Science behind Sweet Spot Methodology


#41

@DaveWhelan FWIW similar to Nate, I like longer sweet spot and threshold intervals. I have a loop out to the river and back, its pretty much pancake flat as our house is 60’ above sea level and the river flows into the SF Bay.

This is my natural conclusion of doing longer and longer intervals:

The outbound leg has 50 minutes of uninterrupted riding on country roads (after 15 minutes to get outside town). The return leg has traffic and stop lights, which makes it harder to keep a sustained effort going unless the traffic lights are smiling on me that day :wink:

My first season I successfully trained for the DeathRide (120miles / 15,000’ climbing) by doing that loop twice a week, at increasing intensity. EDIT: p.s. people actually bet against me finishing, because I “didn’t do enough training in the hills”


#42

They really do get at each other, don’t they. It also seems like they’ve covered a lot of ground that we (not you and me specifically @trianta, but the forum as a whole) are going over again. I’ll keep reading. Assuming the conclusion is that they have agreed to disagree?


#43

In 2017, I also did a lot of outdoor sweet spot and threshold rides (training for Leadville). I live in the mountains, so many of them included a lot of climbing - eg like the following laps on a fire road climb.

Like I mentioned, they worked well at improving my fitness for “shorter” races. But on all the longer (over 5 hours) races I did, I noticed a distinct drop off in power past the 5 hr mark - presumably once I started running low on glycogen.

I recognize there’s a pacing question here also, but my goal with the endurance rides is to boost fat metabolism. And if I can get higher fat metabolism, and retain my glycogen fueled fitness, I’ll get the best of both worlds - that’s the goal anyway😁


#44

how much time for each of those climb repeats? I’m assuming you have worked on giving your body enough easily digestible carbs during the long 5+ hour rides. I started with Hammer Perpeteum, and have switched to Gu Roctane in my bottles and then some protein from real food.


#45

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.


#46

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!


#47

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.


#48

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.


#49

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


#50

https://forum.trainerroad.com/t/cyclist-performance-modeling/4243/13?u=erickvh

Earlier discussion I was having.


#51

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

http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/10.1139/H08-097

and another: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17170203/


#52

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.


#53

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.


#54

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.


#55

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.


#56

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.


#57

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.


#58

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?


#59

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.


#60

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.