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Wahoo SYSTM training app

8
£14.49

VERDICT:

8
10
Great videos and content, if not quite the one-stop app Wahoo claims – yet
Huge variety of content
Enjoyable and motivating to follow
Can aid efficient improvements in performance
Solely indoor focused
Doesn't track fitness
Linking devices could be simpler
Personal cadence not taken into account
Weight: 
0g

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Wahoo SYSTM is a training app that combines fitness tests with training plans and endless indoor videos to follow, as well as strength and yoga videos. The content library is vast and enjoyable, but training and analysis features are currently lacking.

SYSTM is marketed with the strapline 'the only training app you need', and to achieve that aim it combines multiple different tools and videos, from harder, training-focused riding videos such as The Sufferfest and the newer format Pro Rides – where you follow on-board rider footage within actual pro races – to yoga, stretching and mental strength videos, to give a complete video session library.

SYSTM features fitness test sessions, which can be used to set your 4DP (more on this below). This is a metric that will be different for every rider and based upon set power outputs. The software can use the calculated figures to create a training programme, giving more specificity towards what you are looking to improve upon – sprinting, fast pace races, endurance, and so on.

> Sign up online here

The software is linked to training devices such as a power meter, heart rate monitor or smart trainer, to give the required metrics to follow during the videos. Any Bluetooth or ANT+ device is compatible, you do not specifically need a Wahoo device.

The app is compatible with Mac OS (Intel & Silicon) and Windows for desktop computers, and with Apple and Android for mobiles.

The video content is available to stream, but you are also able to download and use them offline if required.

4DP

The key to SYSTM is 4DP (4 Dimensional Power), which aims to go beyond just FTP (functional threshold power) that many other training apps or training programmes focus on.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM 4DPTest.png

If you're unfamiliar with the term, your FTP is a number based on the maximum wattage you can hold for 60 minutes. It was originally calculated by doing a maximal test for 20 minutes and taking 95% of your average power, but with different apps attempting to obtain this figure in ever quicker and easier ways, you don't always get an accurate result. As many training programmes and apps will base the training on this figure, that can be limiting if it's not accurate.

When you do know your FTP, training programmes can use it to create a zonal system, with each zone indicating a different training area such as recovery, endurance, tempo, threshold, VO2 max and anaerobic capacity.

> How training zones can help you get your greatest cycling fitness gains

While this zonal approach can work for some people, it does have its flaws, which the 4DP test attempts to resolve.

Instead of just focusing on FTP it will calculate neuromuscular power (NM), which is your max power over five seconds, anaerobic capacity (AC) based on your one-minute power, maximal aerobic power (MAP), which is the maximum sustainable for five minutes, as well as FTP which is the one-hour power.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM 4DP.png

Wahoo recommends taking the 4DP test every 8-12 weeks to track progress.

The Full Frontal 4DP test within SYSTM takes a full hour to complete, and within it each of these areas is tested. Once the test is complete it will calculate the figures for the four zones and adapt the zones within the training video content, rather than it being based on your FTP alone.

To be able to perform the test you do need to have an idea of what your FTP is. If you don't know this, another test called the 'Half Monty' is effectively a ramp test that focuses only on FTP and MAP.

I performed the 4DP test, and before doing so input an estimated – but realistic – FTP of 270W. After a warm-up, you perform a hard sprint effort to test your NP, followed by a tortuous section testing your MAP, followed by the bulk of the test on your FTP, with the final burn a shorter section pushing the limits of your AC.

> Read more road.cc fitness features here

Wahoo claims it has researched and developed the test to accommodate different riders, but it cannot accommodate all riders and individual factors. After seeing the results, I wasn't convinced by the FTP provided, so a few days later performed the 'Half Monty' test and saw a 5% increase in FTP, just above my estimate. The 4DP test will give you a broadly accurate result, but for a more exact figure I think you'd be better off testing each area individually, not attempting to do everything within a single test.

Had I continued for 12 weeks using the initial FTP figure I wouldn't have been pushing myself to the true levels required to improve the different areas, meaning far less positive impact through training. Luckily Wahoo does give you the ability to edit and input your own figures for the four different areas, if you do decide to test them separately.

