Wahoo’s new SYSTM training app helped me regain my fitness after a health issue knocked me off my game.
Some of you may know me as Bicycling’s membership coach. But I also own
CIS Training, a cycling coaching company. Each fall and spring, we host training camps in the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. My clients come, and we ride together to test and build their fitness over several consecutive days of challenging, hilly rides.
Last April’s training camp was a rough one. I had some health issues that knocked me off my game, and afterward, I needed to spend some extended time off the bike. This meant I spent considerably more time coaching than riding, and that’s fine, except that I didn’t have the opportunity to get into my usual summer fitness. Before I knew it, our fall camp was just a few weeks away. Beyond that, I had an even bigger challenge looming: a cycling trip to Prague and the Austrian border.
The fall camp was going to include 200 miles and 16,000 feet of elevation over four days. The ride in Prague would eclipse that with 425 miles and almost 29,000 feet over the course of a week! I needed some targeted indoor training to help me elevate my fitness to match these monster challenges. So, I decided to check out Wahoo’s new SYSTM training app. The app’s workouts helped me gain strength and endurance to go hard and recover on repeated short climbs and maintain long, steady efforts on huge mountain passes.
SYSTM offers hundreds of video-based training sessions and provides the one-to-one relation between indoor training and outdoor challenges. The app is available for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android devices and integrates seamlessly with other Wahoo products and most other smart trainers and power meters.
When I’m ready to train using the SYSTM, I fire up the app on the computer in my “pain cave” (a room I have designated for indoor training), set my road bike up on my KICKR Snap smart trainer, and then I’m good to go.
I started with a 14-day trial plan, where you just plug in some stats about what kind of rider you are and get a custom workout plan. My first ride was appropriately called “Getting Away With It.” It was tough! But I appreciated that and how focused it was on delivering the fitness gains I needed.
As some riders might remember, Wahoo bought The Sufferfest training app in 2019. SYSTM bases its workouts on their Four-Dimensional Power profile, which breaks down how well you perform in four different categories (the app guides you through a fitness test to determine your results):
Many riders get hung on their FTP, but Wahoo includes all four components to help you become a well-rounded rider who can tackle all the challenges bike rides and races throw at you. Each workout highlights how those elements are being targeted. And all the workouts and training plans are designed by sports scientists and elite coaches Neal Henderson and Mac Cassin. They’ve taken the latest tools and science and put them into an easy-to-use platform that can be as effective and dynamic as outdoor training.
For example, the workout library doesn’t just include super hard interval workouts where you stare at your power numbers, but rather a variety of realistic routes, which include:
The next workout I chose was an On Location climbing video. I rode over the Dentelles de Montmirail, which are the foothills of the highest peak in the Provence region of France. A gentleman was talking about the mountains and vineyards as we were riding through them. Of course, he’s also putting you through the paces! We did some hard five-minute efforts on these climbs. The Dentelles de Montmirail are jagged, spikey peaks, so this was a perfect workout leading into camp and my trip to Prague.
Off the bike, SYSTM offers a whole library of cross-training and complimentary workouts like running, swimming, strength training, mental training, and yoga. I really enjoy doing yoga through the platform. It makes it one-stop shopping. I can do my ride, have my yoga session, and my work is done!
I get a report from each session letting me know the work I accomplished and how I performed. There’s a badge system that rewards good effort. It’s always motivating to get a little gold star.
As a coach and an athlete, I appreciate what this platform has to offer for all types of riders. For example, there are people who already enjoy indoor training and racing on the indoor gaming platform Zwift—and I am an avid Zwifter. But SYSTM is a very different type of training. It offers a one-to-one relationship between you and your effort. No filler. No interruptions. Just you and the video and the work. It puts the rider in the mindset of staying in the effort and that will translate to making you a stronger, better racer on Zwift.
You can also really drill down a plan that is best suited for your specific goals—whether you’re an off-road rider or a time trialist or another type of cyclist.
And, of course, if you’re one of the countless time-crunched riders who need to make the most of their training time, especially during the week, so they can play hard and hang with the group on the weekend, the SYSTM can help you achieve your goals.
From my perspective, they just nailed it.
David Lipscomb is the Bicycling membership coach and owner of CIS Training Systems in New York City.
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