What’s On Your Garmin?
I frequently get this question. “What’s on your Garmin?” “What’s on your Screen?” “What do your Profiles look like?” How do you set up your Xert Training Fields, and in what order?
Well, the TL:DR version of it looks like this:
But the truth is that Xert Fields work best in different settings and locations. It’s a bit complicated, but hopefully this post and the next few will help.
Garmin Profiles – Don’t Get Distracted.
Garmin cycling computers have a LOT of options and features. My favorite is the Custom Profile. You can go into setup, build a profile, and have it as complex or simple as you want. There are pages, fields, even colors. Furthermore, with Connect IQ by Garmin, there are literally THOUSANDS of custom fields and apps that can provide useful information. This post will focus on Xert fields when I’m training. It’s what I look at when I’m riding indoors and out.
Xert Training Fields Profile on a Garmin Edge 1000
Let’s start at the VERY, VERY beginning. I’m going to use a Garmin 1000 screen. It’s what I own, and I’ll add recommendations for the Garmin 820, 520, and 1030 when I get screen shots of them from clients.
We’re going to download the Xert Fields, make adjustments in setup, and then install them in locations and pages on a profile.
First Things First
First – well, we turn on the Garmin, and let it cycle through its’ startup. ****BEWARE! GARMINS ARE VERY TOUCHY COMPUTERS! I recommend that you let the computer run through everything and then settle in on the home page before trying to do anything with it. If it prompts you to upgrade the firmware, make sure you do that at some time when you are NOT planning on riding! Firmware updates are good, but they can take time. Map upgrades can take HOURS. Like any other piece of tech – be prepared to spend time with it when you’re uninterrupted.
I’m going to assume that you’re familiar with Garmin Express, but if not, here are some screenshots of Garmin Express. I prefer Garmin Express and a wired connection. You can also use Garmin Connect through your Smart Phone.
Let’s begin by looking at all of the Xert and Baron BioSystems Apps that are available, and installing them properly on the Garmin Edge.
Let’s click on “IQ Apps”.
Now, let’s stop and take a look at the Drop-Down menu. It’s important to discern a few things.
Garmin Fields Vs. Apps Vs. Widgets, Explained.
Click on the Drop-Down Menu in the Upper Right of the box, and you’ll get the following options:
A DATA FIELD is a custom field that works with the rest of the fields on the Garmin. It occupies one space. Fields use the data coming in from the Garmin’s sensors, like Speed, Cadence, Power, and HR.
The Xert Training Fields that are DATA FIELDS are:
- MPA and Power – Xert
- Fat and Carbs – Xert
- XSS and XEP – Xert
- Focus and Strain – Xert
- What’s My FTP? – Xert
There’s also one more field that is labeled under BaronBiosystems, but does not mention Xert in the label:
GARMIN APPLICATIONS (APPS)
A Garmin APP, effectively takes over the entire brain of the Garmin Edge, and uses the sensor information in its’ own way.
There is currently one Xert APP.
Garmin Widgets are similar to Fields, but they tend to take data from your phone or Wi-Fi, and display it in the field.
A good example of a Widget might be:
- NavMin, which is a widget used to create maps for export to TCX.
THIS post is all about Garmin PROFILES and FIELDS, and how I place my Xert Fields for Training Rides. Ergo, we’ll focus on FIELDS. For the sake of consistency, click on the “GET MORE APPS” option in blue, on the lower right hand corner of the window. This link will take you to the “Connect IQ Store”. Type “Xert” in the search bar, and you’ll get this:
Let’s start with Xert’s “MPA and Watts” Xert Training field. Click on the rectangle, and you’ll get this:
This is my absolute, all-time, go-to, first field. It’s the CORE of XERT. You can do SO MUCH with just this Field alone. Click Download, and then let’s proceed. ***PS – You’ll need your Garmin Email and Account Information!
For the sake of simplicity, GO AHEAD AND DOWNLOAD ALL OF THE FIELDS. DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE “BIOSHIFT” AS WELL.
That’s a total of EIGHT FIELDS. Garmin 520 owners and some of you Fenix Owners, well, you’re limited to 4 Fields on one profile, and two fields on one profile. When you see how I set up my own and my clients’ fields, you may want to consider an 820 or 1030. Oh – and no one’s eyesight is improving as we age. No one’s.
