How did your last training plan go?

Thought it might be a good idea to start a thread where you can discuss how you went after completing one of the training plans. After spending three months suffering it might feel good to talk about the gains and losses before moving onto the next plan.

So here goes:

Plan: Pre Season XC Mountain Bike with the lot (yoga, strength, mental)
Pre plan numbers: Full frontal 290 FTP, 345 MAP, 467 AC, 909 NM - Time Triallist
Post plan numbers: Full frontal 307 FTP, 364 MAP, 457 AC, 888 NM - Time Triallist
Lifetime best numbers: pre-2017 accident FTP 330-340 based on 10-12 hours a week

My FTP improvement exceeded my expectations by a long way given the modest on bike training hours. I also had couple of major non-exercise related issues to deal with along the way - so achieving any improvement would have been pleasing.

What I liked about he plan: I really like how riding, yoga & strength is integrated into the one plan. I have always understood the importance of stretching / yoga & strength but never managed to find time for it / integrate it well into a training schedule. I now realise that to do this you have to accept doing less bike work which is something I wasn’t previously able to do (for fear of not improving). I also really enjoyed the challenge of the key workouts for each week - like an event or race to look forward to which was quite motivating. The 4DP profile works really well - these workouts are tailored very well to your abilities.

I modified the plan a little - instead of doing the sufferfest strength I did my own kettlebell training - and I would recommend this to anyone who wanted to move onto using weights. I swapped out a number of the recovery spins for a 60 minute walk - I figured it would achieve the same thing. Towards the later stages of the plan I upped the intensity (as I could feel the sessions becoming easier). I also experimented with doing multiple of the moderate sessions back to back on the same day instead of on the scheduled days. Finally, if I could ride outside on the weekend I just did what I felt like without worrying too much about the plan - after all riding the trails is the goal.

When I started the plan I felt that the 2:1 rest ratio was too easy - but I stuck with it and this really helped me stay on track when off the bike events happened. When everything was going well I did add in some extra load on the recovery weeks after I felt recovered - but tried to do this with weight training, longer endurance rides etc (not middle of the road sessions).

What’s next? I had planned to crush myself with a 4 week block of something hard. But after getting these results I have decided to repeat the same plan again (with the new 4DP numbers of course). Based on past training experience I expect to plateau - as previoulsy it could take a year to get an increase of 10 watts for the FTP (if I was lucky). But for now it makes sense to keep up with a well balanced program.

5 Likes

That’s a huge increase. Do you mind if I ask a couple of questions?
Were you do you think at all de-trained before the plan started for that pre plan FF?
It’s interesting to see if this is from a standing start or if you’re in the middle of say consecutive 12week blocks this year already?
(because that would encourage me to ride less as that’s a huge jump)

1 Like

Before starting the plan I had been training reasonably hard (a lot of tempo, threshold work). The pre plan FF gave me my best numbers since 2017. That was not unexpected because my riding volume was also at its highest since then. I suspect the pre plan FF may have been a little under what I was capable of due to not doing the complete taper week (I just wanted to get started). I have read that it is easier to return to a level you have been to previously than it is to get there for the first time due to the changes in your body. I also think that doing the program helped me suffer more so that would also help with the test results. Anyway, I will chip away at the same plan for another 12 weeks to see what happens - if I retain my gains I will not be in happy.

2 Likes

Hey Andrew,
Well done on those 4DP improvements those are some great numbers and getting closer to your personal bests!
Instead of repeating the same plan again, I would recommend mixing up your plan for a 12 week block in in order to periodise your training. Repeating a plan does not always guarantee the same gains and we don’t want you to plateau.
The obvious progression for your goal here would be the In-season XC Mountain Bike but if you wanted more specificity remember we also offer [customised plans](https://thesufferfest.com/pages/customised-suf-training-plans)
Keep up the hard work!

3 Likes

I have to say I have been massively impressed by Sufferfest, and the gains I have made over the last year.

My experience - I am a competitive Time Trialist, and occasional tri-athlete. A good and achieveable result for me would be to place in the top 10 in an open TT in the UK.

Previously I have had good results from following the Carmichael Time Crunched Cyclist programmes. I’m pretty disciplined, and I don’t like the open ended nature of Swift. I want to be on, and then done, so Sufferfest is perfect for that. The plans mean that I don’t have to worry too much about what to do, and its all over pretty quickly.

