Friday, January 16, 2015

The Sufferfest Nine Hammers Review: Chad Zeman

The smallest state in The Union is now very well represented on our national team. Former collegiate runner, 2x Ironman, and Sufferfest aficionado Chad Zeman (Rhode Island) may be new to the team, but we've already put him to work. Here is his review of The Sufferfest's latest training video, 9 Hammers. From personal experience, what initially appears to be an interrogation technique is actually a really "fun" kind of hurt!

I am a huge fan of The Sufferfest for the reason that they make indoor training fun. They recently came out with the video 9 HammersFor those that want the "get to the point" review - buy it! It's 9 VO2/Threshold intervals at about a 1:1 ratio. Ride it if you are at least halfway, if not done, with your base training. It will seriously kick your butt!

For those that want an in depth 9 Hammers review, here you go!

When purchasing the videos, you are able to see the duration and workout prior to downloading. In this case, 9 Hammers features 9 VO2 and Threshold intervals. What’s even cooler are the new onboarding instructions as well as the information that is provided on the screens.

As the video starts (once you download... be patient), the crisp title appears and proceeds to letting you know that you should see a doctor before attempting to ride.
What I really like about Sufferfest are the clear instructions they give before the videos starts. It sets a clear tone to you on expectations from the ride.

The ride starts out with a 6 minute warm up. If you are one who needs a longer warm up, I’d suggest riding prior to starting the video because once this warm up is done – pain is about to commence! As you warm up, you start right out in a pack and have some on screen “motivations.” I find them to be lightly humorous while motivating. Music plays in the background (the music I must admit has been getting better). About 30 seconds in, you see your workout:

6:00 – Warm up
1:30 – Recovery
yes, those are sweat drops on the screen
4:30 – Hammer 1 (Threshold)
3:00 – Hammer 2 (VO2)
3:30 – Hammer 3 (VO2)
4:30 – Hammer 4 (Threshold)
3:00 – Hammer 5 (VO2)
3:00 – Hammer 6 (VO2)
3:00 – Hammer 7 (Threshold)
3:00 – Hammer 8 (VO2)
3:00 – Hammer 9 (VO2)
3:00 – Cool Down

Don’t worry, there is some rest between the Hammers! All rides are based off of the Suffer Scale which can be either perceived effort or interchangeably with a Power Meter or Heart Rate Monitor. My personal suggestion is using a Power Meter to get really dialed in.

No more than 10 seconds after you receive your workout, you’ll get caught in a minor sprint to get the legs moving for about 5 seconds, and then moving back into warm up mode. This will happen, with an effort of 8 or higher, on three separate occasions.

After the warm up is finished, you are pushed into a group for Hammer 1. Don’t expect to “ease” into any of these Hammers either. The workout is 55 minutes long and no time to waste. There is a mixture of 7-9 RPE with upbeat music all located in a mountain/forest setting.

Enjoy the views, you’ll be staring at your stem in no time!
Remember I mentioned that there will be breaks? The first one does appear, but expect to keep your cadence up. That is another great thing about Sufferfest, they force the cadence on the bike – expect 90 RPMs throughout recovery. With a slower song, on screen instructions and riding “solo,” the heart rate should go down. Oh and don’t be surprised by some heckling from fellow cyclists!

As the second round of Hammers begins, expect to go right away. Great way to help you in the real life scenario of someone trying to take off on you or if you are a triathlete – getting out of T1! I’ve heard some people say that they don’t like the trainer because they never can stand. Well, Sufferfest forces you to stand on the bike. If you have a carbon frame, take caution in doing this with the added stress, but Hammer 2 does have you stand to push. It helps you propel into the sprint finish… if you can hold everyone off! Efforts range from 7.5-9 RPE.

Recovery 2 hits, and is the same road as Recovery 1. Don’t be fooled though, time seems to go by quicker this time around than last.

Hammer 3 starts a little more comfortably at a tempo pace. Again in a pack, but it is normal to harder efforts. As with any road racing, a group passes you and then you find yourself in last… expect to have to catch the front at some point before you go “uphill.” This segment again features efforts from 7.5-10 RPE in the short span.

he's looking back, overtake him!!

