Well that was demoralising

First time on the indoor trainer in a while and just attempted my first 4dp test and I’m feeling quite demoralised from it - I’m in need of some inspiration and motivation.


First started road cycling in early 2019. Before this I mountain biked on and off and was generally quite fit (ran decent paced 5k a few times a week, bit of football (soccer) and gym sessions). I really enjoyed road cycling but was never obsessed like most of the people in the club I joined, and I cycled much, much fewer miles - maybe 50 miles a week average. No interest in racing, just enjoy being outside and a good workout.

I got fitter as time went on and when COVID hit in early 2020 I wanted to keep up the progress so I bought a KICKR for the lockdowns. I followed a 12 week training plan on Zwift and at the end done an FTP test which resulted in an FTP of 235W if I remember right (I’m about 74kg). I was actually quite tired doing it so think I could have got another 10W if I had tested again (e.g. I averaged 225W for an hour during the 4 week FTP booster the month after).

I cycled less towards the end of 2020 for various reasons, and by summer 2021 I was only cycling a couple of hours a week. I then got COVID which wasn’t too bad but when I tried getting back on the bike about 3-4 weeks later I really felt the effects - I very quickly hit the highest heart rate I’d ever recorded on the bike (196) going as slowly as I could without falling off the bike while on a climb. After that I slowed it right down and then I ended up moving house in Sep 2021. With how busy I was and other health issues making exercising hard, I basically stopped completely until early this year. I’ve now been cycling about 4-5 hours a week average since May.

Fast forward to today. I knew I’d lost a fair chunk of fitness but not quite as much as I’d hoped. My FTP came out as 175W. Damn. But even more concerning, my sprint power was only about 650W. During the 2020 lockdown I recorded 1250W on Zwift. I almost can’t believe the difference (and a little worried it may mean some underlying health issues).

One caveat is that it was my first time on SYSTM and I didn’t quite understand the “Level” setting. I chose 0 and during the test I really struggled to keep a consistent power/cadence, often going say from 160w-240W and back (I was aiming for about 190W). Maybe I’ll test again in a couple of weeks but it probably won’t make a huge difference.

So, after this test I’m feeling pretty deflated with how far I’ve fallen, and how far I have to climb to reach where I was, never mind surpass it.

Is this type of drop off normal (or within usual bounds)? Has anyone got any inspirational words to help kick me on, or advice on what to approach first to get me moving in the right direction?

I’m not going to give up cycling or anything, and I’ve got a new bike on order to inspire me to ride more, but this result has me down and even a little concerned for my health status.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far :slightly_smiling_face:


Did you read the article and listen to the podcast before attempting FF? They are critical to successful completion of the event.


Plus I recommend doing Half Monty first (there’s a test week plan which includes both tests). This is easier to ride mentally and technically and will.give you a ballpark FTP which you can then refine during the FF ride later that week. Plus the plan makes sure you go into the test rested and ready to fire on all cylinders.

FF is incredibly hard to ride right. So don’t be too demoralised. And yes, FTP drops a heap if you’ve not been training, but you can get back there easily enough once you do a plan. Maybe start with all.purpose road after your updated FF test and go from there


Welcome to the forum Bobby!

I would think this is fairly normal to have a significant drop in power figures after recovering from Covid. In my case, I stayed off the bike for about a month and half post-covid. By the time I got back on the bike, I was really doing those really low intensity recovery and inspiration rides on SYSTM.
The key is really to ease back into pre-covid training which could be anything from 2 months to 3 months depending on how you really feel on the bike.

As for the FF test, like Sir James mentioned you should really listen to the podcast or at least read the article on the blog to understand and get some tips on how to nail the FF. Then again, as time progresses, speaking from personal experience, you will be able to pace the efforts better.
Perhaps as suggested by Dame Lisa, load up the All Purpose plan with whatever numbers you have at the moment and do another FF towards the end of the All Purpose plan to gauge how much you have progressed.

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@BobbyB Check out this thread on Full Frontal. Getting the test right takes some practice.

@BobbyB Probably pretty normal. Have you checked out the Mental Toughness videos? There is some goal setting in the second one I believe and a workbook to write down ultimate, monthly, weekly goals. Sort through that and then pick out a plan that makes sense with respect to your goal.

The transition up plan might be a good one to start and then perhaps something like all purpose road from there. Strength, yoga and mobility are worth integrating into the plans. If you want to crank through neuromuscular work you need a strong core. I do a yoga and mobility workout every day and strength a couple of times a week - less during deload weeks.

