BT on demand

Help me out here, crew. What does it mean that I can generate a BT on virtually every workout I do when all I have to do is pick a 3 star workout, have my KickR smart bike at 5% slope, work my ass off up until the last segment or interval, change to “slope” mode on EBC, and pedal my ass off? Outcome? Breakthrough!

Does that mean should I pick 4 star workouts to start with? Does it mean my Fitness Signatures are wrong? It feels to me like I’m “gaming” the Xert system. I don’t want to earn anything I’ve not been entitled to earn.

All comments gratefully accepted, Anthony

Depends on what type of signature adjustments are occurring.
Anytime you draw down MPA and “go purple” for enough seconds that will trigger a BT event. Final effort BTs like that don’t have the same effect as repeats but they are BTs.
In order to provide us more info go to XO, Activities, Table, locate a recent BT (or two), click on BT badge next to title, download and post the file(s) here.
OR click on Create Discussion button in upper right and post the URL so we can fully analyze the activity and see the before/after results.
I will be offline until tomorrow sometime but others may chime in before then.

XATA will recommend workouts around your status stars count to match difficulty with your current TL, but you can always select a diamond count above your current count to challenge yourself. For example, you might consider riding the series of Hardness Test workouts (whenever you are fresh) starting at your current count and moving up the ladder to see how high you can go.


Thank you for your help. Of course, anyone else who cares to chime in on the topic, please do so. :slight_smile:

Anthony, an aside, a question about the Wahoo Smart Bike. Does it have a standard stem? What about “steerer”, the vertical pole? I’m curious whether one can substitute different bars. My Kickr Core didn’t work out for me…I returned it to REI. My saddle on my gravel bike is about the same level as my bars. Can the bars on your Wahoo be adjusted that high?

Based on your posts and the rides you shared, I’d say your signature is too low, so first question is whether you have ever done an ‘all out’ breakthrough effort when fresh? Reason I say that is the extremely high difficulty scores (over 100 with an accurate signature is v tough, let alone yours which are literally off the charts), and also that you are able breakthrough at the end of a ride - normally breakthroughs are true maximums when fresh, and at the start of a workout (after a good warm up though). Also, I don’t know your training background, but a 4 star workout with an accurate signature should be very very tough, and many would struggle to complete them unless very well trained. If those workouts don’t feel too hard, it’s a sign your signature is too low.

Easy enough to correct - just do a real breakthrough when fresh. You can search the forum for loads of tips on that topic.

As an aside, with an accurate signature, you probably won’t want to ride hard all the time (and XATA will recommend endurance or recovery rides for you to help)

Hi Carmen, the stem on my KickR bike is NOT adjustable for and aft, i.e., on a longitudinal axis. It is rigidly affixed to vertical stem (steerer). Fore and aft distance is adjustable via moving the extension bar that moves out of the cross-tube. It is the one adjustment that failed my pro adjustment setup. I am short-waisted and I long for a shorter bar stem. The height of the “steerer” can be elevated quite substantially I haven’t asked Wahoo if they make that kind of option available, but I don’t recall seeing it mentioned in DC Rainmaker’s review. Other than that, the fitment cost and the bike are just what I had hoped for. the Pic below shows the handle bar at its highest point. HTH, anthony


Hi Wes, thanks so much for your helpful info. Any breakthrough I’ve had has always come at the very end of a workout. I really enjoy Tabata and Tabata-like HIIT workouts, so I don’t do much endurance work at all. In fact, I avoid Seller like protocols. My ancient history is all LSD running, run/walks, hiking/backpacking, very long distances to accomplish 50k to 100 mile ultra’s. that was 40 years ago, mind you :smile: So, I’ve grown accustomed to despising that kind of workout

I don’t know enough about the Xert System yet to know how to program successive workouts to achieve a more accurate Fitness Signature. I do know that focusing on Road Sprinter, Time-Trialist, Puncheur and some Climber workouts raises my HIE, PP, and TP while also sharply lowering my LTP. Nevertheless, you descriptive analysis of what I’ve posted coincides with my felt experience of BT efforts.

