Science behind Sweet Spot Methodology


About 30 mins climb each lap. Hammer perpetuem for fuel, but have since switched to honey stinger products, cliff bars, and pb+j sandwiches for longer rides.


Yeah, I’d do the same as you are planning. Some POL or traditional base will help with a stronger aerobic base. And at my age after some base work I have to restart working on muscular endurance - “use it or lose it” - so consistency has become king in my 50s. Same consistency needed now in the gym. Starting to feel like I need to retire just to stay fit!


Your capacity at much shorter and much longer efforts is strongly predicted by your FTP.

You can move up and down those error bars, but especially at the supra-hour mark it’s mostly just down to what’s your FTP.


I’m 45, and I think I’m “lucky” in that my fitness does not drop off too quickly, but on the flip side, neither does it ramp up quickly.

This was one of my observations with all the training I did in 2017 - I did a lot of SS, threshold and VO2 max training, and while I got stronger, my gains were modest at best. And after not riding for the first 4-5 months of this year due to ankle surgery, when I did get back on the bike, I was only marginally weaker than last year.


@ErickVH Your graph is pretty. Where’s it from?


Earlier discussion I was having.


I googled “cycling interval training increased fat oxidation” and got some interesting hits:

and another:


I don’t know that anyone seriously argues that HIIT isn’t effective. Just that polarized may be more effective on a time spent basis.


For me it’s not really about which method will best increase FTP. Sure I want a higher FTP - everyone does. But I think for some people, there are better reasons to explore a more polarized method.
Firstly, it’s probably less taxing and stressful on the body and mind than lots and lots of Sweet-Spot and THR training. SS generally requires full devotion and leaves not much room for other training like strength and running, IMO.

Second, not everyone is racing and really needs the ability to perform at high % of FTP. I bet many riders have never even seen their calculated FTP power for longer durations over 20-30 minutes. Many riders are training for long endurance events, or just want to be fitter on epic rides, where higher power at LT1 is more important.

Thirdly, many might have hit a plateau with SS and hope that POL will build a bigger aerobic base to push that FTP from the bottom up.

For my personal example, my recent ramp test put me at 260 watts. I HIGHLY doubt I can do that for 1 hour. I’ve been cycling “seriously” for about 3 years and this year has been my best numbers so far. My season best 60 min power was @220 watts, on a 60 min climb pretty much going as hard as I could. My season best 20 min power was 264 watts. But my 5 min power @330 is quite a bit higher on the curve respectively, so I assume I have a fairly well trained anaerobic system and this probably contributes to higher ramp test results.

Why am I mentioning this? I think this is a direct result of lots of sweet spot and threshold training, as well as the typical Strava segment-chasing and group ride smash-fests that cause me to spend lot’s of time in that “tempo - sweet spot - THR” range - or in Dr. Seilers POL model “moderate intensity”. But I feel that I’m not really building a strong aerobic base. I think sweet spot only takes you so far. I’ve seen this in my own riding, especially on rides over 3 hours. Just for some fun, go and look at your 2-2.5 hour power on solo rides or where drafting doesn’t have much effect. If you compare that power number to any zone chart where does that number fall? If it’s on the lower end of endurance or moderate intensity, around 50-60% of FTP, you might have room for improvement in your LT1. If your numbers are up in the 70-80% of FTP then you’re doing pretty good.
At least this is the way I’ve been looking at things lately.


If you went as hard as you could for 60 min, 220 is your FTP. That is a better ftp test than a ramp/8/20 test.


