Q&A with Dig Deep Coaching on Our Training Plans

Suitable for any time of year, including winter, our 10 week training plans. have helped Sufferlandrians around the world improve their preformance by 8-10%.  We just sat down with our co-author Stephen Gallagher, Director at Dig Deep Coaching and former professional cyclist, to answer a few questions about the Plans.

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The ‘fest: Who are you and what is Dig Deep Coaching?
Stephen: I started racing bikes when I was seven years old, and turned pro in 2003 with Team Endura Sport. Over the years, I raced professionally for Flanders-Afin.com, Flanders, Giant Asia, Murphy & Gunn, An Post/Sean Kelly Racing Team right up to more recently Sigma Sport Specialized and Cycle Premier Metalek.

Formed in 2011 together with my partner Dan Fleeman, a former pro with Cervelo, Dig Deep Coaching is a cycling & triathlon coaching company based in the UK and Ireland. We’ve expanded into Europe and we also coach athletes in America, Asia and Australia. We provide coaching, lab testing, bike fit, nutrition together with our specialists in those areas. We also provide free webinars and articles on many areas of performance and health along with retailing & renting Powermeters. We work with people at all levels, from those competing in the biggest professional races in the world to beginners getting onto the bike for the first time. We have the same ethos with all our clients – Challenge, Hone, Achieve. Challenge your ability to improve and develop, Hone your training and preparation with our vast knowledge & experience via our coaching structure and finally help you Achieve your goal and enable you to raise your future ambitions to a new level.

Why does someone need a structured training plan?
Structured brings around a focus that everyone needs when looking to get fitter and faster. It also gives you the confidence that what you are doing in training is all geared towards a bigger goal and each day you are on the bike is actually building fitness in a specific way. Having a plan to follow will bring around improvements gradually which is always the best way to enable performance gains to be a long lasting and part of your performance in the months following. Without structure, you’re just sort of winging it and hoping it works – which, especially when you have limited time to train, really is a waste.

What’s the benefit of integrating both indoor and outdoor riding?
Indoor sessions have always been  an essential part of cycling training. That goes for professional riders racing the biggest races in the world to cyclists who want to take part in their first Sportive.  Indoor sessions allows you to make the most out of limited time: you have no traffic lights, stop signs, coasting, junctions, etc. so every single minute is used to gain fitness. As coaches, we recommend indoor riding, even in summer, because it allows the athlete to concentrate better on specific aspects needed to build fitness (such as cadence, consistent/specific heartrate and power, technique etc). This is all possible outdoors, of course, but the variables are easier to control when riding indoors. To mix outdoor sessions with the more intensive indoor sessions is the ultimate mix for performance increases. Competitions, sportives and group rides are not done in a controlled environment like an indoor session, so athletes have to expose themselves to these elements and build endurance, technique and bike handling.

Can you move the workouts around within the plan?
Everyone will come up against different aspects that will interrupt the plan, be it illness, family or work. This is unavoidable and something that you shouldn’t worry or stress about if it is not a regular occurrence.  You can move sessions around but be careful not to play catch up, i.e move missed sessions in one week to the following week which will reduce your rest periods. This normally brings around too much training stress that can cause overtraining (or “under resting” which is a better term). If you need to move a session around during a week, try and make the amount of total rest scheduled for that week the same. And be sure to avoid clumping too many session together. If you are only doing 2-day training blocks avoid adding up consecutive sessions which will make a 4 day block as this will normally bring around too much accumulated training stress. Your sessions will become less productive and can become extremely tired after the block is over – and that won’t help you get back on track with the plan.

It’s winter. What if I can’t ride outside – can I do the workout inside?
Yes you can switch to inside. As explained before there are many benefits to riding indoors so this is a perfect alternative. The biggest issue is the longer endurance rides (normally on a Sunday or Weekend) which can be up to 3hrs, this can be a long time on a turbo trainer and it can be pretty tough mentally to get through it. I recommend reducing the total volume by around 25% if you alternate the session to inside but be sure to maintain the intensity prescribed in that particular session.

Can I do the indoor workouts outside?
This is a harder switch over compared to moving outdoor workouts indoors and we really recommend you do the indoor workouts as prescribed. First, of course, is that the workouts are based on the Sufferfest videos, which have very specific periods of intensity and recovery, as well as those ‘surprise’ attacks and accelerations that they’re famous for. If you really can’t resist the temptation of going outdoors, then the most important thing when completing certain specific efforts outside is having a clear, uninterrupted route that will not allow for long breakages in the effort you are performing. That can be difficult to find, especially if you live in a built-up area. If that’s the case, then you can extend the warm up and cool down which might allow you to get onto quieter roads that will allow you to perform the efforts in the best possible conditions.

Can I ride more than the plans says?
You can, but only as long as you can maintain the intensity we ask you to do. So, adding an extra 30-60minutes (or more) of endurance pace to any session is possible if you feel you can handle it. You can also add a 2-3 hour tempo ride (Zone 3/4 only!) on Satudrays if you feel recovered from the mid-week sessions and you can still do the Sunday ride as prescribed. If you start to feel fatigued, though, and can’t hit the intensity that the interval workouts, then you should back off again. Do be careful of adding volume in the first three weeks of the plan – you can be feeling good and then, with accumulated fatigue, hit a wall in week 5 that may be difficult to recover from over the rest of the plan.  Don’t add any additional volume during the rest weeks – they are rest weeks for a reason. If you are building towards an ‘Etape’  or big Sportive type of event at the end of your plan you can also increase the Sunday endurance ride to 4hrs (perhaps 5hrs if with a group and if you’re still able to hit the following week full gas). This will give you the confidence in doing longer, event-length sessions.  Please make sure you have the ability to do the other sessions as planned and avoid doing TOO MUCH, this is the key.

