What trainer level do you use for Full Frontal?

Yesterday I completed my first FF since January with mixed results. I have completed 3 or 4 HM tests in the intervening months which had pushed my MAP and FTP numbers up (I’d also manually adjusted NM & AC)

5 second and 5 minute numbers were both up. I was particularly pleased with my 5 min result as I felt my previous HM may have set this too high.

Going into the 20 min test I felt really confident and for the first 4 or 5 mins I was averaging 10 - 20w above target.

I had the trainer (Kickr Core) in level 2 and was on the big chainring (50t) with a gear that allowed me to sit at a comfortable cadence of 90rpm.

Then the realisation hit that this wasn’t going to be sustainable! so I dropped a gear and immediately fell well below target. I tried upping cadence, but this felt too high, and I was only just hitting target. Back up a gear, this time trying a lower cadence, uncomfortably low!

Tried the trainer in level 1, but again I couldn’t find quite the right combo. Back to level 2 and, frustratingly, ended up spending half the test in the lower gear that wasn’t hitting target. Upped the gear and gave it a bit of a push for the last couple of minutes (yeah, I know this is exactly what you’re told not to do).

Final result was a 16w drop in FTP (308 - 292), disappointing, but not as bad as I’d feared during the test. Call me delusional, but I’m putting this down to gearing issues, so have adjusted my numbers back to where they were. :laughing:

I would be interested to know how other citizens approach gearing / trainer level in FF.

Do you have a “go to” level that you use? and do you keep this consistent for all 4 tests, or change depending on test?

Also, what is your experience of lower trainer level / bigger gear combo vs a higher level on, possibly, the small chainring? I wondered if the latter gave smaller jumps between gears.

I’ve read a topic that suggests using the open workouts to try our gearing / trainer levels, and I will practice this before my next FF.

P.S. - I’m not even discussing my 1 minute result! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

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No advice here for trainer level since I use a “dumb trainer” but I would find the gear/resistance/cadence combo that works best and try and just hang on even if you start to think it is unsustainable (unless that happens 5 minutes in!). Sometimes using positive mental reinforcement (Sufferfest Mental Training is great for that) will get you through (not always of course). Was your HR maxing out?


I always do the FF test in Level 3 (out of 10). I’m normally in the small chainring for the 5 minute and 20 minute test, which puts me roughly in the middle of the cassette. The steps between cogs is only 1 tooth at that point, so I can do a reasonable job of fine tuning cadence.

I know there is a lot of focus on power numbers, but one of the benefits I get from these training programs is the training at different cadences, which I am pretty sure has made me more comfortable spinning at higher cadences. That helps during the tests as I can increase cadence slightly to increase power output, without having to shift gears.


@ScottyCycles62 On the 5min effort my heart rate reached 175 which is around my max. On the 20 min effort I was aiming to keep it low - mid 160s but it had crept up to 168 before I dropped a gear.

@way9e0 prior to starting Sufferfest I was a spin class regular. These involved lots of tabata type intervals with sprints around 150 - 160rpm. I’m usually more comfortable at higher cadences and have had a few comments about my high cadence when out on club rides.

Interestingly, since starting Suf, and training with power, my cadence seems to have dropped. Looking back at my January FF, my cadence for both 5min and 20min efforts was just over 100rpm. This time it was around 90rpm.

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@Dafydd For my last Full Frontal my gearing and levels were as follows:

NM was 39/14 and level 5, I have tried these in a 52 at a lower level and get a similar result but have decided I like the 39 better.
MAP was 39/14 and level 4
FTP was 39/14 +15 and level 3 with 100+ cadence
AC was 39/14 and level 4.

I did the AC as a standing start - I actually didn’t mean to do this but wasn’t paying attention and found myself in the wrong gear right before the minute started. I was surprised how effective it was - I was +80 on my results and I felt pretty good for the entire minute. My power kept sinking but it wasn’t as much of a train wreck as other attempts.

I always use level 0, so I can use the gearing I’m comfortable with outside (I do use a Tacx Neobike, so it’s not 100% the same)

Usually when you can’t find the ‘right gear’ it means your legs are having a bad day :yum:


Plus one for this!!!

And also, when the bunch seems to be accelerating needlessly hard, you’re about to get hooped!!! 😵‍💫

Thanks @JSampson I’ll try out some of the higher levels on the small chainring - the bike I use has a compact fitted though, so not sure if 34t is too small.

@TLa & @timbo

Too true, I might just be in denial! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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I have no issue hitting big watts on my 34. Might depend on your trainer though as it’ll have a resistance ceiling. I only use the big ring for super low cadence high power and occasionally for sprints. Mostly I can hit 400watts on the 34 chainring.

Always used Level 0 but never used the small ring at the front always the big one, moved it up to the big gear for the sprints and kept it roughly in the middle for the AC/MAP and FTP but might have to look at using the small Chainring in some of the Open rides to see how it feels. Certainly found today’s 3 x 8 40/20’s MAP session bloody tough, legs were pancaked.

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