Well, yes some might say that’s my FTP. And I almost agree. It’s my best 60 minute power.
However, that ride wasn’t a targeted “FTP-test” per se. It was just a spontaneous solo effort where I wanted to see what I could do at the end of my season, and I stopped for a quick photo about 10 mins from the summit and was I really going “as hard as I could”?
The reason I was bringing it up was that many of us have these FTP numbers based on certain calculations and tests but the real world efforts tell a different story. I know I should either take an actual 60 min test or use 220… But I feel that I could manage the Vo2 efforts with my FTP set at my last FTP test of 250 and even sweet spot intervals can be done at this level. But my LONGER efforts don’t reflect that FTP setting.
So I’m actually using HR right now to be under LT1 and I’m in the process of finding the right watt range to keep myself in that zone. Based on some recent sessions, my LT1 seems to be around 169-182 watts which is 65-70% of Ramp Tested FTP of 260. If I use 220 then my LT1 would be at a whopping 77-83% of FTP. And then my Vo2 intervals would not be challenging at all, 120% FTP would be 264 watts… which I can do for at least 20 mins. I have no problem lowering my FTP setting as I fine tune my workouts. If I see that the high intensity stuff like 6x8min @108% is too hard then yes, I’ll adjust down. My best 8 min power was 308 but I want to see if I can do repeatable 8 min efforts at 108% or 281 watts.


I posted my “natural conclusion” hour-of-power above, and thought it might help to explain that it took me two seasons and a lot of grit and determination to finally nail the pacing and mental game. At the end I was happy to see that my 8, 20, and 60 minute tests all aligned nicely. But not so sure I could go out today and successfully do a true 60 minute all out effort without either blowing up or under pacing.


I’d argue that you need to work on muscular endurance then and do lots of sweet spot and threshold in order to maintain that ramp test result FTP for up to 60 minutes.


Regarding not being able to hold FTP for an hour, I just listened to an interesting talk discussing the 20min-itis in training, how SST progressions tend to be ‘add more 20 min intervals’ without ever collapsing those intervals into singular blocks. Is there an argument for why, especially once you are at 3x20 and 4x20 those never get collapsed into 2x30 and 2x40?


I’m in week 2 of SSB1-HV and have already done 3x30 twice! Going forward I plan to substitute weekend workout with my 1 hour hour-of-power route, slowly working way back up to longer intervals. Somewhat curious about what TR thinks, although unlikely to change my plans and its definitely “ultimately I am my own coach” stuff and its worked for me in the past.


I was going off of what you said earlier that you did your best for 60 min. Sounds like there was room for more effort.

I have the opposite problem in that the ramp test Gabe me a 245 FTP and based on feel of SS and threshold intervals on the trainer that’s about right. However couple weeks ago I was supposed to do Galena but the weather was really nice. So I went outside and did 3x23 min (I loop of my 7 mile trail) at what I thought was SS. I did the first interval at 250 (in aero mind you), 2nd one 255W, and 3rd at 260W. I am pretty sure I could have held at least 260 for a whole hour.


In an effort to tease out what makes “88%-92%” so special, I have a question if anyone is willing to indulge.

For those folks who have a fair bit of experience with sweet spot interval training (be it TR SSB, etc or not), do you find that you regularly/semi-regularly need to either drop the intensity or proactively modify down to an endurance IF?

Does anyone use something like 84%-whatever as their range? (single percentages within the range I believe is splitting hairs…however, it doesn’t seem that working this much lower day over day is “trivial” or “splitting hairs”)



What makes it special is that I can do sweet spot work day after day, building muscular endurance, without much need for recovery. It takes 5 days in a row without a recovery day before my legs to start feeling the need for a recovery day.

Good training effect without need for frequent recovery is what makes it “sweet spot.”


p.s. prior to TR my outside SS work had too high low intervals - I refused to drop down to 100 watts after a 220 watt interval. And so the outside SS work was too hard. Upon joining TR last year, erg mode forced the rest intervals to be easy. That made all the difference for me.


It depends on the duration. I did have a bit of trouble with eclipse but i was coming bsck from a cold and a week vacation. I did get two rides in during that vacation but they were both .6 type group rides of one and two hours.

I feel like i could do 5 hours of rides which focused on 85-90% intervals. I don’t really get sore, just fatigued. Sore is when it hurts to walk downstairs and on flat ground. Fatigue it is only hard going up stairs. Throw in a day of
.65ish work and I’m ready to go again.

That’s why the tr plans work for me, i am recovering between efforts. There are so many ways to skin a cat there really is no right and wrong ways but one’s that are better suited to your available time and lifestyle.