What if I don’t have the videos – will this training plans still work for me?
If you don’t have the videos, then these probably aren’t the plans for you as the videos guide you through the specific workouts we want you to do. If you don’t have the videos but really want to do these plans for some reason, then you can check out the workout details on the Sufferfest website which will show you the intensities and durations requested of you in the video. Although it will be less enjoyable and motivating without the videos it is still possible to progress and build fitness.

What kind of improvement can I expect after ten weeks of flogging myself like this?
As everyone will be starting from a different fitness levels it is impossible to be accurate on exactly how much improvement can be made by each individual.  People who are new to cycling we will see bigger gains in fitness compared to people who have already have been cycling for many years. This does not mean that experienced cyclist do not gain from plans but just that when people start a new activity they build fitness quickly.  With more experienced cyclists, or those used to previous structured training, I would expect an increase of 5-10% at FTP power (only those with a powermeter or power on turbo will be able to accurately measure their performance gains).  The biggest key to development is consistency and gradual lift in training stress which is done via total volume and intensity. As mentioned above there will be times when days and sessions need changed, but if you keep the general plan consistent you should start to see good improvements in many areas like recovery between sessions, getting up local climb quicker, taking more turns at the front with local chain gang, etc.

I’m a triathlete. Will this plan work for me?
I think for Triathlon the beginner and intermediate plan is possible to follow along with your swim/run training sessions if you are careful to avoid under resting. The advanced plan is too top heavy with intensity and would not allow you to recover adequately to enable you to perform your other sessions to your best ability. I would recommend trying to keep the higher intensity sessions and change the medium intensity efforts for swim/run training. If after a few weeks you feel that the high intensity sessions are affecting your ability to perform the other swim/run training then reduce the high intensity sessions to a maximum of 2 a week and maintain the rides on the endurance-based weekend. Try to keep the rest days a priority, perhaps including an easier swim technique session on a rest day. This will not cause too much training stress but allow you to get an extra swim in.

I’m racing at the moment – how would that fit into these training plans?
If you are racing, try and keep the overall structure of the plan the same and swap and endurance ride at the weekend with a race. Racing and endurance sessions work different areas, of course, but a 3hr training ride can bring around a similar training stress to that of a 2hr road race depending on the conditions. If you feel you have not recovered from a race at the weekend when performing the mid-week sessions then reduce one of the higher intensity sessions to a lower intensity or take an extra rest day to allow for a full recovery.

Do I really need a heart rate monitor or power meter to do these workouts?
No, you do not need either a heart monitor or a powermeter to do the plans as we have an accurate RPE scale for each training day. I would, however, very much recommend you use at least a heart rate monitor to make it more specific and get the most out of each session. You can get one relatively cheaply and it can be used in all training rides indoor and out.

I have my FTP number already. Can I use that or do I have to do the fitness test as instructed?
If it is a test that has been done in the recent past (i.e. previous 3 weeks) then yes this can be used to determine your ftp but I would still perform an ftp test regardless. I would use your previous FTP wattage/HR result as a bench mark to produce another test to gauge fitness, your FTP wattage can change a lot, by the way, while your FTP Heart tends to stay the same (while speed and distance covered increase), so be aware of this. The FTP test is a great workout out in itself also and something that you should get accustomed to as it is a great way to analyse fitness and development.

Check out our 10-week cycling training plans here >>

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  • http://www.facebook.com/CharlesWBean Ben Wadham

    looks great… very interested particularly since you can bring the outdoor inside… given work interrupts everything your plans offer a great incentive to a structured training…

  • Bo Dudek

    I wouldn’t mind paying the $30 for a plan – easy one. But as I’ve only got 2 vids for now, I’d have to purchase further 5 for my upcoming plan. Sorry, but that’s exceeding my budget.

    Make a streaming plan and I’ll be happy to pay every single month :)

  • Dave B

    I’ve got the intermeadiate plan and think it looks great, but I normally do an enndurance ride and a longer hily ride with friends on weekend and now the decent weather’s here I really don’t want to miss out on either – any idea if I can still use the plan?

    • DMcQ

      Hey Dave – Yes you can still use the plan but follow the overall weekly structure (keeping rest weeks and mid week recovery periods) but include the extra training at weekends. Be careful that you still can train adequately mid-week and you do not over-do the training at weekends to leave the mid-week training below the intensity we prescribe. If you can do this then enjoy the hillier weekend rides in the Sun.

    • bvduck

      Hey Dave – sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Yep, you can replace our normal endurance ride on the weekend with your group ride. The important thing is that you’re able to recover enough to hit the high intensity work during the middle of the week.

  • Bill

    On week 5 of Novice plan. Thursday’s Main set is 1:00. However only 40 min is defined. What level/cadence fro the remaining 20 min of main set?

    • bvduck

      Hey Bill – Sorry ,that’s a mistake. It’s another 20 at the faster cadence to complete the set.

  • Darren Hague

    I’m into week 7 of the intermediate plan, loving/hating it, and starting to think about what comes next – possibly the advanced plan. I notice that’s 6 days a week – which day of the week is the day off, Saturday or Monday?

