Xert Training Platform In-Depth Review


It’s been about a year since Xert plopped onto the training platform scene, and in that time it’s grown both considerably in functionality, as well as users.  So what is Xert?  Well, it’s part training platform, part training app ecosystem, and a lot of training and recovery theory/science.

As is becoming the trend with many training platforms these days, they have to become closer and closer to the end user during the workout itself.  We saw yesterday for example the new TrainingPeaks Connect IQ app that they rolled out for doing just that.  But Xert has actually had apps since last summer, and while TrainingPeaks delivers the structured workout files to the Garmin device, Xert goes much further in terms of control and dynamically changing the workout on the fly to match the workout goals.

One caveat though to save some readers some time:  As it stands today, Xert is all about cycling.  And specifically, all about cycling with a power meter.  While there are some users experimenting with using it for running power, that experience is more for the adventurous geek than anything else.  Somewhat like TrainerRoad, everything in Xert is about power data.  Certainly you see your other data (i.e. cadence, speed, heart rate, etc…), but the automation and guidance is 110% power-cycling focused.  It has no awareness or care about your jogging or play-time in the pool.  So, if that’s you – I suggest going and reading a post or twelve in the travel section.  It’s Friday after all.

(Preemptive note: Yes, I do pay for my own subscription to Xert…as well as Strava…and TrainerRoad….and Zwift…and TrainingPeaks via my Coach…and on and on.)

An Overview:


Getting an account setup on Xert is pretty straightforward, like most web platforms these days sign-up only takes a moment or two.  Pricing is free for up to one activity a week (basically, to poke around), $9/month, or $99/year.  Roughly in the ballpark with other training platforms, though a tiny bit cheaper than TrainingPeaks.

Of course with a training platform, you’ll want to get data into it.  There are a number of ways to do that today.  You can sync directly from services like Strava and Garmin Connect, as well simply import in files manually (or record them with the mobile app).  You used to be able to sync from TrainingPeaks, but then TrainingPeaks killed that.  You can however do a bulk import of TrainingPeaks data to Xert for those making the switch.

In any case, I use Strava to sync from.  Which may sound somewhat funny, but my logic is simple: My Garmin Connect account is a mess (my fault), as it’s full of 3-5 data sets from every ride I do (multiple devices).  Whereas my Strava account is actually relatively ‘clean’, with only a single entry for each ride.  Thus, that’s what I sync from.  The only caveat is that if you go the Strava route, Xert doesn’t get the original .FIT file from your Garmin.  That only impacts things if you use the Xert CIQ Player app for structured workouts.  Whereas if you use the Garmin > Xert sync, then you get that original data. Phew!

Once you complete a workout it’ll automatically show up in the dashboard to accept.  In my case, I’ve set it to manually approve workouts into my dashboard.  But for most people, you’ll just want to set it up to automatically import things.  You can see below where I’ve got two workouts to accept.  They even display the names I’ve given them in Strava:


(Unfortunately there isn’t a way to permanently mark something as ‘don’t bother to import’.  I sometimes kinda wish there was a ‘permanently ignore’ function.)

The whole sync process, even for a pile of rides, took all of a few seconds to complete (you can see them being shown briefly at the top as they process).


You can see changes from ride to ride in your general profile section under ‘My Fitness’, which then shows small changes with the arrows indicated (green in my case, because I’m becoming more awesome.)  Note again that this is only rides, because the platform doesn’t support running, swimming, or cow-tipping.


Here’s another example, this one showing the before (left) and after (right) importing the above two rides:

image image

In this case the threshold power went from 272w to 287w, while my ‘3+ hour power’ went from 245w to 249w.  So why the big jump?  Well the last 3-4 weeks have been lower cycling-wise for me.  With a week-long ski trip, a crapton of running, and a pile of swimming, I saw less cycling activity – so it presumed I was sucking more since it had only a handful of rides to go off of (which were mostly lower intensity).  The reality of a triathlete/skier.

However, when I’m cycling every other day or so, then I tend to see shifts of only a watt or two.

You’ll also notice above the predicted 6-week values, which look more at recent historical data and extrapolate it outwards/forward.  All of this is also shown lower down on that same page, where it overlays against time.  You can see how my cycling is really heavy from about now till the end of August.  Then the hell that is Eurobike-Interbike-ANT+ Symposium conventions and travel sets in for September, where cycling drops off.  And for some reason I didn’t upload much to Strava (and thus Xert) back in October. Weird.


In any event, if you look at the above, you can see the changes in threshold power plotted in yellowish, as well as key workouts that significantly altered the course of history.  You can enable/disable any of these metrics just by clicking on them.

Note that there are slightly different terms here than in other platforms like TrainingPeaks, Strava, etc…   That’s mostly due to trademark issues.  For example, ‘Normalized Power’ is what TrainingPeaks calls one metric, whereas Strava calls it ‘Weighted Average Power’.  Xert calls it it XEP – Xert Equivalent Power.

At a high level these might appear to be one and the same.  But behind the scenes there are differences.  For example, XEP takes into account rest more than normalized power would.  So if you’ve got larger periods of rest you may see a difference between them.

Speaking of activities, let’s dig into one.  I can do that by clicking on any given workout in the views above, or I can go into a dashboard and see a long list of activities.  Or calendar view to see the same laid onto a calendar.


Selecting one will bring up the details of that specific workout.  Here’s one of the ones from above (you can click to zoom in on it):


You can see you’ve got all the major data points you’d expect – such as distance, time, power, elevation, etc…   Plus the map view seen above.


Down below I’ve got a chart that I can easily toggle different metrics on/off:


I can also switch that over to showing power duration, in a mean-maximal graph too:


Just for fun, here’s how the two sets of core numbers such as TSS/Normalized Power/Intensity Factor vary between TrainingPeaks and Xert for this specific activity:



Or, in a text variant:

TrainingPeaks TSS: 166.2
Xert XSS: 145
TrainingPeaks Normalized Power: 232w
Xert XEP: 210w

Now, a few things to keep in mind on the above numbers.  First is that since each of these platforms are basing some of these metrics on my FTP – you’re going to get different trickle-down values since my FTP was different in both applications.  This is because Xert is tracking this dynamically, whereas TrainingPeaks requires manual updates (which I rarely do).

