FF First Timer

As you may have guessed from the title… I’m pretty new to The Sufferfest (and road bikes, and indoor training, and triathlon…) having joined the communal pain in December. I’ve completed the little intro plan and am nearing the end of the 6 week kickstarter, which does of course finish with a FF. As such, I’ve only completed two HM’s so far and was hoping to get some tips for a veritable first timer :pray:

I’ve read the guide on the website and certainly found some good stuff in there, just wondering if there are any other pearls of wisdom for an apprehensive newby who is keen to progress (and to heighten the ToS suffering… which was a good thing to sign up for with no experience… right… :joy:).

If relevant, I’m on a Kickr Snap!?!?

Welcome @Yiyan! Have you seen these articles in our help center?

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Think of it as just another workout. There is no need to feel apprehensive. The results will be the results.

Depending on your cycling experience it may take several repetitions before you figure out how to pace it.


agreed with all this. feel free to get jacked up for it but don’t psyche yourself out.

One thing that can help is to try to negative split the 5 min and the 20 min (that means getting faster as you go through the test interval). In an ideal world, you’d pick a power that you could maintain where you completely fatigued in the last second of each test, but in practice that’s not really possible.

what i do early in the season when i’m not really sure where my fitness is, is i start out at a pace i think i can maintain for five minutes, but i err on the side of conservatism rather than aggressiveness, then i try to increase it each minute (or every 4 or 5 minutes during the 20 min test).

If you’re successful, then next time you have a better idea of how hard you can go, and you can get closer to that perfect pacing. Alternatively if you are too aggressive and you blow up halfway through, your result is less valid.

but I don’t try to negative split for the 1 min. Just jam it as hard as you can and try to hold on (You will find that while the energy production may be anaerobic, the repletion of it is very much aerobic :)).


It’s a really tough hour! Just make sure you go into it fresh, fully fuelled (a few hours earlier) and hydrated (over the previous couple of days). For good measure fire down your favourite gel in the warm-up and have a full bottle of carb drink on hand. Then get your head down and give it your best shot. Even if you go too hard and blow up you will still learn a lot from the experience. Likewise if you go too easy it will be obvious by the end.

Also don’t panic if you feel totally smashed after the 5 min MAP interval. You will recover in time for the 20 min stint, I promise! After the 20 min interval, you only have 1 more minute of suffering. It isn’t THAT bad, lol.

Good luck!


One more tip. When I did my first FF I used level 3 resistance throughout the test, which was fine for MAP and FTP, but not high enough for the sprint, so I ended up spinning out. So next time I used level 5 for the first sprint and level 6 for the second one and then back to level 3 for MAP and FTP. Level 1 for the recovery sections. The extra resistance felt much better for standing sprints in a high gear. Obviously your trainer is different to mine and your power output is likely to be different, so you might find different resistance levels work for you. So might be a good idea to have.a play around with the levels and gearing a few days beforehand.

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maybe this makes me some kind of a pervert but i actually think a 20 min test after a 5 min test is less painful overall than a standalone 20 min test.

standalone 20 min test is just a brutal duration.


Welcome @Yiyan !

I agree with @Heretic on this. It takes some practice to get the pacing of the five minute and twenty minute intervals right. Don’t feel too bad if you don’t feel like you get it exactly right on your first attempt.

The negative split suggestion for the five and twenty minute intervals from @devolikewhoa is a good one, as that will hopefully help stop you from going out too hard at the start - just don’t take it too easy to start with! The one minute interval is definitely a peak and fade effort as the workout describes. You go as hard as you can at the start, and just hang on and don’t give up. Slowing down is fine, but keep going as hard as you can.


I find the same. I actually feel better once I get going in the 20 min effort than I do during the recovery from the 5 min MAP.

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Thanks @Cody.Moore , I hadn’t come across that summary page, but had found one or two of the articles within. Definitely a handy resource!

