I HATE the 4DP

I think the “mental toughness” aspect is one that isn’t considered strongly enough either.

Ramp tests are psychologically easy for people like me, you start off below the level you can achieve and remain there for a reasonable time while you also know roughly where you need to get to on the ramp to at least reach what you consider the minimum acceptable performance, then you get to bail.
It’s a hugely psychologically different beast to simply having to determine what sort of performance you can manage for a full twenty minutes and just gut out one long, constant churn.

I know that at this moment in time my FTP is at least partially limited by my psychology instead of just my physiology. I can talk myself into extreme, short efforts, into lots and lots of repeated hard efforts, but I simply don’t enjoy one, long, lung-burner…
In every previous sport I’ve done I’ve been able to work around this because they are shorter duration sports and my sprint/recovery is so good I can out-perform most people in fast bursts.
My big learning exercise with cycling, now, is the TT style effort.

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I totally agree with the OP here.

It’s a great test but way too hard for me. The first time I did it, I would have puked if the 20-minute part was 10 seconds longer. The second time I did it I did puke a little after the 5-minute part. The third and fourth times I failed to finish. The fifth time I did finish, but I was very disappointed with my results.

That was a few years ago and I haven’t done it since. I actually left Sufferlandia, partly because of the difficulty of this test. I just rejoined, and I find HM to be much more palatable.

I may do FF again in the future, but probably not.

Thank you for all your comments. I enjoy this community and the support is fantastic.

Boil it all down and I want Sufferfest to have a normal ramp test (or something similar) for benchmarking.

4DP/HM will continue to have it’s supporters and detractors, but I think the fact that Sufferfest doesn’t have a shorter, more reasonable measuring stick that folks may be more inclined to use regularly hurts Sufferfest and will continue to limit subscription to their platform.

So long and thanks for all the fish…

I think it is possible to do Half Monty and stop after the ramp section. My understanding was that the 20 minute constrained effort was intended to refine your FTP calculation, but it should still be possible to estimate FTP just from the ramp section, although maybe not as accurately.

There is some info here: Half Monty – Sufferfest Support in the IMPORTANT INFORMATION section:

You SHOULD connect a heart rate monitor. The added information heart rate gives us in determining your FTP is what sets Half Monty above other ramp tests.
While we can (and will) give you an estimated FTP off of the ramp alone, having a heart rate monitor and completing the Heart Rate constrained effort will give you more accurate metrics.

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Hello @Tungstenisw - while I can understand that most everyone will find Full Frontal to be a very challenging test, it does so to provide the most accurate results to allow your training to be most effective. Without looking at your specific data, it’s important to keep in mind a few things with Full Frontal:

  1. Be sure that you’re properly tapered and rested for your Full Frontal. That includes physical rest as well as mental rest. If you’re not motivated, you won’t be able to access what you can do…just the same as if you’re not properly rested. (Note - proper rest after a significant training block can take 1-2 weeks depending on the person and length/intensity of prior training block).
  2. Don’t use outdoor or lifetime best power targets to use as the basis of your goals in Full Frontal - use values relative to your recent indoor power production.
  3. Make sure you’re pacing the 5-minute effort properly - if you start way too hard for the first minute or two and are fading through the rest of the 5-minute effort your 20-minute effort will suffer since you effectivelly over-paced the 5-minute effort. See How to Pace the Full Frontal 4DP™ Fitness Test – Sufferfest Support for more info.
  4. Half Monty has two parts for a reason, and the 20-minute block is not maximal - so much more reasonable, though it’s critical that you use a heart rate monitor to get the most accurate results in Half Monty.
  5. If you want the most realistic comparison of either FF or HM derived FTP, then go for an Hour of Power and see what you can. I’d be willing to wager that the 240-250W values from the other tests you’ve done are an overestimate of your ability to produce sustained power if with Full Frontal you’ve been pegged at 188W recently.
    Hope that helps! Neal
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If you like the Sufferfest workouts but really can’t cope with the 4DP tests, then there’s nothing to stop you from doing a “normal” ramp test as long as you end up with numbers that actually work for you in the training sessions. FF and HM simply give you the most accurate numbers to train with. I would have thought that is more important than making the test a bit easier?

If I was in your shoes I would be concerned why I couldn’t hold more than 188W for 20 mins after a couple of sprints and a single MAP effort IF my FTP was really up around 250W. That is only a 75% threshold effort! This is actually a great endorsement for the additional value in FF, since a single FTP number (especially when estimated from a simple ramp test) says relatively little about your real world strengths and weaknesses. As Coach Neal suggests, maybe you need to do a full hour of power and see how that stacks up.