Programming Xert Training Fields With Xert Data
Once you’ve downloaded all of the fields, your Garmin Express screen will look something like this. Use the “DATA FIELDS” drop-down.
Your order may differ, but let’s program these fields in the following sequence…
- MPA and Power – Xert
- Fat and Carbs – Xert
- XSS and XEP – Xert
- Focus and Strain – Xert
- What’s My FTP? – Xert
- BioShift Cadence Optimizer
- Time-to-Exhaustion – Xert
As of this publication, Project Jaguar is a Beta Field, and is not active. I’ll write up a separate post about that soon.
MPA and Power – Xert
To program, click on the GREY OVAL WITH THE ‘DOT DOT DOT’ in the middle. You’ll get this window:
There’s not much to program here, just enter your Xert Username and Password, and set “Power Average Time” to 3 Seconds. Why 3 seconds? Because it’s roughly your inhale/exhale average cycle. Click ‘Save’, and let’s move on.
Fat and Carbs – Xert
XSS and XEP – Xert
Now, I’m going to dip my toes into some controversy here, but it’s my blog, and I’ve seen enough to know what I’m talking about.
Notice how I’ve slid “Show Difficulty score in place of XEP.” over to the “ON” position. Why? Well, let’s have that discussion.
XEP stands for “Xert Equivalent Power”. It’s a type of average power that is based on Strain, Stress, and metabolism. BUT, and here’s my problem with it….. It keeps the Zeroes in the calculation. Now, when you coast, it’s going to lower the average. My comment about this is, well, your heart still beats when you’re coasting, and when you’re stopped. If you want a metabolic average power, then get rid of the zeroes. It’s not that XEP is not accurate, but I really wish that XEP was it’s own field, and that it had the option for the slider that is underneath, which is, “Reset on Lap”. If I had XEP that could reset on a lap, then I could arguably train for intervals better, because God Knows I’m not going to coast through an interval, right?
But they’re paired at the hip for now, and XSS is more important than XEP anyway. Switching to “Difficulty Score” is also useful, because it gives you an idea of just how “hard” a ride may be. Difficulty level is based on Strain per hour, so it also floats up and down, but is arguably easier to understand.
Click “Save” and let’s move on.
FOCUS and STRAIN
Now, let me be the first to tell you – I LOVE “Focus” and “Strain”. Why? Well, they’re crucial elements to your overall training picture. I’ve written about this before, but “Strain” is how your body responds to “Stress”. When you ride, you use energy, and “Stress” is measured in KiloJoules. “Strain” is the physiological response. Having “Strain” on-screen allows you, if you know what you’re looking for, to get adequate value out of a ride, just on strain alone.
Likewise, when you ride, you want to keep “Focus” in mind. “Focus” looks at “Strain” intensities – all the highs and lows, the ups and downs of wattage generated during a ride, and it basically says the following: “Thus far, all the Strain Kilojoules you’ve used, in Low, High, and Peak intensities, has led the “FOCUS” of the ride, to be at, “X” minutes and seconds. The more Stress you build up, and the more strain you build up, the less sensitive “Focus” gets. This is a GREAT way to go out on a three-hour jaunt, let’s say, and just ride for a “Focus” of, say, 6:00 minutes, and earn at least 300 Kj’s of Strain. That’s just one example, but it’s good to keep Strain on the screen, and let both fields accumulate over the course of the ride. Therefore, keep “Reset on Lap” OFF.
We will discuss the COLOR of FOCUS later (I wrote a blog post about that as well, I think), but for now, just click “Save”, and continue.
What’s My FTP? – Xert
This is another really useful field, as long as you employ it correctly.
FTP stands for “Functional Threshold Power’. There are a MILLION definitions of this value, but my own, Single-Malt-Scotch-Distilled version goes like this: “Below this number (in Xert, or Tpeaks, or WKO, or RaceDay Apollo, or whatever other analysis software strikes your fancy), you’re “AER-O-BIC”, and you can ride “For a Really Long Time”. ABOVE this number….. You’re on BORROWED time, and you’re only going to make it for a few minutes at most.
Still, it’s good to know WHAT that number is, and that’s what this Field offers. As you ride an intense effort, it generates a ring that goes around, like the Second hand on a clock, and the colors change. Once it’s made one revolution, the number in the middle, your “FTP”, starts to rise. When you quit from exhaustion, the number that you see is theoretically pretty close to what your FTP should be.