I started September last year, after letting a good racing season slide a lot. Peak in the middle of July last year was an FTP of around 320 (I’m 6’5" and about 88 kg, so not that impressive w/kg!).

September 4DP test: FTP 297W MAP 378W, AC 456W, NM 789W
I started on the 12 week advanced TT plan.
Nov End 4DP: FTP 318W, MAP 387W, AC 498W, NM 1030W
Then advanced cycling 4dp weakness MAP programme.
Mar Start 4DP: FTP 337W, MAP 407W, AC 520W, NM 978W
Then Mountainous Hilly Gran Fondo (prep for La Marmotte)
May end 4DP: FTP 346W, MAP 418W, AC 545W, NM 1084W

Right now - as the TT season is more or less called off, and la Marmotte is deferred until next year, I’m off the high-intensity training and I’ll kick back in for the Autumn…

Shame really - with those numbers I’d be hitting club records this year. Motivation to do it again next year.

BTW - I don’t really trust the NM numbers - I use a wattbike, and that struggles with very hard acceleration.

5 Likes

I started Suff with 3 blocks of advanced general road . The FF at the end of each only showed modest changes each time. The tour at nuclear, followed by the longer recovery plan had me make big gains.Volcano plan followed with big gains in 3 of the metrics but a big drop in FTP. I manually adjusted the number back to its previous level thinking it was just a badly judged effort, but I have had trouble with completing workouts, even the tempo block, so today, tail between my legs, I have accepted the FTP number as about right and dropped it back.

1 Like

My experience has also been pretty good. I just used 6 weeks of leave to try to follow as much as possible the mtb plan. This week, half way through I did the half monty and had good results again with a MAP increase of 23watts to 432watts and ftp of 11watts to 346watts. Hopefully by the end of the 12weeks there is a couple of watts more. With work and family might not see any change (can’t do all the workouts). I am always suprised by the little amount of work that it is need to see improvements if you targeting the right numbers.

2 Likes

I’ve been massively impressed with results obtained from my Sufferfest training too.

I joined in March 2019, undertook for my first 4DP straight away and achieved:
FTP 240
MAP 296
AC 342
NM 676

I then undertook a 12-week plan - CENTURY RIDE Repeat Weakness Focus + Mental Toughness Programme + Yoga.

After completing the plan, in June 2019 I undertook my 2nd 4DP test & achieved:
FTP 248 (+8)
MAP 317 (+21)
AC 390 (+48)
NM 702 (+106)
= Pretty reasonable improvements.

My Mount Sufferlandrian event was a 400mile 4-day solo ride from Land’s End to Nottingham in UK in July 2019…which I smashed…

But after that I let things slip a bit = no plan and just general ad-hoc cycling…and in October, when I undertook my 3rd 4DP, all of my results had dropped…and again in January 2020 after even less ad-hoc cycling and a month-long Aussie holiday (no cycling) …my 4th 4DP Test results dropped back even further:

FTP 217 (-26)
MAP 261 (-37)
AC 355 (-6)
NM 745 (-27)

So, after that disappointing test in Jan this year I started my 2nd Suff Training Plan:

INTERMEDIATE Cycling / 4DP Weakness: Repeated Efforts / with Strength Training (Intermediate Level 1-3) = 12 Weeks.

(During this training plan I also completed the 2020 Tour of Sufferlandria)

After plan completion, on 7th March 2020, I undertook my 4th 4DP test and achieved:
FTP 248 (+31)
MAP 302 (+41)
AC 408 (+53)
NM 1004 (+259)

This was a particularly massive jump in my NM results and changed my Rider Type from Rouleur to Sprinter…which I’m not sure that I agree with really. I’ve always seen myself as a bit of an all-rounder. I think that Strength training definitely helped my NM abilities, but I also think that some of it was down to improved technique. I use a Wattbike Atom which isn’t great for quick sprinting and has taken some getting-used-to for sprints…so that’s part of the reason I was probably under-performing in that area previously…but think that I’ve got the hang of that much better now!

I then undertook a Knight of Sufferlandria Training plan (but squeezed it into 2 weeks instead of 3). On 22nd March 2020, I undertook my Knighthood assault on the castle….with Honour, Glory & Victory!

Having achieved a pretty reasonable level of base fitness…the day afterwards, 23rd March, I started my next Mountainous/Hilly Gran Fondo plan…in prep for my 2020 Mount Sufferlandria: The Etape du Tour in France…due to take place 1st week July 2020.

