Title sums it up…
I actually don’t like anything about it. I have completed it only one time. Mentally I can’t get myself to do it again, physically, I blow-up and quit somewhere towards the end (which seems like such a waste). I also question the science behind it… I have taken several other FTP tests (virtually on Zwift and Tacx) and my FTP is always be between 240 - 250, but on the 4DP I am 188.
My ego is fine if 188 is accurate, but its not, and because of that all my subsequent Sufferfest workouts seem to be at too low a level.
And since I am bitchin’- n- complainin’… The ramp test is also unnecessarily too long. Does the 20 minutes of extra heart rate work really yield that much of a better result?
Testing isn’t for everybody I guess and whether it’s worth it or not depends on your goals. If 188 is too low, and given you’ve only done it once it probably is, then adjust the settings manually. Try setting your FTP in SUF to 240-250 and see how that feels. You could also adjust your other metrics to whatever seems appropriately “uncomfortable”.
As for the HM, I agree that it’s a bit long but the constrained effort at the end is WAY more palatable than the 20 min effort in FF. And, with HM you’ll at least get MAP FTP and LTHR results without smashing yourself to bits. Your NM is easy enough to test and you could base your AC on the results you get in The Trick (but I’d adjust those down a bit too).
I think questioning the science is healthy but I wouldn’t discount it based solely on anecdote either. Remember these test have been done thousands of times by a wide range of riders. Here is an interesting article on 4DP and the ranges people present with. Def worth the read.
Very valid comments and I agree. I think it just isn’t for me. I like to benchmark my training, but Sufferfest doesn’t give you an easy way to do this…Typically that would be a ramp test, but Sufferfest makes this more difficult then it needs to be as well.
I enjoy many things about The Sufferfest. The yoga has been a game changer for me and I am so grateful that it was Sufferfest that got me into yoga (52 yrs old and never did before and now a convert!). But, I am now in the last few days of my subscription and likely wont be renewing next winter due to what I perceive as deal breakers in getting the metrics I want in a reasonable way.
I guess I just wanted to be heard… I almost feel guilty as I generally liked the product.
Fwiw @Tungstenisw i personally wouldn’t give it up based on testing. I’m an annual subscriber and even though I often barely use it in the summer, I find the value for dollar with SUF second to none and I’m happy to support what is still essentially a small company.
One of the things I LOVE about SUF is how they are constantly innovating. 4DP was a huge innovation, and Half Monty made metrics testing even more approachable. I don’t see them stopping here. I also have never found any app that has workouts that are as engaging as the ones in SUF and that push me to just about breaking and sometimes a little further ( eg Nine Hammers, HHNF, Defender, The Wretched).
Anyhow, I hope you stick around (you can never leave) but if you bail, you’re always welcome here!
If you are blowing up near the end then there might be a pacing issue.
Not hanging on to the end massively alters your results. There is a great article and video that describes the pacing requirements. I’m on my phone or I’d try and find it and post it. It’s well worth a read
I am not counting the results where I blew up… only the time I completed it. I am sure you’re correct about pacing, but the test does tell you TO GO AS HARD AS YOU CAN several times before you get to the FTP section.
I was thinking that the 4DP format may not actually be the best format for me. It might work with the majority and I am an outlier. Or, maybe I just don’t like the results it gives me based on what I see on other applications for FTP. Either way, I do think Sufferfest would do themselves and their subscribers a favor by providing other benchmarking approaches (like what you have with a traditional ramp test).
Thinking out loud here… I have 4 days before my subscription runs out and there is rain and snow in the forecast. Maybe I will give it one more try.
Hi. It’s me again. I hope you do give FF another shot @Tungstenisw! Make no mistake, I HATE FF too. Really REALLY hate it. But to get the most out of the workouts, I treat it like a necessary evil. I have a pretty good sense of where my metrics lie after having done it about 8 times and having done HM a half dozen times. The reason I will continue to do these Grunter forsaken tests though is that my fitness varies throughout the year for a number of reasons (extended time off the bike, illness, injury, accumulated training stress, life events etc etc). As a result I want the workouts to be tailored to where I am AT THAT POINT in time. I have adopted a saying from tennis pro Arthur Ashe and it is now my mantra.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
As for Half Monty, sure it is longer than a typical ramp test but in the grand scheme, it’s over in an hour and the horrible part if it is over in around 10 minutes. That seems like a relatively small investment in your future training. Once it’s done, all your workouts going forward become tailored to where you are, rather than where you were.
“what would you move across to? Curious?!?”
This makes me sad… and my choice makes me sad…but I was between Zwift and Sufferfest when I gave Sufferfest the nod in January this year so I am planning on moving to Zwift when I subscribe again next Fall (I also use the free version of RGT). I will be moving from the minions to the masses…
Each month Zwift loads your account with 25KM for free. I have recently started using their workouts while playing my own tunes and I feel like I am still SUFFERRING, just on a different platform.
