Wahoo SYSTM Review: Comprehensive Training Platform not Only for Cyclists (2021)

Wahoo SYSTM Review

In this Wahoo SYSTM review, you learn whether this universal indoor cycling app is worth spending your time on, its advantages & disadvantages, and much more.

SYSTM (formerly known as The Sufferfest) is ideal for cyclists and triathletes looking for comprehensive training. It helps you gain fitness and mental toughness. It also integrates yoga and strength exercises into your training. But there is more…

Instead of FTP, it uses 4-Dimensional Power (4DP). 4DP assesses your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you get training plans based on your 4DP results.

After the recent change from The Sufferfest, SYSTM offers more content than ever before.

Are you interested in finding out more? Let’s dive in!

SYSTM Summary

Pros

  • More complex methodology (4DP) for assessing what type of cyclist you are that results in more personalized and focused workouts
  • Focused on improving your performance, strength, and also mental toughness
  • On-boarding tutorial
  • Comprehensive content library
  • Suitable for cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, runners, and other endurance athletes

Cons

  • No augmented reality, just pre-recorded footage
  • No social element, only solo training
  • The app doesn’t count outside training

What is SYSTM?
SYSTM is an app that combines structured workouts with pre-recorded footage. Its Full Frontal test more accurately predicts what type of rider you are. Based on a 4-Dimensional Power, it then recommends what workouts and areas to focus on.

Who is it for?
SYSTM is suitable mainly for cyclists, triathletes, runners, and swimmers. Besides the traditional cycling workouts, it also includes running and swimming workouts, yoga for cyclists, mental and strength training.

Who is it not for?
SYSTM is not for people who look for direct interactivity with their in-app avatar or other people. It doesn’t allow you to interact with others because it is designed for solo training.


My Experience with SYSTM

Here are my takes on the in-game experience, training, engagement, and more that you can find in SYSTM.

Initial Setup

Rebranding the Sufferfest to SYSTM was one of Wahoo’s steps to create a better and more sophisticated ecosystem.

Luckily, SYSTM also works with trainers and devices of other manufacturers. I’ve been using it with Elite Direto 2 smart trainer and Wahoo TICKR heart rate monitor.

You can also use it with just a power meter or cadence + speed sensors. However, you get a better overall experience with a smart trainer with an in-built ERG mode.

Unlike other apps requiring pairing before a workout, SYSTM requires pairing devices right after starting it.

The pairing with my devices went nice and smooth, so let’s jump right onto the next section.


PRO TIP: Improve your indoor cycling workout with a rocker plate. Also, use a fan to stay cooled down.


In-App Experience

Because of the complexity of SYSTM, I break down my experience into multiple parts. Full disclosure, I didn’t try running and swimming workouts because I don’t have a smartwatch. So, I focused mainly on:

  1. Cycling
  2. Strength training
  3. Yoga
  4. Mental training
Wahoo SYSTM Library (Cycling, running, swimming, etc.)
Wahoo SYSTM Library

1. Cycling

SYSTM, unlike other apps, doesn’t use your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) as the primary metric. It uses 4DP (4-Dimensional Power) instead.

The 4DP can assess your complete power profile based on a Full Frontal test. After completing this test, you get your:

  • 5-second power
  • 1-minute power
  • 5-minute power
  • 20-minute power

The app then assigns you one of the following rider profiles:

  1. Sprinter
  2. Attacker
  3. Pursuiter
  4. Time Trialist
  5. Rouleur
  6. Climber
Wahoo SYSTM 4DP Rider Profiles
Wahoo SYSTM 4DP Rider Profiles (click to enlarge)

According to Wahoo, this approach is better than just following your FTP because you will find out your strengths and weaknesses and improve them accordingly.

I took the test and got the following result:

Wahoo SYSTM 4DP Test Results
My 4DP Test Results

This was no surprise for me. I expected to be a ‘Climber.’

The test was well-guided. It surprised me how much fun I had (except for the pain). The funniest thing was when penguins (and later a turtle) appeared on the screen. Then, the instructions told me to go for a walk to rest after 5-minute and 20-minute efforts.

I add a few in-app screenshots of funny and motivational quotes below.

If you ask whether it is possible to turn off the text, yes. It is.

Wahoo SYSTM brought a few new features that were not available in The Sufferfest:

  • A Week With – are sets of rides with ‘Wahooligans’ – you can learn more about their favorite routes, how they train, and more.
  • ProRides – is probably the most interesting new feature. You can ride a part of a professional race (UAE Tour, Strade Bianche, Tour of Norway, etc.). Wahoo paired on-board GoPro cameras with real power data of riders and transformed them into race simulations. But don’t worry, you won’t need to push the same watts as pros. The power data are scaled based on your 4DP profile.
  • On Location – are routes guided by The Col de Collectives’ founder Mike Cotty. Currently, there are just a few routes, but this library is likely to expand.
  • Inspiration – are cycling-focused documentaries and short films paired with endurance and recovery workouts.

Besides these modules, there is also a brand new The Knowledge by Wahoo podcast. Its episodes are around 15 minutes long, while TrainerRoads’ ‘Ask a Cycling Coach‘ exceeds 2 hours.