I’ve got a rest day today, and I could take off tomorrow and Sunday and I’d sure be fresh on Monday given my training history. What workout(s) would you recommend to get a more accurate Fitness Signature?

Thanks for your help, Sir.


You have a very healthy maxHR for someone in their mid-eighties. :wink:
By switching to slope mode and going for broke you essentially turn any workout into a potential BT workout with a sprint effort under fatigue. That is one style of achieving BTs similar to charging at the crest of a long climb for as hard and long as you can.
Nothing wrong with “gaming the system” this way. It will likely reward you with a signature bump especially PP. You will reach a ceiling sooner or later so enjoy those BT badges while you can. :smiley:
It’s a good idea to resume whatever pace you can handle after the max effort rather than a sharp drop to zero. Then finish out your cooldown. Or as @wescaine suggests consider attempting a BT earlier in the workout then ride the remaining intervals in AUTO mode.

You can take a look at the before adjustment chart by selecting the Advanced MPA tab and clicking Previous button. Then zoom in on the BT event sections. That will provide some insight into how long you were above MPA with your prior signature.

As to the difficulty level I agree with @wescaine that your TP is set too low if you are able to push past 100 like that. The max axis for Difficulty is 200. You would be a puddle on the floor at that level or be operating in full blown lycan mode. :grimacing:
If you’d like the Xert team to take a look at your data and adjust your signature for you, file a request with

Reference –
Breaking Through the Xert Way! – Xert (
Difficulty Score – Xert (

ridgerider2. I will do what you have recommended. If I understand Wes’s and your follow up to it, I can start off on a workout, and, e.g., on an early interval of significant duration and high watt output, while still fresh, kick ass on that, or the one relatively close in time to it, and then crank the daylights on that one, and then finish the rest of the workout on AUTO while also reducing the slope to 0% on the bike. Am I correct?

Edit. Yep, pretty good HR value for my age. I’ve actually observed it at 183 but I’ve decided to limit it to 170, what with a 15 year old, single occurrence of premature supre-ventricular tachycardia. No point in pushing that limit :smile: anthony

Yes, or search the library for “breakthrough” and pick one you’d like to try (when fresh).
My favorite is – Xert - Workout Designer (
Tips: Slope mode the entire time. Exceed the red targets if you are able (without blowing up). Sprint as soon as you are about to collapse on the long one. IE, don’t wait to hit the sprint spike on the chart if don’t think you can make it that far.

Thanks. I just saw a youtube video of a guy swapping out the bars for a different one, and I saw a closeup of that stem. It’s looks like a conventional stem to me. Is it? You could always swap out the stem for a shorter one to get the fit you need.

Good recommendation, Carmen. I should have thought to do that. I got mine KickR from my local TREK dealer. I’m betting they can do that for me. thanks so much :slight_smile: anthony

Roger on the "slope mode the entire time, etc. This is gonna be fun :smiley: :smiley:

Of course make sure all is ok medically before going to your limits with an all out breakthrough (and rigorous exercise program in general)… my breakthroughs typically end up very close to my max HR and I note that your last breakthroughs were quite a bit below your max HR (above), which is another sign your signature is not fully representing your fitness… but you want to be sure you’re ok to do that from a health perspective… and if in doubt better safe than sorry!

If you are intentionally limiting your HR for health reasons, you may be better off training based on HR rather power in general

Good advice, Wes, and you mentioning it in fact reflects that on many occasions while working out, I have purposely limited my power output as a function HR value. I’ve had so very many cardiovascular workups over my long life, and in fact make frequent use of the Kardia 6-channel EKG device to check for post HIT cardiac patterns that are cause for concern, as well as Qardio BP measurements. All of which, even upon inspection by a Board Certified Cardiologist, show no abnormal patterns post Xert, and we’re talking like no longer than getting off the bike, sitting down, applying the device and taking the 30" recording.