There are some metrics that aren’t shown in Xert.  For example, left/right power balance isn’t seen anywhere.  But, there are plenty others that are unique to Xert.

One of the most interesting is MPA – Maximal Power Available.  Think of MPA as basically the absolute maximum power you can throw down at any given moment during a workout/race.  This is your cap, your limiter.  The MPA number is shown both in real-time on Garmin devices, as well as after the fact.  You can see it below in the upper left.  Also, note XSS in the lower left.  You even get things like how long I can maintain 500w for at that moment and time (54 seconds).


Let’s look at one ride I did back in Melbourne that’s a great example of this.  The dark line is my MPA, whereas the red line is my power throughout the ride.  Gray in shadow is elevation.


What do you notice above?  For the first portion of the ride, my MPA value (946w) remains essentially unchanged.  As we cruise along at wattages between 150-300w, there’s very little impact to my MPA.  It’s a group ride and things are pleasant.

But as we get into the middle section the group starts to surge up the hill, and my power along with it – moving upwards into the 400-600w+ territory (and those are 5-second averages too!).  At the same time, you notice my MPA starts to decline.  This tells me that I’m running out of juice.

Here’s a closer look at the climb.  Notice how those slight flat sections on the hill (in grey) I reduce watts and my MPA starts to recover (goes up).  Basically, I’m getting back ‘strength’ (kinda like back in the day in Street Fighter).


However, there’s one push that nearly did me in, where you see MPA and my actual power output nearly touch.


It’s at the above moment that I was giving it all I had, and MPA was correctly knowing that.  I simply couldn’t output any more power than that.  Keep in mind I was seeing this in real-time on my Garmin Edge device, using the MPA data field.

You can see above that over the course of the remainder of the ride I recovered my MPA during easy/rest periods, though some later sprints started to dive that down a bit more.

Now – there are some caveats here, primarily for triathletes.  As noted at the beginning, Xert has no awareness of running or swimming (or any other sports).  So the days before the above ride I did some pretty beastly trail runs with a lot of elevation gain in the heat.  Thus, my legs were a bit more shot than Xert knew about.  It thought I was fresh since I hadn’t ridden my bike in a few days.  Thus many times for me as a multi-sport athlete, Xert will overestimate what I’m capable of.

On the flip-side, as a triathlete, MPA isn’t super important to me.  It’d be unheard of for example to approach anywhere near MPA during a long-course triathlon race (if you did, you’re doing it wrong).

Still – MPA is one of the coolest features within Xert.  And when combined with XSS, which I’ll discuss in the next section, it starts to be a different way of looking at things.

Oh, last but not least, for lack of anywhere else to put it – here’s a rankings page that they have:


The above tells you where I rank in the scope of life, but more importantly where one’s particular strengths are.  Though, keep in mind that in some ways your strengths may reflect what you’re doing from a workout standpoint.  Meaning, if your training is focused on time-trialing, then that’s likely what it’ll tell you you’re good at.  Logical and all, but just keep that in mind.

Trainer & Connect IQ Apps:


Since early in their existence, Xert has had Garmin Connect IQ apps.  They’ve actually got a bunch of them.  Some are technically data fields, while one is a true full-app (the Smart Workout Player).

When it comes to leveraging Connect IQ features, Xert is pretty much on the cutting edge of using everything Garmin has available to them.  I’d easily argue that some of the features you see in Connect IQ today are directly as a result of the work the Xert team is doing to drive those capabilities into the products (even if they can’t be back-ported to every Garmin device).


The data fields on these apps allow you to get much the same data as shown on the workout pages earlier in this post, but in real-time on your device.  For example, the MPA metrics that we’ve been talking about are available as a data field.  This is ideal since it doesn’t rely on a full-blown app, and can be used on almost every Connect IQ capable device (yes, even your Fenix 3’s and FR920XT’s!)


These are handy to arrange in an entire dedicated page if you want to on your device, or to use individually within other data pages:


Note that you do need to remember to update your ‘Xert Code’ every once in a while (ideally each ride) for the data fields, which can be done via phone or desktop computer.


This tells the data field what your MPA and other metrics are.  It’s a small code to copy/paste.  Unfortunately, with Connect IQ data fields they can’t leverage a phone connection to a web platform behind the scenes to automatically update data like full blown Connect IQ apps can.


However, it’s not just a data field they have – but also a full Connect IQ app: The Xert Workout Player.

This app is designed to assist you in executing a workout, but does so in real-time in conjunction with their backend web services (though, it can work offline too).  This is dramatically different than what I showed yesterday with the app from TrainingPeaks.  In the case of that app, they’re essentially just handing over a pre-structured workout file to your Garmin device to execute.  Basically the FedEx man.

But in this case, Xert is actually running the entire workout experience.  You never open up the regular Garmin cycling mode – everything happens within this Connect IQ app on your Edge device.  Further, it’s dynamically adjusting the target durations in real-time as well as even streaming a live copy of that data in real-time to their servers.


Note that this is only available for Edge devices, and of course – only those Edge devices that support Connect IQ (Edge 520/820/1000 and the Edge Explore 820/1000).

Here I am installing it on my Edge 1000.  It’ll actually prompt you to authenticate with the Xert web service, via the phone (just once).


Now Xert has a huge pile of structured workouts that you can select from (just like TrainerRoad or Zwift does).  As of this very moment, they have 92 to be exact.  Plus, you can create your own, or if you have a coach on the platform, you’ll see their workouts too.


Workouts can roughly be divided into two camps: Normal workouts and ‘Smart’ workouts.  Normal workouts have specific targets based on your current fitness (so they are still pretty smart in that they are based on your exact fitness level that day).  For example, if I randomly pick this workout here – you’ll see it’s still filling in for me my target values.  And, it’ll control the trainer to those values (if you have an ANT+ FE-C capable trainer).


