so I plan to use what I learned about his systems to better organize, program and structure the workouts I will use for small group classes from now on.  He also had some great tips about marketing through Facebook, so I intend to get some more relevant content and information out for you guys through our FB page.   I enjoyed his talk so much, and got so much valuable information from it, that I chose to attend his lecture the following morning rather than the sessions I had previously decided to attend.

Posts on the upcoming sessions and more to come....

Coach Wharton

Interview with Shindo Salvo of Rotor Components

Last spring, we were grateful for the chance to host Rotor's own Shindo Salvo, as he traveled across the country and spoke to shops and to coaches, discussing the Rotor line of products. Most of you know that I've been intrigued by this company and its' stuff since 1999, and have spoken to the CEO, Pablo, many times as he's released the RSX crank, then the Q and QXL rings, and finally, his own power meters; the RPM, the LT, the RT, and just recently, the InPower and 2InPower. They're all unique, and they all take a thorough approach to understanding wattage, cycling, pedal stroke and analysis, and other great ideas and products. 

But people still have questions, and cycling is a sport full of skeptics. Me? Well, I'm a believer, but only after I did years of my own research, looking at how the RSX and then the Q Rings affected net torque curves on my CompuTrainer SpinScan. More recently, thanks to the contributions of Dr. Christie O'Hara, InPower now shows net torque curves on their own software, which then explains where you should position your Q or QXL chainring for Optimal power output. I routinely see about 3-8% improvements on my clients, and in fact, we have a DEDICATED INDOOR BIKE with a Rotor InPower crank, that can show the improvement in real-time for a client. Swapping out my drivetrain cranks (I have a round ring, a Q ring and a QXL ring, each on their own crank), takes around 10 minutes, and the cyclists can SEE the effect; we just place them at a known wattage on the CompuTrainer, then measure the output delta on the crank. It's that simple, and it's real, real-time, information. 

So watch these videos, and if you have questions, contact us and ask away!

They're broken up for viewability, but the first one is the full length. I welcome dialogue, and again, if you're "Q" Curious, we'd love to show you how it works in real-time, at the Cycling Center Dallas Studio. Think about it - a $200-300 investment in 1 hour COULD deliver a 3-8% improvement in your power output, just like that. 

Coach Wharton

A Primer on Xert - A NEW PARADIGM for Training With Wattage!

When we first began looking at power meters and the information they provided, converting that data in to knowledge was a real shot in the dark. Scientists, coaches and athletes knew that they wanted to generate more power, more often, for longer periods of time, but they really didn’t know HOW to get there. Traditional training methods have been slowly overturned as the digital age accumulated knowledge, and converted it in to useful information. That said, there’s always been ‘wiggle room’, and the interpretations for power, energy, and fitness, and specificity have created great opportunities for coaches and recreational cyclists alike, the human trend toward ‘logic’ has us always searching for a better way to read wattage files, and look at ways to do “X”, and get “Y” results.

The latest method of doing just this comes from Baron Biosystems of Canada. Their platform, called Xert, provides a unique way to take instant and empirical data from a cyclist, measure its’ effects on the body, and then determine some crucial elements that can determine the effectiveness of a workout, and the effective trend towards a goal. I’m really excited about this technology, and I think that it will be incredibly useful for riders and racers of all levels here at Cycling Center Dallas, and via the internet through Online Bike Coach.

Let’s start at the beginning.

First – a cyclist just creates an account on If the rider has an account with or Trainingpeaks, older data can be imported and analyzed. If the cyclist has data on a Garmin with a .FIT or .TCX series of files, then the data is imported just like a thumb drive. The meat of the setup is found in the area titled “Athlete Type”. Here’s an image.
What kind of athlete are you_copy1

There are twelve different types of cyclist described, from a 10-second “Power Sprinter”, to a “Below Threshold Power” Triathlete. Just read through the descriptions, and select the area where you think your cycling strengths best apply. Some knowledge of ability is required; if you’re in doubt, defer to something in the middle, like “GC Specialist”, which focuses on your 8-minute average power-to-weight ratio.

