Noob questions

I’m still in the trial period, and have been excited about the potential. But after using the recommended workouts for a week, I’m confused about a few things:

  1. The recommended workouts feel stupidly easy. Like my HR doesn’t leave the Garmin “easy” zone. I’m in the base phase so I’m expecting to take it easy, but this is too easy.
  2. I chose the “low” improvement rate because I don’t really have time to work out more than 6 hours / week, but it’s recommended 7.75 hours worth of workouts this week (which I’ve done) and I still only have a .5 day surplus going into what would normally be my rest day.

I have months of daily cycling workouts with power and HR I’ve synced in (and I’ve removed any non-cycling activities) so I think it’s not a data problem. I did just find the blog about decay and it has been a few weeks since my last FTP test / breakthrough, so I changed the decay model to No Decay since I’ll be in the base phase for a while. That popped my FTP up by 9 watts so I’m hoping that helps address the “too easy” problem.

But will that fix the “too much time” problem?

As a new user, I feel like I’m being asked to understand too much up front. I’m fine with getting into deeper knowledge over time, but out of the box, if I need to change core settings, I should be guided to do so. What else do I need to know? Will the recommended workouts give me the opportunity to do a “breakthrough” every so often, or do I need to find one myself? What’s the best way to get one?

Maybe take a look at this:

Breakthroughs are something you have to do yourself. You might want to do one or two now to get your signature dialed in. What works best for you is a bit of a matter of taste.

  • Racing (Zwift, RGT, real) or something similar (Strava KOM/QOM?) works for some indoors or outdoors.
  • Breakthrough workouts from the library work for some, everyone has their favorite.
  • There are sometimes Breakthrough Sessions that usually use “A Paint that I’m used to” a Ronnestad workout in slope mode.

Generally it is not a bad idea to experiment and do several different kinds. Not all at once of course, only do them when you feel fresh and motivated.


They ‘look’ pretty different but generally something that draws down MPA slowly and has a bit of a sprint involved at some point is supposed to be best to get all 3 values right.

A well dialed in signature is very important because the workouts rely on the data. But once it is correct it keeps pretty well if you stay on “no decay” and if you like doing Breakthroughs every few weeks then it is best to switch back to “optimal decay”.

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I’ve been using Xert since the new year and had the same initial problem with the workouts being too easy. This was sorted once I’d synced over a years worth of data from Strava which sounds like what you’ve done. Following a training program leading to an event date or just sticking to the 120 days of a program will help you to improve. I listened to the podcasts while zwifting and these give great insight. I’ve been getting BT’s with the weekly TTT on zwift but as advised there are BT workouts to try. I’m a shift worker and I’ve had to put more hours in on the bike than I’ve ever done before

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  1. 30 day trial
  2. Exclusively indoors through the winter, using a consistent setup: a Stac Zero smart trainer (pre-4iii), early 2000’s steel road bike (KHS Flite 300), recorded mostly with Zwift running on a Mac (although sometimes with my Garmin Fenix 5). Just got a Garmin Edge 530 that I’ve used to record workouts for the past week.
  3. Late 40’s
  4. Got my first trainer with a power meter 4 years ago. Haven’t had an outdoor power meter.
  5. Recreational
  6. Goals are long-term fitness and being in shape to do an Olympic triathlon whenever I want. I’ve been exclusively biking for the past 3 months due to a running injury, and no swimming during the pandemic.
  7. Looks like it pulled 3 months in from Garmin
  8. 2 stars
  9. GC Specialist, although I wasn’t confident in that… I’d like to set it to whatever would help me build endurance for an Olympic triathlon equivalent event.
  10. I selected slow, but that’s only because I only have about 6 hours / week to work out. When I was training with a triathlon coach that was sufficient for pretty significant improvement.
  11. July 3rd, so I’m in base phase.

My last breakthrough effort was a month and a half ago (a ramp test), which surprises me since I did a Zwift race last weekend at the end of a 12 week Zwift training plan… it certainly felt like I gave everything in the final sprint, and was overall harder than other workouts I’ve done where my MPA seemed to drop more significantly.

I’m wondering if there might be some data screwiness because I first connected to Strava instead of Garmin Connect, but then switched, and I had to delete a bunch of duplicates. I also found some duplicates that had resulted from dual-recording with my watch and with Zwift… I usually clean those up manually but had missed some. I’ve verified manually now that all 3 months worth of workouts don’t have any duplicates.

That is a common perception from newbies including myself especially if you are coming from any platform that promotes sweet spot training. There are many expats and converts here. :wink:
See this thread as an example –
How accurate are the TP predictions for the training programs? I think mine is way off - General - Xert Community Forum (xertonline.com)

Thanks for completing the profile questionnaire. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read through the “Beginner questions” thread as it’s packed full of newbie tips.

You are at a disadvantage on a 30 day trial since the workout library is limited and Base phase alone is 45 days long. However, you can adjust TED (target event date) to jump between phases or use Filter to right of Recommended Workouts and select different difficulty and focus duration (athlete type) to get a better idea of the range of workouts.
GC Specialist is a good place to start. You can change it later to match your target event focus as you move past Base phase into Build.
Generally things don’t pick up until halfway into Build but that also depends on focus duration (athlete type) and IR (improvement rate aka ramp rate).
Also consider your current training status (star count) determines which workouts are recommended. At two stars your won’t see any four diamond workouts recommended without using the Filter option. Of course it’s also unlikely you can complete a four diamond workout at two stars but you will get an idea how much harder they are.

I am not sure if the trial includes any hardness test workouts. Search the library for “hardness” and see what comes up. There are 19 in all ranging from two to five diamonds with the idea you start at your current status level (two stars = two diamonds) and test yourself over several weeks to see how far up the ladder you can go.

If signature still feels off after a BT workout attempt (see tips for doing these in the beginner thread) you can always file a request with support@xertonline.com and they’ll take a look at you historical data and adjust your signature if required.

Related – Compare Plans – Xert (baronbiosys.com)

Maybe you should try the “recalculate progression” button in the profile tab of the settings page. It will undo manual signature changes but you probably did not yet do that and with the duplicates and import and reimport from different sources it might clean up your signature calculation.
It just looks at all the imported activities that you now have (without any duplicates) from oldest to newest and tries to extract the correct signature and progression.
You could also take a look at activities with incorrect power data, there is an activity table view (third button from the top on the left) that can help identifying activities with too high max power or with breakthroughs that changed the signature improbably. Just flag the activities that seem to cause problems and they won’t be used for signature changes anymore, you can easily unflag as well to see what happens with different choices.

Or you could really just write an email to support and have them look at it, they have all the experience finding problems in the data and correcting them.

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Recalculating made a big difference… thank you!! Now it shows my race from last weekend as a BE, which makes so much more sense. It’s raised the XSS I’ve been earning from my recent workouts, boosted my fitness by 1/4 star, and the time until next workout went from .6 to .8 days, which gives me a rest day without falling too far behind. Thank you!!

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Glad I could help. Have fun!

Forgot to mention –
Since you have plenty of power data on file but don’t have a power meter on your bike (yet), as long as you track cadence and HR you can enable HRDM under Account Settings, Profile. That will track strain pts (XSS) for your outdoor rides and factor them into XATA.

Reference: Heart Rate Derived Metrics – Xert (baronbiosys.com)