So the above is pretty much like what TrainerRoad or Zwift or whoever else does it using estimated FTP values.  There are small variations in terms of calculations and what-not.  But the general gist of things is that once you press start, the workout will be exactly as you see it on the screen when you selected it, including the durations.

And that’s different than a ‘Smart’ workout.  In a Smart workout the specifics of the workout can and will change dynamically.  Specifically, the duration of each section.  See, let’s pull open a ‘Smart’ workout.  These are all titled ‘Smart’ in the name.  Check out the list below (there are 37 ‘Smart’ workout as of this moment):


Notice the XSS column.  The goal of that second workout is basically to accumulate 71 XSS points.  XSS being ‘Xert Stress Score’.  Sorta like TSS.  The more XSS points you accumulate in a workout – the harder that workout likely was.  Now, let’s crack open that second workout (Ride the Lightning).  Here’s the overview first:


What you see above is that it’s bringing down your MPA (in purple) each time during the intervals – to a fairly significant amount in fact.  And then it recovers them during the rest.  But let’s look at a few of the exact steps down below:


So look at the ‘duration’ column.  Notice how outside that initial warm-up (don’t worry, you can do a pre-warm-up if you want), there’s no times listed.  No minutes or seconds.  Instead, your duration is getting you to a specific MPA value.  So basically, you’re going to keep working harder until you get to 95% reserve Maximal Power Available (on the first one).  Then, you’re going to recover until you get to 99% MPA available (basically totally recovered).

No big deal, right?

Ahh, not exactly.  What happens then is that the structured workout basically keeps hammering you harder and harder and reduces your recovery each time.  But it does let you recover.  What’s critically important to understand here on how this differs from others is that it’s dynamically responding to your ability to execute the workout. It’s not preset in terms of how long the workout can take.

Let’s put this into practice for a second.  Here’s the app ready to roll on my Garmin Edge device.  It’s loaded up and it knows which workout I’ve selected through the web interface.  It then connects to my ANT+ FE-C trainer, as well as my power meter and cadence/HR sensors. You don’t need an FE-C trainer for this, but if you have one then it’ll do it for you.  Additionally, if you have a power meter then it’ll do power matching to ensure your values match inside and outside.  In fact, it’s continually calibrating this power meter difference in real-time behind the scenes throughout the workout.

You can start-off with doing your own warm-up, or you can use the usually very small warm-up that’s baked into the workout.  In general, I’d recommend doing your own 10-minute or so warm-up.  In the below case, I’ve got 12 seconds left in this workout segment, with a target of 266w.  I’m maintaining 267w at that moment.


It’ll show the time remaining for each step along the bottom right, as well as the target power and your power in the middle.  Current cadence and heart rate is also shown above.

It’s going to automatically control the trainer for you (again, if you have a trainer with FE-C) and keep you on task.  It’ll also chirp at 5 seconds before the end of each section.

Where it gets ‘interesting’ is when you get into the ‘Smart’ section of a workout.  The unit will then start to play mind-games on you.  At this point you’ll be given a target, and a timer.  But that timer will speed up or slow-down to keep you accumulating the exact amount of XSS (or hitting the specific MPA value).  So even though it may say you’ve got a 4-minute recovery, that could really be 6 minutes or 3 minutes depending on how things are going.

In the case of below, I’m in a recovery segment that’s got me at 192w, and in theory has 1 minute and 53 seconds left.  In practice, it was actually longer.


The good news is you can tweak the workout in real-time.  For example you can swipe left to decrease resistance by 5w, or right to increase by 5w.  Keep swiping to keep increasing/decreasing.  That cascades down into speeding up or slowing down segments since you’re accumulating XSS faster or slower.


Now only that, but this is all streamed live to the Xert site, allowing a coach or yourself to view it on a desktop player.  Speaking of which, while I don’t cover it here – Xert does have an entire coaching section too.  That allows coaches to have athletes assigned to them and so on.  But again, a bit out of the scope of this post.


What’s cool is that any of these sections with the tiny arrow in/next to them can be broken out into new windows – so you can overlay it next to Netflix/Hulu/YouTube/etc….

The behind the scenes on this is kinda techy-cool, since it goes from your Garmin Edge device –> Phone (via Bluetooth Smart) –> Xert online (via WiFi/Cellular) –> Your desktop (via interwebs). And the ‘lag’ response of that entire process is within about 1.5-2s.  I’ve got a video coming up in the next day or so that shows exactly how it works (thus, subscribe to my YouTube channel!).  Note there is no lag on the actual Edge itself.

Afterwards, you’ll get all of this data saved to the site to analyze just as I did for the rides up above.  Pretty much same-same there.  Though, you don’t get an overlay of the planned structure on-top of the actual executed workout if you sync via Strava, but rather, only via Garmin Connect.  That’s because via the Strava route the Garmin .FIT file Developer Fields gets ripped out.  Whereas directly from Garmin they don’t.


Btw – one oddity I had that some might remember is a few weeks ago I did a Smart workout where I basically failed to complete it.  Meaning, I couldn’t pedal anymore.  Lots of folks wondered if that was a Xert failure, a me failure, or something else.  Well, a bunch of folks (Garmin and Xert) did a bunch of digging into my pile of files and found what was occurring was that Xert as using power matching from my power meter.  But the head unit was seeing power meter dropouts for whatever reasons, so that was giving incomplete data to Xert, causing all sorts of problems.  It had one skewed vision of reality.  I haven’t seen that happen on other workouts.

Phew.  So there ya have it – a deep dive into their apps.  Definitely super cool stuff.

Finally, I want to note that there is also an Android version of their app – so if you don’t have a Garmin Edge device, you can get all this same data (and actually a fair bit more) on the smartphone variant.  The reason it’s primarily Android today is that iOS doesn’t support ANT+ natively, and most folks are using ANT+ cycling sensors.  I did cover the Xert Android app back in my Trainer App post this winter here, so check that out for more details on it.