The upside is that you will likely make gains pretty quickly if you stay compliant with the plan and also get proper rest and nutrition.

Good luck!


Thanks for the replies.

I skimmed some of the material on the 4DP test but given I’m on the 14 day trial and want to give it a good test before deciding whether to continue the subscription, I thought I’d jump into the test for a baseline just to see what’s what. I was aware it was going to be a hard effort (I remember how hard similar workouts on Zwift were!) and that without prep the results would be sub par but I’m still a bit surprised by my numbers.

I expected a large FTP drop, not quite as big but it could be worse I suppose. The really surprising one is the sprint power - it was half of what it used to be! Half! I guessed that my top end power would have dropped proportionally less than my FTP but not for this test at least. As a comparison, I’m pretty sure I could still squat more than half my PR from years ago, it wouldn’t have dropped off that much. Perhaps I cooked my legs a little with all the watts chasing I was doing and didn’t ramp the sprint up enough, I’ll have to try again sometime soon.

I have now put the FF prep week(+ half monty) in my calendar starting Monday so I’ll see how that goes. Maybe my rides since returning in May have been too easy (I was careful not to try to go to fast too soon) and I now need to up the intensity a bit.

Before that though I’ll try test the different level settings etc. and get used to how the Kickr feels on SYSTM.


Just to add to the thread - the 4DP does take some preparation. As you may have seen from the threads, being fully rested and properly fuelled is so important. Don’t ever try unless 100% up for it, after a good sleep and a good fuelling strategy before. This can actually be really difficult with what life throws our way.

Also, you mention you did Zwift before. I tried Zwift out a few times for myself and my son and the speed and power figures certainly felt elevated - much much higher than Wahoo Systm. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this. Even though my Elite Suito was calibrated and I ran the calibration multiple times, I could not fix it. It just seemed abnormally high speeds for the effort I was using. I found it somewhat off putting so I stopped using Zwift. Your Kickr may be more accurate than my Elite Suito, but I think the general consensus is you cannot compare different platforms and tests with each other, certainly for FTP.

As suggested DameLisa, maybe try the Half Monty first. It is less demanding but you still have to be prepared for it. Good luck.


@BobbyB There was a recent podcast on neuromuscular development - Why Endurance Athletes Need Sprint Training. You actually lose that ability fairly quickly and it has to be practiced fairly regularly. Stuff like cadence builds should be regularly incorporated into your training program along with routine core work. Squat power doesn’t really compare directly to neuromuscular capabilities - more to low cadence work.


Part of training is about building more blood vessels so you can get more resources to the muscles. You have been off the bike for a while so you just need to focus on consistency at this point to rebuild those blood vessels. Also be careful not to overdo it as you can create other issues that can set you back even further.

I used Zwift briefly for training and feel that the sports science integrated into the SYSTM platform via the plans well exceeds what is available on Zwift and the overall value for your money is greater given the variety of workouts and the fact that yoga, mobility and strength videos are also included.


Hey @BobbyB, first, welcome to the forums! I don’t think you’ll find a more helpful, respectful, or fun cycling/fitness focused forum anywhere else on the interwebs.

Second, you’ll want to read this whole post cuz believe me, I can relate. Third, someone referenced the Mental Training Plan and I can not say enough positive things about it. It quite literally changed my life. I won’t go into the details here but I’m happy to share my experience with it some other time.

Now, in response to your concerns: the thing about the sprints also has a little to do with finding the right gearing and timing them right.

It’s probably the “easiest” thing to retest though since these numbers are not dependent upon the other numbers as the other numbers are dependent on them.

That is, you could run Full Frontal again, and redo the sprints and if you’re able to beat your last numbers those can be used to replace them in your athlete profile.

Here is the quote from the FF prep post re:sprinting
“ The key to getting the highest numbers possible is to find the perfect balance between resistance and cadence, force and velocity. Power is affected by both. Spin too fast and you won’t generate sufficient force. Grind it out and you won’t get sufficient velocity. If you’re an experienced rider, aim for a cadence in the 100-110 rpm range. If you’re new to cycling or don’t have that many miles in your legs, aim for 90-100 RPMs.

The model of trainer you’re using can also affect how you go into these sprint efforts. If you have a trainer where the resistance ramps up as you increase your cadence, start at around 90-95 rpm so that you hit 110 rpm right at the end of the effort. If your trainer has a less dramatic change in resistance, you may need to start in a harder gear and a lower cadence so that you hit 110 rpm by the end of the effort without spinning out. If you’re not sure, then try a few sprints on your trainer before undertaking the fitness test, so you know just how to handle it.

