Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review: Sufferfest - The Best Thing In The World

Sufferfest have 3 new videos coming out on October 30th. This adds to the existing library of 20 peak-achieving cycling training videos, known to most initiates as simply the hardest training sessions in the world.

I am lucky enough to be in possession of a pre-launch version of one of them now, and I can testify, once again, that Sufferfest has nailed absolutely the most entertaining way of suffering I've ever come across! If Sufferfest is new to you then read my previous review of the series by way of introduction.

Some noticeable renovation in the opening graphics and sequence, so the intro is much slicker - something more akin to the start of a contemporary movie, though still with the essential Sufferlandrian tongue-in-cheek. It gives you less of a feeling that you're about to embark on a fitness program, and more one of the start of an epic saga. The instructions have developed a little too. Now the countdown to increase or decrease intensity comes with a number for the new intensity, so you can prepare your gears (and mind) a little better for the up-coming effort.

The new video I have is called "The Best Thing In The World". It's a 45-minute workout, and will no doubt fit in as part of their Race Simulation series. The main sets of the video involve 2 intervals of 13:30 with a short (!) recovery between them. The footage they use for the 2 race sections are both from the 2015 spring classics, starting with the Amstel Gold race, and followed by Gent-Wevelgem. The effort and intensity model of the intervals is also based on these super-tough races, and they use events in the actual race to create the fluctuations in effort - like Niki Terpstra's flat (3/10) and then subsequent effort (8/10) to get back onto the front group in GW.

I don't want to give too much away about the content here though. There is some entertainment/training value in the element of surprise, and the intensity variations within the intervals are suitably arranged to push you to where you need to be to get maximum training effect. You can expect all the usual Sufferfest tricks and mind-games that keep us entertained, motivated, and most importantly: suffering.

After the 11-minute warm-up we're fairly quickly into the first of the intervals. These are not actually full-gas all the way but, typical of races of this nature, involve a lot of wild fluctuations as breaks are made and caught, and attacks on the sharp "berg" sections demand occasional maximal efforts out of the saddle, so your heart rate will rarely drop below your threshold. Leave it to the Sufferlandrian masters of agony to make sure they push you right to your limits over the duration of 13-and-a-half minutes...twice. I'd once again warn that - except for hardened Sufferlandrian warriors - it's almost impossible to still be nailing the required intensities by the end of the session the first time out. As I mentioned in my previous review, the Sufferfest training effect comes from attempting impossible challenges, that through repetition eventually become manageable. By then you're on another level: IWBMATTKYT!

The main training effect aimed at here is to develop your ability to repeatedly work above your threshold. It will definitely also help push up your FTP. More specifically it develops your ability to respond to surges and attacks within races or group rides. It would be a good isolated last workout for tweaking your race fitness just before a big race, or an excellent part of a race-preparation plan in the latter stages.

There's really not much down-time in the session at all, so it's pretty much a 45-minute blast. As always with Sufferfest, you need to believe. You need to know that the pain is good, that the more you suffer now, the more ass you will kick tomorrow.....unless you're up against other Sufferlandrians that is!

All Sufferfest videos available from:

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