Destroyed by 9 Hammers. What canI do?

On new numbers had 9 hammers up today.
I have never complete successfully at100%.
Best I ever had was 1/3 way into 9th hammer.

My fitness is ok and I am not fatigued or unwell.

I stopped in 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th (twice) hammers

PercentGe down to 90% by the end
I also reduced intensity of the 8th-9th recovery which is too high.

I am 69 years old and I think in good shape.
I just don’t believe that the workout as planned gives me enough recovery for MAP intervals.

I am never going to do again at 100%.
What should I do next time it is up, extend recovery period or decrease Map by 10 or more percent?

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Morning… Just In my opinion… I think (almost) everyone gets destroyed by 9 hammers, and that’s the point- not many can make it through on fresh accurate numbers all the way. It’s designed to push you to your limit and I’ve come to terms with thinking that it’s good to actually find that limit as you only know what you’re capable of when you push just a little too hard and fall the other side of the line! Depending on your rider profile- and fresh numbers you say- it may just be that it’s one of those workouts that will continue to be your nemesis- it is mine! The other thing is the mental side of it, I see it in the calendar and the fear begins, whereas other workouts I think to myself “Oh I’m good at this one”…a lot is in the head. All that being said to answer your question if it were me I’d try to dial it down to say 85% in order to get it done start to finish with no stops and give yourself a well earned pat on the back- the feeling of getting it done will help as you increase % the next time… Good luck!


The focussed plan for the ToS had you do it at 100/90/95/80 and it was so much more enjoyable, whilst still being beneficial. I don’t think I’ll ever do it at 100% again unless I know my numbers are low.

Yes I did on the TOS at 100/100/91/83, .it was ok

I’ve never completed 9H at 100%. I usually ride it in level mode now so you can give all you have, but don’t end up in the ERG spiral of death!


That’s a good call @Alistair_Brown
Which is probably the original thing before ERG became as prevalent.

I think nine hammers should come with a disclaimer.

If you complete all nine hammers go do an FTP test. You were meant to fail after the 7th hammer!


In all seriousness I think you’re right. The number of queries about it on here suggest that it’s not entirely clear that it’s nigh on impossible.

It’s actually a very good example of the limitations of the TSS/IF approach. As has been discussed at length elsewhere, the TSS of a workout underestimates the real stress when it comes to HIIT sessions.

The IF of 9 Hammers is only (only!) 0.98, and at 58 minutes has a TSS of 93. So in theory if you’re rested, not unwell, not overly stressed, etc, etc it shoud be perfectly doable.
Until the hammers start falling.

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Hey @Stonechat ,
All of the suggestions here are good. There is no perfect answer and you may try different approaches regarding 9 Hammers. I always like to refer to the flowchart:


@leebo I keep telling myself it is possible - even on fresh numbers. I was very close last time but my cadence started to fade into the 9th hammer and then the surge in power with one minute to go finished me off. I am going to be ready for it next time!

Go get it!

We’ll send flowers…


I agree with everything said above, but here are my 2 cents.

9H is one of those workouts that is meant to push you to your limits.
You should not be ashamed for not completing it, this is its purpose.

Here is a screenshot of my W’ Balance during my last 9H:

I have zoomed in on the last 3 hammers and i have also removed my watt numbers, because who cares.

W’ Balance is in simple terms how much energy left you have in the anaerobic tank.
From W’bal zones you can also measure how much fatigue builds in the system.

To put this into context, because of all this stress (fatigue) you feel awful after a 9H workout, but you feel ok after a 4h Zone 2 ride.

By taking a look at the last interval, you can see that by the end of it, my W’ Balance was -1.9kJ.
This means that i had completely emptied the tank.
I have seen just a few workouts on the library that push us so far to the limit.
That’s why it is normal to quit on the last interval.
You need to be physiologically and psychologically ready and recovered in order to complete it.
You also need to have the correct numbers on the app.
Not having fresh numbers will probably mean that you will either complete it easier, or you will struggle a lot.

