Sweet Spot Interval Length


#1

Hi Guys , new to trainer road , just wondering about interval length at sweet spot and FTP. Previously used to do longer interval lengths of SST & FTP lasting 40 - 50 mins without break or rest , but now when I started trainer road it seems that the longest interval at SST or FTP is 20 / 30 mins then rest 5 mins or 10 mins and then repeat.
Example was Lamarck which I did yesterday and found it not that hard and the rest interval intensity was very low …
Is there any logic for this as it would make more sense to keep the interval going longer ? why put rest periods in between or break down the interval ?
any thoughts and advice on this will be helpful


#2

Lamarck is NOT Sweet Spot. It is clearly Threshold and WILL hurt if you have a properly set FTP.

If you found that easy, I am betting your FTP is too low.


#3

hi and welcome! :slight_smile:

if you didn’t find Lamarck that hard … you are either a beast or your FTP is set too low.

having said that, long sweet spot intervals may have their place in race specificity. but as test your FTP every few weeks it is difficult to increase both intensity (via FTP) and time …


#4

The logic is that Sweet Spot and Threshold work take real effort. The breaks are there to make sure you can maintain the effort and duration of the main interval sets without losing too much form or ability to fully complete them.

As we mentioned already, I suspect you FTP is too low if you can easily complete 45 minutes with no breaks at the SS and Thresh levels.


#5

Are you currently following a plan (seems that way from what you describe here). The thing with SSB plans are that it really starts people off who may have been on a break for awhile and are restarting a new training cycle. Just jumping into long SS intervals is tough, and the plans are laid out in a way to increase the interval length as well as overall time in zone. Since high volume plans are generally limited to 2hr workouts, the max amount of SS we’ll get is about 90mins by the time you get to the end of SSB2. I suppose if you wanted to build beyond the base plans, you could try and string together more continuous segments in sweet spot, but I think it becomes more of a psychological thing of being able to sustain without break versus a physical thing. I think once you get through base, you can do a lot of continuous sweet spot, it’s just a matter of mentally preparing to do so without breaks


#6

This! Lamarck is a horrible workout that (in my experience at least) will put you in a lot of discomfort. Just look at the Intensity Factor (IF), anything around 0.9IF will/should hurt.

Your FTP almost certainly sounds like it’s vastly underestimated if you found Lamarck easy. If nothing else I would suggest you do a Ramp Test before doing any other workouts. Without an FTP setting that is at least ballpark accurate you won’t be getting the desired effects from the workouts done in TR.


#7

Dear All, many thanks for your feedback.

I forgot to mention that I did the ramp test a day before using the trainer road workout. I was then given a FTP by trainer road to use which I then accepted. then went through the forums and it was commented that to double check your accuracy of your ramp test ftp you should try Lamarck …hence I did Lamarck but found it easier.
from all your replies then I guess in need to test again after a rest day or so

thanks all


#8

If you find that your next Ramp Test does not lead to a higher FTP as many have inferred from your comments that it would, you may want to consider doing the 20min FTP test. For some the Ramp Test works well. For others, particularly TTers and those who have trained to hold high power for long periods of time as you clearly have, the 20min test may be better and yield higher FTP results.


#9

How did you feel when you completed your Ramp test?

Did you give it everything you had and completely empty the muscular and/or aerobic engine?

For the Ramp test to be really useful, you need to go until complete exhaustion and failure. Anything less will yield an FTP value that is below your potential.


#10

Hi All,

thanks and first I am overwhelmed with the support of this group , KUDOS to you all and thank you.

Definitely will do the 20 mins test and when I did the ramp test I gave it everything a kept on going till I could not even move the pedals any more . …


#11

Just a thought. But this isn’t an issue where you do the ramp test and your new ftp isn’t immediately updated ? You then do Lamarck at the initial ftp ?


#12

Not true at all. I did Lamarck and it was fine.
Intervals were completed as: 98.5%/100%/101%/101%.
(Note that I was exactly mid-way between ramp tests, and the latter ramp bumped me by only 5%.)

I find it a bit odd that so many TR users find so many workouts so painful. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

The TR logic re: Sweet Spot is:

Sweet Spot work is specifically aimed at improving your ability to resist fatigue at reasonably high power outputs over substantial lengths of time

The TR SSB plans do not evolve a great deal in either power or duration. The first workout in SSBHV1 is 3x12 w/ 3min recoveries (36min on, 6min off; 6on/1off). The last workout in SSBHV2 is 8x9min w/ 2min+7min recoveries (72min on, 29min off; 2.5on/1off).

