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Wahoo SYSTM review

13 Jan 2022
Verdict:

A cycling training app packed full of features and inspiration for riders who want to see progress

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£11.00 per month or £94 a year
For 
Personal progress focussed • Inspiring • Great range of workouts • Multiple activities to complement cycling
Against 
Swim and run workouts have to be written down

Wahoo SYSTM is a cycling-centric, performance driven fitness app which has an impressive choice of cycling workouts, as well as swimming, running, strength, yoga, and mental training sessions.

Released in September 2021, one of the most notable features of the app is SYSTM’s unique fitness test called the 4DP, which I dig into a bit later.

Some workouts can be done outside or on a non-smart trainer with a power meter and cadence sensor, but to get the most out of SYSTM you need a smart trainer and a heart rate monitor.

Wahoo SYSTM is available as a free 14-day trial for new users. Like other training platforms such as Zwift, it is subscription based and costs £11 / $14.99 per month or £94 / $129 a year.

Wahoo SYSTM: Setup

The Getting Started section succinctly shows you how to navigate the app, connect devices and ultimately get the most out of SYSTM.

Setup is straightforward and the platform is easy to use, with the app working on iOS, Android, macOS and Windows.

The choice of workouts might seem intimidating when starting off, but Wahoo is clearly conscious of this, offering a 14-day plan to try out the different content available.

I really liked the degree to which SYSTM allows you to personalise a training plan. For instance, I added a cycling program, but then also added some strength work and yoga on top as well.

It is easy to choose the levels of intensities which suit you and ramp it up when you want to.

Wahoo SYSTM: Fitness test

As mentioned above, SYSTM’s fitness test is one of the things which really makes this training app stand out.

The 4DP (Four-dimensional power) test uses four key performance metrics, Neuromuscular Power (NM), Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP), Functional Threshold Power (FTP), and Anaerobic Capacity (AC).

SYSTM encouraged me to do this fitness test from the get-go. You can’t define progress until you know where you are starting from, and that is exactly what the 4DP test does.

It was a brutal 58 minutes, where I was pushed to the very edge of my tether whilst watching footage from the Tour of Britain, but it is an incredibly useful training tool, and one which in my view makes SYSTM a seriously impressive training app.

It sets the benchmarks for your workouts which are personalised to your own 4DP profile, so you can properly follow a training plan, address strengths and weaknesses, and my favourite part, admire your progress in all its glory.

Wahoo SYSTM: Cycling workouts

The training plans are easy to follow, customisable and cover all key areas. For example, you can choose a discipline, train for a specific challenge, choose your volume, and work-to-rest ratio.

As mentioned, all workouts are personalised to your 4DP profile, which is brilliant.

I rode the Queen Stage of the UAE Tour, from the viewpoint of Italian cyclist Alessandro De Marchi, pedalling furiously through the desert and up Jebel Jais. It is real footage from the race. 

Obviously, I was not going to be riding at his wattage, instead SYSTM personalises it according to my 4DP profile. My targets were slightly below what he would have been hitting… Still, I could almost taste the dust.

In the cycling section, workouts are split into channels, ranging from indoor sessions with GCN, workouts from The Sufferfest which Wahoo incorporated in 2019, and Pro Rides to name but a few.

The nifty filtering system allows you to choose a channel, duration, 4DP focus and category, so if you want to focus on a particular area, SYSTM has you covered.

For each workout, there is a profile which shows the 4DP focus area and a description to let you know what you have got yourself in for.

I found The Sufferfest Recharger workout to be a firm favourite when I was pushed for time. The 30 minutes of rejuvenating riding around beautiful country lanes and the dad jokes made sure I was sweaty and smiley. Glorious.

I also ‘spent a week with’ the legendary Ian Boswell (there is also the option to hang out with Wahoo’s Neal Henderson) and I learnt more than just grit and determination, but also what he has for breakfast.