Going forward:


I think what makes Xert fascinating is the blend of both a training platform with lots of depth, but also the various apps they’ve created to bridge that experience in front of the cyclist during the workout.  And that’s key.  There’s lots of apps to analyze training data, but there are far fewer apps that can give and change workout/race guidance in real-time.

One of the other things that’s been interesting to watch is how the Xert team reacts to feedback from the cycling community at large.  Both in terms of proactive communications and explanations, as well as reactive ones.  You’ll find them pretty active in many forums, but especially so on the Wattage forums.  With any sort of complex sport science, you’re going to get dissenters about what you’re doing.  Even myself; I’m not in a position to judge all the science aspects of something like this (I’m focused more on the tech).  But what’s key here is that the Xert team is pretty happy to explain what they’re doing and provide real-world actual data to back it up.  They’ve also been relatively up-front about when they’ve tweaked algorithms or assumptions.

Of course, for the triathlete like myself – Xert is harder to use in a standalone setting.  Since it ignores the other and equally painful workouts, it’s going to be hard to predict and analyze accurately what I’m doing.  But for a pure cyclist that has a power meter, it’s one of the most solid all-inclusive options out there today.

With that, thanks for reading!

(Side note: For another third party view on Xert, check out Richard Wharton’s couple posts on using it in training.  His data is a bit ‘cleaner’ than mine as it’s a bit more structured.)

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  1. First off – Ray – THANK YOU for the review and mention. We’ve been I net friends for years and I’m grateful for the shared knowledge.

    Second – readers – I’m in West Texas at the moment and won’t return to Dallas until Monday but if you have questions I can set up appointments with you via email and then via skype.

    It’s a profound technology that is still nascent but I’m convinced that it’s a profound paradigm shift in understanding what you’re doing, how it’s working and why you can dig a little deeper to achieve fitness breakthroughs.

    If you want photos of my Garmin screens or fitness page, join the Xert users group in Facebook.

    Also look up Steve Neal – a coach in Canada also at the forefront of this technology.

  2. Stefan

    Thanks for the review Ray. For me, Xert has been spot on in how it tracks FTP and also how it classifies me as a rider (triathlete vs. sprinter). I’m excited to continue using it.
    To your point of triathletes using it – I would, in particular, like to see a discussion on what MPA should be to set me up for a good run. Ideally one would have a cycling and a triathlon MPA. During a triathlon race one could then use the Garmin data fields to see how much of the ‘MPA tank’ was used and how to best top it off again before heading out on the run. If I ride with my ‘cyclists’ MPA, I will never leave a dent during a triathlon race (long course). Having this as a strategic tool could be super helpful.
    Also, shout-out to Richard Wharton’s informative videos.

  3. David Chrisman

    So Xert is interesting to me (especially in work out detail)–but I don’t have a Garmin computer or android phone. One of my hesitations on Garmin computer is lack of BT sensor support (more on principle than anything). With Garmin adding BT sensor support to Fenix 5 and FR935–do you think they will go that route with future bike computers? Hopefully no “embargo” on that info…

  4. Timothy F.

    You show doing the smart workout on your garmin with your trainer my question is can you do the smart workout outside on the bike? If so how was the experience?

    • Tim- yes, you can, though honestly, given the variables of terrain, traffic, obstructions, solo or group…. you’ll probably want to stick with turbo/smart trainers.

      This CAN be done well on a pair of rollers with resistance loads, and Armando built us a CompuTrainer hack that works, but it’s honestly better used on an Android laptop instead of a tablet, so you can get both ant+ and cables where they need to go.

  5. Great review! I’m glad to see “more players” in this type of market, it brings competition to Trainingpeaks and such…
    Do they have an on-premise equivalent like TrainingPeaks with WKO+4 ?

  6. Joe E

    Great review as usual Ray, thanks.

    I saw you said some are experimenting using for Running also. Any comments by Xert on expanding the platofrm to running as well? It’s a great platform, but agree with you that people cross training can not really take advantage.

    • Thanks Joe.

      Adapting Xert for running and other sports is a big part of our evolution. Today, we have athletes that are using the Stryd power meter with our analytics and training with it using our unique workouts. Needless to say, this approach is quite different than what your everyday running workout looks like and some have a lot of promise for these new approaches. We’ll be adding the ability to account for running or other non-cycling activities soon, in terms of XSS and Training Load. This is part of a new set of features we’ll be releasing shortly.

  7. Thomas Wylie

    So if I wanted to use this I need either a Garmin Edge headset (I have a Wahoo ELEMNT) or an Android device (I have an iphone)? Is there no option to use it from my laptop (Macbook) via an ANT+ dongle. Seems like a slight omission.

    Other than that if they added in some multisport tracking I’d ditch my trainerroad and training peaks subscriptions and consolidate onto their platform.

    • Two part answer:

      A) You can use any device you want to upload files into Xert. They’ve got automatic sync from Strava and Garmin Connect, but you can of course just have it ingest your Wahoo ELEMNT file from Strava. In fact, in the analysis I did above – that file actually came from the ELEMNT bolt to Strava and then into Xert. Works great.

      B) For the second piece – control of trainers, that does require either a Garmin device or an Android phone.

      I’ll defer to them on where they are with BT smart control and an iPhone app. They’d basically have to ‘deal’ with implementing API’s for each major trainer company today: Wahoo, CycleOps, Tacx, and Elite. Not a huge deal, but not ideal either.

    • Our iOS app is coming. Progress has been solid and expecting have some early testers using it this spring.

    • Thomas Wylie

      Thanks Ray! I’d figured out the upload side of things it just seemed odd that the control side was limited in that way but it seems they’re well on the way to changing that.

      I’ve actually just gone in and had a play with things. The threshold power it’s given me seems fairly accurate but it’s given me a peak power of 2000W! and a 10s power of about 1700. While I’d love for that to be true I’m fairly certain it’s wrong. Especially since when looking at an FTP test I did last week the WPA bairly moves throughout despite the fact I was totally spent.

