New to Wahoo System, workouts feel underwhelming?

Hi there! I’m new to Wahoo Systm and the Sufferfest. I was expecting very hard workouts but so far all I’ve tried have left me slightly tired but not as much as I expected when studying the workout power profiles.

I’ve been mostly a runner for the last 6 years, logging ~3000 miles/year and with a 2:56 marathon PB. I turned to road bicycling for cross training, with a long ride (3-4 hours) every two weeks. My average bike mileage for the last three years is ~1000 miles/year.

I turned to indoor biking in the last month since I felt myself lacking motivation for running. I thought it would be good to do something different and gain fitness in a different way. I did the Full Frontal test and my results were FTP 302, MAP 350, AC 488, NM 809 W. I decided to try a MAP focused program for three weeks since that value seemed low compared to the others. I’m one week into the program. The first workout was “A very dark place” and it didn’t feel dark at all so I decided to manually adjust the MAP to 375 (125% of FTP) for subsequents workouts. I then did “14 vise grips” and “Blender”. I was expecting “Blender” to be hard but the reality is that I felt quite fresh at the end of it (so much I went for a 30 min ride on Zwift after the workout). Just looking at the power profile, I thought I was going to be destroyed!

After one week, I’m quite confused. Did I pace my Full Frontal wrong? I felt that I paced the MAP and FTP parts quite well when I did it. Does it have to do with the fact that I’m used to going for longer rides (3-4 hours) and the workouts feel short? During “Blender” I was hitting the power and candence targets but my heart rate was below the target zone for MAP sections (never went above 165 bpm when the suggested zone was 172 and above). My breathing was easier than when I’m doing VO2max running workouts. Is it that I have to learn to “suffer” more on the bike and that my MAP and FTP are higher than what the Full Frontal test suggests?

I’d appreciate any insights, especially from people who crossed over from running to biking.


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Welcome to our friendly forum!

I have three questions:

  1. Are you in ERG mode on your trainer (i.e. the mode where the power level is set automatically and stays there irrespective of your cadence)? If you’re in Level mode, it takes a lot of concentration to reallly stick to the power targets and even brief losses of focus can give you time to recover and make the session easier. For almost all workouts, ERG mode is recommended (if your trainer has that ability).

  2. Do you feel the power differences when they happen in the workout? This is really asking whether your trainer works.

  3. When you did Full Frontal, did you feel totally and completely spent at the end like you barely had the energy to get off the bike and walk to another room? After the 5 minute and 20 minute sections, did you feel like you wouldn’t be able to turn the pedals even one more time around (or pretty close to that)? For the 1 minute effort, were you fading for at least the last 20 seconds no matter how hard you tried to generate more power? If the answer is “no–I felt okay” to any of those questions, you paced the test too easy. You can do it again if you want. Or just turn up the intensity for a while to help you find your target levels and try FF again in a few weeks.

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I’d also be curious as to what type of trainer you’re using (direct drive or wheel on) and whether it has been appropriately calibrated (some trainers require a spin down calibration) These things come into play as well.

Also, welcome!!

Try Half Monty, easier to pace as a way to cross check your MAP and FTP.

  1. ERG mode.
  2. Yes, clear power differences
  3. I felt a bit dizzy at the end of the test. I was fading in the 1 minute effort. For the 5 minute test, I was begging for it to end and had burning legs. For the 20 minute test, it felt more like the end of lactate threshold run: I could probably keep going for a little more but I’d prefer to stop.

Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll give it a try!

The other intervals sound properly paced. You might have been light on the 20 minute one. The idea of the test is to estimate your lactate threshold power by exhausting your anaerobic fuel immediately prior (5 minute interval) and then measuring your 20 minute power to almost failure. If you just preferred to stop, you probably weren’t going hard enough. Consequently, not surprising that you’re wanting to turn up the intensity on workouts!

@Sir_Brian_M’s idea to give Half Monty a try us a good one.

Another thought for the OP - how fatigued were you going in to the Full Frontal? You clearly run a lot, were you perhaps not totally rested?

You really want to hit FF in a good state, physically and mentally, to give the best chance of setting a valid baseline. It’s a brutal test so any amount of fatigue will likely have an impact. After all, the test also looks at your recovery capabilities as well as individual efforts, so if you’re already run down this will effect it.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted here, though I’d be the first to admit that despite best intentions I’m probably never as prepared as I should be. That said, AVDP for me still feels like hell on earth when on new numbers.

Great post. Welcome to the forums.

In the spirit of ‘trying to help as much as possible on the internet’ - yes that is probably true.
I say that from the experience of first using indoor trainers and it taking me (too long, but I’m no athlete) a while to realise how hard I could go during the 5 minute in particular.

Some of the intro material / coach tips suggest riding for a few weeks on the platform with estimated numbers (say from a simple Half Monty test) to enable us to get a ‘feel’ for what we can do, before doing a full 4DP prep week.

Caveat: this is without knowing you, and all the usual caveats around everyone’s power curves/strengths are different.

Your MAP looks low (compared to FTP). I’d suggest there’s a good chance you didn’t go hard enough in the 5 min, and that then meant you had plenty left in the tank for the 20 minute. I’d also suggest that;s the most common ‘issue’ with 4DP setting.

If at any point you want some help with the data, such as HR numbers while you were testing and that sort of thing, happy to help.

The biggest thing is - this will settle down, and you’ll get to a point where you know your own limits on a bike based on HR and Watts - it just takes some tweaking in the first wee while to get there !!!

Enjoy the ride, as it were

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Hi, and welcome

I consider long-distance running a much more delicate exercise compared to the brutal power you can put down on a bike. Perhaps your muscles are not used to such explosive power outputs and maybe you could have given it more during the FF.

May I suggest doing AVDP on level mode and execute it on ‘feel’ or heart rate rather than follow the power targets? You know how you’d feel if it was a running exercise for each of those intervals. Increase the power until you reach a similar feel and see what sort of numbers you get.

I did my first FF in July this year and had pretty similar numbers to you. In September I did a FF again and found the MAP to have increased from 348 to 402. So I’m guessing that you too will see a very rapid progression in your MAP numbers once you get the hang of it.

UPDATE: I had “9 hammers” for breakfast today. I have to say it felt harder than the previous workouts, especially the last hammer with the harder recovery that comes before it and the increasing power in 1-minute intervals. For the first time, I wasn’t confident I was going to complete the interval and had to dig really deep.