Heart Rate Not Hitting Targets After Full Frontal

I took a Full Frontal exam for the first time about a week and a half ago and I’m starting a Metric Century training plan.

Now when I’m doing the workouts, I’m not reaching the target heart ranges when I’m spinning at the target power and cadences. I feel good, getting good rest at night, and my resting heart rate has gone down, so I don’t think it’s a matter of fatigue. I also feel like my real-time RPE is below the recommended RPE.

The only thing I can think of as to why it may be running low is that my MAP score was below the minimum of 115% percent of my FTP. I know that the 4DP philosophy talks about the need to raise your MAP in order to raise your FTP. Is it likely that my FTP is being underscored because of this?

Should I push up my FTP so my HR hits the zones, or should I be patient and trust the system?

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I’d just focus on power and cadence. If after a few workouts it feels just too easy, you can increase intensity by 5% or 10%. My experience is that HR is so variable day to day and so lagged behind effort levels that it’s a poor guide during interval workouts.


Welcome to SYSTM!!!

Agreed with @AkaPete on focusing on power and cadence and you should be ok.

One other thing to consider. Unless you’re quite experienced with cycling specific fitness testing, the Full Frontal is really hard to get right. Especially your first time. Is it possible you went too easy on your FF? Is it possible you went too hard and blew up, thus getting lower numbers than you would have, if paced correctly?

If it were me, after another week of workouts, if you’re still finding the workouts too easy, I’d do a Half Monty test to confirm your MAP and FTP numbers. That test is much harder to mess up.

Take my 2 cents for what it’s worth… $0.02 :wink: … Good luck with your training!


Welcome to the forums and congrats on getting FF done.

Echo the FF comments above - if FF / testing in general is new (not sure if it is for you of course) then it can be hard to find your own limits in the first few tests.

From my own, and listening to others experiences over the years, MAP being lower is sometimes one of the consequences. Things to do:

  • as the two prev posts say … ride your bike for a week or so and if/when you’ve done enough workouts that are either MAP or FTP focussed and you’re convinced that one of those numbers is too low, feel free to manually adjust in the interim (via athlete profile) but don’t go overboard on that

  • in a few weeks time after you’ve got used to workouts and the platform and what you can do, schedule a half monty test like has been suggested already) and you’ll get a new MAP and ftp number.
    Half Monty is a straightforward test, but it again relies on pushing harder than one thinks one can.

What I would not do at this stage is alter ftp. If your MAP result was lower than 115% of FTP (and this has a caveat that everyone’s different and medical reasons may limit peoples heart rates and so on - I’m talking the ‘average’ here) then there is every chance that you have more to give in the 5 minute part of the test (even though it won’t have felt that way)

If that is the case - you then will have had more energy / anaerobic capacity available for the 20 minute test and what can happen is the 5 minute number then ends up being low and the 20 minutes ends up being high.

I’d say that’s a common ‘early days’ scenario - butbit may not be yours.

If you want to delve in to this in any more detail (note I’m not a coach or anything) we can always look at your other numbers like heart rate and so on which can help understand how FF went). Feel free to PM if you want to or post stuff on the forum.

Welcome again and happy training.

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Just to add my experience - on FTP-type intervals I pretty much always have a HR below the range that Systm is telling me. Less so with MAP intervals (it takes time to get up there but I do get there).

I have always had this with SUF/Systm (that’s not a slight on Systm, I have never done any power based training elsewhere). I have done many FF tests and HMs and so while I wouldnt ever claim to always get it bang on I know I’m performing the test pretty well.

I put it down to a bit of individual physiology. I think I can generally maintain the lower HR until the effort really ramps up. Other people might drift higher earlier, etc, etc. Everyone’s mileage is a little different. I generally have a low HR and have always had a very low RHR, I’ve no idea if that comes in to play here at all.

I don’t worry about it. I train to power (which is the main point of such training) and I know that if I upped the power to get my hr in the ftp-related zones then I wouldnt be finishing the workouts. Remember that (all things being equal, tests performed ‘adequately’, etc) power is the important target, HR is a by-product and affected more by external factors than power is (IMO).

Also note that for AC and NM intervals HR is irrelevant. These will by definition be short and the associated HR spike lags the effort that causes it. I personally will never hit my max HR on an AC or NM interval (unless I’m fatigued beforehand. An AC sprint at the end of a longer interval, or the Omnium say, is a bit different. But even then it’s still just an all-out effort - any target training zone means nothing. You shouldn’t be able to see or speak by this point anyway).


Are you on a smart or dumb trainer?

Some dumb trainers have a limited power curve, mine tops out at 316w. After my first FF my NM and AC targets were way too low, (they were both flagged in the results) As a result any workout with short duration intervals were easy.

Did you do a Half Monty in the week before the Full Frontal to give you an idea of what kind of power to aim for during the 5min MAP test, and how was your pacing?

I didn’t and went out way too hard on my first one, blew up after a minute and limped through the last 4mins at around FTP.

What workouts have you done that so far? I find some workouts suit my rider type and my HR is often below the target zone, others like 14 Vice Grips leave me gasping for air and unable to stand up.

To back up others, don’t worry about HR too much. It varies massively day to day depending on how fatigued (or not) you are, stress and even temperature.

HR is a very useful indication of how the engine is doing - for example if you cannot raise your HR you may be overly fatigued or becoming sick - but focus on Power and Cadence as suggested. And RPE (rate of perceived exertion), if it feels really hard it probably is!!

I’ll stick with the power settings as-is for now. I do have a dumb trainer, but I’ve been able to get some decent wattage out of it, but after all of your responses, I’m a little more convinced I undershot my FF. This was my first time doing these types of fitness tests, so I was a little nervous about blowing up and took a conservative approach when it came to pushing harder on the FF. Not really knowing what to expect had me standoffish.

My plan already has a HM scheduled at the halfway point, so I’ll be patient for now and bring a little more confidence into the next test.

Thank you all for the advice; I really appreciate it!

Good plan!

Regarding the “conservative approach” to the FF… remember, you need to do maximal efforts for each of the 4 tests for the numbers to be accurate. So for the 5 min effort, you need to go all out and not save anything for the FTP portion coming up. This is why people “love” the FF!!

Happy training!!


FF is a fine balance. If you aren’t on the edge of blowing up, your numbers won’t quite be right. For me, it was really important to have a sense of what I could do for the 5 minute and 20 minute intervals. I got that from HM and from just riding workouts and noticing how they felt. Without that sense, I wouldn’t have had any idea how to pace myself.

It’s also a bit complicated to get the gearing right. Since gearing is discrete, you can never get exactly the power you want and exactly the cadence–so you have to compromise.

Finally, I found this podcast really helpful–especially for the short efforts.

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I recently survived an FF and equipped with fresh numbers I am surprised (and pleased?) to see the difference when tackling past favs on SUF. They definitely hit differently. I generally don’t pay much attention to my heart-rate targets focusing primarily on hitting power and cadence. However when I do check, I’m amazed how often my heart rate is right in the zones prescribed. This is some serious science we’re engaged in. Thank-you Systm!