      Most workouts were indoors using trainer road and my P1s but a couple were outdoors.

      One problem is I can’t highlight the workout that caused thisfind the workout(s) which caused this prediction so it’s difficult to see why it might have gotten this wrong.

    • Baron Biosystems

      That’s probably due to a data error that was not picked up (perhaps previously as it appears your account has been on the system for a while and our algorithms have improved over time).

      What you should do to establish proper current fitness numbers is to do Progression Recalculation. This is like a “reset” where Xert will go through all your activities and recalculate everything starting over from the beginning. You do this by setting your expected starting Fitness Signature (use the calculator, for example) and click the “Recalculate Progression” button on your My Fitness / Advanced tab. This will have Xert start from this set of fitness values and go through all your activities again. If you’re unsure or run into any issue, please send an email to support@xertonline.com and we’ll happily sort things out for you.

    • Thomas Wylie

      Thanks very much for the help. That looks much better now. I think when I initially set up the account I had some old data in there from my powerpod that was funny on one particular ride. I deleted that when I went in this time but didn’t realise about the re-calculation step.

      It all looks like it has really good potential. I’ll have a read of your blogs and watch your explaination vids and get in contact if there’s anything else I’m struggling with.

      p.s. if you want any beta testers for your iOS app sign me up!


    • Thomas Wylie

      Can I ask, do you have any plans/ is it possible for you to support the wahoo platform? I realise it would be quite a bit of work and your priorities are on the larger platforms such as Garmin, Android, iOS etc. as well as explanding to multisport. I’d just like to know if it’s possible at all? Do they have the possibilities within their hardware/software to do this? Knowing their general openness philosophy I would have thought so but logic doesn’t always apply in the sports/tech/business world.


    • Although their platform is based on Android and would be fairly easy to develop for, we can’t just submit our app to an appstore at the moment so would rely on a coordinated effort with them.

    • Matthew

      Any plans to support the ability to control / run workouts from a desktop computer (either via a browser or native app)? I have a dedicated windows 10 computer controlling my Kickr connected to a 39″ TV, and would be interested if I could leverage that setup, instead of needing to buy a brand new Garmin Edge (I still have a perfectly working Edge 800).


    • Our main focus today is to add iOS support. Between iOS, Android and Garmin CIQ we should have the majority of users covered. With each of these providing telemetry that’s viewable via your browser, this should cover scenarios where users which to view and play workouts on their PC, tablets or any device capable of running a browser.

    • cycloscott

      @baronbiosystems Viewable in the browser is all well and good. How about controllable in the browser? Seems like removing additional steps in the chain would be simpler.

    • It’s technically feasible but would require the dynamic logic to run in the browser as well and this would then be another code base for us. It would be simpler connectivity wise but more complex from a development and support standpoint. HTH

    • Michel

      Same here, I would like to see the Xert data field supported on the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt.
      I also sent the question to Wahoo support, waiting for their feedback. It would be nice to see them (Xert and Wahoo) collaborating on that topic.

    • Thomas Wylie

      I’m kind of following on here from a minor discussion over on the Training Peaks Garmin App post. I had commented that it was annoying Garmin Wearables (Fenix 5, 935 etc) don’t have FEC control. Ray said it was because they were unsure of how to implement it in terms of changing the resistance etc. but that there was nothing to stop a developer from creating an app with FEC control built in – but that there was no business case for one so far.

      Which is what made me think of you guys. If you could port your current CIQ app to the wearables with the same functionality I’m sure it would increase your potential user base a fair bit, especially amongst triathletes.

      In that scenario I (the user) would just start the workout on the watch (which could stay on my wrist), have it control the trainer and monitor everything via your web interface. No need to touch the watch again at all.

      Have you thought about doing this? Would it be technically possible?

  8. cycloscott

    Love the idea. I’m curious though. Assuming that it’s primarily used on an indoor trainer anyway. Why not have the ability to drive the trainer directly via the Xert app in the browser?

    • Thomas Wylie

      Yeah exactly. Seems like such an easy win for them. Basically this whole idea sounds great and if they bring it to a platform I can control my trainer from (i.e. Mac, iOS over bluetooth, wahoo bolt, garmin wearable – I still don’t understand why their multisport watches don’t have FEC contol) ideally with the powermatch feature then I’ll be right on board! I love the idea being able to have truly personalised workouts and training programs that update in real time

    • You can use Xert outdoors using the Garmin Fields. I routinely look at different aspects of the data shown to achieve certain goals, realize how much I have left in the tank, how quickly I”m recovering, etc.

      Here’s a quick G1000 screenshot to whet your appetite.

      If wattage is green, consider that zone 2-ish.
      If it’s blue, that’s tempo-ish
      If it’s black, that’s threshold-ish.
      If it’s yellow, well, you’re definitely in the Vo2 range and you’ve got <3minutes before you get X's over your eyes.

      If it's red, you've got less than 30 seconds before you're either dead, or you're getting a fitness breakthrough.

      If it turns purple, well, boom – you've broken through like Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff".

    • Here’s a ‘breakthrough’ – I have this thing pretty dialed in, so they’re hard to get, but when I do, it’s usually a watt here or a kilojoule of anaerobic capacity there. The ribbon shows that something profound happened, per your signature.

    • Sean

      So, I created an account and set up my Garmin for an outdoor ride yesterday. I was focusing on TTR and TTE to see how it’d do. On a 4 hour, 90 mile ride with 2 other riders, the TTR/TTE only seemed to be useful for the first 55 miles of the ride. I did notice over time the TTE time would not recover to the initial amount, but towards the end when my legs were gassed. The TTR was 0 seconds and definitely didn’t have anywhere near the TTE left in my legs.

      How accurate have you all found TTR/TTE over long efforts? Seems to be accurate in the short term but doesn’t seem to adjust over a longer ride.

