Review: The Sufferfest – The Way Out

The Sufferfest videos are awesome. They offer (mostly) short, sharp, bang-for-buck workouts, expertly put together to push you right to the edge but not quite over. They are engaging, motivating, stimulating and, when completed without cheating at 100% FTP setting, rewarding and body-shattering in equal measure. I’ve been a fan for a long while.

Time and time again over summer this year, I re-visited the delightfully painful worlds of Revolver and Nine Hammers as I prepared for the Haute Route, seeking a twice-weekly cocktail of lung-busting, leg-searing, eye-popping intervals in a bid to find a short cut to peak race fitness. Never did the videos disappoint. They caused me all manner of distress and discomfort, but they did the job better than any other system or platform I’ve tried and they were the perfect time-effective way to complement my longer endurance rides.

Now that it’s off-season, priorities have changed and most of us will be focusing on building a solid base over the winter. The traditional, bread ‘n’ butter Sufferfest workouts don’t really lend themselves to helping with this – they’re designed to be high intensity sessions which really help to fine-tune your engine and build top-end fitness. They’re brilliant, but perhaps not the best option for those of us who are looking to train primarily at sweet spot (roughly 83-97% of FTP) or below for longer periods through the winter months.

So I was hugely interested, and just a little excited, to hear about the release of two videos from the Sufferfest which are designed to offer slightly lower intensity workouts. The Way Out is one of those videos (I’ll review the other, To Get To The Other Side, separately, but it is similar in style and principle).

wayout1

The Way Out is marketed as “a sweet spot workout that gives you an hour of efforts just below threshold and at a series of different cadences“. It’s in the “base training” category, and it’s really a video for recovery days, or days when you’re looking to keep the legs ticking over – with a few short grinds – between tougher interval sessions. It features a lot of climbing, mostly to be completed at low cadences, but the overall power numbers aren’t too stressful and the intervals aren’t particularly long (up to 10 minutes max, with a number at less than 5 minutes).

That said, in my view it isn’t as easy as it first looks. Those 50-60 rpm climbs take their toll and I definitely didn’t feel like I’d been for a recovery spin when I climbed off the bike (although I hadn’t eaten properly, and I rode fairly hard for 2 consecutive days before trying it, which may have had a bearing).

profile-the-way-out

The profile – tough enough, but not a killer

As ever, the presentation of the video is great. It’s professionally produced, looks slick and tidy and features a fitting soundtrack which helps keep you gee’d up without sending you into that familiar Sufferfest gritted-teeth frenzy.

The featured climbs have different personalities in reality, and this is captured well on-screen. You’ll sail up the (relatively) gentle Col d’Allos and Col des Champs, but things get fittingly tougher when you tackle the Col de L’Iseran and Monte Zoncolan (complete with 30% ramps and cadences low enough to feel like you’re on the leg press machine at the gym).

PIC466348918

Quintana and Uran climbing Monte Zoncolan slightly faster than me during The Way Out

The whole workout is knowledgeably presented by the likeable Mike Cotty, and it’s as interesting as it is taxing, with snippets of info about the local area and little cultural insights as well as details of  the climbs themselves. I wasn’t such a fan of Mike when he was attacking me with 60km to go during the final stage of the Haute Route back in August, but that’s another story and I’ll forgive him in light of the excellent geo-history lesson he gave me during this video.

Overall, The Way Out is excellent. It’s well-executed, and provides a perfect session when you want to give yourself a workout without building up significant fatigue. It was tougher than I thought it would be, but at 60 minutes it’s short enough not to cause any real training stress whilst giving you a chance to open the lungs and build a bit of climbing power. It has also opened my eyes to a number of lesser-known climbs which have, thanks to this video, been added to my Bike Climb Bucket List.

collefinestre

Colle delle Finestre – another one for the Bike Climb Bucket List

I’m really pleased the Sufferfest have acknowledged the demand for workouts that keep you below threshold, and they’ve demonstrated via The Way Out that it’s very possible to make a lower intensity alternative to the core Sufferfest sufferfests whilst keeping the workout varied, engaging and ultimately beneficial.

Good job guys! And as a side note, you’ve just won my allegiance to the Sufferfest platform going forwards, as I’ve now subscribed to the excellent Sufferfest Training Centre app. I’m looking forward to trying more new videos over the coming weeks and months – watch this space for more reviews!

6 thoughts on “Review: The Sufferfest – The Way Out

  1. jim says:

    Another good piece! I used to have a few of the videos but don’t bother any more . The app sounds interesting, i’ll probably try the trial week. Do you use the training plans too?

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinstripeskinsuit says:

      Cheers Jim. I really rate them, they just keep me interested much more than anything else when using the turbo. Definitely give the trial week a go. Have you got a smart trainer? Really takes the experience to the next level.

      Not following a particular plan at the moment. I did follow one of the SF ones in spring/early summer and it definitely resulted in gains, but i didn’t see it out – I just find there are too many reasons why I can’t stick to a plan rigidly and I end up getting annoyed. I’d rather make it up as I go along and think I’ve just about got the experience to strike a good balance. Sure you have too!

      Like

      • jim says:

        Ace. Have downloaded the app and am gonna give it a go from the next session. I’m almost looking forward to it!

        At c.£8/month it’s so cheap even if you only use if for about 5 workouts a month and do your own thing the rest of the time it seems good value to access all those videos. Better money spent than 3 coffees or a couple of lunches at work!

        No smart trainer unfortunately so will just resort to changing gears to generate the correct resistances etc. Will spy on your strava with interest to see what workouts your doing!

        Ride strong and keep up the writing. Thanks for taking the time to get back to me on this.

        p.s. You coming to Athlete Lab London on 7 Dec for the Haute Route event? plus, check out my new piece on the Alps parcours.

        Like

      • pinstripeskinsuit says:

        It’s so cheap it’s a no-brainer. There’s even cycling-specific yoga on there too (can’t say I’ve tried it yet).

        Like I sad in my review of The Way Out, most of the vids are pretty intense so choose carefully (or dial the % effort down, though that sort of defeats the object). Knowing you from HR, I’d say you might enjoy “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” if you’ve got a couple of hours to spare! “Nine Hammers” is a favourite for sharpening up the top end.

        Wasn’t aware of that event, will take a look online and in the diary. I’m unlikely to make HR in 2017 so not sure I should take a place from someone who is?

        Had a look through your blog but couldn’t see the piece on Alps parcours? Is your main blog mutton (just checking, as the cyclingkingcaffeinating one looks like it’s been taken down?)

        Like

      • jim says:

        This is the one Tom https://mountainmutton.wordpress.com . The other one is an abandoned first effort!

        Regarding the event, there’s a big capacity but i can understand why you may not be keen to go.

        Am definitely gonna do this sufferfest trial and will keep you posted on how i find it!

        Did you know i know Vince by the way? I’ve done a blog about his lab (called ‘testing testing’ if you search for it)

        Like

  2. jim says:

    I did this at c.5% higher power than prescribed to make it more a threshold / sweetspot workout rather than base / z3. Really enjoyed it. However i dislike the music, and whilst i think Mike Cotty is a top guy, i find the commntary annoying, so will resort to my own music next time i think. The thing i really liked is how rather than it being steady 8-10 minute efforts at one power, it mixes it up to prevent the boredom. And you’ve gotta love some of the stupid suffering comments. toking forward to trying some others, what would you suggest other than those referred to in the piece (which appear to be real top-end sessions)? Am looking for wintery stuff really, so threshold / sweetspot etc. The Hunted ,HHNF and Local Hero look good.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s