    • bvduck

      Hey Darren – Week 7 is sooooo tough! Stick with it! The day off in the advanced plan is usually either Thursday or Friday (so not really what you expected!). If you like, drop a line to Stephen Gallagher, director at Dig Deep Coaching to ask him any questions about the best way to proceed from here: stephen@digdeepcoaching.com

  • Loz

    I’m quite keen to download your intermediate training plan. However, for the next few weeks I’m in ‘frugal mode’ after a bit of a holiday shopping blow out. I already have 6 of the videos required for the plan – Long scream/angels/HHNF/a v.dark place/fight club/the hunted. How many extra videos will I need to buy to get me through the first 3 weeks of the plan?

    • bvduck

      Hey Loz – You are clearly a Sufferlandrian of some ambition. Excellent. The first three weeks of the plan ask you to do: Angels, The Hunted, Blender, HHNF, Local Hero and The Wretched (Week 4 is Angels and Long Scream) so you’re safe there. So looks like you’ll need Blender, Local Hero and The Wretched to get through that first four weeks.

  • RevNick

    I am interested in buying the intermediate package as I want to take my cycling to the next level. Not really used a turbo trainer before or done a test to ascertain my Functional threshold. I have a HRM. Does this package contain such a test like the ‘rubber glove’ so I know what zones to train at before embarking on the exercises?

    • bvduck

      Hey! Good thinking – the intermediate plan is awesome. We’ve taken a few Strava KOMs since finishing ours. Yes, the plan has a FTP workout in it you can do, or you can get the Rubber Glove video and do that to determine your FTP. In either case, once you have your FTP (and you can use your HRM to get it), the plan has a sheet upon which you can map your heart rate against different intensity zones.

  • missionperformance

    TrainerRoad and Sufferfest and how they link up on a wahoo kickr power trainer – is there a link ?

  • missionperformance

    need some help on linking the kikcr power trainer up to sufferest via TrainerRoad – see earlier message – will keep looking

    • bvduck

      Hey there – the best thing is to get in touch with the Trainer Road guys as they know their system the best.

  • MikeB

    I would appreciate some advice on whether I should be doing the intermediate or advanced plan please. I haven’t done any racing but have just (i.e. 4 days ago) completed a 7,200km ride averaging 131km/day and 29.7kph for the whole ride. So my base fitness should be okay … ! I’m wanting to train for 100km+ races.
    Thanks.

    • bvduck

      Hey Mike! Wow, what an accomplishment. That is awesome. Fitness wise, you’re probably able to handle either plan. For the advanced plan, you need to be able to train six days a week and put in about 8-9 hours a week. If you can handle that, and think your body can recover enough with just one day off, then go with the Advanced plan. If you aren’t able to train that frequently, then go with the intermediate plan and, when time and freshness allow, bump up the volume on the endurance rides a bit.

      • MikeB

        Thanks for that, I’ll give the Advanced plan a go – I know I can put in the hours, it’s whether I get permission that may be the issue. :o)

  • Paul

    Can you comment on how the Beginner Plan differs from the Intermediate? I did the Intermediate plan over the summer with great results, but am wondering if the beginner would be good for the fall/winter where I want less intensity and am less committed to the bike. Is it fewer videos, or less road time, or both? Thanks!

    • bvduck

      Hey Paul — it’s both. If you’ve done the intermediate plan, we’d suggest sticking with that and reducing volume or taking out a day a week if you’re looking to back off a bit. The novice plan would likely be too easy for you.

  • Mark Duncan

    If I want to peak for the start of the road race season, which for me is the first RR/crit in SoCal during the last weekend of January, should I plan back 10 weeks from the day before the RR, or actually plan back 11 weeks, with one week of taper before a big weekend of racing?
    I already use sufferfest vids once a week, and love them! keep up the good work!

  • justkillme

    Just wondering if I can sometimes replace a threshold booster workout in your plan with Rubber Glove (for testing purposes).

  • Anzac

    I have a quick question, since winter season is coming I would like to start with intermediate program from Sufferfest. I’ve been riding for past 10-12 years regurarly 3-4 times a week 50-130 km courses and now would like to take it to next level.
    Can I use the actual videos with stationary bike trainer? I have a Lemond trainer (front wheel with knob for the resistance). How I’m going to determine the cadence on it while using the training videos? What do I need to get to make the trainer sorta compatible with the video requirements (kinda lost here)? I’m going to have the FTP tested (friend has the power meter) I have HR monitor and Garmin edge 800 gps computer and wonder if this can somehow help me. Any suggestions and tips would be greatly appreciated. Really excited and looking forward to start my Sufferfest adventure. Best regards!

    • bvduck

      Hey Anzac — That’s not a quick question, thats three questions! ; – ) Let’s see. Yes, you can use our videos with any trainer you like. The videos will tell you what cadence to pedal at (as well as what effort). If you have a cadence indicator on your bike, that helps, but if not then just count rotations of one leg for 10 seconds and mutiply by 6. That way, you develop the ‘feel’ for cadence that is so important. You might want to get our Rubber Glove video ifyou’re going to do an FTP test as that will guide you through it.

      • Anzac

        Great! Thanks for the info and cadence tips bvduck! This will help. Yes, plan is simple, first to start with “unpleasant” (what I hear) Rubber Glove and then continue with remaining 15 trainings videos. Amen!

  • Shon Grabe

    I just purchased the intermediate cyclocross plan, and it is amazing! Looking ahead to the cross country mountain biking season, do you have any plans to release a similar plan for mountain bike racing? If so, I’m definitely interested.

    • bvduck

      Hey Shon! Thank you! So glad you like it. We’re working on our Triathlon plans at the moment. For MTB, we’re considering doing something around May, but it’s not confirmed yet. Stay tuned!

  • Dave

    I commute every day for a 6 mile trip each way. Is it possible to continue that & undertake the intermediate plan?