SYSTM is a performance driven platform, so there are plenty of technical workouts to choose from, including cadence builds and holds, threshold rides, and my least favourite – single leg efforts.

For those who like to spend a few hours on the turbo there are also a good amount of endurance workouts to choose from.

SYSTM allows you do workouts with no video, so you can either switch off and focus on the ride or watch something completely different.

It also lets you know when your workout will have no music which I found helpful (you can choose this to be an option too). There were no nasty surprises of hearing myself swearing at my own incompetence whilst single leg pedalling or gasping for air on the final set of the workout Big Gear MAP: 3 Sets 6 × 30s. Not for the faint hearted.

Wahoo SYSTM: Inspiration and motivation

What stood out to me the most with SYSTM was how motivating and inspiring the app is.

Every workout is littered with encouraging words, whether that be from the instructor willing you to push harder or words popping up on the screen telling you how great you are.

There are also powerful documentaries to watch.

For a recovery ride, I was treated to the documentary I Just Want to Ride which showcases Lael Wilcox’s 2019 ride of the Great Divide Mountain Bike route.

I won’t spoil what happens but let’s just say the moving documentary looks at more than just cycling miles and miles through North America.

Another recovery ride was coupled with the brilliantly inspiring 2020 film Across the Mountains which follows Michael Cotty through two adventures, one which takes in 677km through the Alps and the other a 1,000km whopper across 21 mountains, finishing at Mont Blanc.

I also watched Inside: Women’s Movistar Team – 2021 Vuelta a Burgos whilst recovering.

While leisurely spinning my legs, I caught a glimpse of life inside a four-day race and the interactions between riders and coaches.

After watching these films, and recovering from previous brutal sessions, I was hungry and ready for a mammoth challenge.

That is the power of these incredible documentaries, which the Wahoo SYSTM perfectly integrates, leaving you raring to ride… and, ultimately, suffer.

Wahoo SYSTM: Lone ranger

Some riders may find the Wahoo SYSTM has a solitary feel to it, compared to the likes of Zwift or RGT Cycling.

There is no virtual reality riding, or interactive group cycling, and there certainly aren’t any avatars. You ride alone.

That said, I never once felt like it was just me on my turbo with the four walls closing in as the workouts are so effective and motivating.

I felt part of the Movistar Team, Ian Boswell and I became pals, and the GCN team were chatty and fun, and who knows maybe I’ll see Lael Wilcox at a start line one day soon.

Wahoo SYSTM: Not just for cycling

SYSTM features so many different workout styles and sports, that you can get an all-round workout. You can make it just about cycling if you want it to be, but you can also mix it up.

If, like me, you enjoy integrating a whole range of sports into your life, SYSTM also has running, yoga, strength, swimming, and mental training sessions as well as a training podcast, The Knowledge, included too.

For those just getting started with yoga, there are some brilliant bite-sized sessions that last around 15 minutes and are an excellent way to ease into the practice.

It is remarkably great to start the day with a 15-minute yoga practice.

The strength sessions were good, with lots of variation and intensities ranges, although I found I was never able to spend long enough on one exercise before being told to move on to the next. Maybe I'm just slow though.

I found the swimming and running option frustrating as the workouts don’t sync to a smartwatch so you have to write them down. Many of us don’t have the time (or the patience) to write down a workout and head to the pool or outside .

Hopefully Wahoo will find a way to allow this to be shared to a device so it will be much easier.

Wahoo SYSTM: Bottom line

SYSTM is a cycling-centric training app for people who want to push their limits and feel inspired.

It is an incredibly effective and extremely customisable tool fitness app, and at £11.00 per month or £94 a year you get a great deal for your money.

The cycling workouts are excellent, varied, and technical and there are a multitude of other activities to complement your cycling.

As long as Wahoo keep updating the workouts on offer, SYSTM is a great training tool and you certainly won’t get bored.

  • Sign up to Wahoo SYSTM here

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