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Out of interest, how do you find workouts like Nine Hammers and AVDP? I personally find those much harder than the FF test with accurate 4DP numbers. FF is self-paced, so it’s only too hard if you make it too hard! Obviously the pacing itself is the really hard part of FF and that requires some practice and self-awareness. Have you thought about treating FF as a regular workout? Then you could learn to pace it without puking! I find it pretty useful out on the road knowing exactly how hard I can go for both 5 and 20 min intervals and, most importantly, how that effort actually feels! While HM gives me pretty much the same numbers for FTP and MAP, it doesn’t create the same feeling of actually doing a 1 hour full gas effort.

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I did Nine Hammers yesterday actually. I just started the All Purpose Road Plan and this is part of it.

For me, it’s the toughest workout they have and I was forced to pause a few times. Hoping for some improvement now I’ve returned to Sufferlandia but age is a big limiter now - retired.

Maybe when I’m done I’ll do FF again but even a few years isn’t long enough for me to forget it. The trouble was, FF was the only way to meaningfully access the training plans in the past so when my interest in riding waned a bit it was easy to leave Sufferlandia. HM is a great idea for people like me and it’s interesting to know you get the same numbers from both tests.

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These numbers are odd. The FTP calculated in FF is the average of your 20 minute effort. So, if you do the 20 minute effort at 250 your FTP will be 250. This is in contrast to the old rubber glove, which calculated a percentage of your average over 20 minutes. The explanation given for the difference is that in FF it is after you have been fatigued by other efforts.

So, if it says your FTP is 188, that is the number your watts should have been hovering around for 20 minutes. If not, there is something serioously wrong, and perhaps it is a software error.

That said, I also have some dread doing FF, but look at it as a necessary evil. Unfortunately, I am due.

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As a new user, (just started SF in Jan or Feb), I’ll add my experience for Tungsten to consider and maybe it’ll help some. In terms of Full Frontal and your lower than expected results for FTP. I do find it odd that you blew up and quit, but the ftp is lower than anticipated or compared to other virtual apps.

For me, I did the 4 week intro training and then the Full Frontal prep plan and then the test. I got through FF fine, (I’m used to pushing myself from a bike club I’m in, and solo riding). My FTP result was about 25 watts lower than it was from an actual 1 hour outdoor FTP test I did several years ago, and about 8 watts higher than an FTP test I did on RGT virtual. I found that a bit odd that it was lower than my outdoor ftp, but I was trusting the science and I did have trouble using Level Mode during the test Vs the ERG mode that makes up the FF prep plan.

That being said, I stuck with that lower FTP and found that many of the post full frontal workouts in the All Purpose Road Training Plan that are based on the FF measurements, are actually spot on. I mean I am amazed at how close the targets are to my physical ability. Some of the workouts seem way too easy, but others will really wear me out, (like Omnium that I did tonight I literally went to failure twice).

I am trusting that it’s working for me and is helping condition me. With the nicer weather I have it setup to do indoor and outdoor workouts and I do some in between pleasure rides as well. I can absolutely tell that it is making a difference in a positive way. Honestly my only hang up with the outdoor training is that it’s ridiculously complex and quite frustrating. (if only there was an app for that :wink: :wink: developers).

Like you, I really enjoy the other aspects of what SF offers, like the Yoga, Mental and Strength training. I do them all. I have considered quitting Sufferfest many times because I’m on a training plan that includes outdoors, but there’s no easy way to do the outdoor workouts. It’s absolutely infuriating… But I press on, because it’s way better than just riding without a plan, and for me Zwift was too gamey and lacked a smooth smart trainer integration. I liked Rouvy, and RGT, but riding without a plan is what I did for years with marginal gains, so I am counting on the science to get me to the next level.

Hang in there!

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I wouldn’t read anything into a 25W FTP difference when comparing against a test done several years ago! It sounds like your current numbers are good for setting your training targets and that’s all that counts really. I would also wager that you will get that 25W back in due course and maybe with some interest!

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I really struggle mentally with the FTP section. Completed it only once and bailed 3 times. Its more the boredom of a 20 minute effort at full throttle. Actually got to 13 mins last time before the demons got me. Perversely I love Revolver so i]I think its just individual make up. I do Bronco intervals for giggles but struggle with a 3 mile run due to boredom.

