This is my first post in the forum. Let me first say that I love the structure and content of The Sufferfest. I am now in my fourth week of the intermediate, all-purpose road plan. I am also doing yoga and strength training. I am hit and miss on the mental training.
Before starting The Sufferfest, I rode 5-6 hours a week outdoors this summer and the training was relatively unstructured. I am a recreational rider who would like to compete in shorter road TTs and 3-4K IPs at the local track next year.
It appears that average 4DP gains seen at the end of initial training sessions fall in the 12-14% range. I would be happy to see this level of improvement when this session ends in January. At that time, I plan to do another session based on an updated 4DP. Additionally, I will likely opt for customized coaching for the spring plan. I am open to bumping up to an advanced plan also, if that makes sense based on my ability.
Knowing that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to training, I am interested to know the potential range of 4DP improvement (rough/rough) for the second session compared to the first. I am especially interested in potential improvements for those who go from intermediate to advanced training plans.
Interesting question. I guess a lot depends on your starting point. I would be over the moon with a 12% improvement over a 12 week plan, but as I’ve already been training consistently for over a year and was reasonably bike fit to start off with I would be very surprised to see that much uplift in my FTP. I’d take 5% any day. But someone starting off from their couch might well see massive percentage gains early on.
Edit: I have a feeling I read somewhere that as a general rule of thumb you could expect to get half the gain in your second block than you did in the first. So if 12% gain in first block, then 6% in second, 3% in third. You get the idea. Might be over-simplistic, but diminishing returns seems reasonable as otherwise we would all be pros in no time!
Similar ish background to you over the summer, after completing a couple of SUF plans last winter.
Just completed half monty after 8 weeks on the all purpose road plan and saw a 4% improvement in FTP.
Compared to my first ever full frontal, I’m up about 30%. I suspect some of that is learning how to test though.
@Jhuck, Well done! Those are great gains. As far as what you can expect in the future it is a bit difficult to say. It depends on many factors, training history, age, etc. As you mentioned that you didn’t follow structured training before your SUF plan and came up with these results I would assume that your previous adventures are like most of us; basically doing what we feel, but never really doing what we need, as well as doing mostly volume without much intensity. Don’t take offense. Left to their own devices that is what most people do.
Now, to get to your question, how much can you expect to improve going forward? Again, it depends. But I would expect that if you got those kinds of results with your last program, you can expect to improve another 5% on your metrics in the next go. You are correct, there will be smaller absolute gains as you go forward, but if you focus on quality work and give yourself proper recovery you should continue to improve. There is also an ebb and flow, your numbers will not always go up and that is ok. A little fall back in an off season is normal.
To sum it up the newer you are to structured training the longer you will see significant gains with proper training. The longer you have been training properly the smaller (and harder to come by) those gains will be. You will have some ups and downs in there, but looking at long term trends they are likely to rise for several seasons. The rise will just not be as steep. I hope this helps. Keep up the great work!
I have been waiting to respond to your post, as I can now provide some very clear feedback to your question, as I finished my second 12 week session yesterday. The first 12 weeks consisted of the All-Purpose Road intermediate plan with strength and yoga (average weekly hours 7) and the second was the advanced All-Purpose Road with strength and yoga (average weekly hours 10) My numbers were as follows.
(Note. I preceded the 1st 12 week block with the 4 week All in Plan and 1 week full Frontal Prep -5 weeks)
My results show that the advanced program does give me good results, I should comment that I paid closer attention to recovery and pretty much hit all targets along the way. The only video which defeated me was ISLTA. My weakness was determined as Sustained, which the training does seem to confirm. One point of interest is that my strength was determined as Sustained Efforts. I am not sure I understand the difference between the two.
I should caution you; I did try the advance plan at the start of the year, off the couch and gave up after 3 weeks. I just could not recovery from the amount of effort required and quit. You do need to build up to the hard plans, with good consistency. That really is the key, consistency. FF will show you up if you have not had that in your training.
Great insights, thanks for sharing. Interesting to see that your initial test outcomes were very similar to mine. As you noted, the outcome of the last test (minus NM) involved results as good or better than the prior test. Very nice improvement indeed!
Now that I am in week 5, more workouts are starting to come through without coach adjustments. I did Fight Club at full effort last night and I definitely felt it, especially during the heavy volume week. I can see where a cyclist would need to be in good shape for the advanced program. My goal is to finish every ride, strength session, and yoga session as recommended. Hopefully this preparation will allow me to handle an advanced program, if I decide to go that direction, in late-January.
A side note on Fight Club: watching Chloe Dygert (a fellow Hoosier) crush the competition during the 2019 UCI TT was great motivation at the end of the ride. Great choice coaches!
First off, well done on the improvements and having the patience to work your way up to the advanced plan. You’re certainly reaping the rewards!
As far as your Sustained strength/sustained weakness goes, here is link to another forum post that addresses this exact situation. It is a bit of a tricky situation, but as you can see, your training plans are still adjusting to your 4DP metrics to give you the best training possible.
@Griff 3.5 to 4.4 W/kg at FTP is a pretty awesome effort in such a relatively short timescale! Well done
I’m at the same starting point and would be over the moon with similar results, although I’m not expecting to lose any weight during the plan. I’ll be very happy if I can hit 4 W/kg over the winter. Anything over that would be a bonus.
As a tangential follow up to my original post, I had the chance to do my first HM today having hit the 6 week mark. Knowing that HM results can sometimes be skewed based on rider type, it will be interesting to see how things play out over the next 6 weeks. Below are the changes.
48yo male, 6-3", 184lbs
Initial FF Nov 1
NM 1126 (13.5 w/kg)
AC 458 (5.5)
MAP 312 (3.7)
FTP 246 (3.0)
Max HR during test 178
HM Dec 13
MAP 366 +17% (4.4 w/kg)
FTP 292 +19% (3.5)
LTHR 168 +3 beats
Max HR 181
Given the big bump after 6 weeks, Sufferfest training will either blow my expectations out of the water or I will learn that my body/mind prefer ramp tests. Regardless, I will see how the next few weeks go using the updated numbers. I will report back when I do my end of 12 weeks FF in Jan.
@Griff these are awesome results thanks for the write up. I’m also starting with the intermediate plan (time trial) with the goal to move to advanced. Even intermediate is a lot of stress on the body when you’re coming from riding a couple days a week. I’d be awfully happy with these numbers, its nice to see it worked so well for you. I’d be curious if people are seeing their rider types change from test to test. I was labeled as climber but I think its because my ftp is ok but vo2 is barely at the 115% mark I assume this will improve in relation to ftp once I get some more intensity in.
I used a 4 week All in plan before starting the intermediate plan to prepare. I had actually tried the Advanced plan off the couch at the start of 2020 before blowing up. I could not handle the volume and intensity. However, after building up to it, I am finding that it works really well. Steady consistent progression is the key.
In all the tests my rider profile has not changed, although my weakness’ have. Changing from Vo2 to Sustained.