(One thing to note is that, even though the categories reflect cyclists that participate in longer, multi-hour events, when you look these athlete types and at their particular strengths and weaknesses, they all boil down to an ability to perform at a given duration. Everyone is unique in their ability and this chart helps capture those differences.)

The website churns through your past data over a period of minutes, to help determine several parameters for fitness. It then presents you with a summary page, showing the following:

  • Total # of activities
  • Average Ride Time
  • Total Ride Time
  • Average Distance
  • Total Distance.
Fitness Comparison and Ranking Male 40 plus

The next line down is where things start to get interesting. The data provided for this continues to grow with more people getting on to Xert, so the data is being filtered by age and gender, and is perpetually updated. You get a “Fitness Comparison and Ranking”, showing your BEST and CURRENT value. In this case, my ‘365’ watts over 5 minutes is just 97% of my Best watts of 375 over 5 minutes, which I have hit in the last six weeks. The Median for this age group is 336 watts, and the 90% percentile is 422 watts. My 365 watts puts me at about the 66th percentile for the population.
*** Now – I DO need to make something clear, because it can be confusing. Xert’s ‘365’ is NOT the ACTUAL VALUE that I may or may not have achieved in the last 42 days. Instead, it’s the MAX POTENTIAL VALUE that I COULD have achieved on this day. I’ll make that more clear in a paragraph or two.  Xert's unique algorithm determines this in the background and I have found it to be REALLY close every time we've tested it.

On the next section of the page, there’s a GREAT image, affectionately known as the “Spider Chart”. It basically looks at the 12 different power categories, and determines where you rank in relation to ALL of them. This can help you identify holes in your training, or strengths. In my Spider Chart, shown below, my most recent training has tilted me slightly toward the short-and-mid-intensity specialties, between 2 and 8 minutes, while my time schedule has prevented me from riding longer events or rides.
Rankings Spider Web

You can mouse over the orange dots, and it will re-state your current records, and where those records sit in relation to the rest of the population.

Finally, there’s a ‘Progression Chart’. Now, this is a bit complicated, but there is a method to it, and it does help you understand what’s going on with your fitness.
Progression Chart April 3

The first thing to focus on is the left-side “Y” axis. The left Axis is showing, in my specific case, that “MAX WATTAGE POTENTIAL” for my chosen Athlete Type - Breakaway Specialist - 5 minute power. The circles (Best Activities) correspond to activities where I reached my 5 minute max wattage potential on that day.  Mousing over these circles shows what my maximum 5 minute wattage was on that day.  In addition, if you mouse over the vertical bars, “Best Activities”, which is that small script on the lower left side of the graph, acting as a key, changes from day-to-day showing your maximum 5 minute wattage.
Progression Chart March 9

In this example, March 9th of 2016, Xert calculated that, based on everything I’d entered in prior to this day, I had the POTENTIAL to hit a ‘359’ watt average over 5 minutes. However… after a solid block of Specific, hard training, which again, I’ll explain in a short while, that value bumped up to 371 watts on April 2nd.
Best Activities 371

So that’s a roughly 3% boost in 3 weeks, which, honestly, is pretty realistic. So look at that first when you get down to the Progression chart.

Next, slide all the way over to the FAR RIGHT “Y” axis. There, you’ll see “Weighted Average Daily Accumulated Energy (KJ). This is NOT a part of the Progression Chart. Instead, it’s a way to see, through the vertical red/purple/green bars, just how much WORK you’re doing on a regular basis. Again, it’s NOT a fitness indicator so much as it is a “VOLUME” indicator. We can debate the pro and con of any scoring system, but this is just a convenient way to look at work, and how it’s being used on a daily basis, out to about six weeks. But it gets even MORE detailed.
Progression Chart Low High Detail

Take a look at the Key along the bottom of the graph. You’ll notice that in the chart above, it says

“LOW – 811”, “HIGH – 56”, “PEAK – 12” and “FOCUS – 7”

for that specific day of April 3rd, 2016. This is a measure of how much training I had been doing.  On that given day, which was actually a race out on the Scenic Loop of Ft. Davis, TX, my “Weighted Average” of WORK, measured in KILOJOULES, breaks down to:

  • 811 kJ of Low Intensity Energy Use (Largely Aerobic energy use)…
  • 56 kJ of High Intensity Energy Use (Largely Vo2 and Anaerobic energy consumption)…
  • And ~12 kJ of PEAK energy Use (completely anaerobic and near-maximal effort).
Xert summarizes this information and categorizes it as an Athlete Type.  This is the Focus Line, the ‘Wandering Trail’ that floats through the vertical red bars.   It highlights the fact that on THAT day, when you add up all the training I had been doing, it indicates that I had been focussing my training as “GC Specialist”, which is an 8-minute best average power.   Xert’s Focus Line helps you identify what area of your training you’ve been putting your focus over the past few weeks.