Thanks I’m working for it Peteski. 2020 cycling season was a bust. The club races and group rides stopped and then for the New Year I got Covid and it took over a month for me to start feeling better. My 02 levels are still low, in the 93-95 range. What I’m lacking in physical ability, Sufferfest is helping me with technique. I never thought I’d be able to hold 120+ cadence without bouncing in the saddle, but now I can.

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Hello,

I’m a bit late to the party but just to give my two cents here:

Pacing is extremely important in FF, I have always had the feeling that I am stronger than what it says although some workouts will prove me wrong. Anyways, even finishing FF with a wrong pacing will give you ‘slightly off’ results. If you start the 5 minutes MAP block and go all in 10/10 the first two minutes for example, your average power will be damaged as you might end up having a very low power output the last minute. The same is valid with the FTP block. The other two blocks, being just explosive power or just what is left in the tank are “easier” to pace. This is without talking about level mode selection and gearing.

What I find works for me and thus what I recommend is that you give a try to the HM/FF Double Week in the Training Plans. Don’t be brave and burn your legs for possible extra gains that week, just focus on testing. Use the HM 20 minutes block to figure out Level and Gearing. Once you have those results, go into FF with the goal of averaging those values for MAP and FTP. If you have a cadence sensor it helps pretty well for the pacing, you can find out how you HR reacts at different cadence. It will hurt, that is for sure. But if you think your values are too low, give Nine Hammers, A very Dark Place or The Hunted a try with the numbers you get.

I think is not fair to compare your 4DP FTP to the one you get elsewhere. The Sufferfest workouts will hit you in your MAP, AC and NM to make sure keeping up with the 4DP FTP value becomes a matter of pain. Is just a different technique.

I hope this motivates you to giving it another try. FF is difficult to pace, and I don’t think new users will ever get it perfect (nor experienced ones). HM will give you your goals. Aiming for your other FTP values during FF might be a mistake because the NM and MAP blocks really sting and even if you are optimistic at the start of the 20 minutes block, those efforts will come back to hunt you.

Enjoy your training!

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WIthout a completion of Full Frontal you won’t get the full picture of yourself as a cyclist that 4DP describes. Subsequently, following a Sufferfest plan without this picture will suggest that you won’t get the full benefit of the training plan.

IMO, 4DP is the differentiator between Sufferfest and any other training program.

Of course, if one is aware of this and comfortable with it, then one can do as one pleases and that’s OK.

I just think that deliberately choosing to avoid the (again, IMO) central ethos to the Sufferfest is using the “tool” incorrectly.

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Good clear and sound advice on pacing! Will defo bear it in mind next time i’m due to lay it all out on FF. Was happy with my results and the numbers are all on point when translated to the sessions, even though i felt fluffed the 5sec NMP so curious to what i can really hit there next test. My only input on this discussion that the FF is too hard, is the age old cliche…“no pain, no gain”, and hence why u find urself resident in Sufferlandria

Fluffing the 5 sec sprints is the “best” thing to muck up if you’re going to as it’s the least consequential. So long as you’ve gone hard enough to give the initial load to the legs, having the wrong number doesn’t matter too much as whenever you see a NM effort in an exercise session it’s just all-out anyway.

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I followed this guidance today and had a great 4DP test, so thanks for sharing your notes! I still haven’t got the hang of the spring test, I never quite feel like I’m at my limit but also don’t want to burn energy ramping up.

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Each rider is different. That’s part of the reason for 4DP, in fact. But each person is also affected differently over the course of multiple efforts. The 20-minute interval on Full Frontal comes after you’ve already put in your sprint and your hammer. So you’re not going into it on fresh legs. I’m not particularly bad-ass in terms of FTP, and especially not VO2, but I am blessed with the ability to repeatedly hit near my max efforts for any given interval, and slug out high intensity for hours on end in long, mountainous road races. So, 4DP works well for me, since it consistently lets me know how much work I have to do on my all-important 5-minute power before I’m ready for racing.

And I’m making a bit of an assumption here: If you’re doing SUF, then you must be training for racing. If you’re not training for racing, then why on Earth would you ever subject yourself to something as horrendous as Nine Hammers? Spin class and group rides are 100% effective in maintaining general cardio fitness. And they feel good, not bad.

So, let’s assume you’re doing SUF because you’re a racer. The problem with measuring race-readiness with FTP only is that–other than in the occasional time trial–races aren’t won or lost with FTP. I know some beasts with crazy high FTP who can’t hang in a real road race because all it takes is one good hammer and they’re nowhere to be seen. (Zwift racing is a totally different story in that regard, but not many people regard Zwift racing as their primary goal.)

So that’s my $0.02

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