Goat and lower back

Hey, I just did the Goat (based on my FTP) and it suggested I might suffer from some lower back discomfort afterwards (due to the low cadences). However I didn’t and I’m wondering why…

I’m certainly no yoga core star so I’m guessing the im doing it wrong and some other muscles are covering for my back. Anyone else experienced this?

Hey @GPatz … people can experience lower back pain when climbing due to forces of low cadence/power etc. Key word is “might”, you likely have good core strength (you do not need to be a yoga star for that). If no pain … good :slight_smile: … Ride on !!!


The low cadence videos e.g. also Power Station are just making the rider aware, that this kind of workout can highlight a weakness if one exists. Like @Joe says … no pain … happy days.

GOAT is fun … hope you enjoyed it.


I would not say that you’re doing it wrong, I would say that you are showing off for not having lower back stiffness :grin:.

No I’m joking, I believe it’s only a observation and if you don’t have any lower back stiffness then you don’t have to worry too much about it. It’s a very similar thing to a “STOP” sign on the road here in a 3rd world country - merely a suggestion :joy:


I do generally find lower cadence work easier than high cadence work. Hence I enjoy all the power vids! I wonder if i lowered the cadence a bit during the 20min on FF, then I could eek out a few more watts…

@GPatz - hey — yes I’ve wondered that in my past too. In fact, if it helps any I can recall on maybe 3-4 tests I would change ring and get out of the saddle and just crank for a minute.
It helped me psychologically break up the 20minutes.
I don’t do it now …

The thing with low cadence is we’re eating in to our pure strength/muscle capability when we do it. So it’s less about our cardio system and more about our strength (over simplification)

My understanding is we only have so much of that to use … but I’ve never got in to just how far that goes.

There’s a great workout (it was broken initially and set to the wrong numbers when it was being tested that I did at the wrong numbers) - GCN something - and it had you basically working at FTP, but every three minutes dripping cadence. Sort of mimicking what you’re talking about here (it starts fast though !!)

That actually wasn’t the work it’s purpose though so it was released as a sub threshold or tempo effort eventually.

I sometimes use it and up the numbers so that the blue line is ftp - and do it as an ftp workout depending on my goals. I think it is 110rpm, 100, eventually all the way down to 70 or 60 in 3 minute blocks.

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@Martin Great, I’ll have a look at that. I tend to find that any sustained cadence work over 95 causes my heart rate to go too high - it’s only a matter of time before I blow! Defender is a prime example. I’m relatively comfortable for stages 1 and 2 but the increase to 100 rpm on stage 3 is brutal for me. I guess that’s my low VO2 max?

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Ah now, we get in to lots of stuff here :slight_smile:
I personally think it is VO2 related (the intricate details need Mac and a lab and lots of repeat testing protocols).
There is an element of (in my opinion - and now I’ll get shot) jus getting ‘used to’ completely melting, and then finding out we can hold that melting level longer than we think (I’ll use an example - when I did this (GCN Aerobic Endurance it was called), the original was at 100% ftp (not 90% as now). So I (unknowingly) trie dot do it that way - mentally I’m thinking I’m decent at holding FTP (as long as I’ve not done NM and MAP maximum efforts first)

So off I go at 110rpm … and because I think I can do it, I do, but I’m melting, thinking this has no end (it’s 21 minutes twice). Then after 3 minutes it drops to 100rpm … and I push on … eventually ending at 50rpm which is a blessing … then you get a few minutes more and repeat. Now it was never designed to be that hard (hence now 90%), but it taught me a lot.

So yes, I think it is VO2/cardio that limits long period at those rpm’s, but I also think there’s an element of trying to and trying to go for longer than we think.

I ended up doing that session … at ftp, 2 x 21 minutes.

Never achieved it since haha, but that’s a different story.

I don’t think I’ve really mastered my ability to suffer yet. Certainly when the going gets tough, or there is an annoying creak on the bike or it’s too hot etc etc then my concentration wavers and I’m done for. Just occasionally I get in the zone and I surprise myself🙂

Admittedly, steady pace has never been by forte. Running, swimming etc are a nightmare for me. However give me burst, rest, burst, rest etc and I’m loving it!

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I find cadences feel different depending on 1) how I’m feeling, 2) why and how I’m doing them, 3) what trainer I’m using.

Cadences over 90rpm are hard for me to hold for any extended period of time.

For recovery rides, holding 90+ rpm feels too taxing. When I was using my dumb trainer I usually did all my recovery rides between 80-85rpm, but usually closer to 80. However, because of ERG mode, while on my smart trainer I ride them closer to 85-90rpm.

For extended FTP efforts I usually ride around 85rpm because I can’t stay at 90rpm+ for that long. And on my dumb trainer I rode all my hard efforts around 85-90rpm. Any less and it was using too much muscle. And trying to keep up 95rpm+ was impossible for any extended period of time, too.

And a lot of it is a difference between ERG mode and Level mode. When I’m in level mode I have to match the gear up and will often end up switching between a couple gears as I get tired. However, in ERG mode I can ignore the gears and just ride however I feel the most comfortable. Which is nice because Lord knows that in Level mode, the most comfortable zone is always directly between two adjacent gears.

So, when I did HM last week on Tuesday, as I got high up the ramps I was right around 98rpm and as soon as I got tired and slipped down below 90rpms, I was done within about 5 seconds. When I did FF on Saturday, when I did the 5min effort I ended up riding around 98rpm, again. But when I did the FTP effort in FF and the constrained effort in HM I was down lower closer to 85-90rpm - and whenever I tried to get up to 95rpm my legs didn’t like it at all.