Training videos

Wahoo acquired The Sufferfest training platform in 2019 and the video content forms a large part of the SYSTM software.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM CyclingVideos.png

If you're not familiar with The Sufferfest, it takes clips of pro races or riding, as well as a few snippets of other things, to create videos that you can follow – with power, cadence and heart rate targets to match the content. When The Sufferfest was originally conceived it was basic, with only basic metrics to follow. But as smart trainers have evolved, so has the software – with the ability to adjust the difficulty of the smart trainer in ERG mode. This has created even more engaging videos – if a little punishing, though ultimately that is the idea: push yourself and get faster.

Each Sufferfest video will aim to target and improve a certain area of the 4DP system; if you are looking to improve your sprinting, choose those with an NM focus. Others are designed to improve FTP, MAP, AC or a mix of a few.

I found the videos engrossing, motivating and strangely enjoyable, and challenged myself to attempt harder and harder sessions – while ensuring that they fitted in with my schedule and training plan.

SYSTM is not just about The Sufferfest, though. There's a huge variety of other training videos, including Pro Rides, which shares some similarities with The Sufferfest, except these are based on following a single race – such as the Giro d'Italia, Tour de Suisse and Strada Bianca.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM ProRides.png

They are fantastic and fast-paced, and while some are tough, the first-person perspective and focus simply on power, with occasional radio chat from your directeur sportif, is brilliant. If you only have a short time for a workout and want something seriously tough, I can recommend the Giro d'Italia 1 video, and for a longer steady effort the Tour de Suisse 1 is as close to actually racing an Alpine mountain as I think you will get, without being in the pro peloton.

There are also GCN training videos where you follow a GCN presenter on screen with a specific workout, and while you can watch these free on YouTube, if you have a smart trainer and ERG mode it adds more specificity.

> Cycling fitness: How to get the most from your indoor training sessions

Another area is the 'inspirational' videos, including films and short stories that cover a huge range of subjects, all designed to be ridden during Active Recovery sessions. Put the film on, spin away and let time fly by.

A category I really enjoyed was the 'On Location' videos, where you follow British rider Mike Cotty, creator of Col Collective and someone who I used to race against many years ago. Within the videos, you ride with Mike on roads and mountains within France. Currently, there are only eight videos and I really hope that Wahoo can continue to increase the content within this area. The sessions are enjoyable and not as full-on or intensive as many of The Sufferfest or Pro Rides videos but still challenging to ride.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM OnLocation.png

I would love to see more climbs, on some of the more well-known Alpine climbs and some hidden gems, such as my personal favourite the Col du Solude with its pitch-black tunnels, gravel top section and incredible views. Within the videos, Mike encourages you to hit power targets as well as give extra information about the areas you are riding in, such as the thermal spas within the Les Baronnies video. It's little things like these that make the videos so good.

While the content itself is, on the whole, excellent, one frustration I have with the training videos – which in fairness is not only an issue within SYSTM but also other training video apps – is the inability to change the cadence. Riding to a prescribed cadence might feel fine for some, but I don't fit within what Wahoo considers best, and nor do I intend to change that.

> 10 best home trainers for 2022 — get fit indoors

Performing the 4DP test would seem like the perfect opportunity for the software to analyse your preferred cadence, and then adjust this to the training videos, but the cadence targets are fixed within each video. I'd like to see this change, so if you are a diesel gear masher, frantic spinner or more average, you could input this into the software. Having a more realistic and personal cadence within the videos would improve the content.

In addition to the cycling-focused videos, SYSTM also has swimming and running videos, along with yoga, strength and mental training video workouts.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM Strength.png

The yoga content is a good spread, with 51 videos to cover all body areas and all abilities, including complete beginners. The only potential issue is for people like me with no previous experience not knowing whether we're doing the poses correctly, or where adjustments might be needed. If you're familiar with yoga then the content should prove useful to help improve muscle recovery.

