HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF FULL FRONTAL
With the release of 4-Dimensional Power, The Sufferfest has completely revolutionized the way athletes train indoors. Instead of cookie-cutter workouts based just on percentages of FTP, 4DP™ allows The Sufferfest app to tailor every effort in every workout to your unique power profile and physiology, making them far more effective than FTP-based sessions.
To start training with 4-Dimensional Power™ we need to know what your personal power profile looks like. That means you need to complete the Full Frontal fitness test in the app.
This hour-long test is the same one the elite coaches at APEX Coaching use to assess the fitness of the pro cyclists and Olympic athletes they train. It measures your performance across 4 separate maximal efforts to create a comprehensive 4-Dimensional Power Profile, assign you a rider type, and personalize the power targets in your workouts. To make sure your results are as accurate as possible, you need to approach Full Frontal the right way.
First, show no fear. Full Frontal can smell it. Steel your nerves and get ready to show this test who’s boss.
The week before completing Full Frontal you need to make sure you get plenty of rest, while incorporating some moderate intensity sessions to get your legs ready to crush it. You want to be at your best, so pay attention to proper nutrition and hydration. Get an extra serving of veggies. Carry a water bottle with you.
PREPPING FOR GLORY
We recommend doing the test on Sunday. Yep. No day of rest in Sufferlandria. In the week leading up to the big day, use the following training schedule, which is available as a 7-day Full Frontal Peak Training Plan in the app or through TrainingPeaks or Final Surge:
Monday should be a 30-minute Recovery Spin, either outdoors or using the NoVid Recovery Spin or our unstructured Open 30 video. Keep it very easy (below 50% of FTP) and focus on a smooth pedal stroke.
Tuesday prime your fast-twitch muscles with Cadence Builds.
Wednesday you should introduce a little intensity. The NoVid workout, Taper Efforts, will provide just enough stimulus to keep your legs sharp and responsive, without adding any real fatigue to your system.
Thursday is another 30-minute Recovery Spin, either outdoors or using Open 30 video or the NoVid Recovery Spin.
Friday is a day off. Get a massage, do the Recovery Booster yoga session in the app. Oh, and skip happy hour at the pub. Sunday you have a date with glory.
Saturday is the calm before the storm. To get your mind and body ready to deliver a performance worthy of a true Sufferlandrian, you need to do the Primers video. This is a moderate-intensity workout designed to stimulate your system and get you ready without fatiguing you. Primers doesn’t include music so get some motivating tunes spun up.
Sunday: IT'S SHOWTIME
GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME
You’ve prepped your body, but physical preparation is just one part of the equation. Your mental preparation is even more critical. Full Frontal isn’t your typical fitness test. You’ll be asked to dig deep, dig deeper, and then do it again. You need to commit to giving everything you’ve got, to push yourself to the absolute limit and find out what you’re truly made of. To get in the proper mind state we recommend completing the pre-workout Focus Exercise that’s part of The Mental Training Programme in the app. It will help you push away distractions, concentrate on the task ahead, and get you focused on delivering the performance of your life.
TO ERG OR NOT TO ERG
If you have a smart trainer, make sure you select a resistance level when you connect it to the app. Depending upon the trainer, level 3 or 4 is probably your best bet. If you use ERG (AAARGH!) mode, where the app controls the resistance of the trainer to match power targets, you won’t get usable data from the test. You need to be in control.
Proper pacing during each of the efforts is going to be critical to get the most accurate results. If you don’t have much experience with fitness tests or in pacing all-out efforts like time trials it might take a little practice. Don’t worry, we have a few tips and tricks that will help you get the best data out of your Full Frontal examination.
Here’s what the test looks like and how best to approach each of the sections:
The easy, progressive warm up features a couple of moderate-intensity efforts to get your legs and cardiovascular system ready for what lies ahead.
Once you’re primed, it’s time to get down to business. The first part of the test is designed to measure your “Neuromuscular Power”, or NM. This is your maximal 5-second sustained power, your sprint. 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 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.
THE FIVE-MINUTE TEST:
After an all-too-brief recovery period you’ll head into the second part of the test: a 5-minute maximal effort which tells us your Maximal Aerobic Power, or MAP. MAP can vary dramatically between athletes with the same FTP. The key to this effort is being smart about pacing. If you think going too hard out of the gate on a 20-minute FTP test is unpleasant, this will make you rethink what unpleasant truly means.