    • bvduck

      Sure, Dave. Just make sure you don’t go too hard on that commute — the most important thing in the plan is that you’re able to do the workouts at the prescribed intensity. If you find that the commute is wearing you out a bit, you might need to back off it a bit.

  • Andrew Wilson

    Hi, I was planning to use the Intermittent Plan over the “closed” season then moving straight onto the Advanced Plan to push me over the edge of sanity and to hit the early season crits hard. Would that work as a 20 week plan, bearing in mind I’ll be racing during the last 5 or 6 weeks and how do Tuesdays and Thursdays fit into the Advanced Plan? I ask because I ride with the Leeds Chain Gang on those evenings from early spring to autumn. Cheers.

    • bvduck

      Whoa! That’s a lot of suffering — you’ll be a monster! Drop us a line on david @ thesufferfest . com so we can help you out with that planning a little bit, Andrew, but connecting you to our parnters at Dig Deep Coaching who can tell you how best to string the plans together.

  • cjrcycles

    Hi,

    I just bought the Novice plan and am excited to jump-in and get started, because the plan is exactly what I’ve been looking for, to provide me with a focus for my training. With the holidays coming up, I’ll be travelling more than usual. Some places I can bring my bike and trainer, e.g. relatives’ houses, others I can’t, however, will have access in those places to stationary bikes, e.g. hotel gyms. Should I jump in and get started now or do you think it’s a better idea to wait until the holidays are over and get moving then? Thanks!

    • bvduck

      Now is always the best time! Get started so you can get familiar with the videos and the structure of the training programme, as well as how your body reacts to the work. If you miss some sessions due to travel, don’t sweat — just repeat the week.

      • cjrcycles

        Thanks! Took the fit test over the weekend and looking forward to starting Week 1 today…!

  • Steve

    With the novice plan, if a week has 2 outdoor rides scheduled but due to time, I need to move one inside, does the plan suggest a video to replace it with?

    • bvduck

      Hi Steve — If you do the outdoor workouts inside, be sure to reduce the volume by 25%. We don’t suggest videos to do in those cases, since you need to be riding steady (for the most part) rather than doing intervals. Some movies, maybe?

  • Skip

    how do I download the plan to my training peaks account?

    • bvduck

      Hey Skip — I’m afraid you can’t as we’re not part of the Training Peaks programme.

  • broon

    hi bought the intermediate plan in an effort tohave a bit more structure,i probaly should have checked this out before hand,but i plan to focus on TT’s (25 &10 miles) should i make any adjustments o the plan.

    thanks for you advice

    ed

    • bvduck

      Hey Ed — that plan should do you just fine as it will raise your threshold nicely which will pay off in those TTs.

  • Chris

    In order to peak for a spring race, should the race be at week 11, or earlier, like week 8? Should 3-4 weeks be taken off before starting again?

  • Robert Bynon

    On your Rubber Glove FTP/LTHR test, you use HR average for the 20 minutes. Some others recommend multiplying this by .95, just like FTP. Any thoughts on this?

    • bvduck

      Hey Robert — HR doesn’t tend to go drop, like power does, over the course of an hour during a big effort. So there isn’t any need to discount it by the 5% to get your FTP.

  • Rick

    What kind of an indoor trainer is best for your workout videos? Ie: Fluid, Kinetic rock and roll, Wahoo, Cycleops, etc.

    • bvduck

      Hey Rick — doesn’t really matter, to be honest! Whatever you can adjust the resistance on so that you can work as hard as we tell you, you’re good to go on!

  • Lisa Jane

    Hi I have a rolling road, can I still use these videos?

    • DMcQ

      Hi Lisa Jane. Not sure what a ‘Rolling Road’ is — do you mean rollers? In any case, you can use our videos with ANY stationary bike. : )

  • Michael Sparshatt

    I’ve just got the novice plan, and Rubber Glove to get my FTP. The plan is to get started the second week of January.

    I commute to work 4-5 times a week, as well as go out on a 40-50 mile club ride on a Saturday. Is it OK for the club ride to replace the Sunday steady ride? It varies from fairly steady, to pretty intense depending on the route and group out. What about the commutes?

    Thanks!

    • Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Michael, great about you taking our Training Plans, I am sure it will be of great benefit. I would not want you to miss out on your regular group spin on a Saturday but just be aware that you may feel a little fatigued if you have had a hard block of training a few days before, the rest on Sunday will have you back and fresh for the coming week. As for commute, depending on how long it is I do not think it will be a major problem. Make sure that they are done on a low intensity if you have a specific video workout later that day, what is important is that the intensity and effort put into your structured training sessions is maximized. Hope this helps and good luck with the plan, let us know how it goes…

      • Michael Sparshatt

        Brilliant thanks for your reply Stephen. It’s an 18 mile round trip, and last night I lengthened the commute home to become the steady outdoor ride for week 1.

        On the rest days would it be advised to cut the commute out completely? Was feeling a little leggy when I woke up this morning, so have grabbed the bus to make it a proper rest day.

        • Stephen Gallagher

          I would try and either have a complete rest and use the Bus or do a very easy Z1/RPE1-3 ride to work. Active recovery can help also but just make sure you are fresh for each session to get the most out of every interval and effort. Cool

  • Andrea Mina

    I would like to buy the advanced training plan but I live among the Alps and it’s Impossible for me to take “effortless” or full recovery ride since I have to do at least 1 or 2 climbs of about 15-20 min with some steep section…how should I face those ride? should I slow down the rpm (50-60 ) and make it easy or should I pace it at tempo and maybe change something else in the plan? Thankyou!!!