The same potential problem is true, but to a slightly lesser extent, for the strength workouts, 52 videos that concentrate on key areas, such as the core, and recovery.

All the videos were simple and easy to follow, and the equipment required for most is minimal – with many requiring nothing, or simply a mat or basic household items. The only item many might not have in the house are elastic resistance bands.

Training plans

Wahoo claims that SYSTM is the 'only training app that you need', and that's partly down to its ability to create a training plan. It can create a plan for cycling, multi-sport or cross-training and within each of these areas you can specify what you are training for, be that an event or simply to improve fitness.

Within the Event Prep section all disciplines and distances are covered – you select the date, which optional areas you wish to include, such as yoga or strength/core workouts, and how much time you have to train, and it will create a plan designed to improve your fitness from the selected start date up to the event.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM TrainigSetup.png

This could be useful if you're new to training or preparing for an event, but there are currently some major elements missing that mean, despite what Wahoo says, for many SYSTM will not be the only programme you need.

This might change as the software develops, but currently there is no ability to input outdoor riding, though riders with some experience can probably replace and replicate the sessions with reasonable accuracy.

SYSTM also lacks any ability to truly track fitness progress, despite having a 'progress' section on the software screen with an icon that shows a graph. Instead all there is to gain is digital badges for completing certain workouts or videos. If you want to track your CTL (chronic training load), and see levels of fatigue and freshness, it lacks any ability to do that. The IF (intensity factor) and TSS (training stress score) of each video session are shown within the library, and while these are the main figures you need to see a graph of training progress, currently SYSTM lacks any ability to display those figures as a graph.

I hope that analytical abilities will be introduced some time soon, similar to those you get with a premium Training Peaks account; only at that point, in my opinion, can it truly start to call itself the only training app you need.

Pricing and competition

Wahoo SYSTM currently costs £14.49 per month, which is a little more than other training video platforms such as Zwift (£12.99), FulGaz (£9.99), Rouvy (€12/£10) and Bkool (€10/£8.50).

While other training programmes, including Zwift, do offer training sessions and plans, and are all cheaper, none offer any true analytical software.

Wahoo SYSTM lacks the group riding element and virtual racing element that Zwift can offer, though videos such as On Location and Pro Rides do add some real-world riding scenery, which is something that Rouvy and FulGaz also offer.

Training progress

After using Wahoo SYSTM for just over four weeks, I started to find the sessions a little easier than when I began. During those four weeks I had not only used SYSTM, but also mixed in riding outdoors. I'd also used my personal knowledge and experience to form a plan, not relying upon the software to create one.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM Matt_Calendar.png

Although the Half Monty or full 4DP tests are recommended to be taken approximately every 8-12 weeks, I decided to repeat the Half Monty test and was very pleased to see a 14 watt (5%) increase in my FTP and a more modest 9 watts (2.5%) increase in MAP.

The combination of enjoyable and motivating videos and the diverse nature of the training the app offers has been a major contributing factor in the increases, and I hope they will continue as time and training advances.

Overall

Wahoo SYSTM has some elements that are fantastic, and the library of content available is vast and I have no doubt it will continue to expand. If you use indoor riding as a means of training, The Sufferfest and Pro Rides content are ideal but quite tough; if you want to simply sit and spin to some other content then the library of cycling films and documentaries is also very good. But if you prefer virtual group rides, SYSTM doesn't currently offer any ability to interact with other riders online.

The idea of the 4DP training and focusing on different elements of your power profile is likely to have a big positive effect on your fitness and progress, but the 4DP test will not work for everyone; I believe it would be better to test each area separately to get truer numbers and power figures to train by.

At present, there are two areas that I believe need to be improved, and both are focused on the training calendar aspect rather than the content library. Despite being able to set a training plan, there is no way to accommodate outdoor riding into this, which I am sure the vast majority of riders would appreciate being able to do.

2022 Wahoo SYSTM TrainingPlan_Calendar.png

SYSTM also lacks any true analytical tools, and if you have the option to use a power meter and train with focus and towards a goal, you'll likely want or already use another software program with this analytical ability. The ability to track progress and fatigue are key factors. If these elements become part of the software, without the price increasing, then I'd say SYSTM does have the ability to become the only training app you need. But currently, despite the claims, that isn't the case for many riders.