In May 2020 (halfway through this training plan) I undertook a Half Monty test for the first time and actually enjoyed that (far less daunting than the 4DP)…and it showed favourable improvements…which was borne out in the subsequent 5th 4DP test that I undertook last month (June) at the conclusion of the Plan:
FTP 263 (+15)
MAP 323 (+21)
AC 437 (+29)
NM 1011 (+7)

Conclusions & Summary

Gains:
So, from an initial start in early 2019 of:
FTP 240
MAP 296
AC 342
NM 676

Two full training plans, a TOS, KOS & 1 x Mount Sufferlandria later, I am now at:
FTP 263 (+23)
MAP 323 (+27)
AC 437 (+95)
NM 1011 (+335)
= A definite overall improvement & cross-training, such as strength training & yoga does seem to help.

Losses:
But in between, if the training isn’t maintained in a focused way, losses have and will occur. Although rest & recovery are important, fallow weeks shouldn’t be allowed to last for too long: Because “If you don’t use it you will lose it”.

3 Likes

Really interesting sir - and yeah be interested in what happens in 12w. Thanks for replying.

1 Like

I completed four training plans thus far. My FTP went from 170 to 200 then dropped to 176 and it is now back to 199. I’m determined to crack the 200 barrier at the next FTP.

I, too believed my training has reached a plateau.

So what did I do to achieve FTP rebounce

  1. focus on my diet
  2. weight loss of 5.7 kg to date. Aiming to lose another 5 kg. Trying to bulk as much as possible now.

I guess part of SF mental training helps. Training reflection is an important element which athletes often overlook. :slightly_smiling_face:

2 Likes

@simplz Forgot to mention that I too had a big effort on nutrition & weight loss. using the ‘Eating to Suffer’ Sufferfest Nutrition booklet (periodised carb-loading for before/during training & protein intake consistently every day). I kept a track using MyFitnessPal app. That worked well for me. I achieved a 7kg weight loss, down from 77kg (Dec 19) down to 70kg (July 19)…and have managed to maintain that weight this season (although it did ramp-up in the off-season period).

2 Likes

So, I was considering creating a new thread with my experiences with Sufferfest, but this seems a good place to document them.

For a bit of background. I have been cycling for about 2-2.5 years. I came from a strength sports (weightlifting) and rugby background. I am probably larger than the average cyclist at around 185cm and my current weight is around 95kg.

I had been a user of Trainer Road on and off for about 18 months or so. I re-subscribed in December of last year and used their new plan builder (which is really nice BTW) I was fairly diligent about completing every workout, but every ramp test I done I would only see a few watts improvement (in one case I went back a couple). It was this general frustration with my lack of progress which made me look elsewhere. I just can’t get into Zwift, I like structure in my training, and as far as I can tell Zwift offers none.

Anyway enough of the preamble. I started with the 12 week general purpose road plan. I am currently on week 7. Yesterday I done standing starts. My 5s power has increased by over 10%. My one minute power has also increased by the same margin. Today I went out on a solo ride and (according to Strava) I am trending as getting faster based on my previous rides on this route. It should also be worth mentioning that most of this ride was into a typical Scottish headwind.

So although I haven’t currently completed my training plan, I am going to say it’s going pretty well

2 Likes

The plans, with the new emphasis on balancing recovery rides and hard efforts, has yielded amazing results for me. Having been off the bike for 2 years (running instead of biking) the gains have been incredible and have made a huge difference outside. Used the Intermediate plans (currently on week 4 of running this for the second time). Results this year:

JAN (pre- ToS)
FTP 206
MAP 253
AC 339
NM 718

FEB (post ToS)
FTP 258
MAP 305
AC 424
NM 959

JUL (had to restart plan after 3 weeks off due to contracting COVID)
FTP 270
MAP 325
AC 439
NM 920

4 weeks in, I think the numbers are low as the workouts at 100% (even my nemesis Defender) all feel too do’able but Half Monty will determine if this is the case!

Absolutely love how the plans make such a difference.

4 Likes

Wow, great results especially with COVID! Have you had any lasting impacts?

1 Like

@Chrispenfold I am in and around the same weight category and this is going to be a big focus point for my next training block, NUTRITION. I am not so worried about raw number change but I want to see that W/kg change. My first block which I did in the spring was the 12 wk general road plan based on my rider profile. I did the half monty in about the 8th week and I saw good improvement and 4 weeks later I sustained those improvements which made me happy. So this time I think I am going to go with the Mountains Hilly Grand Fondo Plan to keep things different.