Yes, the total duration may have doubled, but the interval lengths are shorter and the rest time almost quintuples! The TR plans are not progressing toward “substantial lengths of time”.

You need both.
There is a 'UGE difference between doing 8x9min intervals w/ 30minutes(!!!) of rest vs a 1x72min interval with 0min of rest. Doing the short intervals does not overly improve “your ability to resist fatigue”, esp. when your muscles are getting so much rest. Every interval shouldn’t be done daisy fresh.

It’s the same thing the guys talked about on the podcast re: Z2 work – it takes a long time to exhaust those resources so those unique adaptations can take place. You’re never going to reach even close to an exhaustive state, esp. in sweet spot, by doing shrimpy interval lengths and NEVER extending duration.

I couldn’t imagine being a multi-year TR user and choosing to do the same 10-20min SS intervals year after year. :exploding_head:

You can hear me now and believe me later, or take it straight from the Taskmaster himself:

:v:


#13

You know I’m with you on this, but I think it’s a matter of context.

If you were a normal TR user who has been doing 300-400TSS weeks of SS, VO2, Z2 and Anaerobic work chances are muscular endurance is going to be your limiter when attempting SS intervals of Doughnutman Approved duration.

You can’t compare to the type of training you’ve been doing, and mine has been quite similar, I think you’d agree. I’m honestly floored by the change in TTE I’ve seen in similar zones, but it takes a lot of volume to get those adaptations.


#14

There was no comparison. I used SSBHV as a stand-alone example, mainly because it’s 100% SS work.

You can’t escape the SS power zone, it’s not like say VO2max where you’ve got a 20% span to play with — it’s 6% wide (TR definition). Even with a ramp test between the I & II plans, your FTP would have to increase by more than 6% to really kick you out of that zone, and from what I’ve read on TR, that’s very uncommon. And even then, it’s still SS…so your new SS is still going to feel like SS and not your ‘old Threshold’.

Thus, the focus has to be on extending duration.

The entire SSBHV spans 3 months, and as stated above, there is very minor progression; some would say none at all.

Perhaps the average TR user can’t double their SS duration in 3 months and would rather be happy with a bump in FTP. Perhaps this is because TR actually dissuades their customers from doing their SS-only plans…I don’t really know.

But to downplay a user’s abilities and apparent ease of a workout by suggesting there is something wrong instead of perhaps, just perhaps, they might be non-average and doing something Wright… that’s my Sour Spot.


#15

Ad nauseam

An article about power zones from Hunter Allen:
https://www.powertap.com/post/blog-training-with-power-principles-no-go-zones

One important point that you should also notice is that there are associated time periods for each of the different levels…

With TR Sweet Spot being commonly defined as 88-94% FTP – and the Sweetest Sweet Spot 91% FTP – you should be able to do SS interval durations from 10-60min. Or, according to Dr. Coggan’s Time in Zone example, from 30-180min.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of designing plans for “time crunched” cyclists, but then again, you could easily squeeze in 2x40min SS intervals into a 120min workout instead of a bunch of 10-15min efforts…just like you did 8 weeks ago…

Or, learn to use the Workout Search function to build your own duration progression:
e.g. Pioneer +1 – 45-minute @85-90% FTP

Goals

Riding at the lower end of the Sweet Spot range pushes you to the height of aerobic endurance.

Still rather uncomfortable, working here is still low enough on the stress to allow you to spend pretty long durations at a productive work level that’s not too demanding in terms of recovery.

Yet from Juneau -1 (8x9min; 72min on/29min off):

Goals

Via long Sweet Spot intervals and minimal rest periods, you’ll build the muscle endurance necessary to put down steady power at high percentages of your FTP for long durations.

This is an uncomfortable but productive power range that doesn’t require the same level of recovery as Threshold workouts yet yields many of the same benefits. And long repetitions like these build the capability you to work reasonably hard for extended durations and do it frequently.