After your recovery, expect to start at threshold again and expect to get dropped, but you’ll quickly catch the pack again… you are a climber! That is what Hammer 4 is all about – low cadence but high effort. You’ll seriously feel the burn especially with the 7-8 RPE with cadence ranging from 60-90.

With another recovery, enjoy it. Sufferfest called Hammer 5 the worst of the journey. So tough… they call it VO2 Eternity! This segment features two riders pushing the pace into the finish. Expect to go 9/10 for most of the ride and a sprint to the finish. Yes… it is okay to start grunting here. We won’t judge. Just know there is another break coming!

even Kid Cowboy is cheering for you!

Now that eternity is done, another recovery begins. Not only do you ride along the mountainous country side, but you get to swim with some sharks! Sufferfest prepares you for another hard effort by telling you that you’ll start with a 9 out of 10 RPE again… oh and it's “uphill.”

beautiful views during the recoveries
You can’t get dropped on this…it’s between you and three others in front. Get dropped and you’ll disappoint Sufferlandria! Remember that the main focus on this Hammer is strength. Big gear low cadence. It’s going to burn, the heart rate is going to be high… but keep pushing.

As you crest the hill on Hammer 6, you join a pace line that forces a cadence of 100. For me, it helps flush the lactic acid from the legs to keep going and shows a real life scenario. You’ve got to push over the hill to stay with the pack or to lose that person who is illegally drafting you in a tri! You’ll experience mainly 9 RPE during this effort.

Hammer 7 – only 3 to go! You get a nice break to start, only 7.5 RPE. You’ll position yourself in a pace line and back to a 95 cadence to resemble the flats. This will be a good time to really assess yourself when you are tired and putting in a good Olympic to 70.3 effort. Can you comfortably maintain the effort when your legs are tired? What are you thinking about? Still clear thoughts? Maybe test drinking something at this effort to see if it can be done during a race. Hammer 7 stays at a 7-7.5 RPE with high cadence. 

You’ve experienced pain and misery before, but by Hammer 8 you are wondering “how am I going to get through this?” As you prepare, this is what you see…

This phase is like that frustrating moment when you can’t really hammer a nail in right and you just bang on it harder and harder. You wail on the nail and it doesn’t move so you try to reassess, then bang on it again. That’s what Hammer 8 is like. You start at 10/10 effort then move into a tempo range pace then back to 10/10. After what seems like forever, the video pushes you back to an 8 RPE then back to a 9/10 RPE with high (95) cadence. If you aren’t chewing on your stem, you’ll see a donut taunting you. You may be asking yourself “how much longer can I hold?” before that proud moment hits when you do hold on!

Ahh… a two minute break. Then back at 8/10 RPE. After a short stint of this effort you’ll see green arrows flickering telling you that a harder effort is about to come. Early on you’ll think “oh that’s a nice feature,” but by now you’ll view it as an annoyance that never lets up! When you think you can’t go any harder (9/10 RPE), Sufferfest holds true to its glory and pushes you to 10/10 RPE with 100 cadence. Even though you may be sucking air, the final 15 seconds is in first person view finishing a race – go for glory, honor and make Sufferlandria proud!

Can you finish strong on the 9th hammer??  Test yourself!!

“Are you okay?” may be a question you get from others in the household, and the dog may look at you with concern. The lights may dim around you, but they’ll come back on during the cool down.

You’ll finish with a 3 minute cool down… or the attempt to pedal. Some inspirational quotes and a fun clip from the Omega Pharma team.

I would not suggest this video if you do not have some base training under you. In general though, just be smart, and ride within yourself and your abilities. If you are a rider who has finished phase 1 of your training and are looking to enhance your indoor rides with intervals/repeats, 9 Hammers “no bullshit” video is for you! It's an incredible workout and a lot of fun. Enhance it with basic stretching and electrolytes and you have a complete work out to be proud of!

Take the plunge and chew on that stem. Personal records are achieved in the winter and The Sufferfest will help make that happen! All of their videos are great...
check them out, you will not be disappointed!

No comments:

Post a Comment