A well-paced 5-minute effort is one where 2.5 minutes in you start thinking, “I might just be able to hold this, but it will be close”. If you get to the 2-minute mark and start questioning whether you’ll make it out alive, you went out a little too hot. If you get to the 3-minute mark and think, “I have some energy left in the tank, I need to up the pace” then you didn’t start out hard enough. That said, starting a little bit easier will get you closer to a perfectly paced 5-minute effort than blowing up spectacularly 3 minutes in.
As far as cadence goes, your best bet is to be a little higher than what you consider your “optimal cadence”. If you normally sit at 90 RPM for hard efforts, ramp it up to 100 RPM. Remember, you still have a 20-minute effort and a 1-minute all out effort on deck after this. If you’re grinding out a big gear at a low cadence you can very easily thrash your legs, which will make the next effort that much worse.
THE 20-MINUTE FTP TEST:
After just the right amount of recovery, you get to dive into that stand-by of the old FTP test, the 20-minute, all-out effort. After those two sprints and that 5-minute effort your legs aren’t going to exactly feel as fresh as a daisy, however, so you will NOT be able to hold the same power as you would in a 20-minute FTP test like Rubber Glove. Unlike other tests, we will calculate your FTP on the full average of your 20-minute effort, rather than 95%. But to be accurate, you have to go all-out on the 5-minute effort that precedes it. Sandbagging any part of this fitness test will skew the results and negatively impact your rider profile and subsequent workouts.
Your performance in the 5-minute effort will also give you a good idea of how you should pace the 20-minute portion of the test. For the first 10 minutes you should aim for 80% of the power you held for the 5-minute effort. So if you averaged 250W for the 5min effort you will want to start this effort at 200W. Once you hit the halfway point you can increase or decrease your pace depending upon how you’re feeling.
20 minutes isn’t a flash in the pan, so settle into whatever cadence you consider optimal. For newer riders that will be a bit lower, somewhere around 75-80 RPM. More experienced riders should aim for 95 RPM. Again, your muscles can only handle so much load, so if you find you get to the end of longer efforts and your legs are burning but you aren’t gasping for air, then you need to focus on pedaling faster. This isn’t weight lifting.
You’ve made it through the longest part of the test. Now, after a solid recovery, comes the piece de resistance: a final, 1-minute, all-out effort. 1 minute. 60 measly seconds. How bad can it be? In Revolver you do 15 (sorry....16) of those without giving it a second thought. But let’s be honest: this is going to hurt. You’ll be tired, your legs and lungs will be burning, your eyes will be bleeding, and you will just want to be done. But you’re a Sufferlandrian. You can dig deep into the Courage mines and give one last, glorious effort. It won’t be the greatest 1min you ever do, but it is important. This will show us your Anaerobic Capacity (or AC). This is what determines how much you have “left in the tank” at the end of a hard effort. The best pacing strategy for this one is to hit roughly 2x your 5min power for the first 10-15 seconds and then just try and hold on for dear life. Unlike the 5min or 20 min efforts, a well-paced 1-minute looks like a slight peak and fade. Some athletes will get out of the saddle for the first 15-20 seconds, sit down for another 20-30 seconds, and then spend the last 15-10 seconds out of the saddle to really get everything out.
Since this is a shorter effort, a higher than “optimal cadence” is recommended. Your legs will be thoroughly shot at this point, so don’t expect to hit 130 RPM or put that hamster in Violator to shame. Just remember, the lower your cadence, the more force you have to put out on each pedal stroke. Also, since this is not an evenly paced effort like the other parts of the test, your cadence will likely vary as you struggle to find a gear that feels “good”.
And that’s it. You just smashed the most devious—but most thorough—power profiling and fitness test out there. Once your eyes stop bleeding and you can see again, you’ll be able to review your Four-Dimensional Power Profile. In addition to detailed information on your performance, you’ll also be assigned a rider type: Sprinter, Pursuiter, Attacker, Time Triallist, Climber, or Rouleur. Easy-to-read graphs will show you exactly what your strengths are, and where you could use improvement. You’ll get specific workout recommendations to help you either develop your strengths or work on your weaknesses.
PERSONALIZED POWER TARGETS
But the most exciting part comes when you do your next workout. All of the power targets will be tailored to your unique 4-dimensional power profile. Sprints will be based on your 5-second power, breakaways based on your 5-minute, and long efforts based on your FTP. Every interval will be at the exact intensity you need to make you stronger, faster, and more powerful. The same workout personalization the pros use is now at your fingertips.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET A WARNING FLAG ON MY RESULTS?