2 Likes

Thankfully no. I also credit Sufferfest with helping with my recovery - getting back into it at reduced intensity got be back in the saddle (so to speak).

1 Like

I wrote down my history as I am starting a new plan in the next couple of weeks and wanted to see what worked and what didn’t. Figured I may as well copy it here if any one is interested.

I started on The Sufferfest in mid Feb 2019 after picking up a bad injury from running. My average weight is about 75kg but can vary from just under 70 when I’m at racing peak all the way up to 80 and I’m 180cm/5’11".

My first FF I paced really badly and so the app adjusted my AC down to 460

Full Frontal - 16 Feb 2019
FTP 211
MAP 243
AC 519
NM 1050

I started with the Intermediate cycling plan with MAP weakness. I cut the plan short at seven weeks as the sessions were beginning to get very easy.

Second full frontal went much better for pacing. I actually only managed about 516W on the 1 minute according to my other recordings.

Full Frontal - 7 Apr 2019
248 +37
327 +84
550 +31
1197 +147

I was feeling pretty happy with that result so did the Advanced cycling plan with sustained effort weakness. I got sick for a week at the start of week eight and then stopped riding due to getting burnt out with training and work.

After no riding for seven weeks I went on a bike tour through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan with four weeks of riding 17th July to 13th August. Typically we did 3 days on one day off and a bit under 6 hours riding each day. This was extremely hard.

Once I got back I took the remainder of August completely off riding and only went to the gym three days a week.

Full Frontal - 1st Sep 2019
234 -14
329 +2
406 -144
1093 -104

I did the Intermediate cycling plan with sustained effort weakness. To add a bit more load, for the middle four weeks I rode once a week to work for an extra 55km and in the last four weeks I rode to work twice a week for an extra 110km. I also had a few weeks throughout where I tried to start with rehab again for running but that didn’t work out.

Full Frontal - 24 Nov 2019
266 +32
344 +15
521 +115
1178 +85

Next plan was advanced cycling - repeated effort weakness. I started rehab for running again, made it to six weeks then my injury flared up in the final week, took a few weeks off running then tried again from the start for two weeks and then stopped when I had to admit I wouldn’t be fit for any races in summer. I did races on Zwift every few weeks around this time which I really enjoyed and was part of the reason I stopped running. I also stretched the 12 week program out by a couple of weeks due to being away for Christmas and then did the ToS on Nuclear option as my numbers were quite old by then and the sessions were getting easy.

Full Frontal Post ToS - 8 Mar 2020
309 +43
394 +50
534 +13
1162 -16

200 mile Gravel Grinder sustained effort weakness plan. I started feeling overwhelmed when week six killed me - Violator, Who Dares, Do As You’re Told over three days all at 100% then on the weekend a 5 hour audax on Zwift followed by another 5 hour endurance ride on zwift.

I did Half Monty at the start of week 8 - 28/04/2020
329 +20
407 +13

I made it through the rest of week eight and then started failing sessions - especially MAP focussed ones. Max heart rate was really low and was having to miss sessions because I was too tired.

After a couple of weeks I decided the plan I was on was too much for me so dropped back to the Advanced All Purpose Road - sustained effort weakness on 18/05/2020

I still felt quite tired and heart rate was low. Sessions were difficult.

Half Monty at the end of recovery week 7 - 29/06/2020
304 -25
376 -31

After this reduction, sessions were feeling much better and I was starting to feel a lot better again. Only took a couple of days off after my best ever effort at Violator - peaked at 1239W and hit 1000W 32 times. Looking forward to doing full frontal at the end of next week.

Looking back at my progress and failures, it’s pretty clear that the advanced plans are too much for me - especially since I still make good gains on the intermediate plans. I’ll do the first two cycles of the Intermediate Full Century plan with Strength. I then have twelve more weeks until my target race which hopefully won’t be cancelled.

3 Likes

Ftp up 50% over that parried is outstanding (though noting a pacing issue with the first one)

Just outstanding. You’ve nailed the ability to improve for sure.

I need you as a coach … :slight_smile:

1 Like

@PeterG - that is a pretty awesome improvement & great dedication to your training plans. Interesting to see what is possoible if you put your mind to it! Chapeau !!

2 Likes