Funny thing, I actually bought an IPad when I decided to use Sufferfest because it didn’t work on my Android tablet. I was committed to liking this platform. BUT with 4DP looming on the horizon I quit my Sufferfest 12 week training program 2 weeks short and started using RGT and Zwift as an avoidance mechanism.
My comments about 4DP may be in the minority…but from what I have read on this forum and other places (youtube) I don’t believe it is. I hope someone from Sufferfest is listening. LOVED the YOGA… strength and mental training were kinda lame…
@Tungstenisw As the saying goes “your results may vary.” I started with Sufferfest and a “dumb” trainer when the videos were mailed out on CDs. I managed to get on the Zwift platform in the early beta and was able to use without paying for nearly two years! That was back in the day when it was a big deal if there were 500 riders on a Saturday morning compared to 10k now. I used Zwift for indoor training pretty exclusively. As it grew and the actual training part came into the picture I started using the Century and Fondo training and eventually upgraded to a Wahoo Kickr three+ years ago.
My FTP on Zwift was higher than on Sufferfest and I was not too broken up about it, mainly because of the outdoor results that I recognized after I returned to Sufferfest in early 2018. I had been using Zwift to train for a hilly Gran Fondo (100 miles, 6250 feet of climbing). It killed me. It took five+ days to recover. In 2019 I decided to jump back into SUF and followed their standard 12-week Fondo plan. Night and day difference. I recovered in two days. I am pretty addicted to training and rarely miss a session in either program.
In preparation for the 2020 Fondo (that was cancelled) I decided to up my game and completed two back to back custom training plans with a coach (ride, strength, yoga) and saw a 12-14% increase in all of my power metrics just from the first 12-weeks (thanks @Coach.Spencer.R ) FTP still lower than what Zwift reported but how I felt on the road and Strava PRs, - no comparison.
I go back to Zwfit now and then and consider dropping it since I am now paying for it but not really using it. I am in week 8 of 12 of my fourth custom plan working with the same coach and my numbers are up a little more as of today’s Half Monty.
I agree with @Glen.Coutts - I hate FF too. I am not sure if hate is strong enough. I literally cough for half the day once I finish. I almost did not do FF before the start of this current plan, but talked myself into it since it had been six months. I was glad I did as the numbers had not fallen off since last time. I have been using stock plans through the fall.
Your experience is your experience. I guess it depends what your goal is WRT training. I would encourage you to give it a little longer. (I don’t work for Wahoo either.)
Well, I’ve ridden FF now 17 times. I’ve also ridden Half Monty five times. That being the case I’d like to offer a few observations.
The main observation is that these two testing protocols were specifically developed to overcome weaknesses in more traditional FTP and Ramp tests. The traditional tests often overstate a cyclist’s FTP due to anaerobic contributions. The result being that a resulting FTP would vary significantly from what a cyclist could sustain for an hour.
As a whole, the industry has moved beyond FTP as a single metric to define your capabilities. WKO has iLevels, mFTP and TTE. Trainer Road and Xert both have variations on Adaptive Training. The Sufferfest is unique in that their multi-dimensional assessment is performed in a single test, where others require multiple tests or continuous assessment.
Here is a chart describing the various tests and their strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve blown up on the FTP test many times but if there is that much of a difference I think you need to take the suggestion of, as hard as you can with a grain of salt. It needs to be a pace you can handle for 20 minutes.
If you take into consideration your 4dp FTP will be lower than a traditional FTP test. I would suggest pacing your 4DP test by starting at 230 watts, if after 5 minutes you feel ok bump it to 240. Then access again and decide if you have anything left and bump again or hold on. This time I’d bump to 245. in the last 5 minutes just hang on.
@Tungstenisw Search Full Frontal or 4DP in the forum and there are lots of threads on this topic. You are not alone!
FF is an intense experience and it takes a while to get it right - the mental prep, the pacing, the right positive chatter, proper cooling and hydration. For the days leading up to the test I keep myself focused on rest, hydration, go over my target gearing/levels and try to keep a positive mindset.
I suggest practice gearing in level mode using Open 15 or 30 video in the days / weeks before the test so you are comfortable with your choices going into the actual test. Also watch the full frontal prep video again as many times as needed to feel prepared.
Here are my pre-ride notes based on my past experiences and from the prep video - hopefully you find them helpful:
5 sec / NM: For sprint - start at FTP power going into the sprint around 80 to 90 RPM and then accelerate to 110 to 120 RPM. Do not change gears. Select a gear/level that will keep you from just spinning at the higher cadence - you really want to generate max power for the full 5 seconds.
