How do you tell if a SMART workout applied any SMARTness

How do you tell if a SMART workout applied any SMARTNESS.
I do not do many Xert workouts, although I have been a member for at least 4 years. However I selected one today which in hindsight was a mistyake as it was 3.5 stars
Question 1
With a TL of 75 should I have been able to manage this? I dont fail many TrainerRoad workouts some of which appear to be harder than this one SMART - Good Times Bad Times - 4.5

Question 2
The watts requirements for each of the 4 8 minute 20MMP intervals were the same and I had 5 minutes rest each time. Did the SMART bit kick in and if so how do I tell?


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As long as you ran the workout using EBC any SMART intervals work as designed. IE, tied to your signature, not %FTP blocks.

Did you pick the 3.5 or 4.5 workout? Your workout report looks more like 3.5.
There is a substantial difference between the three options –

Notice the MPA drawdown and shaded difficulty graphs in the thumbnail images.
You can view your signature applied by viewing the workout in Workout Designer.

4.5 would be very tough (4 diamonds) to complete if your TL is currently 75 (just reaching 3 stars).

0 Stars – Untrained: Training Load < 25
1 Star – Recreational: 50 > Training Load >= 25
2 Stars – Trained: 75 > Training Load >= 50
3 Stars – Competitive: 110 > Training Load > 75
4 Stars – Elite: 150 > Training Load >= 110
5 Stars – Pro Level: Training Load >= 150

Reference (XSSR intervals) –
Introducing Smart Workouts – Xert

If you want more experience with SMART intervals, I suggest taking a look at the Closer series (curvilinear hard start VO2max with XSSR targets) or the Elastic Heart series (VO2max MPA Reserve targets).
Start with 3 diamonds and see how that goes. Example, Closer 140 or Elastic Heart 3.

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I did the 4.5 but had to dial it down for the last 2 intervals.

I’ve been wondering about this too. The only time I really notice the workout adapting is if I do the intervals in slope mode. Then if I’m exceeding the target power, the target goes down. For example, I’m supposed to do 8 minutes at 240 watts. If I ride it at 260, it slowly drops the target. Towards the end of the 8 minutes it is telling me I should only ride 160 watts or something. I guess it’s adapting to a “total strain” number or something, because if you drop that far, you’re not even in the correct zone anymore.

It seems like when I do the workouts in Auto, there is no adaptation. Also, oddly ERG in the EBC isn’t actually ERG for some reason.

Ahh the mysteries of Xert.


EBC modes – What Trainer Modes Are Available in Xert’s Workout Players? – Xert (
You want to be in AUTO mode to ensure the best results especially since some SMART workouts include mixed mode intervals. The exception would be BT workouts which are best performed in slope mode or workouts you purposely want control over hitting targets or exceeding them through cadence and gear changes.

Yes, XSSR intervals are all about the relative strain target. :wink:
There are many different types of SMART intervals, two of which are dynamic to provide variable duration or variable power intervals. Those you will notice. Others operate “behind the scenes” including curvilinear, %MPA, %LTP, XSSR, etc. For example, curvilinear supports the hard start VO2max workouts I mentioned above.

Reference –
Advanced Workout Design using SMART Intervals – Xert (

The main point is you are not stuck with old-school %FTP blocks and Xert (or you) can design workouts that are unique on several fronts including SMART warm-up/cool down and RIB intervals.
In addition, the same SMART workout scales to the individual based on their signature (and changing signature). That is a huge difference and why Xert doesn’t need thousands of workouts in their library. It also means Xerters running EBC can join a group session and ride the same workout together at the same relative intensity and receive similar benefits.
Example: Episode D3 - Mastering Xert - Discover - Fitness Signatures and Conclusion - YouTube

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I was in Auto mode. I struggled.
How do I tell whether SMART kicked in or not?
That is the whole point behind SMART workouts after all.

It may be clearer if they used two definitions eg

  1. SMART - current definition, paraphrasing, is any workout where intensity and duration is not fully defined by % threshold (or fixed power) and a clock. Even riding at 100% LTP could be argued as SMART. It’s individualized to your signature hence SMARTer than other approaches
  2. SMART DYNAMIC - subset of the above where power or duration is dynamic because either you have an MPA or XSSR target in the interval prescription

Not sure what workout you did (sounds Seiler-ish), but you mention it’s based on 8 min at 20MMP. That would be in category 1. above and there would be no adjustment of either power or duration in case you were riding above or below target. Looking at the pic though, it seems there are XSSR based recoveries (curved power), which would have been dynamic


I think you may be overlooking some important aspects of Xert. As @wescaine mentions they are SMART workouts because they scale to your fitness signature and aren’t limited to %FTP blocks. Check out the reference links I posted for details.

