2 hour sweetspot workout + 1 hour Z2 as alternative for long Z2 rides

Hi everybody,

Since I’m on duty for work during the weekends I only can leave my house up to a limited perimeter. Hence long outdoor Z2 rides aren’t an option for me right now.

With this limitation in mind is the substitution of long Z2 rides (4+ hours) by a 2 hour sweetspot (e.g. wright peak) supplemented with one hour of Z2 indoor workout a viable alternative?
I know nothing beats the adaptations of long Z2 rides but is the given alternative in the grand scheme of things a wise thing to pursue?

I looked for studies which researched this kind of hypothesis but I came up empty. Maybe because I’m not exactly a scholar in this field.

PS: 3 to 3.5 hour indoor workouts is the maximum I can endure before I’m really worn out.

Kind regards

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Mid-length Sweet Spot swaps instead of long Z2 endurance rides are the default in the Mid and High volume plans. It is not going to nail all the same payback as the longer ride, but the SS is great bang for buck and way better than nothing at all.


No it does not work like that. I think there have been other threads on it. But if that is all you can do it is a decent substitute.

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Think that is similar to my thoughts / position

If it was me I’d do a 3 to 3.5 HR Z2 on the turbo mixing it up a little with some periods of tempo thrown in.


Can you give a reasoning behind this choice? I would expect that 3 hours of Z2 isn’t enough the obtain the sought after adaptations of a long ride and the sweetspot + Z2 option would yield more TSS in the same time.

By the way my time on the bike is too limited to risk overtraining if that is something you have taken into account.

Firstly I’m no coach but as I understand it the long Z2 ride is seeking to facilitate mainly fat oxidation and maybe increasing mitochondrial density. Sweet spot is primarily concerned with muscular endurance and tends to use a lot of carbs and doesn’t help much with fat burning. Also I suspect that a 3 hour turbo ride with no breaks is very similar to a 4 hr outside ride which will inevitably have a measure of coasting and easy pedalling in it.


SS in general is commonly used as an alternative to long Z2 rides. This is the entire reason that Sweet Spot Base exists. No, it’s not the exact same physiological adaptation, but it’s still highly aerobic, and there’s a lot of overlap in the adaptations you get between that and Z2.

One of the downsides to SS, is that it’s more fatiguing, and at some point, it stops being effective to continue adding in more SS work. Z2 in comparison, you can do much much more of. If you’re looking to add more volume to SS rides, Z2 is a fantastic option. It lets you keep the overall structure of your plan as is, and you can supplement in a relatively safe manner.

One of the normal requirements for Z2 is that it has to be long to be adequately fatiguing. If you do this riding at the end of a 2 hour SS ride, you’ll start your Z2 with a good chunk of fatigue in your system. Glycogen should be low, and fibers should be generally fatigued. You should get more out of the 1 hour at the end of a workout like this, than you would 1 hour alone like Pettit.


Can you do 2 workouts and split them up?

Do 90min tempo in the morning, and 90min Z2 later on. When you start the Z2 the slight fatigue in the muscles will be a bit like you’re starting at the half-way point of a long Z2 ride.

It’ll be easier to mentally manage, too.

I personally wouldn’t do anything over 85% FTP as a substitute for long slow distance. Wright Peak (3x30 @ 90%) is one hell of a serious workout and will likely take a lot more out of you than a 4-hour Z2 ride. I’d look more at a 3x20 tempo session or something similar (plus the 90mins Z2 later on).


On the coattails of @roflsocks and @martinheadon, who ponder combining SS followed by Z2 as a solution, I’m curious about reversing the intensity with a negative split ride-- specifically starting a longish (e.g. 2 hr) but not long (e.g. 4 hr) ride in Z2 (too easy) and then coming back in Tempo or even SS. The aim of both seems to be getting enough fatigue going to make a difference but not taking all day at it or having to take the next day off to recover. What difference would the order make? I have no idea. Just asking, because it sounds more fun to end a longish ride with a bit of bang than a whimper.

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You mean a race simulation? Noodling at z1 and z2 for 200km or so, then some threshold work and finish with a sprint? Will probably work just fine.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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The reason I would choose a workout like Wright Peak is to create enough stress so the last hour of Z2 is ridden in a fatigued state (hopefully emulating approximately the state after a few hours of Z2). Not sure that makes any sense. Again I know it isn’t exactly the same as the real deal.

I think that’s exactly the right idea, but I’d say 90 total minutes at 90-92% is waaaay more fatigue than 2-3 hours at Z2. When you finish the last interval, I’ll be surprised if you’re thinking “great, time for 60-90 mins Z2”. You’ll most likely be thinking “thank god that’s over, can I go to bed now?”.

That’s why I’d suggest reducing the harder half of the workout to tempo rather than sweetspot. Or at least do a maximum of 60 minutes’ total work at sweetspot.

Edit: Round Bald then Townsend would be my suggested combo.


Actually the harder part of the workout makes the Z2 part less boring in my opnion. As I can spend the time to somewhat recover from the hard effort in the first part.

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You’ll for sure get a solid adaptation from 2hr sweet spot workouts. Wright Peak, great. Polar Bear +1, my fav. Also, Tallac+4. Not many riders will knock out something like Polar Bear +1. Great workouts. Follow that up with 1hr Z2…not bad.

Not the same as a good Z2 long ride but not too far off. If that’s all you can do then that’s a pretty darned good approach. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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Ha! I’m so freaking old I always forget the racing part, which I never did anyway, except trying to stay just ahead of Grim Reaper for a bit more. Thanks for associating my query with the rhythm of a Grand Tour flat stage, even in jest! I feel 50 years younger already.

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What will you be doing during the preceding week and are you following a plan or just picking workouts for yourself? That could possibly have a bearing on what advice is given.

If you are saying that you’ve got 3 hours max then a 3 hour indoor zone 2 ride would be the perfect replacement for a 4+ hour outside ride. No need to do sweet spot on top of it. If you find it’s too easy, try doing it fasted where you don’t eat for 90ish mins. If it’s still to easy, add in 3-4 short tempo intervals, say 8 mins or so, but do them with low cadence.


I follow the mid volume plans (in the middle of rest week SSB2 as we speak). Next week I will start with general build. Due to the whole situation with Covid 19 I have a litle bit more time to train and sleep so I started to add extra Z2 to the workouts to create some extra trainingstress.

Polar bear +1 looks like a very tough workout.
Maybe I will give this one a try in the coming weeks instead of a scheduled 2hour sweetspot workout.