    • Stephen Gallagher

      As long as you make the rest day as easy as possible that is what is important. Keep the HR/Power/RPE as low as possible and try and ‘spin’ up the mountain as good as possible in as low a gear as possible so to avoid using any muscular strength. If you have a indoor trainer this would be a better option to use on recovery days though. Good luck with it.

      • Andrea Mina

        Thankyou very much Stephen! at the end I went for the intermediate program, and I’m totally loving it and also having great improvement. I have a couple of question for you about FTP. I did rubber glove to check it one week before starting the plan. I use Strava to record my data and it give me an upgrade of around 10 Watts after the first two weeks, also my garmin pointed a new power record for 20 min effort. the question is: should I raise my zones accordingly to this improvements whenever it happens or should I stay at the rule of checking it every 10/12 weeks? if so and considering I’ve choosed this plan for preparing a competition that will happen two weeks after the end of the plan, when in your opinion should I check FTP and raise my power zones values? Thankyou so much for your help!

        • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

          Hi Andrea,
          Firstly well done on the improvement to date, it looks like the numbers you are producing is indicating to a higher fitness which is all positive. I would recommend that you adjust your power zones every time you see a new ‘peak power’ which indicates a increase in your FTP, this means that each session is pushing your fitness constantly rather than working under your fitness level which will not bring around the gains you could meet working with higher zones.
          I would normally re-adjust and test your zones every 6-8 weeks when training normally and within the plan I would adjust your zones when you see peak powers within certain training sessions which you already have. I would do a re-test 6-8 days after finishing your plan and just before your objective, this will be a great indicator of progress and fitness.
          Good luck and let me know how it goes.

          Stephen

  • Walter

    Hi — just got the intermediate road plan along with the videos, but just noticed that the plan is set up so that you only ride one day each weekend. Since I’m a working stiff, is it possible to change the sequencing so I can take advantage of both weekend days and have one less day during the week, while still having the long 2 hour day fall on the weekend? Thanks!

    • Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Walter, it is important that you allow for a full rest day during the week if you are taking another training day at the weekend. The reason for this is to allow maximum effort in the high intense video’s and also avoid over training (or under resting). I would swap around the road rides mid week and move to a Sunday and make another day mid week a rest. Hope this makes sense.

      • Walter

        One follow-up question: does it matter which mid-week ride I move to the weekend? i.e., would it be better to always move a high intensity ride to the weekend, or is it better to (for example) switch one of the weekdays with Saturday (e.g., do all the Friday workouts on Saturday and rest on all Fridays)? Thanks!

        • Stephen Gallagher

          It can be difficult to be really specific week to week on which one is best to swap. The best way to do it simply is move a shorter more intense session to a Saturday and move the volume session to a Sunday. If you can make it that a Friday is a rest day before the weekend sessions that would be even better.

  • Clarky

    Anybody know how the calculation works for the various zones once you have your FTP? Im guessing that this is done in the pdf but doesn’t seem to let me me enter it. Do I need full Adobe Acrobat, as I just have the reader? Thanks

    • bvduck

      Hey Clarky — yes, you just have to print out the PDF and then write in the calculations.

      • Clarky

        Thanks, but how do you do the calculations for each zone? Apologies in advance if that’s an obvious question but couldn’t see where on the plan to do that.

        • bvduck

          Right above each cell in the PDF is a range %. You just calculate your number based on your FTP * the range. So, for example, if your FTP (based on power) is 200, then your power range for, say, zone 3 is 200 * .76 (for the low end) and 200 * .90 for the high end.

  • Tony M

    I purchased the Novice plan and just started yesterday. Today is my first outside ride but it is winter here in Canada and I am doing everything inside. I would like to use a video to replace the outside rides. I have all your videos. Which ones would you recommend I use that may resemble the time and tempo of the outside rides.

    Thanks.

    • bvduck

      Hi Tony — Thanks for getting the Novice plan. Hope you love it! We don’t really have any videos that correspond with the steady outdoor rides, I’m afraid. Maybe check out some of the videos from Epic Planet or Cycle Film? Do be sure to reduce the volume of outside rides by 25% when doing indoors.

      • Tony M

        Thanks for the quick reply. I am enjoying the plan and will utilize some other video just as a pass time while doing the outside rides indoor. Keep up the good work.

  • Neil Hodgson

    Is it possible to combine the intemediate plan with 2-3 skate ski sessions (about 1 hr each high anerobic intensity) and a days backcountry skiing, or will that lead to under resting? I have been doing the above and 3-4 sufferfests a week since 1st of December

    • Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Neil, that sounds like a pretty heavy workload and mixing it with a progressive and structured plan that has specific rest periods might be hard to maximize if you are doing the Skiing also. Perhaps on some of the aerobic rides change to a Ski session and keep track of your fatigue as the week progress. Important you hit each session 100%

      • Neil Hodgson

        Thanks, ill try that

  • Dlessard75

    Hi there. I have signed up for Trainerroad as well. Do you recommend getting a physical coach too?

    • Stephen Gallagher

      Hi, I am the author of the training plans and owner of Dig Deep Coaching who partner with Sufferfest. We have many people coming to us post plan to take some structured coaching along with incorporating the sufferfest videos. If that is something you would be interested in please email me at stephen@digdeepcoaching.com Cheers

  • Jed

    the calculations for HRZ on the training plan chart can’t be accurate – the calculation ask for a higher % of FTP than the column for Power (PZ)

    • Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Jed, there is a reason for this. The Power and HR zones do not ‘match’ accurately and when you conduct a FTP test with a powermeter you minus 5% off your 20min result to find your potential FTP, doing this test with HR only you do not subtract anything off your final average HR. Hope this makes sense?