DO NOT have it reset on laps, unless you know what you’re doing. Leave everything else off as well. Click ‘Save’, and let’s move on.
BioShift Cadence Optimizer
Nothing to see here for programming, except that it’s just an AWESOME FIELD and IT REALLY, REALLY works. I don’t know how, but it’s got code that is uncanny.
Time-to-Exhaustion – Xert
Now, this Xert Training field can be used in MANY different ways.
The first way is to look at the first field in the window, which is “Time-To-Exhaustion Watts”. It’s default setting is “500”. What it means is this…..
“If you set this value to 500 (or whatever), and you then HOLD that value when pedaling, it will count down the time you have available until your MPA reaches 500.”
Likewise, if you skip down to the THIRD OPTION, “Time-to-Recovery Watts”, which is set to “0”, it means this….
“IF YOU RIDE AT 0 Watts (or whatever), as a recovery wattage, the “Time-To-Recovery” value will count down until you’ve reached your Peak MPA once again.”
Now, for reasons I won’t go into here, this is not my favorite method for using this Field. Instead, let’s look at another option, which is this:
If you slide the “Use Custom Target MPA” on Row 2 to “ON”, and then set your “Target MPA to “X” (the default is 500), and then slide the “Use Custom Target MPA?” down on Row 5, to “ON”, (Default is 1200), then you get a different, and a bit different result. I’ll try to explain it like this:
- “First – Set your TTE Watts to a training intensity, say, 500.
- Then, slide the next field option to “ON”.
- Third, Set a “Target MPA” of, say, 700. My Peak Power is roughly 1250 watts, so 700 will get me down to a pretty low value, but it will still keep something in reserve, and 500 watts is pretty damned intense.
- Fourth, set “Time-to-Recovery Watts” to, oh, 80 watts. I don’t live anywhere that I can coast at zero watts, but I can ghost-pedal at 80 watts and still get my legs and lungs back.
- Fifth, Slide “Use Custom Target MPA?” to “ON”
- Sixth, set a “Target Recovery MPA” value to, oh, let’s go with 1000. That should give me enough time to recover, but I’ll still have to hammer out at 500 watts to get back down to 700 MPA.
- Click “Save”.
What this function performs is that it creates an MPA “Floor”, and an MPA “Ceiling”, as well as a goal wattage for the effort, and the recovery. It’s a Simple Interval-Builder. You can bounce from floor to ceiling, floor to ceiling, until you’re completely exhausted.
The problem is that it requires programming, a knowledge of how capable you are, and how long you think you can hold an effort watt-wise, without blowing up too early, or too late.
Now, it can be useful for things like Time-Trials, where you’d set a goal wattage to maintain, and would then set recovery to 0, and ignore the MPA settings, turning those ‘OFF’. But I’m honestly not the biggest believer in flat intervals. They’re not terribly real-world, and Xert users can get more out of their training, by using the other fields instead of this one.
Feel free to disagree, though, and certainly leave your comments below.
ALWAYS CLICK ‘HOME’ !
We’re almost done with the hard stuff, and we’re about to get to the Profile itself. Hang on.
Once you have finished programming the fields with your own Username and Password, and you’ve turned the options on and off to your liking, then we get to put them in the memory for the Garmin.
When you’re done programming in the “DOT DOT DOT” areas, scroll up and down, to make sure you have all the Fields you’re looking for, and then ALWAYS, hit the “Home” icon in the upper Left corner. In fact, I usually do it twice before disconnecting my Garmin. If you get the “Changes Saved” green bar, it should be good to go.
PART II – Building an Xert Training Fields Profile.
Now, this is NOT a Racing Profile, it’s a TRAINING Profile. It’s also not an ADVENTURE Profile, which would require using some “RideWithGPS” downloads. That’s another topic for another day.
Let’s get started.
First – Turn on the Garmin:
After booting up, you’ll get the main page. Press on the “Screwdriver and Wrench” icon in the lower left, and you’ll get this:
Press the Top Option: “Activity Profiles”:
Press the “+” button. It will create a new profile.
Press ‘Name’, and for this exercise, I’m going to call it ‘Xert Blogpost’.
Now, go to “Data Screens”. Let the fun begin!
