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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Spinervals Competition 3.0: Suffer-O-Rama
Spinervals Competition 3.0: Suffer-O-Rama
Other // Unrated // November 1, 2003
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Spinervals]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted December 10, 2003 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The program

The Spinervals series of indoor cycling workouts offers a variety of different types of workouts, each one self-contained and providing a slightly different workout, and each led by experienced triathlete coach Troy Jacobson. Spinervals Competition 3.0: Suffer-O-Rama is a high-intensity intervals workout designed to increase strength, explosive speed, and anaerobic fitness. Take it from me: the title is no exaggeration... but if you want to get stronger and faster on your bike, you know that this is a "good" kind of suffering!

The workout runs approximately 53 minutes, or a bit longer if you start warming up while the opening sequence plays. The program is as follows:

Warm up
3x30 seconds effort
1 minute spin
5x1 killer minutes
2 minute spin
5 minute tempo effort (10 seconds seated/10 seconds standing)
2 minute spin
5x45 seconds effort
2 minute spin
4 minute tempo effort (15 seconds seated/15 seconds seated)
2 minute spin
5x30 seconds sprint
1 minute spin
3x20 seconds sprint
Cool down

As you look at the workout program, you'll notice that Coach Troy allots two minutes of soft-pedaling recovery between each set, instead of the more usual 1-minute rest... but don't be fooled into thinking that this is a sign of an easier program! To "earn" those longer breaks, Coach Troy expects you to push it to 100% effort in the interval sets.

I found Suffer-O-Rama to be an excellent workout: it was challenging and really got me motivated to push it in the intervals sets. Coach Troy really does a nice job of pacing the workout, providing structure so that I always knew how much longer I had in each effort and how many repetitions were left in each set, and providing lots of encouragement without overdoing it. The overall program is sufficiently varied that the 53 minutes passes by relatively quickly: we get short, intense sets alternating with longer tempo sets, seated effort alternating with standing effort, and some sprints at the end for good measure.

Suffer-O-Rama is similar to the first program in the Competition series, No Slackers Allowed, as both offer a mix of steady tempo effort and intense interval sets for pure speed. However, I'd consider Suffer-O-Rama to be the better workout. The sets felt more naturally put together, and Coach Troy's explanations of all the exercises are crystal-clear. Suffer-O-Rama does have a higher intensity rating (9.3 rather than 9.0 on a 10-point scale) but it's easy to adjust your own choices of gears, and how hard you push it, to make the program right for your level of fitness.

All in all, Suffer-O-Rama is a very nicely done program. As with the other Spinervals programs, useful graphics appear on-screen throughout the program: a countdown of time left in the workout, a "perceived effort" bar that's quite useful in gauging how hard you should be pushing it, and an indicator of what gear you should be in for each set. The music in the soundtrack is very well done: it's not mere background music, but instead provides the right tempo and overall tone for each set, from the low-key rest periods to the high-intensity sprints.

The other participants in the session are regular people, not professional athletes or models; they're all evidently quite fit, but they also suffer and sweat right along with you. What's more important, both the Spinervals riders and Coach Troy are evidently enjoying themselves: there's a cheerful air about the whole program.

The DVD

Video

The image is clean and bright, and looks perfectly satisfactory for an exercise program; if you're paying attention to the fact that the image is a bit soft, then let's face it, you're not working hard enough... push it harder! The program appears in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It's pleasant to look at, and the lettering for the graphical aids is nicely clear and readable.

Audio

The sound quality is more important than the image quality, because you need to hear Coach Troy telling you what to do even if your eyes are glazed over or blinded by sweat (don't forget your towel!). Fortunately, the soundtrack here is solid and gets the job done quite well. Coach Troy's voice is always clear and understandable, and the music is correctly balanced with his instructions throughout the program.

Extras

There aren't any special features, but the menu design is well done. Each exercise set is its own chapter, so it's easy to skip around or repeat parts of the program as desired. The menu screen, with its chapter headings, is effectively an outline of the whole program; once you get started, a more detailed outline is also shown for a moment, which is quite useful.

Final thoughts

Spinervals Competition 3.0: Suffer-O-Rama offers an intense, well-structured indoor intervals program for cyclists and triathletes, whether they're competitive riders or serious recreational riders. I found it to be a very satisfying and challenging intervals workout that complements the focus on steady tempo work in Time Trial Special and the low-intensity aerobic workouts in the Fitness 1.0 and 2.0 programs. It's very similar to the workout in No Slackers Allowed; if you are planning on doing a lot of indoor training and are going to get the whole Spinervals series, then there's certainly room for both No Slackers Allowed and Suffer-O-Rama in your collection, as the No Slackers Allowed program does have some nice sets that aren't included here. But if you have room for only one intervals program, then it should be Suffer-O-Rama. Highly recommended.

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