  • Francis

    Just started road cycling in April 2013. Rode for approx 2800mi during those 7-8mos and lost about 20lbs. But I didn’t really have any structure to my training coz I was just out there to have fun and reap the health benefits of cycling. However, for 2014, I have convinced myself to go for my very first century ride in July. It’s a somewhat hilly 100-miler, roughly 6,5000ft of climbing. So now I want to get more serious with training. Being a new cyclist, I suppose it’s the Novice Road Plan that I should go for.

    Now my question is the outdoor component of the plan. Living in NH, I don’t see being able to go out and ride, not until late March or even early April. So for the outdoor rides, what SufferFest videos can be used instead? I’ll be buying the videos that the Novice plan calls for. Also have The Hunted, Blender, Fight Club and Downward Spiral right now.

    Thank you.

    • Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Francis,
      Firstly congrats on the hared work to date and your ambition to take on a new challenge in 2014, this is fantastic and I am sure your enjoyments for the sport will continue to grow and develop.
      The Novice plan is a perfect place to start, this will really start to build specific areas you need for performance in this sort of event. With the longer endurance that we have ‘outdoors’ instructed on the plan you have two options. First is to do the set ride indoors on your turbo (you can reduce the total volume set out by 25% and increase the intensity by 1-2RPE if you wish also) or try out the two Endurance video’s that Sufferfest have, Blender and ISLAGIATT. The best option would be to alternate a endurance video with some steady riding on turbo with a reduced volume each week.
      I hope this helps and please let us know how you get on with your preparation.

      • Francis

        Thanks much Stephen. Yes, as with most things, setting a goal keeps me motivated and work harder.

        I purchased the Novice plan along with the rest of the Sufferfest videos to complete the set. Might also be worth mentioning that I subscribed to TrainerRoad as well to properly monitor my levels of exertion, a.k.a. so I can’t cheat lol.

        I’ll use Blender and other endurance videos for the outdoor portions as you suggested.

        Since my planned century (http://www.tinmountain.org/?page_id=1205 ) is on July 19th, I’ll build up my skills using the 10-week novice plan and then plan what’s next from there leading up to July 19th. I figure, it would be best if my training plan peaks right around when my century ride is scheduled (does this sound right?)

        • Stephen Gallagher

          Sounds good Francis,
          Yes you want to peak for Mid July, perhaps build gradually using our novice plan and then move towards the intermediate plan with a short break (easy riding) for a week-10 days between plans so to allow your body and mind to re-focus, this should lead you up nicely towards mid July. Good luck with it all…

          • Francis

            Hello again Stephen.
            i’m now on week 10 of the Novice plan. Apart from a few days of setback due to illness, I’m right on track. This structured plan is amazing. I can already feel the difference.

            As you mentioned in your advice to me, I’ll do some easy riding for 7-10days once I’m done with the plan and will re-do my FTP test, before I resume structured training.

            I’m thinking what’s next now …. Spring is here and Summer is coming soon …. My event is not until 07/19 but I’m planning on building up to it by increasing my distance covered slowly each week till I reach close to 100mi. The farthest I’ve gone late last Fall was 66mi, with 50-55mi thrown in at least twice per month last year. However, I haven’t done a ride with 6600ft of ascent, and that’s what I’m training for as well.

            Since I feel that this plan has helped me a lot, I want to continue on. Would you still suggest I go with the Intermediate plan or re-do the Novice plan at a higher FTP?

            Many thanks in advance

          • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

            Hi Francis,
            Great news you have finished the plan and I look forward to hearing how the FTP test goes.
            I would advise going not the Intermediate plan once you feel recovered from current training phase and begin to build again towards you goal in July. I would advise also building on some rides similar to that of your objective in the 6 weeks leading up to event, this will again help adaptions and build that big base needed to get over the hills and stay strong for the 100mi.
            Keep up the work and enjoy the new plan

          • Francis

            Hello Stephen.
            i’m so glad to report that my FTP increased by 8.25%. That actually is both good news and bad. Good coz my 10 weeks of suffering errrr I meant training paid off. Bad coz now my Intermediate Plan workouts will be based on the higher FTP :D (j/k)

            This is awesome. Can’t wait to begin training again.

            Will definitely start building up the rides as I get close to 07/19 (my first century).

          • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

            Fantastic Francis, delighted to hear that and I know the next 10 weeks will be challenging but think of the overall goal and enjoy the ‘suffering’ as much as you can! I know you will smash you event in July to the best of your ability. Thanks for update

  • beth

    Can you comment on the Beginner Plan vs. the intermediate? I have been riding 1-2 a week and running a few days as well for the past year. I have signed up for my first century in June and need to step it up and get faster. My husband and I just bought the videos as we just moved back to New England from SoCal and he rides 5-6 times a week. We are on a budget and would like to buy one plan but I am concerned that the Intermediate might be too much for me and the beginner, way too easy for him. Thanks!

  • Dennis Gaskill

    I am just starting the intermediate plan, and my question is:
    Should I still plan a day or 2 for strength training?
    I have my first Road Race in 8 weeks, but it’s a tune up for my goal race at week 10.

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Dennis,
      Thanks for purchasing one of our plans and I am sure you will see the benefits of it. When developing the plans we set out very specific rest periods on the loads that you will put on your body with the sessions described, to add strength training might require you to include an extra rest day every 10 days or so (very difficult to be specific on this) but I would encourage you to maintain a type of ‘maintenance’ strength training that perhaps allows you to maintain the strength/core you have developed to date without hindering your performance in the high intense sessions you need to be fresh for. Hope this helps and let us know how it goes..
      Stephen

  • Rami Hanania

    This question is for Stephen. I am about to start week 3 of the intermediate plan and already feeling the effect of this awesome plan! However, I’m using a PMC planer and my starting CTL is gonna be very close to my ending CTL at the end of the plan. I know quality is better than quantity here, but how do you suggest raising CTL over the course of the plan? When to add rides and at what intensity? my CTL is around 65 now. Thanks in advance!