How can 9 minute intervals be considered “long repetitions” and “long/extended durations” and 28% of the ride spent resting as “minimal” when the same description is used for an interval FIVE times as long with ZERO time resting?! :man_shrugging: :woman_shrugging::face_with_monocle:

All I know, as with everything on this planet, there are some good things about TR and there are some non-good things. Hope you find the good things which work for you. :v:


#16

Quite fitting. You keep posting and relating everything to you and your experiences and either dismissing or disagreeing but you’re a 1%er. You are not a typical user. It may not be your intention but that is how it is coming across.

I believe TR is mainly focused on the “time crunched cyclist” I thought that was their main demographic.

For the majority of users Lamarck is hard and is touted as a good indicator of FTP for the majority of users.

Just chill a bit. We all know you train 600 hours a week and everything is super easy even at 750W FTP, but we aren’t all in that boat. :wink:


#17

I’m with @Captain_Doughnutman on this one (for a change :wink:).

I found the answer to the question in Episode 194 about why sweet spot is so hard quite perplexing, in all honesty.

FTP is meant to be a good approximation of Maximum Lactate Steady State - which you should be able to maintain for 30 to 70 minutes depending on how well trained you are. Anything less than that and it really isn’t your FTP, it’s just how long you can hold a certain power for, above MLSS.

In the example on the podcast the question was asked about not being able to complete even a single interval at Sweet Spot. The simplest answer was missing: FTP is set much too high if you can’t complete a single 10 minute effort at, lets say, 90 or 95%.

Looking at the two more ‘traditional’ FTP tests, the 1 x 20 minute and the 2 x 8 minute protocols, it’s easy to see that failing a 10 minute interval shouldn’t happen if FTP is set correctly.

Take the 20 minute test: The power that you have to hold for 20 minutes is FTP/0.95 or 105% FTP. If someone can’t hold 90%, or even 95% of FTP for 10 minutes then there is no chance they could even come close to holding 105% for 20 minutes, especially after an all-out five minute effort.

Similarly, with the 8 minute test, you have to be able to hold FTP/0.9 or 111% of FTP for 8 minutes and then do it again after a complete rest. Again, not being able to hold 95% of FTP for 10 minutes when you should be able to do the test protocol should tell you something about where your FTP really lies.

All this talk of, ‘oh, my FTP is this but because sustaining power is not a strength, I couldn’t possibly hold it for more than 10 minutes’, is a load of ****. FTP is a measure of how good you are at holding power for a long time.

Don’t start me on the Ramp Test…

Ultimately FTP is a vanity metric which, unfortunately, is also the cornerstone of the current zone system as used by TrainerRoad. There is nothing wrong with that as such, although there are better methods out there, but given the lack to true maximal data that exists for a huge number of user’s profiles, wouldn’t be that useful. The problems come when people cling onto the highest number they can even if it means they can’t hold Sweet Spot power for 10 minutes…

That’s not to say that Sweet Spot shouldn’t feel challenging and that shorter intervals shouldn’t be used to bridge to longer intervals as part of a progression, but if you are truly riding at Sweet Spot, there should be no problem holding much longer intervals with a degree of discomfort.

I actually think that proponents of Sweet Spot have got themselves in a bit of a tangle with this and may actually be prescribing threshold or very long supra-threshold efforts rather than Sweet Spot for some riders, because of the testing methods Everyone should listen to the Fascat coaching podcast about the origins of the training method - very long single efforts done outside at below FTP to exhaustion and beyond. Things have moved on a little but the principle is the same - ride below MLSS for a long time.

Anyway, I’m away to take cover…

Mike


#18

You might be if TR gave you actual progressively longer SS duration intervals to do. :v:

The original FasCat SS ride was:

Start off the ride just below your threshold wattage around 90 – 95% of your threshold power. Get after it and as you fatigue let your wattage fall between tempo wattages. Then after further fatigue sets in, high zone 2 finishes off the workout.

But Frank also says:

I prescribe this “free form” workout for ultra motivated athletes…this 30 minute to 4 hour workout is not popular (because of the degree of difficulty).

:+1:


#19

Really? Are they going to explain to my work and family why I’m neglecting them to ride the bike instead? :thinking:

Its got nothing to do with TR techniques but being a time crunched cyclist, which is why I use TR to best effect. :wink:


#20

Exactly. And as stated, my critique goes only as far as the (non-recommended) SSBHV and not “time crunched” plans.

The structure of the plans are great – Base, Build, Spec – but perhaps even better that the service can be personalized (e.g. movable workouts, Workout Creator, intensity +/-, etc.).