@Heretic good point. It’s not like Violator was particularly easy! FF is just another 1hr workout that also happens to fire some numbers at you afterwards. Having read a few different posts, it certainly sounds like pacing is the trickiest aspect and will get ‘easier’ with practice.

@devolikewhoa thanks for the splits info. What output to start the 5 & 20 min efforts is an area that I haven’t the foggiest where to begin. Does the video give some ball park areas to aim for? Or should I use my HM data as a minimum aiming point for that first half split?

@Peteski good to know, thank you. Usually pretty good at fuelling up beforehand, but then often only take in water during. Will look to have something a little more interesting to hand if needed during the recovery. Also good to hear about the levels! The guides indicated somewhere around level 0/1/2/3… but I hadn’t the foggiest where to aim . Think I was in 2 for Violator and don’t think I span out in the hardest gears? Is it worth moving around the levels a bit to get the best experience throughout?

@way9e0 thanks, will hopefully find a sensible pace to kick off the longer efforts. As you say, worst case I come up a little short. Might make ToS a little bit more manageable :sweat_smile:

Thanks all for the tips and info. Sounds like I should have played around a bit more with level mode in the lead in, so I’ll certainly remember that for the next one. Looking forward to getting my full 4DP and enjoying some more tailored training!


On the levels, if you are not sure then just go with level 2. If you do spin out on the first sprint then you can always raise it for the second. But then don’t forget to go back down for the rest of the session.

You will be given target power levels to aim for based on your HM results. It makes sense to start off with these and adjust as necessary during the intervals. The sprints obviously are just flat out and the 1 min AC is just a case of emptying your tank, which will be on fumes by then!


I hadn’t done FF for 10 months until the new year, and was not thrilled at the prospect of paying a long overdue visit. I did Hell Hath no Fury a couple of weeks before as the 20min effort was what I was most ‘fearing’ in FF. Doing 2x20min in HHNF was great and got me in a much better mindset for desensitising the FF effort. If you’re nervous about the 5min effort, do A Very Dark Place, again just to demystify the effort required. As said elsewhere, FF then becomes just another workout


yeah, if you have a half monty data that’s reasonably current, you can use that as a target.

But often the best place to determine your pacing is in your intervals. Like if you are completing 9 Hammers with a certain MAP target and getting to the end, maybe shoot higher than that. If the FTP intervals you do are feeling easy, you know your FTP might be higher. This is data you can gather using the “feels” when you are doing any workout that has steady, relatively simple intervals


Thanks all, appreciate the info. Primers done and feeling good for tomorrow!

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Good luck!

Just do your best and you will definitely come away a little wiser for the experience.


Aaaaaaand done!

Pleased with how it went in general. As expected, the 5 and 20 min efforts were the trickiest to pace and I couldn’t quite find the right gear to hold a cadence and output that I was happy with. Think playing around with the level and gearing will mean I can eek out a bit more on both. It being 2 deg C in the pain cave might not have been the ideal conditions as well :sweat_smile:.

It did show that my base fitness (VO2) is in need of work, which is what I was expecting as I’m still near the beginning of this particular fitness journey.

On the whole, I weirdly enjoyed it, though the final 1 min effort was grim!!


Given the temperature, your body would have to do more work to keep itself warm in addition to the exercise stress. Was your heart rate elevated above what you would expect?

I think it was up a little, but not as much as I expected at that temp. Just didn’t feel like my legs were ever warm/hot. Will certainly look to bring the turbo indoors if the temperature isn’t a little higher the next time FF comes around.

Makes a change from the usual problem of over-heating in this kind of test!

Well done!

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I try to focus on what I can control, effort, breathing, relaxation, .The watts look after themselves, but if I focussed on results it would add stress and reduce numbers .It is a tough hour, but if you consider them as stand alone workouts, it feels easier. It is understandable working yourself up for the glorious effort, but you will retest over time , and retest again. Sure do your best, then a bit more, but it is part of the process, focus on where you are in the moment, rather than where you wish you could be