An interesting observation of my own from my FF on Saturday was that I felt most comfortable doing the 5min effort in the drops. I rarely if ever spend time in the drops unless I’m sprinting. I’m almost always riding on the hoods because that’s where I get the best grip on my shifters. And in my HM just 4 days before I was always on the hoods. But for some reason, I just could not get comfortable in any other position during FF. On the tops I was too far behind my pedals. On the hoods I was stretched out too far. In the aero bars I was too constricted and couldn’t breathe deeply enough. So for the first minute or two I must’ve looked funny bouncing back and forth between them all trying to find a good position before I finally ended up on the drops and stayed there. And then I hit a new high MAP score that was 9w higher than during HM just 4 days earlier - which by itself was already 7w higher than my previous MAP score.

So, ANYWAY, I think what I’m saying is that my cadence varies widely and I’m STILL working out what feels comfortable. Some days I’m tired and I can barely get my legs up to 80rpm. Today I did Power Station at 55% during my recovery week. During parts of the workout the low rpms felt awful while at other parts of the workout the low rpms were a relief. And then when I’m supposed to spin my legs out at 90-95 rpms, it was too fast and I usually ended up between 80-85rpm which still tends to be my go-to recovery cadence.

Overall, tho, SUF has definitely helped me learn how to work better at high cadences which has helped increase my power. I used to do all my FTP efforts around 75-80rpms. Now, I’m more comfortable holding FTP at around 80-85rpms. And then like I mentioned before, my MAP cadence has definitely gone up as I was previously doing those efforts around 85rpm, too, while now I seem to be doing those closer to 95-98rpm.

And back to the original topic, I’m glad I haven’t had lower back pain from G.O.A.T. because I do have lower back issues from a previously herniated disc. Fingers crossed it hasn’t yet been an issue for me while doing SUF.

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Just did the G.O.A.T session and I m a bit irritated. It was 100% so on my Threshold, but for whatever reason this was the easiest session I did so far on SUF.
My HR never went out of my Zone 2…As already others mentioned, me too I seem to be very comfortable on lower cadence and I m wondering why?
Has it maybe something to do with my running past? Are similar muscles used on lower cadence? I believe my FTP is correct and other sessions like shovel or butter really made me suffer…but also during Butter I noticed that when the cadence went down it felt like recovery to me…
This is weird :slight_smile:

PS. no back issues or anything at all


GOAT is one of those workouts that is easy if low cadence grinding is your forte. Some others may not like it as much. If you do the intervals at the low cadences as instructed it can be more challenging than you think versus doing it at your normal cadence.

I like GOAT, it’s short and sweet and works low cadence that I typically don’t on the road. I’m more of a 95-100rpm rider.

I don’t usually have lower back pain from that but I really keep up on my core strength and yoga.


@TheBlackKite I found it pretty easy too. Enjoy the moment. If you’re like me, when you get to Nine Hammers or A Very Dark Place, you’ll want to remember a happier time🤣


Interesting. I enjoy lower cadences and I have a running background as well. I wonder if that makes a difference.

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+1 again. Running background and enjoying lower cadences. And standing. :slight_smile:


I don’t like standing, tho. lol. Well, I do, sometimes, but I can only do it for like 5 seconds. haha. Although I am getting better at it. I rode the Richmond UCI course on Zwift on Monday morning. I did the short punchy 23rd Street Climb segment (.16miles @ 10%) in 45s and averaged 457w standing. I swear I don’t know where all that power came from. But I did stay standing the whole way.

Then I watched a Phil Gaimon video where he holds 450w for most of a 20 minute KOM. lol!


I’m terrible at standing. It sends my heart rate in to the stratosphere and my thighs burn like crazy. It’s the same for a gentle climb or a flat out sprint! I’m sure practice will help but I must be doing it wrong. I’ve watched plenty of videos and I don’t seem to be doing anything majorly differently to them. Meanwhile I’m in agony gasping for breath and they are happily cruising up some giant mountain. I just don’t get it!

@GPatz The only time I can do standing efforts of any duration is while putting out lots of power, but not sprinting. Anything at or under FTP and I can barely manage for maybe 5 seconds and like you said my thighs are burning. So, mostly on MAP or AC efforts on short punchy/steep climbs for maybe 15-30 seconds - maybe 45-60 seconds once every blue moon when the stars align. Only thing that has helped me improve is by practicing doing more of it. So, in my first month of SUF workouts, I always dreaded the moment in the videos when I was told to stand. And then I would pray it was quick so I could sit back down. The more I’ve done it, the more I can do, tho I have to say it still rarely ever feels comfortable. Long standing efforts really seems to be a personal preference more than anything, but they can still be trained if like most anything else you want to put in the effort.


So my opinion (and please don’t sharpen the pitch forks, as this is my opinion). When goat first launched I did it and told a fellow Sufferlandian that it was an easy video and I felt like I was wasting my time. Then time past and I did a couple of 4DPs and I also tinckered with the gear ratio on the bike, now goat is way harder and a proper workout :grin:. So my question: if goat is easy then when last have you completed a 4DP? If the answer is recently then just ignore me :joy:


If you guys are interested in experimenting a bit, take a look at the gear ratios you’re using during these efforts. The longer the gear ratio is, the more energy is stored in the trainer’s flywheel, and that changes how the effort feels when compared to a shorter gear ratio with lower flywheel speed, such as those you’d likely use when climbing.

As an example, if you’re doing it in 2x10 (big chainring and one of the smallest cogs from the cassette), try changing to something like 1x4 and see if it feels different for you.