Speculation on performance improvement after second 12 week session

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.

Thank you


Hey there. Welcome !!

Enjoy your first plan and suffer well :slight_smile:

Yes, I certainly found there to be a plateau pretty quickly. But I think so much depends on the individual. There could be people with all th stone in the world, with bodies just desperate to do 5-10 years of adaptation and growth. So to answer your questions - here’s my example, but there’ll be the opposite for others I’d expect.

(I don’t think this is specifically about SUF either … it’s just the ‘human condition’ irrespective of platform)

I, for example, am relatively older, and after doing one four month block, I’ve then not seen any differences since. In the last two years I’ve floated around +2% (peak) to -5% (low). I’ve used various tactics to get further, but no joy

  • family, full time job, 50+, plenty hours (relatively) to train, tried plans, custom plans, and now I think I’m basically working hard to maintain my current capability

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.

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Up 30% is awesome! I also wonder about the impact of learning how to do the test. There has to be some impact from that.

@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!