Press the ‘Check’ button, and then press the TOP FIELD.
You’ll get the ‘Field Menu’. Press ‘Connect IQ’.
Press ‘Connect IQ’ and you’ll see all of your Xert Fields.
When you press ‘Xert: MPA and Power’, will show up in the first field.
Now, let’s just go down the list, and add them IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER.
BioShift is going to be a little hard to read down there, which is why I like the 5 field limit, but let’s continue.
The final field to add in this case would be….
Now – NONE OF THESE are populated. Press the “CHECK” box, and let’s get out of setup.
Hit the back arrow, and get back to the Main Menu for the Garmin.
Your MOST ESSENTIAL Xert Training Fields Data is there, on one screen, and in a particular order. Why this order? Well, let’s look at that, real quick.
- MPA and POWER: You need to look at power because, well, you’re a nerd like the rest of us. It’s COLOR CODED, and when it turns certain colors, MPA will decline. When it turns certain other colors, MPA will rise or maybe even not move at all. Still, this is a TRAINING profile, so think COLORS of the WATTS.
- FAT and CARBS: Now, personally, I would prefer to have these reversed, so that FAT was directly under POWER, but it’s not a big deal. What IS a big deal, is that here, you have TWO of the main elements that make up some of your MOST CRUCIAL TRAINING; The “Green/Red” Ride. What does that mean? Well, when your WATTS are colored green, and your FAT is colored red, well, you’re riding PRETTY AEROBICALLY. These “Green/Red” Rides make up a LOT of a cyclist’s training, and are the most accurate way I know of to demonstrate and display one-half of the “Polarized” training technique. Likewise, if you start increasing intensity, your “CARBS” will start shooting up, and you need to think about replenishing those in a timely fashion. One more treat: If you’re looking to lose weight, and your Signature is accurate, well, burn the FAT grams, and don’t replace them. Eventually, something will happen.
- FOCUS and STRAIN are some of my favorite fields as a coach. I can use FOCUS to help athletes GOVERN a ride, or determine just what type of training best suits a ride or race. If FOCUS changes colors, then I know just how, well, “Focused” the “Focus” was. As for STRAIN, well, when you look at the chart on Xert, and you start to think about how STRAIN is necessary for adaptation, you can set minimums and maximums for a ride, or start making comparisons between Focus, XSS, and Difficulty. It helps with Intuition.
- XSS and DIFFICULTY are useful because I like to see myself and my clients achieve scores, set floors and ceilings, and once again, using Difficulty, determine and intuit just how ‘Hard’ or ‘Easy’ a ride may or may not be. XSS and Strain only go UP. Focus will rise and fall, but will be less sensitive over time. Difficulty will also rise and fall, and will be less sensitive over time, but it can give you another ‘value’ for an overall effort.
- BioShift – I LOVE THIS FIELD! HOLY MOLY DO I LOVE THIS FIELD! I think it is GENIUS! For years, we’ve tried to look at that “Gear/Cadence/Slope/Power” combo, to come up with a formula that works and tells you, “You need to be HERE with that power and that slope, and maybe even that speed.” I don’t know how Xert/Baron BioSystems does it, but it’s UNCANNY. Use it, make it bigger with fewer fields if you need to, and keep that bar in the GREEN!
Now – WHERE IS ‘WHAT’S MY FTP?” Well, if you want it, it’s on Field 6. But if you look up at the top of this post, you’ll see that I placed it on another screen entirely. Why? Well, FTP is important, but it’s not critical to a TRAINING RIDE. A TRAINING RIDE uses POWER, to set a Pre-Determined FOCUS, achieving a floor or ceiling strain, a minimum XSS, and maybe a certain amount of Fat grams, or overall KiloJoules. I’ve placed a TON of information on the other screens. I even have a “Lap” screen, using some more Xert Fields, along with some non-custom fields. You may also see that I tinker with the Moxy Widget; it’s another tool for training. But the core elements for Xert are here.
I’ll do a separate blog post on TTE and TTR, and will show you a workout that uses it. But for now, let’s go with this.
I know this has been a long post, and I know that the Garmin 1000 is no longer available. The post took me about four months to write. I wrote versions of it over a year ago. A lot has changed, but these are the fundamentals which I believe will help you get the most out of Xert, for every training event.