    • Sean

      So, I created an account and set up my Garmin for an outdoor ride yesterday. I was focusing on TTR and TTE to see how it’d do. On a 4 hour, 90 mile ride with 2 other riders, the TTR/TTE only seemed to be useful for the first 55 miles of the ride. I did notice over time the TTE time would not recover to the initial amount, but towards the end when my legs were gassed. The TTR was 0 seconds and definitely didn’t have anywhere near the TTE left in my legs.

      How accurate have you all found TTR/TTE over long efforts? Seems to be accurate in the short term but doesn’t seem to adjust over a longer ride.

  9. Thanks for the review.

    One question about the smart workouts: Do they adjust based only on power or take into account physiological feedback like HR?

    Generally I am waiting for the latter though I am not sure that HR alone would be sufficient. If it is the former, I would understand it to make sense on a dumb trainer, but how would it affect a workout on a power-matched smart trainer that is supposed to track exactly the intended workload?

    Tested the CIQ app a while ago and had some wireless connection reliability issues in an admittedly radio infested environment … good to hear that an iOS version is being worked on.

    • To be a bit more specific: when I tried the smart workouts I did experience that it’d adjust duration automatically and found it interesting as a concept and potentially effective but I wasn’t sure what their reasoning is.

      Assuming I slow down during a “smart” interval that could have happened simply by accident and the interval should be made longer to accumulate the intended stress, or I might be tired e.g. due to lack of sleep in which case the interval shouldn’t be made longer, or not? Similar for the “smart” regeneration phases: how can it judge in which way to adjust if not only for power variations on a dumb trainer?

      Baron Biosystems, would you be able to answer?

    • You bring up a very important point when it comes to training. Sometimes interval execution affects things, perhaps you’re doing a ride outdoors and are forced to slowdown which lengthens a high-intensity interval or shortens a recovery interval. But sometimes the interval targets are too hard for you either because you’re just not ready for the difficulty (pay attention to the stars in the Rating column) or that you’re too tired from recent training or just life stress. The latter is something that we’re starting to do further research on and perhaps incorporate HR and/or HRV into the equation, and both adjust the recommended training in advance (back to the adaptive training program mentioned here), or even go so far as to adjust workouts that are in progress as you describe. Great question.

    • @baronbiosystems Thanks for your reply. Makes sense.

  10. Ryan M

    Fantastic review as always Ray.

    Just looking into this, as I don’t have an android phone. A couple of questions;
    -are there training plans, or just isolated workouts?
    -can the non smart workouts currently be exported into a mode Zwift can use?
    -if I were using the smart work outs, I’d need my Garmin 820 running the xert app to control my kickr ( via FE-C)? Zwift would just then use the power figures and not have the kickr as a smart trainer?


    • Training “planning” is coming next (with some special surprises) but cookie-cutter training plans won’t likely make their way onto the platform like you see elsewhere. We’re working on an optimization model so that your recommended training can adapt based on execution. We think this will be a superior approach.

    • Kurt

      I too am curious about running zwift while executing a workout. After spending most of my training time in the zwift world, its made straight trainer workouts staring at my Edge 820 unbearable.

    • Ryan

      Fantastic, thanks for the response.

      Signed up, so look forward to seeing what comes next.

    • Don

      As Ryan guessed, you can use the Xert app on your Garmin to actually control your trainer, and only pair the power meter portion (and cadence, HR, etc) to Zwift, do not pair the Controllable Trainer part to Zwift, and you will still move through the Zwift world like normal based on your power output, but the resistance from the trainer will be controlled by Xert rather than by Zwift.

  11. Ged

    Hi all,
    Super review. Many thanks.
    I’ve been playing with this for a few weeks and it’s pretty damn cool. Perhaps too sexy for my stats!
    Anyway, I only have IOS but Android tablets are pretty darn cheap. I see it says android 4.4 spec but anything else? Could it run on a cheap Android tablet and work with Kickr Snap and Stages?
    Many thanks.

  12. Steve Mansfield

    If I understand correctly, on Strava Weighted Average Power is what your power would averaged be to if you remove all the seconds your power was zero eg when stationary at traffic lights. To get Normalized Power on the Strava website you need a Chrome plug in such as “Strava Sauce”.

    • Karl Billeter

      Not sure about that. Higher power still seems to have a higher weighting on Strava (like NP) but to a lesser extent. I’ve also had rare activities where Weighted Average was lower than average power!

    • Don

      I don’t believe that is correct. I just did a workout on my Hammer smart trainer, so there wasn’t any zero power at all. Looking at a strict average power for the entire workout on the Analysis page, it’s 210W, but my Weighted Average Power from the Overview page is 245W. That’s quite a bit different. The workout was a 15min warm-up, followed by 4x8min@295W, then a short 5 min cooldown to finish. So it seems like the Weighted Average Power is actually the Normalized Power.

      The Xert Equivalent Power for that ride was 255W, for reference, also well above the actual average. Something like Strava Sauce might just calculate it slightly differently probably trying to emulate the calculation on Training Peaks.

  13. ooglenz

    Hi, looks promising.

    I have just 1 simple question.

    I have a garmin edge 1000, tacx neo, stages and a bicycle :)

    I want your site to tell me i need to train and what i need to train when i want to become better in X.
    I want to do the training in or outside and i don’t want to bother myself with all the details.

    Is that possible with Xert? Actually asking if Xert can coach me, if not how much does a coach cost?

    • Great question! It is interesting how you framed it in terms of becoming better in “X”. Here’s what’s required to do what you’re asking:

      1. We need to know if where you stand in terms of X.
      2. We need to continuously measure your improvements in X.
      3. We need to measure what you’ve done and what others have done and how this has affected X.
      4. We need to create workouts will focus on improving X.
      5. We need to provide the ability to plan your workouts and rides and predict how they will affect X.
      6. We then to need identify the training plan that will optimize your training to maximize X.
      7. Based on what you actually do, we need to continuously adjust your plan that will optimize your training to maximize X.

      We’ve completed 1 to 4. We’re currently working on 5. 6 and 7 are on the roadmap.


    • ooglenz

      Thank you very much for the reply.

      When 5 is ready i will be very interested. I think the most difficult part will be to adjust every time someone does not meet the requirements of a training.