If your TL is 75 (just reaching 3 stars), then the 3.5 workout (3 diamonds) would have been an appropriate difficulty level. That is essentially what you turned the 4.5 workout into.
Notice how your workout report compares to the 3.5 workout chart in Workout Designer.
By dialing down the last two sets you reduced it to 3 diamond level (lower XSS and MPA drawdown).
Had you selected the 3.5 version you would have had a challenging but doable workout at 100%. 4.0 would have been tougher and as you found out 4.5 was beyond your current grasp.
Also see: Are Your Workouts Too Hard? – Xert (

You can preview any workout with your current signature applied by opening the workout in Workout Designer. There you can see the predicted difficulty and fatigue you’ll encounter based upon your current numbers (signature and status stars).
Any workout labeled SMART has some degree of SMART intervals incorporated. Sometimes they are minor, but many are full blown SMART. :smiley:
Example, SMART Good Times Bad Times 3.5 – Xert - Workout Designer (
Notice the definitions below the chart for work and recovery intervals. None are based on %FTP.

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What do the two sets of numbers refer to?

I have a Training Load of 73. That puts me in the 2 star category. Less than 75. Therefore I should be able to complete 2 star rides.

Although, confusingly, to the naked eye it does look like I am 3 star.

The numbers indicate the ranges for each status star level.
You have to reach a TL of 25 to earn one star, 50 to earn 2 stars, etc. with 150 and higher considered pro level commitment.
I top out around 100-110 in July/Aug each year, so I am rarely above 4 stars (=110).
Since TL is a combination of hours/week and intensity two cyclists might achieve similar star counts with different doses of strain. I imagine ~20/hours per week would earn pro level status (5 stars). However, someone riding lots of hours at low intensity might put in the same hours with a lower star count.

@johnnybike It is not an exact one-to-one relationship. It is a fractional range. Example, 2-3/4 stars or 2-9/10 in your case. :wink:
It doesn’t mean a 2-star cyclist can’t tackle a 3-diamond workout, but the further you drift above your star count the harder that workout will be. Jump too far and failing some portion of the workout is expected unless you dial down the intensity when you hit your limit.

When you follow XATA recommendations during a progression the workouts will fail within range of your star count. Form also plays a part. If predicted form is blue/green (fresh) XATA will recommend higher intensity workouts. You can also be selective in your choices to adjust that intensity. For example, I am not keen on long hard intervals and tend to select red spikes over long orange/yellow efforts. That can mean Load More or using Filter when the top four suggestions are not to my liking.

You can also challenge yourself whenever you feel up for it. For example, search the library for “hardness” and select a Hardness Test Level XX just above your current star count. If you successfully complete that at 100%, try a higher-level next time you’re in the mood (and form is fresh). Or scan the library for something new and different if you get bored. There are some interesting options you may never see recommended due to your status, form, and athlete type. Stay within range of your stars to diamond count if you want to complete the workout at 100%.:+1:

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One additional point I’d like to make on this thread is that any SMART dynamic interval (power or duration), the interval progress indicator in EBC (iOS and Android) will switch from green to purple (on Garmin workout player, the Target Power will switch to Purple). The switch from green to purple indicates that the Power Target (or, less likely, interval duration) will adjust second-by-second in real-time.

For most users following SMART workout on smart trainers, the dynamic bits will be relatively minor, since most trainers generally do a decent job at holding the target power. Where you’ll start to see more deviation & ‘Smartness’ is on Mixed Mode workouts, where sections of the workout are to be done all-out in slope mode. Examples of this include ‘Dirty Little Secret’, ‘Heroes’, and ‘Purple Rain’.


Always wondered why that turned purple :slight_smile:

I was listening to the latest podcast from Empirical Cycling Podcast where they talked about the pitfalls of ERG mode, and at some point they wondered how to match the target power during a certain interval given the power target, interval duration, fatigue, knowing that most trainers have a delay before reaching it. First thing in mind was SMART/Mixed mode in XERT!! :grin:

Ten Minute Tips #26: The Case Against Erg Mode

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