You’ll be able to tease a couple of more things out of the graph at this stage of learning.

First, that ‘Wandering Trail’, can help you improve on your SPECIFICITY, and basically, stay away from rides that don’t suit your goals or purpose. The more intervals you perform at a specific intensity and duration that is based on your goal, the more that ‘Wandering Trail’ rises or falls toward your w/t goal.

Second, the vertical bars are designed so that you have a light-red to imply ONE workout in a 24 hour period, and you have a darker-red rectangle, to reveal TWO workouts performed in a single day.

Now – let’s finish up with the Progression Chart by looking at the circles and dots, and understand just what those mean.

The circles show you just how well you did on a given day.  A purple circle generally means you worked hard by didn’t accomplish anything special that.  Sometimes when you’re tired, purple circles may provide indication that you weren’t able to produce your best results that day.  Gold, silver and bronze circles indicate that you had shown an improvement.
Progression Chart BIG CIRCLE

A SMALL purple circle, like the one found on March 20th, symbolizes a ‘but that ‘Best’ wasn’t hard enough to merit a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medal. The LOCATION of the dots is in relation to their wattage.  
Progression Chart Red Angled Arrow
Looking at the Progression chart a couple of days later, you’ll see that there are a series of Purple Dots, and they decline in power. Now, this is going to get in to a bit of coaching and over-reach vs recovery, but this was a period of time, about 14 to 10 days out from the Ft. Davis Stage Race, where I was just BURYING MYSELF in intensity! The result was that my maximal power output suffered, even as my volume and overall intensity increased. If you look at March 28th and 29th, you’ll see that I ended up with a ‘Silver Medal’, signifying a new record and the next day, I had another purple dot that was also a record of an 8-minute effort, that was JUST UNDER the record set the previous day.

So, just to review:
  • Purple dots are ‘Highs’, but not ‘Record Highs’.
  • Medals mean you hit a new breakthrough in fitness.
  • The size of the medal means how definite the achievement was.

Let’s look at one more thing before we leave the Progression Chart…
Progression Chart March 12

Take a look at that ‘Wandering Trail’ or, the ‘Focus’ Line. You’ll notice that it rises and falls. While I think there might be a better way to show this metric to the viewer, it really IS an interesting category. What it’s saying is that, based on ALL of the work you’ve done over your recent training, the ‘FOCUS’ centered on one particular category in the Spider Chart or ‘Athlete Type’ mentioned above. As I did my workouts and tried to focus exclusively on intervals that would improve my 5-minute Power, the FOCUS line rose. When I performed rides that had longer durations, and gaps between intervals, like on weekends, my FOCUS line actually dropped. If you look at the past 3 days of workouts, you’ll see that my FOCUS line once again rose, as I resumed training after a two-week hiatus.

I think there is some REAL potential here, because if you follow Xert’s premise, it’s not just the rethinking of power and time-in-zones and recovery that is required, it’s the actual CONTENT and INTENSITY of the INTERVALS that makes for such incredible potential. And THAT is where we’re going to go next…


I’m going to skip over Xert’s Power-Duration Curve stuff, and will return to it later, but the reason I want to discuss the Intervals Builder first, is that it is, in my opinion, the absolute strongest feature in Xert’s arsenal. Furthermore, once you have your Fitness Signature, there are APPS, available on Garmin’s Connect IQ and via Android (iphone coming soon), that will allow you to further exploit Xert’s Power-Duration Model and Maximum Power Available information. Again, I’ll get to that later, but for now, let’s discuss Xert’s Interval Builder and why it’s so important to your fitness goals.