      Any predictions on how long the roadmap for step 5,6 and 7 are?

    • 5 should be out shortly. We recognize that 6 and 7 are extremely important to our customers. Timeframes will depend on overall priorities over the coming months.

  14. Peter Schindler

    “Adventurous geek” here. I have been using Xert for running using a Styrd power meter (in addition to using it for cycling). Despite Xert’s the cycling-centric interface, all the concepts apply equally well. I wrote up some thoughts on how to use it for cycling that I posted to the Stryd Facebook site … but if anyone wants to check it out, please see the link to the doc on One Drive below. Truth is, it’s not as complicated as several pages of text makes it out to be, but I wanted to make it as easy for someone to follow as possible. Happy to answer any questions:

    link to 1drv.ms

  15. Ian Spivack

    great review and post. I was one of the early adopters and used it quite a lot during beta testing. It has truly progressed a lot and is very insightful. People should read their blog to get a better understanding of the theory behind the terminology.
    I am hoping that something can be worked out with an API with Golden Cheetah. That would be quite awesome to have all the analysis in one location. I saw this was discussed on the GC forum a little while back and wanted to put my vote in for this feature.

  16. Phillip graham

    Ray how do you get more than four connect iq data fields on the garmin 520? Im looking to have all the xert on one page but its saying i cant have more than 4.

  17. Chris K

    Really interesting review and I appreciate the responses in the comments. I was wondering, are there any plans to incorporate muscle oxygenation data into the dynamic calculation? It seems like that type of dynamic workout adjustment is very similar to the way the BSX guys (in their blog) talk about making use of the mox data. I’ve held off picking a BSX Insight up since i couldn’t figure out how I’d incorporate the data on the fly, but this seems like a good match. Also any plans to incorporate ‘readiness to train’ type info into the dynamic plans, e.g. to ease off the first interval and start gently if my withings aura said I had a bad nights sleep? I have thought for a while this type of analysis is the future for cycle training, it seems there’s a lot of hardware right now but it’s quite hard to incorporate all the data into your training, without a lot of work. Interesting to see how this moves forward, I could well be tempted to move from training peaks / trainer Road!

    • We will likely start to look at other sensor data and how they impact either real-time information, historical fitness/performance evaluation and/or training prescriptions as we continue to improve and provide broader applications over time. We have a few ideas on how to incorporate other data. Our goal is to provide interpretive information rather just report the data, hence muscle oxygenation data will require some more research on our part.

  18. JohnDoe007

    Out of curiosity when you mentioned that you failed a workout because your head unit was experiencing power dropouts which power meter were you using?

    • I believe it was a P1 that day, but other head units recording the same data did not experience any drops. So it’s unclear to me if it was an Edge 820 droppage issue, a CIQ issue, an Xert issue, or just some wonky transient signal issues.

  19. Don

    I’m trying out the trial on Xert right now. I like the idea of it. I do a lot of my training during the week on a Hammer smart trainer, so it would work well for that. My issue is that as a mountain bike racer, I have a couple rides a week on my mountain bike, which I don’t have a power meter for, and Xert doesn’t take those rides into account. It seems to be all built around dynamically providing workouts based on your current statistics, but since it ignores some of my workouts, it seems like it would always be basing my workouts on inaccurate data, especially since the mountain bike workouts and races are frequently some of my hardest efforts.

    I’d like to see them make an effort to develop a model to correlate HR data with power, such as Strava does currently with it’s Fitness and Freshness tool. It uses your own data to model the correlation between the two and gives you TSS and such even for rides (or runs!) where you just have a HR sensor on.

    I’d also like to see dynamic plans modeled where you enter your race dates and priorities, maybe type of race, distance, etc. and have it make a training plan that it adjusts dynamically for you. Telling you what workout to do each day. That would be pretty cool.

    Overall, I like it, but the lack of support for rides with just HR data and no power means I won’t become a subscriber until they add that, or until I get a power meter for my mountain bike (which I plan to, just waiting for Power2Max to come out with their meter for RaceFace Next SL cranks.)

    • ooglenz

      You are asking the same as me :) they are developing that :)
      It’s like an interactive coach. That would be perfect!

  20. Lorenzo Pasquale

    Nice review as usual, Ray.

    Though, I’d like to point out that ‘duration’ can be variable also when executing ‘normal’ workouts.

    In your review you stated —
    – the [normal] workout will be exactly as you see it on the screen when you selected it, _including the durations_.
    – In a Smart workout the specifics of the workout can and will change dynamically. _Specifically, the duration_ of each section.

    Well, that’s not completely correct, in my opinion.

    Now, have a look at these workouts:

    – ‘VO2max Target MPA – to 80% Reserve’ (link to xertonline.com)
    – ‘Positive Split Micros’ (link to xertonline.com)
    – ‘Pure and Hard Power Road Sprinter’ (link to xertonline.com)

    They all have variable duration both in the working (ON) phase and in the resting (OFF) phase of the intervals, even if they are _not_ SMART workout.
    (That means that if you overshoot the target power during the ON phase the duration will shrink, while undershooting will lengthen it.
    Conversely, when overshooting during the ‘OFF phase the duration will extend, and will shorten if undershooting.)

    What makes SMART workout really unique is the possibility to set intensity (i.e. the target power) as a function of a specific amount of XSS/h to be achieved.
    And this can be done independently from the type of duration (Fixed/Variable).
    For an example you can have a look at this workout:
    ‘SMART – Closer 140’ (link to xertonline.com)
    In this case XSS/h based intervals are presented either with fixed or variable duration.