I’ve got a great PCP at PennMedicine here in Philly, also an athlete, with whom I remain in very close contact, so, as I learned in the USMC many, many more years ago, a dead Marine isn’t worth squat to anybody. Or, as applied currently, I don’t want my epitaph to read “he’s the fittest dead guy in the morgue.” :smiley: :smiley: "D thanks for your reply. VERY helpful.


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As promised, gentlemen, after sitting around feeling like a “slug” for the past 4 days, I hopped on one of Man of Steele’s recommended BT rides. It’s designated (copy) because I cut off the last 5’ of cool down. In any case, I learned very early on in the ride that I have a significant right leg imbalance as to cycling power and had a helluva hard time maintaining a consistent output when in Slope mode only. So, excluding the last two or three intervals, I reverted to Auto but included the 2.5% incline along with a 2% incline on the bike itself. I began to feel wasted at the third interval of the second set. I felt even more wasted at about the 3rd interval of the third set. Tabata Rules!! I could may have done one or two more intervals, but I didn’t want my HR any higher than 167. During the cool down, HR reverted to 126 after five minutes. In any case, as you all can see there is a massive increase in my TP and my LTP and I’ve gotten what appears to be a “fake-through”. All in all, very instructive. I conclude I’ve had an inaccurate fitness signatures for a very long time, so I’ve been working too easily. :frowning: :frowning: :frowning:

All comments welcomed, anthony

Looks like a legit BT. You can post the breakthrough report by viewing the activity details and click on the BT badge icon to the right of the title.

I meant to mention when you ride in slope mode you want to find a comfortable slope % for the trainer control setting. You don’t necessarily need to raise the trainer front end but since you have that ability if you feel more comfortable doing that go for it. :slight_smile:
By trainer control % I mean whatever slope setting that lets you hit the highs and lows using cadence and gears comfortably. It varies by trainer. Sounds like 2.5% may be that number but I notice you didn’t ease up enough for the RIB lows on the Tabata sections.

thanks for you reply, rigerider2… you are correct, I don’t know how to slow down enough on my KickR Bike to maintain the low level watt output on RIB intervals without stalling out. So I tried to maintain the cadence that would allow me to be smooth and as low as I could get w/o stalling out. Yes, 2.5% feels about right and raising the bike itself keeps it from having “road feedback” And thank you for the info about where to get the details on the BT.

I’m seriously pleased with all the help I’ve been getting from you all, most of all finding out that in fact I have had inaccurate Fitness Signatures for sometime. I can now work more to present fitness and feel as though I’m earning what I’m accomplishing rather than “skating” through some of them.

thanks again, anthony

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Good to see the progress :+1: and take it you recovered well enough too :sunglasses:

On this point, that’s the advantage of mixed mode workouts, if well designed - you can do efforts in slope and recoveries in ERG. Most mixed mode workouts aren’t set up that way but it’s easy enough to do. I created a version of Ronnestad like that, with the addition of a 30 second slope mode recovery after the final interval in each set. This is to prevent a BT effort being artificially cut short by a switch to ERG for the recovery. It’s in the shared workout group if interested — if not for the workout, just to illustrate how to design your own

Wes, thanks for your reply and description about how to use ERG and Slope mode. That will help me in my next BT effort, as well as in training work as well. I cannot find the “shared workout group” you mentioned. Could you link me to it? I’d really like to see it and give it a try when I’m recovered. Speaking of which, I’m pounded this AM, wiped out. Recovery HRV is in the toilet, HR is elevated (of course), rotten night’s sleep, but, this too shall pass. I’m really pleased to see the rate at which my HR lowered to more normal levels post workout. The 170 limit I’ve chosen seems realistic. Thanks again for your help, Wes. :slight_smile: Anthony

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