Once you’ve got your fitness profile, and established your goals (3 minute, 5 minute, 8 minute, stuff like that), it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. To do that, head over to the left-hand bar of options, and click on ‘WORKOUTS’.
Standard Workouts

You’ll get two options in the sub-menu; “Standard Workouts” and “My Workouts”. Let’s start with some “Standard Workouts”, and then we’ll tinker with some custom workouts to sharpen the blade a bit.

Now, remember – my goal is to have a stronger FIVE MINUTE POWER. That puts me in the “Breakaway Specialist” category. So, I’ll go the THIRD COLUMN, which is “WORKOUT FOCUS”, and click through until I find some appropriate intervals. If you click on the Title, it will sort by “Focus”, and “Breakaway Specialist will be on Page 1.
Standard Workouts Seiler

Now, let’s click on the second workout – Seiler – and see what it looks like…
Workout Designer Seiler Wharton

This interval set shows that, UNIQUE TO ME, if I were to perform FOUR SEPARATE, FOUR-MINUTE INTERVALS, at 372 watts (OUCH!!!!!) each, with just TWO MINUTES of recovery, that the amount of STRAIN (see middle of the image) would be adequate to optimize my 5-minute output, over time.

HOWEVER – take a look at the PURPLE LINE. That PURPLE LINE is an indicator of “MAXIMUM POWER AVAILABLE”, and you can see that it intercepts the RED LINE of the SECOND INTERVAL, the THIRD INTERVAL, and the FOURTH INTERVAL. Now – if you believe Xert’s programming, THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! Let’s ZOOM in so I can explain why.

Seiler ZOOM

Xert’s Foundation goes like this: When you ride a bike, you use “Low-Intensity Energy” (your aerobic system), “High-Intensity Energy (Your Vo2 and Anaerobic Systems), and “Peak” Energy systems, which is your Phospho-Creatine System and Sprint power. The “Maximum Power Available” curve declines as you cross over your Threshold Power, and it rebounds when you recover beneath it.

For the first interval, that purple line of “MPA”, and the red line of “Watts”, don’t cross paths. The interval ends with an “MPA” of less than 600 watts, while the interval’s overall 4 minute effort was at “372”. But, for the SECOND interval, the decline of “MPA” intercepts the red line with about 23 seconds to go. In the image above, there is theoretically NO WAY that I can hold 372 watts at that moment, with an MPA that is at 343 watts and declining. This happens again, a bit earlier in Interval #3, and again in interval #4. So I have to alter this workout if I know that I’m going to be able to even complete it.

If I go down to the bottom of the screen, I can see that there are three options in this interval. I’m going to extend the recoveries out to 2:30, and see what that does for me.
Extend Recoveries

When I click on “Calculate”, I get this…
Click Calculate Xert

So – I pushed my ‘Point of Failure’ out for the three intervals I’m concerned about, but not quite. Also – look at the ‘FOCUS’. I’m still in ‘Breakaway Specialist’. Let’s see if I can buy myself some more recovery, and be at least theoretically successful in these four minute intervals.
Pushed Out Recoveries_copy

BOOM! At 3 minutes of recovery, I am going to be JUST ABLE to COMPLETE the intervals, if I can hold 372 watts!

Now – as an Indoor Studio Professional, here’s an ADDED Bonus. Go to that upper right hand corner of the chart, and you’ll see either “TCX” or “ERG” buttons. If you click on them, they’ll export the workout in to a “watts over time” protocol, for your Indoor Ergometer!!!

Here’s what this protocol looks like in PerfPro Studio, the system that I use with Online Bike Coach and Cycling Center Dallas.
PerfPro Seiler

Now – we don’t have ‘Maximum Power Available’ just yet on PerfPro, but we’re lobbying for some type of licensing deal that is satisfactory to all parties. But this literally re-writes the book on interval training with power.

A couple of quick notes:

  • Traditional Zones are thrown out the window. We know what aerobic rides feel like, we know what “Threshold” feels like. Xert has apps that define zones based on CURRENT MPA, FATIGUE OVER TIME, and ENERGY USE. Thus – THEY SHIFT, based on fitness, and real-time work spent at different intensities.