You’ll have two chances to unleash your devastating sprint, so if you didn’t quite nail it on the first, you have a second chance.”

Also, if you’re still reading, I can relate to your feelings of being demoralized after seeing your own tested metrics drop. For reference, I’m 59 yrs old, avid cyclist since 2013, discovered The Sufferfest (now SYSTM) in 2015 and have done FF and Half Monty a combined couple dozen times as well as other FTP tests about a half dozen times.

My best tested FTP was 261 back in January 2021. Got Co-Vid once since, took about a month to be able to do anything without the residual congestion and fatigue knocking me out. Had a fairly steady decline in activity over the past couple years, combined with an equally steady increase in weight :stuck_out_tongue:.

Fast forward to my worst tested FTP of 190 on June 1, 2023 (along with my highest weight in nearly 13 years). Fast fast forward, got a medical kick in the pants (diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes) just before my last FF and since then have gotten back on the track I fell off from beginning about 4 years ago. Fast fast fast forward. Did a Half Monty retest at the end of June and my FTP is now back up to 233 (and, since June 1, I’ve dropped about 6 kg :slight_smile: )

I think you’ll find, no, I know, you’ll find a sub to SYSTM is worth its weight in gold. There simply is no better value for dollar in the fitness space.

So, practice a couple of sprint efforts in a level that works for you (I find 0, 1, or 2 are just fine and have swapped between them all but it may depend on your gearing) to get that right mix of cadence and torque then retest your sprints. Worse case scenario is that your top end power has actually dropped but if that is the case, then this quote from Arthur Ashe might help (it’s helped me):

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”


Since the purpose of the 14 day trial is to see if SYSTM is for you, you may want to consider doing a half Monty and then using those numbers to try a few different workouts split between SUF, On Location, and pro-rides to see if these appeal to you. I would also give an RGT event a try. If it turns out you like SYSTM you can do the FF later.


Others have already stated some appropriate considerations to this issue. I’ll just add this, to remember that the sprint portions of the test are based on a tiny sample of time, and if by any chance your connection method was missing some of the data, it could skew that result very easily. As Glenn said, a retest on just that part might be a simple process.
In my experience, sprint power can REALLY DEVIATE from day to day. Maybe you just tried this on the “wrong day.”

And look at your graphs of the power to see if the sprint portions were fairly accurate, or were there any dropouts, even if small ones?


who is this Glenn guy? :wink:


Don’t Knnow?


me nneither.


Guesssss I’ve been a little genneroussss with my connsonnannts…
Would you care to buy a vowel?? :joy:

Sorry! Maybe my ride in the heat yesterday cooked a few brainn cellllsss. :exploding_head:


First of all: total no brainer…I would subscribe to Wahoo X

Then I would do the NM/AC block, and (because in your situation where numbers are down quite a bit) test again on Half Monty at end of rest week. You’ll probably set some new 5sec power limits over those 2/3 weeks too.

It’s what I’m currently doing after a break. Already feeling much stronger 2 weeks into the block.

I’m going to do MAP block next and then Full Frontal test.


Thanks for the replies all.

I’m doing the FF prep this week, got some DIY projects that are getting in the way a bit but think it will still give me a good feel for the system, and next week I’ll see what else is worth trying in my remaining trail week. I’ll focus less on my numbers for now and just try to see if I think it will work for me.

If I like it enough I’ll pay for a subscription though I would do this later in the year when outdoor riding is more difficult. Not that we’re having much of a summer so far here in the UK…!


If you say your results were demoralizing, sheeeeeeez … My first FF my FTP came out to about 70W … Then the guy in the mirror said very strong words, at the time I read my weaknesses, sort of look at all workouts that had that as a strong point, somehow got Training Peaks plan that mirrored The Sufferfest and started there … Then, I was at 8 weeks my FTP was 176W, after another 8 212W … And currently 217W … So, just create a plan, focus on your weakness, tell the app that and the app will spit out a plan for you … Easy peasy


Yup. Except for all the hard bits :wink:


Well … Let’s call those, stepping stones … :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Once I got a hang of the suffering, I needed the daily suffering … Now, I mostly do the free workouts, unfortunately, don’t have teh extra $$ for the app in full fledge and Sunday’s fondo, showed it, I suffered BIG TIME