Beginner: Should I focus on what I am better at?


I’m a beginner cyclist (road, but on a gravelbike because of my weight). I weigh 150 kg on 1,90 m body length, 37 years old. I do train now since 7 weeks (with a powermeter), before that no sport at all since ten years or more.

Obviously my ranking in “fitness comparison and ranking” in xert is quite bad in my category “Male, 30-39 years”, especially bad in categories which are measured in w/kg. But surprisingly I get 61 % in “10 second power”.

My fitness data in xert:

222 w threshold power
17,7 kJ high intensity energy
1,150 w peak power
980 w 10 second power
177 w lower threshold power

I have no other goals than becoming fitter in general (I know, eating habits for the most part in my case, not my question here) and getting faster. I do train only 4-6 h a week.

My question: Which “goal” should I chose? Should I concentrate (for fun) on what I seem to be already better in - sprinting (so chose “Power Sprinter”) - or not? What would be your advice to maximise motivation and long-term fun and progression in cycling? Besides losing weight obviously :slight_smile:

Thank you for your thoughts.

Welcome aboard. :slight_smile:
GC Specialist is a good focus type to start with while learning Xert.
Lots of newbie tips are posted in this thread –
Beginner questions

If no event in mind (no TED set) you could simply ride for fun with a goal of losing weight over time to improve W/kg along your power curve. With that in mind consider some long slow rides below LTP when possible. Perhaps on weekends?
You’ll retain your natural sprint power while building out your profile with low intensity base.

Cycling fitness is a long-term endeavor. You’ll likely see some marked improvements during your first year then incremental improvements year to year.

Thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

Ok, will do. I’m a bit of a numbers nerd - and although I dont need it obviously, because I am a beginner, I like training with lots of computers and parameters. Why do you suggest GC Specialist as focus type specifically? - I did all the reading and understand now what Focus, Specificity, XSS etc. is.

Second question: For longer slower rides, does it matter with which power output under the LTP I ride? E.g. I have LTP of 177 watts. So should I ride long rides without intervals with 170 watt or with 140 watt? Is one better than the other?

If you’re starting from little to no sport, I’d do a lot of lower intensity endurance to begin with (and set your signature decay to ‘no decay’ - see other posts on that). Maybe do a breakthrough once a month or so then. If you want to add intensity after building a base, you can set a target event data to progress through the phases

Given you don’t have a lot of power data history you may need some time for your signature to get dialed in, so in addition to being below LTP, I would actually also based it off HR (<75% of your true cycling max HR if you know it - wouldn’t stress about figuring it out though), or the simple ‘talk test’ (ride at intensity at which you can speak fairly comfortably). I ride my endurance super easy e.g. with a ceiling of ca 80% LTP (and therefore even lower average) for what it’s worth

Re: tracking beyond your signature parameters, if you like numbers, it’s probably worth tracking your training load and trying to increase each week… and to track endurance rides, pay attention to how your power output at a certain (endurance) HR develops over time… and also within a workout (ideally seeing less ‘HR drift’ as you get fitter)

Beyond the numbers, hopefully it’s also something you enjoy doing in your spare time :slight_smile:

Thank you. I have now more than 50 rides in the data history in XERT, even though most of them are very short (5 km, way to work) but 2-3 each week are longer and intense. Thanks for the advice with the “no decay” option.

Even tried the live-xert-player with garmin on a ride today with the breakthrough-porogram (which does not work quite well outdoors because of traffic), see here: Xert - Activity | Xert Fitness Test for Breakthrough

And yes, my heart rate drifts quite a lot, see here for an awful hard example, indeed that was TOO hard for me, needed three days off afterwards: Xert - Activity | Bremen Rennradfahren

The problem with HR<75% of the cycling max heart rate (which seems to be 178 in my case) or with very low power output (<130 w) is that it is boring. Training with interval sessions do make a lot of more fun. Have to figure it out, how to build some endurance while not bore to death.

Any thoughts or criticism to the above training-datas are welcome.

Re drift and HR, I wouldn’t pay attention to that in a ride in which I did a BT. HR tends to stay high for an extended period after an all out effort. I check that only on rides which are exclusively endurance focused.

Re boredom, hopefully you have some nice places to ride and enjoy the scenery, or seeing you new places, riding to a coffee shop, or with a friend or something… and you’ll also notice improvements still (more power at same HR, still ride hard for a BT from time to time) which can also motivate.

You can of course follow Xert’s workout recommendations for variety and structure, just be careful not to do too much too hard. The training adviser does a decent job of preventing this (only endurance when yellow status) but even so, I personally find many endurance workouts a bit on the ‘hard’ side, hence I ride easier (but much longer) than suggested by the training adviser. If the recommended workouts suit the amount of time available, and you can recover well (not needing three days) then go for it.

I would either

  1. set a target event date 120 days in the future (start with base, then build, then peak to gradually add intensity) or
  2. choose a longer athlete type (climber or even longer, so your hard rides aren’t too hard for an extended period) and set to continuous… and in a couple of months choose a shorter focus athlete type (even puncheur if you like the high intensity).

Reason for that is I just doubt you (or anyone) will find very high intensity every week to be sustainable in the long run


I‘d second the suggestion of long low-intensity rides to build up your base. You‘ll see improvements soon - going faster and farther with the same intensity. But the ultimate goal is to have fun, so go for that PR or that Breakthrough if you feel like. Just make sure not to do too much high intensity. Your knees are not used to constant load, you may become sick or you may just end up burnt out. Cycling performance is not something you build up quickly, this takes years. Enjoy the journey to cycling fitness! :+1:

And this can never be repeated enough: listen to your body. Even if Xert says you should do a ride, it’s okay not to if your body says nope. Listening to it will yield better results.

Thank you. What you’d say to 1-2 short rides with intervals, hard but short (45 min max.) and one long ride (2h) per week?

That may be true, but the problem is: How do I know, what my body says? Ok, if I am really, really tired, needing several days for recovery, than it is obvious. But the problem are those middlegrounds, where you are not really tired but also not really fresh. Hard to decide without experience.

Experience helps for sure, but I think another thing to take into account is how your normal activities make you feel too. You can wake up rested but if just getting ready in the morning drains more of your energy than usual, that can be an indicator.

I would agree with all the points made above but add a couple more.

There is a lot to be said at reading some of Steve Neal’s articles, or listen to podcasts where he talks about fatmax. He uses Xert in his coaching and recommends endurance work below LTP but also keeping to a max HR of 83% of maximum. I have read a number of posts on here which suggest 10% below LTP is a good number to ride at. Episode 27 of Faster cycling from Flo wheels

If you are a numbers man set a couple of short term objectives. 5, 10,15 even up to 30 minutes power. This will teach you pacing and also give you a focus for a workout. Hopefully as your numbers improve that will help motivation even more.

What do you mean by “5, 10… minutes power”? Do you suggest to include some 5-15min intervals near my power max for these durations?

Yes, one day have a go at 5 minutes pretty hard and look at the average power. Then a week later try again.
A hard effort is good now and then and it will help motivate you. The same with any other times, 1 minute or 10 minute etc.
If you select the time period from the Xert graph it will show average and normalised power