TrainerRoad v Sufferfest workouts - why more variation in SF workouts within plans

So, I have a question regards the framework of TR w/outs v Sufferfest (SF) w/outs.

This is based around me recommending TR to some friends, who are enjoying the transition to structured training, but also others who are already in this world - but on the SF and see TR as too structured and lacking variety.

My take on this is that after nearly 20 years of training I understand what my body responds to and now 5 years into TR - I can use the theory behind the training plans to curate my own workouts as well as pick and mix Chad’s workouts.

However, the one question I can’t answer categorically, when asked by my recently converted friends is why SF w/outs include a variety of training zones (9 Hammers being a classic example), where the vast majority of TR w/outs stay in one or two main zones.

I imagine Chad would say that this is to maximise the training benefit of a specific session - be that Sweet Spot, VO2 Max or recovery and not try to add complexity into the mix that will detract from the aim of that session, which is focussed on the physical adaptation that a ‘pure’ session will derive.

If this is true my only comment would be that when I ride outside for 60-90 mins, I often do Stravavals when I vary the length and intensity of these intervals and derive huge benefits in the summer months when I do this. So why can’t TR introduce some of this variety into the mix in its plans?

A lot of the sufferfest videos are single or two zone workouts (9 hammers is 6 vo2 hammers and 3 threshold hammers, if I recall correctly), a very dark place is all vo2 more fluctuation within said zone but still only a few zones. Half is easy and revolver are both straightforward interval sessions.

Sufferfest puts more effort into being entertaining and somewhat less structured than TR. Both have race simulation type workouts. Although they are more prevalent in SF, I can’t remember ever seeing one come up in a TR plan (now that I looked it up, I kind of want to try blood +3, although I’m sure I’d regret it).

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Good call - I will be in a few months prior to a summer cx series of 6 races.
Thanks also for wider thoughts. Really useful insight.

another thing is the nature of the product offering–trainerroad has the plan builder which offers to take cyclists from base to the end of their season, whereas if you look at the training plans in the Sufferfest app, there are fewer; they are more specialized but also as a necessary result are more limited

It also might just be philosophies of training plan design. TR seems to do (for the most part) one thing at a time, traditional periodization, on the theory that you should train to prepare yourself before you begin intensity, train to prepare yourself to increase that intensity, step by step. Sufferfest seems to take the view that you don’t really need to do “base”, you can start throwing intervals at yourself from Day 1 and as long as you don’t do too much too quickly, you’ll be fine.

Both philosophies have their merits imo.

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The more variations in the workouts means absolutely nothing in your overall fitness gains. It s marketing ploy to keep people interested in doing intervals. I read it somewhere on the internet, so i must be true.

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came here to say this. TR focus on targeting specific physiological adaptations in the various phases of their plans. To your question about variety, with most people having an hour a day (for example) to train, it’s just not the case these random colourful mix-every-zone-into-a-workout in zwift or suffer provide better adaptations than the bog standard or specific interval structuring provided in any TR workout, unless your goal is to get a sweat up and do something random for variety’s sake. Sure, closer to the event you will want to perhaps mimic the specifics of a race, which might align closer to a SF or zwift workout, but you’re essentially getting this in a speciality plan anyway.

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So - after some looking on the workouts last night, I actually stumbled across The Tour of the West Vol 1.
This is the sort of workout I’m after - did it tonight and loved it. Mostly in Sweet Spot, recoveries in Tempo and lots of variation. Perfect.
If the team can vary @Nate_Pearson’s Endurance favourite, Baxter - then it seems we could have more Tour of the Wests to vary Sweet spot or thresh workouts, whilst retaining the more structured ones?

If all you want to do is shift up a workout like Baxter from the 55-80% range to a higher level, one option is to use the Workout Intensity to adjust it up. You can get the zones to elevate to whatever you want. Baxter, with it’s wider range, will be a bit of an issue if you stretch to more than 105%, due to the nature of the percentage shifts, but it might do what you want overall.

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Great call. Thanks Chad.
The Tour of the West is a great workout at high cadence btw. Brilliant CV without cooking the legs.

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I seem to remember Dylan Johnson covering something similar on his YouTube channel. He did focus specifically on Zwift workouts but I’m guessing the takeaways are the same. Video was called The Problem with Zwift Workouts.

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From the point of view of noob cyclist - I have registered to sufferfest from curiosity, looked at workout and felt really baffled. I like variability, especially during longer intervals (it easier from mental side of thing to have longer efforts dissected into smaller chunks) but with TR I do know what every workout do. With sufferfest the variability is so high that I felt that following the workout structure is harder than workout itself :wink:

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Thanks - just watched this again - had watched it a while ago. Makes sense.
I guess I’m just looking for variety in a specific zone and also it’s been a long winter indoors and I’m craving variety!!
I actually follow a similar structure to that prescribed by Dylan - but have less endurance and more sweet spot as I only have 5-7 hrs a week total.
Thanks again for the link.

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There are some TR workouts that are quite varied but they take a bit of finding. Try Corcoran +1, the Blood series or the “z 8DC stage X YYYY” series (X is 1-4 & YYYY is a year), these look like race power profiles.

Generally if you go to the workout library and spend some time having a nosey around you should be able to find something.

As others have said it’s a matter of specific targeting rather than a scattergun approach. A bit like going to the gym and working on your back and legs one session, chest and arms another rather than just wandering around having a go at whatever station is free.

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