    What is worth to be noted here is that for the first time we see workouts that are designed with variable power intervals
    (Obviously enough, those type of intervals can be best executed only with an ANT+ FE-C capable Trainer ;-) )

    So, what’s the benefit of variable power while executing an interval?
    Here’s the answer directly from the horse’s mouth (link to baronbiosys.com):

    “You’ll notice that XSSR intervals have variable power in some cases. This is because as you fatigue during a workout, it becomes more difficult to sustain a given intensity. Hence what may have produced 80 XSSR while unfatigued will be different that what will produce 80 XSSR during periods of heavy fatigue. This is the principle behind XSSR and it offers a workout designer a way to keep the interval at a level that is constant, not in watts, but in the strain it generates. It allows intervals to impart greater strain without becoming too difficult to complete. Performing high-intensity XSSR intervals will feel more natural as the intensity declines with increasing fatigue, enabling you to sustain and hold on longer and to allow you to continue to add strain rather than having to stop.”

    I know this has been a way too long post and I apologize for that.
    But I’d like to stress that variable duration and variable power are two sides of the same coin and strictly speaking —according to Xert Workout List— SMART wokouts are those with XSS/h based intervals.
    (Albeit personally, I tend to consider SMART also those with variable duration).


  21. Jerry H

    Trial period question:

    Logged into my account looking at this page –

    link to xertonline.com

    it says “All Xert members will enjoy a free 30 day premium trial before being downgraded to a free plan”

    Click on the select workout button from the workout menu to try a smart workout and it comes back with subscription required.

    On My Fitness tab it has a line item near the top that says:

    Selected Workout: SMART – I Won’t Back Down

    Is this the only workout I can try on the one month free trial?

    What am I doing wrong if not?


    So far like the idea and concept. MPA was fun to play with on ride outdoors with my Edge.

    • Yes. You are free to try “I Won’t Back Down” without a paid subscription. It’s a fun workout and demonstrates how Xert performs dynamic duration and power intervals, as well as regular intervals. You can test out the Remote Player with this too. Choosing other workouts requires a subscription at this time.

  22. Steven Weber

    Any future prospects getting the workout player onto the Fenix 3?

  23. Joel Berman

    Better explanation than on the Xert site. Thanks. Will the video be posted soon?

  24. chrisgg

    I don’t understand the difficulty in power measurement or the special fixation with power meters for cycling. Power could equally apply to running, swimming, weightlifting or any activity. Power meters are not a necessity for measuring power. The information is already available on a GPS device or could be made available. Power is simply the amount of energy expended per unit of time. All it requires is the number of calories used and the time over which you used them. So, if a weightlifter lifts 200lb from the floor to 7 feet in the air you can calculate the energy required and divide it by the time of the lift to get power….so many kcalories/sec for example or kJoules per sec in metric. If a person runs or cycles up a 5% gradient, all the relevant information could be factored in, including weight of person/bike, speed, the level of gradient, wind direction etc. and divided by the time of the climb to give power. I don’t know why this is not done normally, at least after the data is uploaded because all the values are available from the plots. A GPS running analysis could easily give a good estimate of the maximum power developed by a runner at any stage of his/her run if it addressed the gradient of the hill. A power meter to measure force on a pedal is not actually necessary. This information is available from a GPS device without the need for a power meter. After a run, ride or swim, it knows your weight, the bike’s weight, how fast you were running, cycling or swimming, the uphill/downhill gradient etc, and can esimate quite accurately the calories you expended. If a GPS device could provide instant feedback of gradient of uphill/downhill, it could give instant readings of power during the activity. For a swim all is level and the power would be proportional only to the speed through the water.

    • Chris K

      Whilst that’s a nice idea, I’m afraid the physics and experimental reality don’t agree with you. The fact is that GPS plots don’t give perfectly accurate gradients, since they tend to be based off imprecise measurements (sometimes measuring the height of adjacent fields/trees/etc) and general prevailing weather conditions do not match the experienced wind speed and direction on the road (due to the funnelling effects of hedgerows and landscape artefacts). Speed will also vary based on the condition of the road, and varies proportional to the *square* of wind speed. You can try yourself using the formula here: link to theclimbingcyclist.com. If you, for instance, increase the gradient from 5% to 6% you will see the required power goes up by 19%. Likewise the introduction of a 10km/h gust of wind head-on increases the required power by 18%! Imagine if, when weightlifting, the weight varied from session to session by 20%. You could work by feel, but it would be much more difficult to optimise your training, ie to train just enough to avoid over-training, but get the most benefit from any given training session. For the other sports you mention, it is quite true that power required will likely vary less, so it’s unsurprising that there has been less of a push to develop power meters in those sports.

  25. Is there a way to get the fat vs carb on Garmin 520 without Xert?

  26. chup

    I tried the Xert CIQ Player yesterday and didn’t touch the Xert Code anywhere. It still authenticated and understand that I have a premium subscription.

    Also, the beep is 10s before the start of next section.

    Seems like Xert is updating things real quickly.

  27. Alettriste

    I have been using Xert web service in the last 6 months and updated my 510 to an 820 to use the Xert fields and smart training and I can say that it is impressive. My main training page is based on 2 Xert IQ fields and 3 Garmin fields and I don’t see any reason to use another. My only issue has been when I changed powermeter, and the old one was way off (calibration was lost?). Xert is trying to catch up with the new numbers… I don’t see how it could be made better. Xert puts a lot of work in historical data and the problem is my own bad data. So… now waiting until the data stabilizes and I get again the correct fitness signature. Any idea how many training sessions are needed to “forget” a bunch of bad data?


    • What you should do is go to the first activity where your power meter changed, open the Activity Details/Advanced tab and modify the fitness signature to one that better reflects what it should be with your new power meter. Use the calculator to help you assess and assign an appropriate fitness signature. Save/Lock the new signature and Xert will trickle-down the changes to all subsequent activities and you should end up with a current fitness signature that better reflects your current status.

      If you have any issues or would like more help, please feel free to contact support@xertonline.com and we’ll be glad to offer more assistance.

    • Alettriste

      Thank you!

  28. David Morton

    trialing this software at the moment and pretty excited as a coach and cyclist. however, on my work computer i can’t open the site because of a certificate issue – “The security certificate presented by this website was not issued by a trusted certificate authority.

    Security certificate problems may indicate an attempt to fool you or intercept any data you send to the server. ”

    can Baron Biosystems help me here?