If, however, you love training videos, have already tried and enjoy The Sufferfest and simply want a big content library to continue riding indoors, what you get here is excellent, with some sections that take things to new and different areas with hard training videos but also calmer, easy watching.

Verdict

Great videos and content, if not quite the one-stop app Wahoo claims – yet

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Wahoo SYSTM training app

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Wahoo says:

SYSTM is more than virtual rides. Behind every turn, climb and sprint lies a workout designed by world-class coaches to help you achieve results faster.

Your goals. Your schedule. Your plan. SYSTM Plan Builder creates easy-to-follow training solutions built around your life.

Power. Focus. Speed. Whatever your goals, SYSTM is the key to unlocking your potential as an athlete and getting the most out of the time you have to train.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Wahoo SYSTM features and training sessions include:

The Sufferfest – which Wahoo acquired in 2019 – and in keeping with that spartan training tool, dispenses with some of the bells and whistles of its rivals.

On Location: Sessions set to ride videos of prestigious cycling parcours.

ProRides: Race simulations that combine pro rider camera footage and race data, adjusted to your fitness level using the 4DP profile.

A Week With: Spend a week in the shoes of a Wahoo-sponsored professional athlete, copying their sessions and going 'behind the scenes' for insight into how they live and train.

No-vid: Play your own tunes or film and follow on-screen text prompts.

Inspiration: Endurance and recovery workouts are accompanied by classic cycling films and documentaries, such as A Sunday In Hell and Outskirts.

Running

Swimming

Yoga

Strength training

Mental health training

Technical requirements are available to view here (https://support.wahoofitness.com/hc/en-us/articles/4405441089426-Minimum...)

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

A frustration initially when attempting to link devices, but when that is complete the user experience is good. The content is broad and I have found it to be challenging without being too hard to complete. I also believe the videos and sessions are having a positive impact, and with continued use I expect to see improvements in training metrics such as FTP and MAP. Ultimately this will not be truly seen for around eight weeks.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Currently, it is more expensive than ofter software and VR apps, including Zwift, Bkool and Fulgaz, but it does offer a huge amount of content, and a variety that others do not. If detailed analysis tools are added this will make it even better value.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The software is well built with only small issues on stability, occasionally being slow but crucially never crashing mid-session. The content and videos are excellent and while some areas will hopefully be expanded, there is still enough variety. The training plans and lack of any way of following real progress currently mean that in order to train effectively you will need another app or piece of software, such as Training Peaks or Todays Plan which will mean another subscription or Golden Cheetah which is an open-source ride analysis software.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The Sufferfest, Pro Rides and On Location videos are all excellent.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The training calendar really needs to be able to track fitness and not just hours trained indoors. The ability to track ATL, CTL and see fitness/fatigue is vital for athletes who train using power.

It also needs to take into account outdoor riding, as currently with any training programme that is created, they are 100% indoors.

First use was frustrating, it not being simple to pair devices without an internet search.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Zwift is £12.99 a month, Strava Premium is £6.99, Rouvy is €12 (£10) and Bkool is €10 (£8.50), but they don’t offer as much.

Did you enjoy using the product? The content is excellent, but the training plan is missing some key features. Hopefully these will be added in the future.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes. As a current Zwift subscriber I am considering cancelling that in favour of SYSTM. I believe SYSTM could be better for riders who are more training focused, whereas Zwift is likely to appeal more to social riders who want to ride indoors.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they have some element of indoor training and are looking to prepare for an event or simply improve fitness and, crucially, need to have knowledge of performance.

Use this box to explain your overall score

SYSTM has a huge library of content and covers many different areas of training focus. Wahoo claims it's 'the only training app you need' but it lacks any true analysis tools to make that a reality. Based on the engaging content alone, though, it is still a great package for riders looking to get fitter and faster.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 168  Weight: 62

I usually ride:   My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding

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