  • George Lavalette

    If I wanted to add a weekly weights session to the advanced program, when would you recommend I do so? I’m conscious of keeping the rest days for resting only

  • William Miles

    I start the intermediate plan next week. I have a quick question about the overall time for specific workouts. In week 2, it says to do HHNF for 1:15, but I believe the video is only about 60 minutes. How am I supposed to fill the time? I noticed a similar issue in Week 6 with respect to HHNF. Sorry if the plan document explains this somewhere – I didn’t see it. Thanks!

  • Mathew

    There is some Z2 work in the plan. If one lives in a hilly area how should they approach long rides in this zone – keep in zone 2 generally and exceed in uphill (possibly drop below on the downhill), try for average HR in Z2 or ride conservatively on the flats/down hills so that one does their best not to exceed to zone on uphill.
    Comments appreciated. Thanks.

  • Derek

    Hi Guys, bought the intermediate plan and videos. One cool feature would be to be able to download the plan into either our ical or garmin/training peaks

  • Scott L

    I am using the Intermediate plan to train for two events this Spring; the first one is a 193KM / 4,300 meter event and the second is a 160KM / 2,600 meter event. The two events are spaced five weeks apart – what do you suggest I do during the five weeks? I was thinking about maybe going back to one of the weeks and repeating it three or four times before tapering the last week.

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      It Can be a hard one to balance as it will depend on how you recover and how you feel the first event went, i.e working on weaknesses that you seen from the first one. Repeating weeks 8/9/10 in between the events would be an idea to keep the aerobic fittness but this will not take into account the issues you may of noticed on your first event that needs worked on. For some more specifics please email info@digdeepcoaching.com All the best with event

  • broon

    hi on week 9 of the int.plan use it to maintain ftp over the winter..looks like it’s working..:-). doing a 10 TT the end of “week 11″ and a 25 end of week 14..any advice in how to keep the fitness for this period ?

    thanks for your time

    BTW- the combo of the fest vids /variety/structure of the plan although physicaly “challenging” was great for motivation,even enjoyed it at times ;-)

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi, glad it has helped and I look forward to hearing your results. In the first week post plan you need to allow the body to absorb training, i.e active recovery rides along with some short intense sessions, 45min-1hr 15min workouts with Threshold/Vo2 work. This is just to maintain fitness. On the approach to week 14 you need to be more specific but again you are going in to more specific structured coaching which has many variables. If this is something you would like my team to help with please email info@digdeepcoaching.com and we will help you reach your goals.

  • Procedurlist

    Hello, I started the Intermediate program and all has been going well. However, on the third week I got sick and was unable to ride. My question is, can I just bag the week and start where I left off, or should I repeat the second week to kind of get back into the groove? Any help you can give would be great. Thanks!

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi, It is always hard to judge as it can depend on how severe the illness was. Because you are so early into plan I would suggest you go back and build from week two again as this will allow a steadier progress to fitness and the shock of hitting a hard week like week 3 might lead to a relapse into illness. Hope this helps and let me know how you get on. Thanks

  • Chris Stewart

    I have just completed the Sufferfest: intermediate training plan, but i still have 4 weeks (due to this long winter) before i can ride (and Race) outside. I’m going to re-do my FTP test with a power meter. Should I just start the intermediate training plan again with my new FTP number? OR would it be better to start the advanced road plan with my new FTP number?

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Chris,

      I think it would be best to get a solid 4 weeks on the Advanced plan with new FTP in the next 4 weeks to give you that big fitness base before you take on first race of the year. The advanced plan will really push your limits but it will kick start a great block of training as you hit the race season. Let us know how it goes.

  • Mike

    Hi. Very interested in your training plans. Was an avid cyclist then took almost a year off. Recently got my mojo back and been doing sporadic riding including my beloved SF videos. Was wondering if I should start with the beginner plan or

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Mike,

      Great news you back on the bike and ready to join the Sufferfest/DigDeep team. I would recommend that you start with the beginner plan, for two reasons. One to allow you to get used to structured training again and two to make sure your progress back to the sport is a gradual one as this will be very important to bring around bigger gains in the future. If you wish to add more to beginner plan then include some more rides at the weekend’s or include a extra day at Z2 efforts. Let us know how it goes and keep up the hard work.

  • Mike

    Hi. Very interested in your training plans. Was an avid cyclist then took almost a year off. Recently got my mojo back and been doing sporadic riding including my beloved SF videos. Was wondering if I should start with the beginner plan or the intermediate one. Many thanks for creating the best training videos out there.

  • Stuart

    On the weekend I have purchased one of your training plans. Now just imagine me waiting at you checkout desk for the item. After an hour of standing there, a normal person would be getting a little hot under the collar. Unfortunately I have been patiently waiting here 14 hours!!! Not only have I been covered with a fine layer of dust and soot I think an Sufferlandreian Tarantula has started to make a nest in my hair. This is not the sort of suffering I sign on for. Right now I should be shedding my shammy laying down the ground work of pure kick-ass cycling instead of waiting to kick the ass of the first minion that gets within range. Fortunately those little bas&$#s are fast. Maybe because they have been on their training plans the training plan I have paid for but not receive yet. A training plan that had printed on the receipt that I should receive within a few minutes. I’m still here waiting. Is there a problem!! The payment has come out of my account but still nil reply to my first emailabout this issue??
    (I have checked my spam filter it is not there, neither did I accidentally trash it).

