I’m really enjoying Xert and the features it’s providing both myself and my clients. But unless you’re willing to dive into the deep end of the pool, learning an entirely new method of training and fitness for cyclists can be pretty intimidating.
To make the Xert system a little less intimidating, I’ve broken things down somewhat to help[ readers understand just what’s being shown, and why, and then how they might help you improve. That said, here are LOTS of variables when training. That’s why there are coaches: to help you better tune those variables using both the metrics that come from Xert and their own professional experience.
We’ll start with the easy stuff first: The image below is known as the “Fitness Summary”.
The first area that I’ll highlight shows my name, my age, my weight (Yeah, I know, I could stand to lose about 8 lbs.), and my “Goal Date”, which is April 1st of 2017 when the Ft. Davis Stage Race occurs.
The Gold Emblem means I’m a paid Premier member, and the two arrows in a circle represent the sync function, which reconciles my activities with Xert data with my Strava records.
The next area, to the left of my image, declares that my area of FOCUS is that of a Breakaway Specialist— someone who really wants his 5-minute power to be as high as possible. Similarly, if you’re focused on your 8-Minute Watts per kg, you’ll be labeled GC Specialist, and if you’re focused on Climbing, then your 10-minute W/kg will be your Focus.
Right below Breakaway Specialist, is my Threshold Power, which in the image reads 256W.
There are a LOT of definitions surrounding the word “Threshold” in cycling, but essentially, this is your FTP (Functional Threshold Power). It’s the power output, above which you’ll be on “borrowed time”, and below which you’ll be able to ride “for a LONG time”. It’s the Aerobic/Anaerobic “Threshold”.
Now, right next to Threshold is another metric, Projected 6-Week Value: 271W, followed by a green arrow. I LOVE THIS! It’s basically saying that if you keep doing what you are doing, and you stay on track at this mix of volume and intensity, you should see a wattage “Threshold” of 271 Watts, which in my case, is about 5-6% higher than the 256 that you see now. YEA! GO ME!
Below the Threshold line is a line that shows just what my projected 5-minute power is currently. In this case, that’s 336 Watts. Again, if I just stayed on course with my current training volume and interval intensity, I would probably be able to generate about 363 Watts over 5 minutes. So that green arrow once again means that things are looking good in the big scheme of things!
But on line 3, things start to change. Xert is recommending that, based on recent history, that I NOT “Focus” on 5-minute efforts, but instead work on riding a Recovery ride, which means low intensity, and low volume, maybe even a day off.
How does Xert do this? Well, it looks at your energy expenditure and strain accumulated on recent rides and over recent weeks, the frequency of those rides, the different intensities with which you’ve trained (especially the high intensity efforts). It also considers the duration of those rides to help determine whether you’re ready for the challenge, or if you may need to work up toward your “Focus” by working on lower-intensity efforts first (like 10-minute or 8-minute or 6-minute “Focus” intervals), or whether you’re on track for optimizing your Focus.
I find it helpful to see what the system says, though there are times when I’ll recommend you ride outside of the recommendation.
Finally, take a look at the bottom line.
You’ll see a “road” icon at left, then the words Training Status & Form, followed by a series of stars. Their quantity and color are another way to assess your current level of fitness and freshness. When you click on the “?” Question mark, you get this neat little explanation…
In summary: No colored stars means you’re probably a couch potato, and five colored stars means you’re putting in a LARGE amount of volume over a LONG period of time. The color of the star implies a level of fatigue, in Green, Blue, Yellow, and Red.
As you can see on the image I’ve been using more frequently, I’m showing 2 stars and they’re red, so while I’m starting to ramp up my training, the Xert software thinks that I’m probably pretty fatigued, and per the previous comment about Recommended Workouts, it believes I need a recovery day.
When I took the most recent image (which was a day later), my Xert fatigue status had risen from Very Tired (red), to Tired (yellow); the Recommended Workouts went from Recovery to Endurance. (To be honest, I’ve scheduled some intervals for today, so it’s contrary to the recommendation. I’ll let you know how that turns out.)
What’s neat about Xert is that all of this is located in a tight little area of the website’s main page. As an Xert Coach, the interface I have for Online Bike Coach and Cycling Center Dallas lets me see a client’s entire Fitness Summary. This lets me help them navigate through their training, determine what workouts may or may not be appropriate, and when it’s time to work harder or to back off.
Keep checking in. I’ll be writing up different features in Xert and posting them on the Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach Blogs. Feel free to comment and leave your own questions as well!
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