Wahoo Systm: Your ultimate guide
Wahoo Systm, now part of Wahoo X along with Wahoo RGT, gives you a set of training tools to help you meet your goals
Wahoo Systm was launched in late 2021 as a replacement for the popular and longstanding Sufferfest platform. With an entirely new app, it took everything that was good about The Sufferfest and integrated it into a much more comprehensive platform that is designed to help its users reach their goals through proprietary training protocols, coach-prescribed workouts and a host of supplemental activities.
Now bundled with the newly acquired RGT Cycling - to be known as Wahoo RGT - in a single subscription service branded Wahoo X, it is an immediate competitor to the best indoor cycling apps on the market, and while it has similarities to others in the space, there are a number of key features that help set it apart in a few distinct ways.
Whereas The Sufferfest was true to its name, providing a catalogue of brutal indoor cycling workouts filled with suffering, Systm is more rounded. It caters to a wider audience with instructor-led workouts, documentary-based entertainment accompanies the lower-intensity rides, while the high-paced race footage remains an integral part of high-intensity workouts.
The brand made clear its intentions to dominate the indoor cycling space when it acquired The Sufferfest in 2019 and RGT in 2022 with structured training via Systm as well as the option to ride and compete in a virtual world via RGT.
Wahoo Systm details
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The Systm application is available on iOS, Android, macOS and Windows, and upon signing in, you are met with a number of features. Assuming you want to use it to follow a training plan, the first step is to head to the 'Plans' feature. Here you will be asked a series of questions such as your chosen discipline, your goals, what those goals entail, how much time you can commit per week, and whether you wish to add in supplemental sessions of strength, yoga and mental toughness. Once you've worked through the questions, you'll choose a start date and Systm will populate your calendar with workouts to get you towards your goals. These workouts are built by Wahoo's internal WorldTour-level coaches, and their difficulty will be tailored to your level of fitness.
Wahoo Systm uses Four Dimensional Power (4DP) which is a proprietary testing protocol that was created by The Sufferfest. Instead of relying on a single metric of functional threshold power (FTP), it puts you through a multifaceted testing protocol that quantifies your FTP, your maximum aerobic power, your anaerobic capacity and your neuromuscular power too. With this information, Systm can prescribe workouts that are better tailored to your physiology.
This test will be the first prescribed workout on your newly built training plan, which can be viewed, edited and adjusted in the app's calendar. It's here that you can also add annotations, advice, and see weekly overviews of your training load - completed vs prescribed.
It's not all cycling
Wahoo Systm is described as a 'complete training app for endurance athletes', and that extends beyond cycling. Its cycling workouts are the most interactive, taking advantage of erg mode on the best turbo trainers or the best exercise bikes, and integrating video entertainment. However, it also prescribes a selection of running and swimming workouts, should your target event be a triathlon.
What really sets Systm apart, however, are the supplemental workouts we've already touched on above. These can be added to any training plan, and consist of instructor-led yoga and strength training videos, as well as mental toughness training sessions to help with motivation, focus and determination to push through when the going gets tough.
How much is Wahoo Systm?
Wahoo Systm now comes bundled with Wahoo RGT in a single Wahoo X package at the same price as the old Systm-only sub of US$14.99 a month or US$129 per annum, with that yearly subscription equating to a discount of US$50. There's a 14-day free trial period.
If you're already signed up to both Systm and RGT separately, Wahoo says that you should cancel one or the other to avoid being double-charged. Contact Wahoo's customer support if you need help or further info.
What equipment do I need?
To access Systm, you will need a smart turbo trainer to connect your bike to (one with the ability to transmit data via ANT+ or Bluetooth), which you can find in our guide to the best turbo trainers, or a smart bike, which can be found in our guide to the best exercise bikes.
Despite it being a Wahoo-owned app, it also supports smart trainers made by competitor brands such as Elite, Tacx and Saris.
Types of ride on Wahoo Systm
The Sufferfest has hundreds of diverse training videos for cycling, as well as the additional forms of exercise mentioned above.
Within the cycling catalogue, these are split into eight categories:
- The Sufferfest: The legacy workouts which overlay race footage to an intense workout with humorous annotations and motivational messages throughout.
- GCN: 24 Instructor-led workouts with GCN's well-known presenters, which follow a similar format to a spin class like those found in gyms around the world and on Peloton.
- Inspiration: 52 films and documentaries from the cycling world which will accompany lower intensity workouts such as base training days.
- A week with: Like a mini training camp, you can join pro riders and celebrities for seven days in a row. See their local routes, learn about them, and see what makes them tick.
- ProRides: Six workouts, in which each takes a WorldTour rider's power file, turns it into a workout, and then overlays onboard footage from the same rider, before adding in instructions and motivation from the directeur sportif.
- On Location: Ride in stunning locations with Wahoo Ambassador Mike Cotty, accompanied by cutaway videos that teach you about the scenery you're passing.
- No Vid: 114 workouts of varying intensity with no accompanying video, allowing you to bring your own entertainment or suffer in silence.
- Fitness Test: As the name suggests, this comprises various workouts that use various protocols to test your fitness.
How does it compare to the competition?
All indoor cycling apps work in slightly different ways. For example, Zwift, Wahoo RGT and others provide a virtual world through which your avatar moves as you pedal, while TrainerRoad is more focused on training and the process of helping you get faster.
Wahoo Systm is more akin to the latter, but with a number of key unique selling points that set it apart.
Both use a similar list of questions to begin with in order to help you create a training program that is tailored to your goals. They both integrate a calendar on which you can view your past and future sessions, make changes, add annotations and see weekly totals. Both cater to multi-sport athletes with prescribed swimming and running sessions in addition to cycling, and both do this in a similarly one-dimensional way - ie, there is no treadmill integration or workout graph to follow for these sports.
TrainerRoad excels with the sheer enormity of its workout catalogue, which currently sits at 3209 different sessions. However, where it really sets itself apart is with its use of machine learning, which adapts the difficulty of sessions based on recent workout success rates.
Meanwhile, Systm excels on the entertainment front, offering tailored videos to the majority of its workouts to help with motivation and distraction. Systm's main selling point over the competition, however, is its collection of extracurricular off-the-bike assistance - the strength, yoga and mental workouts that help to create a well-rounded athlete.
As for whether Wahoo Systm is right for you will depend on what you want to get out of your indoor cycling and how you are motivated. If you want gamification, a virtual world through which to ride and other people to ride with, then check out Zwift, Wahoo RGT, or our Zwift vs Systm comparison. However, if you're more excited by the training plan format offered by Systm and TrainerRoad, then you'll need to decide whether strength and yoga are more important to you than the variety and specificity of your on-bike sessions.
How to get started with Wahoo Systm
If Systm is your chosen poison, to start your journey you'll need to head to Wahoo's website, register an account, and then simply download the appropriate app for your device - be that iOS, Mac OS, Windows or Android.
Of course, you can download the app onto multiple devices with one account and your data will be shared.
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As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too.
On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.