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!

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.