    • bvduck

      Hey Stuart! Sorry you were waiting. Looks like your keyboard was trying to protect you from the Suffering as your email address was missing an R so we’ve gone out and found one and added it and just sent you that training programme. We suggest you flog your keyboard immediately and then get sorted flogging yourself for the next 10 weeks.

  • Techylaslammer

    Hi, I am most of the way through the Novice plan with my first century ride planned at the end of it. When it comes to riding the 100 mile event, which zone should I aim to keep within during the majority of it? My FTP is 173.

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi, great you are nearly finished plan. I am sure it will has helped your fitness and build towards your next objective. For the century I would suggest riding in Z2 and making sure you are well hydrated and adequate nutrition throughout which will have a major impact on performance. Good luck

  • sjoerdth

    Hi, I’ve got two questions:

    I’m starting the novice plan tomorrow so I did the test to determine my FTP, but I’m afraid I went a bit too easy the first 10 minutes. My average HR was 166, should I just go with that number for the next 10 weeks or should I cheat a bit and round it up to let’s say about 170? I really want to get the program started so I don’t feel like doing the test again and wait another week.

    My weekend rides usually are at least 4, sometimes 5 hours, which is quite a bit longer than the sunday rides in the novice plan. Because those rides are not only a physical exercise, but also work wonders to clear the mind I would like to keep them this length. Or would that have too large of a negative impact on my progression?

  • Hayley

    I should be purchasing a plan soon, but am still undecided! With my Ironman only 16 weeks away I still cannot decide on getting the intermediate triathlon plan or the intermediate road plan, in order to try and adapt them to an Ironman plan. Are there any plans for an ironman/ advanced triathlon plan? Or could you possibly put me in touch with someone from Dig Deep Coaching who might be able to best advise on this?

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Hayley, great that you’ve set target race and are ready for structured and specific training. The intermediate triathlon plan provides the training volume needed for sprint and Olympic distance and possibly 70.3. For. Ironman training I would recommend a specific 12 week plan with dig deep coaching or alternatively a month to month plan. This will provide specific and personalised coaching for your goals. Would you like more information on these plans? Thanks .

  • Bryan Allott

    I imagine cyclocross plans work work just as well for MTB..?

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      You can get some great intensity from the CycloX plans, depends on what distance you are aiming form with MTB. You might need to add more volume if you going for races longer than 1hr 30min. Enjoy

  • Tim Barnett

    Can I start this training plan after having a year away from cycling or would you recommend gaining a base fitness first?

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      I would recommend doing 2 months of general cycling first, starting at 3 times a week and buikd to 5 times a week over the first half and then in last 4 weeks build intensity by completing 2-3 videos a week with one or max 2 endurance rides a week. Once you happy with this rock on with one of our plans and let us know how it goes.
      Thanks

  • ironman93

    Hi, I’ve been riding consistently for 5 years now. I had a great winter’s training, working to a schedule from October to April and riding 4-5 times a week. I’ve started my racing season without a schedule and my performances are ok but inconsistent. I race timetrials (10/25m) on a weekly basis. Would the Intermediate or Advanced programmes be the way to get some structure/consistency back to my season and which is better for a veteran (58) aged cycle racer?

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi,
      Thanks for message, if you are racing during the week and aiming for them races I think the advanced plan might be as bit too intensive to be able to perform in them. Start with the Intermediate plan and see how it goes. In the future try and achieve to complete the advanced plan before you start a block of time that you are racing. This will give you that intensive boost before racing starts.
      Good luck

  • Mary Magazine

    I am a former distance rider. I was involved in a serious accident in 2011 and I am now able to ride again. I can easily ride 10 miles but at a much slower rate. I will have to use a hybrid bike for stability purposes because I have had a knee replacement and a spiral fracture of my femur on my right leg. I have a metal rod in my femur from the surgery. So this will be rehab and training for me. How would you suggest I use your program to train?

    • http://www.digdeepcoaching.com/ Stephen Gallagher

      Hi Mary,
      Thanks for your message and sounds like it has been a hard couple of years, major respect for fighting back and trying to make a comeback. First thing I would suggest is making sure any medical practitioners / physio’s etc are happy for you to take on a structured coaching session and some intensive training. With our plans they are all generic so do not adapt to personal circumstances like yours but I would suggest starting with the beginner plan and allowing adequate recovery between training blocks and weeks. An idea might be to do one week of plan then one week of general cycling/recovery, then start week two and so forth. Taking 20 weeks to complete the plan while allowing yourself to adapt and not push your limits too much that will set you back. Again it is hard to be totally specific with this but please make sure you recover well and do not irritate any injury that you already have.
      Take care and let me know how you get on.

      • Mary Magazine

        Thank you so much for your input. I will keep you posted.

  • David Barrantes

    Hi, I’ve just finish my 10 weeks novice training plan and I have to say it really worked out for me. I’d like to have an advice from you about what should I do next? I’m not sure to do the intermediate plan because I don’t have much time to do more workouts during the weeks and I don’t know if doing the novice plan again from the beginning will improve my fitness. Looking forward for an aswer! Thanks

  • Dougie

    Wondering which plan I should buy. By the time the cold wether sets in I will have logged around 2,000 miles. Usually ride 2 or 3 times a week (4 on a good week) average 14 – 16 mph. I want to use the videos through the winter to stay in shape and avoid my annual struggle to get back in shape in the spring. Which program should I use, the Novice or the Intermediate?