A few more notes on the graph:
You can see that the last so called recovery interval before the 9th is actually a recovery. The W’ Balance gets replenished.
You can also see how easier FTP intervals are, by looking at the 7th hammer.

A couple of disclaimers:

  1. I did not really complete the 9H. I had to pause for 20 seconds on the last minute of the 9th hammer, because i was feeling awful. I then completed it and checked the results afterwards.
  2. This screenshot is from Golden Cheetah. The W’ Balance is just an estimate.
    That’s why it drops to minus, which, i think, is actually impossible.
    But besides that, it’s a great tool to get an idea of how you were doing during the workout.

@lapingv755 Interesting - what other SUF workouts end with similar W balance numbers?

@JSampson I have been on the platform only for 4 months, so i have not completed all of the workouts.

From the ones i finished:
Half is easy on the last extended sprint. It dropped to 3.7kJ.
Blender dropped to 3.0kJ on the last interval of the 2nd group of pain shakes.
Violator did not drop that low (probably because i did not give it all?), but it was between 5-10kJ for the majority of the efforts.
Cash register to 3.9kJ at the end.

It’s pretty clear why 9H is harder than all of these.

Also, you should not compare the short interval training with long aerobic workouts like It Seemed Like Thin Air.
You feel destroyed at the end of these workouts, because you emptied your aerobic tank and not the W’ Balance.
Compare TSS and IF between such workouts.

Finally, you drop the W’ Balance very low on HM and FF as well.
On HM obviously on the ramp and on FF on the 5min test.
Not on the 1min test, because you are already exhausted (not in terms of W’ Balance) by the time you reach at this point.
That’s why your AC power is not your max 1min power, but your max 1min power you can hold after a long effort, as clearly indicated on the video as well.


Stonechat, It looks as if you are doing 9 hammers as well as most of us, including the spring chickens amongst us. I have the big 0 in July so us mature folks need to stick together (smile) Part of me is always confident of completing 9H, when fresh I really want to show myself I can do it.I never really know how far I will get, but I usually reach that point where the mind is saying yo can do this, positive talk Alan, but the legs stop anyway

Sometimes I finish 9 Hammers, and sometimes the 9th Hammer finishes me.

There are two reasons for “failing to finish”.

One is psychological, the fear or discomfort of the 5th, 8th, or 9th Hammer can cause you to feel that you cannot go on, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mental training can help here.

The second, as @lapingv755 mentioned, you empty your tank. You really pushed yourself as far as you were physically capable. That means you have done the workout the best you were capable of.


For these types of workouts, it is best when I get a Xert breakthrough at the end. My best 9 Hammers is when I finish the workout, and the breakthrough comes at the last seconds of the last hammer. Or today, when I finished A Very Dark Place, the breakthrough came at the very last seconds of the last interval. That means the workout was well designed by the coaches.


I am colpletely satisfied that it will be impossible for me ever to complete this, owing to it now allowing for my lower and slower rate of recovery from MAP efforts


After the Sufferlandria Tour I did the 4DP prep program with Full Frontal at the end. My numbers had all improved (FTP from 223 to 244) and I used these and started a 4 week MAP block. Did Nine Hammers at the start of the 3rd week, and up until the last one just about hit the targets. On the final hammer I cracked in the middle and made a kind of recovery to finish it wiped out. Five days later had A Very Dark Place. Failed to hit the targets on any of the first 4 intervals. The last interval is very low cadence, and I was able to do this one as called for. I’ve since taken 2 days off. I’m beginning to think a 4 week MAP block is too long for my 68 year old body. Any opinions?

That’s a very interesting idea I am inclined to agree with (fyi, I am not a fitness coach). It may be that 9H is doable for a rider in good fitness who is younger and/or can recover quickly, but that older riders or riders with slower recovery rates may never be able to complete it at 100%.

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I think the key is the recovery rate. I do not know if that is age-related or not.
How do you define 100% complete, matching the power targets and finishing?

How do you and @Stonechat do with workouts such as Violater, Downward Spiral, The Shovel, Omnium, or A Very Dark Place?