5 min / MAP: Start at current MAP and move up in the 1st minute coming in and out of the saddle using a higher cadence. Get to 2 1/2 minutes and then begin attacking as much as possible. You will be chewing stem here. Focus on the riders and your breathing - using the techniques from the yoga videos.
20 min / FTP: Watch splits and properly pace. For 1st 10 min aim for 80% of the 5 min effort. Adjust up after 10 min. Hold at the cadence that feels right. Do not watch the clock - focus on your breathing and the riders like you would for a race. This will be painful at the end but you know you can do this and it is what you have trained for.
1 Min / AC: Double MAP effort for 1st 15 sec and try to hold effort as much as possible for 30 sec and then push everything you have for the last 15. Don’t leave anything - spend it all. Proper level selection is critical as you can easily burn out if you go too high.
In another thread which I can’t seem to find @Heretic makes a great suggestion about just riding Full Frontal as any other workout and just let yourself get comfortable with it and don’t worry about the results.
Have to say I cannot bear the thought of doing FF…so I don’t.
Having seen the results outside this year based on a solid year of training the workouts work. I use HM to get a good feel and compare that to outdoor rides to assess my level and manually alter numbers accordingly.
Sufferfest works- and works incredibly well. FF is an acquired taste and one I will never have. But thats ok.
I’ve learned to treat it just like any other hard workout. With that in mind, then there are worse workouts in The Sufferfest arsenal, Shovels, Hammers, Toolshed and Kitchen Sink come to mind.
For me, a lot of the apprehension was the fear that I would screw up the pacing and “fail” the test. As @Heretic states elsewhere, it’s a cognitive behavior thing.
Half Monty has been a great pacing aide for me as well. I ride Half Monty a few days before FF. That gives me numbers to use for pacing the 5 and 20 minute segments. And I typically drop my cadence a bit on those segments as that tends to be more sustainable at 80 rpm instead of 90+.
I too hate the 4DP, in terms of something to do, but I do see the value in it.
I would argue that neither 4DP nor HM actually, properly, work for me because HM plays into my strengths and 4DP exposes my weaknesses. My true ability lies somewhere between the two.
That said, I would say that 4DP comes closer to getting me correct (for the purposes of Sufferfest workouts at least) while HM might give me nicer numbers (for my ego).
I have a high LTHR and a great MAP style effort capacity. Years upon years of football have trained me to sustain “unsustainable” efforts fairly well and to recover from them quickly. At the same time, a half is only 45 minutes and never involves constant, long efforts. My MAP is good, my AC and NM pretty strong too, but I struggle to maintain FTP efforts in comparison and it’s what I need to work on most.
As such, I find that 4DP gets me mostly correct but I end up with an FTP lower than I can achieve in most workouts because a lot of the workouts don’t drive you so hard before demanding an FTP effort.
At the same time, if I do a Half Monty after doing a 4DP I will end up with a slightly higher MAP, a notably higher FTP, but will then struggle to achieve both in actual exercise sessions and will then struggle to hit AC and NM targets too because my fatigue is so much higher.
I find that 4DP and then tweaking my efforts up by a few percent as soon as I need to gives me a better workout stimulus than HM which can give me unachievable targets (and I’m the type of person who can exhaust or injure myself trying to live up to them).
I suppose it depends on what you want out of your cycling. If you mostly ride on the flat and sims then HM or a ramp test are probably fine and give you numbers you might be happier with.
For me, my riding is either Sufferfest sessions or outdoors in rolling terrain with plenty of climbs etc, I find 4DP to be far more accurate because it gives you an FTP level that you can actually achieve while tucked amongst harder efforts, a “real world” FTP target that you can aim for on outdoor rides even with climbs and sprints thrown in. There is literally no way I could manage my HM FTP after a couple of decent hill climbs.
I think FF is a great workout in its own right. It stresses all of your systems to the max and shows up any relative weaknesses you may have, including your ability to pace efforts on the limit and your sheer mental strength! I think there is plenty of value in that, regardless of the numbers it spits out.
If you do mess FF up (which happens to everyone at some point) and end up with skewed 4DP numbers it would make more sense to learn from the experience and try again rather than look for an “easier” option. There is always HM to fall back on, but sounds like you can’t even be bothered to do that!
FWIW I’ve done the Zwift ramp test and a few other FTP protocols and got very similar results to both FF and HM. But FF gives you a lot more besides just FTP.
I don’t know many people that are excited to do the FF. That said, I’ve found it to be highly accurate as it relates to post-test workout efforts. I wonder if there are some calibration issues going on with your trainer if you’re experiencing such a large disparity between your results vs perceived workout efforts, so that might be worth exploring. There is a lot of great advice in this thread on the approach to the test and I really don’t have anything to add except to try and get mentally prepped for it in the week leading up to it and keep positive before and during the test. There are some mental toughness workouts that might help on that front. I wasn’t mentally prepped the first time I took it and failed spectacularly.