  • The intervals can sometimes be MUCH, MUCH HIGHER INTENSITY than we’re used to, and are LONGER than you may feel comfortable with. Sometimes they are the opposite SINCE THEY DON’T HAVE YOU ATTEMPTING SOMETHING YOU CAN’T DO.  And THEY WORK. They REALLY, REALLY work. Many times, the workouts bring you RIGHT TO YOUR EXACT LIMIT meaning, you won’t complete the very last part of the interval. THAT IS FINE. YOU ARE STILL GETTING THE RECOMMENDED TRAINING DOSE.

I think I’ll stop here – and will focus on the Apps in another blog post, but you should go through the workouts, look at them, and then, click on the “New Workout” option, and experiment with building your own. You’ll see how changing the three deltas of intervals – Frequency, Intensity, and Time (FIT) can alter your specialty, and can determine your Maximum Power Available, to determine whether the workout is doable or not. YOU CAN BREAK THE MODEL!!! And that’s a GOOD THING. But the more information you put in to Xert, the more it’s going to learn about your fitness and capabilities, and the more it will ‘Tune’ the workouts. One Day’s “Breakaway Specialist” workout, may be tomorrow’s “Rouleur” workout, as Threshold or Anaerobic Capacity Wax and Wane.

I’ll be back with a full Blog about Xert’s Apps on a Garmin, but for now, read through, download the FREE BETA, and insert your data. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Enjoy the ride!


Think you can't do push ups? Think again....

trxsmall_copyThe push-up is an all-purpose movement that develops strength in the upper body and stability throughout the core and torso.

It is a GREAT exercise.  It can also be a difficult one, especially if you haven't developed the core and upper body strength to be able to push yourself up off the ground.  

"I can't do push ups" 

Is something I often hear from clients when I introduce a push up movement to their workout. More often then not, it is not that they can't do them, but they just haven't found the right variation for them.  Doing them on a suspension trainer can help you easily find the right level of resistance for you, whether you are beginner to very advanced.  

If you have no problem cranking out push ups, skip to the feet suspended version and the spider push up shown in the video below.   You will not be disappointed. 

The push up is usually one of the first exercises I have people learn on a Suspension Trainer, because it is such a basic movement that works a lot of muscle groups.  It is also very easy to adjust the difficulty level.  You don't have to worry about being able to lift more body weight then you can handle.

Here are examples of two levels of resistance during a Suspended Push-Up. The more upright you are,
the more body weight you are supporting with your legs and not having to push with your arms. If you want more resistance, simply step back further to load more weight onto the straps. All the angles in between the hardest and the easiest (most upright) can be used to load any desired amount of weight onto the straps. You can even change resistance mid set!


Push-Up Hands Suspended

This is the best version to start. The all-purpose pushing movement increases both strength and stability of the upper body and core. It will help to give better support and control of your body as well as improve power transfer through the core while on your bike.

Primary focus: Chest and Shoulders.

Steps and Notes:

Facing outward, hold the end of each strap in each hand, and get into a shoulder-width or slightly wider stance, and keep a straight body position from your head to your feet,

Allow your arms to bend and lower your body until your elbows reach 90 degrees and are aligned with your shoulders.

Push yourself back up to the straight-arm position, exhaling as you do so, and maintaining a tight core and straight body from head to ankle


To make it harder, step back to load more of your body weight onto the straps.  To make it easier, step forward to support more of your body weight with your feet.


Push Up – Feet Suspended

This is a progression of the previous push-up variation.

This version requires torso and upper body strength, as well as proper timing of the stabilizer muscles to maintain a straight body. 
Get into push up position with your toes in the cradles. 
Start by straightening your legs, which will lift your knees off the ground and moving your body as a unit.  Go down until your elbows bend to approximately a 90 degree angle. 
At the bottom, push through the floor to raise your body back up to the starting position as one unit. 
Become proficient with the traditional, un-suspended push up first before this things one.   Advance to
feet suspended push-ups at that point

309b_Suspended Push Up From Floor  309c_Suspended Push Up From Floor

Watch this Video for even more variation of the Push Up movement on a TRX Suspension Trainer, from every beginner, to very advanced!  Sigh up HERE for a small group strength class to get some hands on practice and learn some new TRX movements and more!

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