I tried ProRide, and I had a lot of fun. The constant changes in the tempo will keep you engaged. It is also one of the features that sets SYSTM apart from other indoor cycling apps.

Wahoo SYSTM Pro Rides
Wahoo SYSTM – Pro Rides

The On Location routes are nice too. If you know Col de Collective and their style of videos, you will like this mode too. Hopefully, Wahoo keeps updating the library because it is pretty narrow.

Wahoo SYSTM On Location
Wahoo SYSTM – On Location

2. Strength Training

Winter is coming, and that is an ideal time to build some strength. SYSTM includes strength training for cyclists.

The good news about SYSTM strength training is that you don’t need any equipment. It comprises body-weight exercises only.

They are focused mainly on strengthening your core, improving your balance and bike handling, building more muscle fibers for speed, endurance, and efficiency, and reducing the chance of injury.

You can filter the exercised based on category, difficulty, or duration.

Wahoo SYSTM Strength Workouts
Wahoo SYSTM Strength Workouts

3. Yoga for Cyclist

Yoga is great for improving your strength and flexibility. How many cycling apps include it? Well, I know SYSTM only.

It has over 50 yoga sessions, and SYSTM can mix them with your cycling training when building a training plan.

But if you want to do yoga only, you can choose from yoga workouts that will help you improve your balance, agility, strength, etc.

These workouts are mainly 3-minute or 15-minute long, so it is easy to do them every day or whenever you are in the mood.

Once you play a workout, a trainer will explain and show how to do the exercises correctly. Perfect.

Wahoo SYSTM Yoga
Wahoo SYSTM Yoga Workouts

4. Mental Toughness

Mental toughness training is a unique feature of SYSTM. One of the things that separate the best from the rest is their mental toughness. It allows you to stay motivated, believe in yourself, resist pressure, push your limits, etc.

Everything is just in your head.

So, SYSTM worked with leading sports psychologists and created mental training. Its audio modules and exercises will help you build four habits:

  1. Goal setting
  2. Positive thinking
  3. Strong focus
  4. Reviewing and improving
Wahoo SYSTM Mental Training
Wahoo SYSTM Mental Training

Naturally, I was the most curious about this part of SYSTM because I had no idea what to expect.

In the app, I found a link to a comprehensive Mental Training manual. Its completion is necessary to maximize the effects of this training.

I listened to a few first workouts/talks (or however you want to call them), and their effect depends mainly on your open-mindedness and honesty with yourself.

It is a shame that SYSTM doesn’t have any video playback speed settings, so there is no way to play the video faster.

Because of my time limitation, I haven’t completed the whole module, but I strongly believe in the power of our minds. If you have completed this module, feel free to share your experience in the comments.

5. Swimming and Running

The Swimming and Running modules were not a part of The Sufferfest. Wahoo added them during the transition to SYSTM. You can expect the same as from the Cycling module.

They include structured workouts made by professional coaches and experts. So, if you do a triathlon, for example, you know what app to use.

Currently, the running module includes almost 120 workouts, and the swimming module includes almost 80.

Wahoo SYSTM Swimming Workouts
Wahoo SYSTM Swimming Workouts
Wahoo SYSTM Running Workouts
Wahoo SYSTM Running Workouts

Engagement

SYSTM is not like Zwift or ROUVY, for example. It doesn’t include as many or as sophisticated gamification elements. You also won’t find any social interaction here because SYSTM is designed for training solo.

What makes SYSTM different is how it ties everything together. For example, you will see real-world footage from races during a workout, depending on the current intensity. So, during a sprint interval, riders will sprint, etc.

I am sure you will also sometimes laugh during your workouts. The app includes funny and motivational (as shown above).

SYSTM includes an Award library, but they don’t work with it very well. I was not even notified that I obtained some awards. So, there is room for improvement here.

To wrap this up, SYSTM relies on your internal motivation to become a better athlete. It won’t provide you with much external motivation. However, its modules are so cleverly designed that you will be motivated to do them.

Routes

SYSTM complements your ride data with pre-recorded footage from races. However, you can’t choose what recording will play – they are tailored to fit the workout.

Although SYSTM brought tons of new content (like the ProRides or Inspirational libraries), this is one of its biggest disadvantages – the footage gets repetitive.

ROUVY or FulGaz are on another level. Their route library includes thousands of routes, so you can always choose a different route. But these apps work on a different principle.

For example, when I compare SYSTM with TrainerRoad that shows only your ride data, SYSTM ends pretty well.

Training

Above, I highlighted some SYSTM training features. SYSTM is, together with TrainerRoad, the best app for actual training and improving your performance.

While TrainerRoad uses Adaptive Training and other technologies, SYSTM leverages 4DP. I leave it to certified trainers and experts to evaluate which approach is more effective, though.

I like the comprehensiveness of SYSTM. It is not just about riding a bike, but also about combining other sports and activities.

The mental training program is also unique, and I haven’t seen it in other apps.

In addition, SYSTM includes a plan builder where you can set almost everything – a type of event, training load, time available for training, etc. The resulting training plan is then tailored based on your 4DP results.

As you can see, SYSTM is a sophisticated training app. It has a downside, though. Unlike TrainerRoad, it doesn’t count your outdoor workouts.

User Friendliness

Clearly, there was a lot of thought when putting SYSTM together. I find it well-designed, user-friendly, and easy to use.

However, Wahoo doesn’t leverage the app as well as they could. For example, these new features are ‘hidden,’ and if you don’t know they exist, you probably won’t click on them. But this is easily solvable with future updates.

I like the possibility of using SYSTM in light or dark mode. I wish more apps would offer this option.

Both desktop and mobile apps are functional and stable. They also load quickly and don’t lag.

However, I noticed SYSTM doesn’t leverage the entire screen, and the bottom bar is aligned to the left and not stretched to the full width of the screen:

Wahoo SYSTM Bugs
Wahoo SYSTM Bugs

Another issue I found was when I completed the Full Frontal test. There was no button to update my power values, and they didn’t update automatically, so I had to update them manually.

These issues are likely to be solved in future updates.

Platforms Availability

While The Sufferfest was only available on iOS, macOS, and Windows, SYSTM is also available for Android.

Wahoo SYSTM Platform Availability
Wahoo SYSTM Platform Availability (click to enlarge)

An app for Apple TV is not available, but you can use iPhone/iPad screen mirroring. It comes with limitations, though – the screen may lag or drop.

I’ve been using SYSTM mainly on macOS, and it worked flawlessly. However, when I tried to play a few workouts on my iPhone, the workout didn’t load after hitting the “Start Workout” button. So I had to completely “kill” the app and start it again.


SYSTM Alternatives

There are plenty of indoor cycling apps out there, but only a few of them are worth it. The following ones are my favorite.

  • TrainerRoad – is a fully performance-oriented cycling app with a comprehensive workouts library. It only shows you your ride data, no virtual world or video footage.
  • Zwift – utilizes a virtual world built from scratch. It doesn’t have as wide a route library as ROUVY. It is much closer to being a game.
  • ROUVY – uses real-world footage augmented with avatars and other objects. It has a huge routes library and allows you to explore beautiful places from the comfort of your home.
  • RGT Cycling – features a virtual world inspired by real-world roads. Its graphics is more realistic than Zwift, but it doesn’t offer as sophisticated motivation mechanisms.
  • FulGaz – uses real-world footage of routes worldwide. It has a comprehensive route library. It doesn’t feature augmented reality as ROUVY. This means there are no avatars or artificial objects.
AppPriceFree TrialWorldMultiplayerConnectivityPlatform Availability
Zwift14.99 USD / month7 daysVirtualYesANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
ROUVY12 USD / month
144 USD / year
14 daysRealYesANT+ FE-C, BluetoothAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
TrainerRoad19.95 USD / month
189 USD / year
7 daysn/aNoANT+ FE-C, Bluetooth, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
Wahoo SYSTM (formerly The Sufferfest)14.99 USD / month
129 USD / year
14 daysRealNoANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS
RGT CyclingFree or
9.99 USD / month
14 daysVirtualYesANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS (remote)
Windows, macOS, Apple TV (screen)
FulGaz12.99 USD / month
108.99 USD / year
14 daysRealYesANT+ FE-C, BLE FTMSAndroid, iOS, Windows, macOS, Apple TV
Updated on the 17th of September, 2021.

I created a rating system for evaluating the following features. It helps to keep the comparison between training apps consistent.

  • Price – how expensive is the app relative to other indoor cycling apps?
  • Ease of setup – is the app easy to set up with a smart trainer? Can it be used without it?
  • Engagement – does the app keep you engaged and motivated?
  • Routes – does the app offer a wide route library?
  • Training – does the app include prebuilt workout plans? Do they help you get faster?
  • User-friendliness and intuitiveness (UX) – is the app easy to navigate, easy to use, clear, and intuitive?
  • Platform availability – is the app available for multiple platforms like iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Apple TV, etc.?

The following table shows my ratings of specific areas on a scale of 1–5 (5 is the best).

AppPriceEase of SetupEngage-
ment
RoutesTrainingUXPlatform AvailabilityTotal
Zwift355343528
ROUVY454533529
TrainerRoad253n/a*55424
Wahoo SYSTM354355429
RGT Cycling552242323
FulGaz452532526
My indoor cycling apps rating on a scale of 1–5 (5 is the best)
*TrainerRoad is different from other apps and doesn't offer any routes.

SYSTM FAQ


My Verdict

Do I recommend SYSTM? Yes. To riders who want to improve not only their cycling fitness, but also their core strength using yoga exercises, strength, and mental toughness. The unique 4-Dimensional approach will help you focus on areas that matter. Your training won’t be based on your FTP but on your 5-sec, 1-min, 5-min, and 20-min power. This makes it more effective and focused on your goals.

SYSTM is also suitable for other endurance athletes like runners, swimmers, or triathletes because it includes running and swimming training plans and workouts.

Do I recommend it to everybody? No. SYSTM is not suitable for people who want to interact with others or do e-racing. You only get a solo experience. It is also not ideal for riders who don’t take cycling too seriously and rather want to explore new places from the comfort of their home.

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