Any benefit to Traditional Base vs Sweet Spot?

I have done sweet spot base for the last couple of years and am now looking at building out my indoor calendar for the upcoming base season and am wondering if doing traditional base would be beneficial.
My avg TSS each week this summer has been between 500-700 - I have done a lot of the outdoor orioles - but no structured training plan per se. Curious to hear from the collective think tank on this one and if anyone has gone from SS base to trad with good results?
For point of reference - I am 49 and ride 5 times per week on avg and would be doing the medium volume plan of either one. Don’t race but do love to train and ride to the best of my abilities. TIA.


If you have time, and want to sustain the whole 6+ month TR program then traditional base is a good option. Plan about 12 weeks for base, and the intensity is more in-line with what a coach would assign. I’ve said in many other threads, I think TR’s SSB has too much high-intensity work in it, especially 6+ months away from A events. I would do traditional base from now and use the build/specialty to plans to ramp up prior to my target events.


IMO, Trad Base is more of a career-long pursuit vs SSB which is more of a season-centric application.

It takes a lot of hours per season and a lot of seasons per career of doing consistent TB work to really develop those physiological adaptations and to finally reap the benefits. SS is a quicker ramp up in fitness but it may have lesser durability due to its higher intensity.

Kind of the reason pros can get away with doing Polarized training vs Joes who require SS plans — because they’ve been doing TB for 10+ years. Eg. Valverde who, at near-40, just rides around for his “training”.

All this to say that doing a single cycle of TB won’t be as beneficial as a single SSB plan.


Hard to say, last year I slotted trad base 1 HV in between SSB1 and SSB2 as an experiment. And this year just finished trad base 1 MV after extended time off the bike. Both last year and this year I’ve exited the 4-week trad base1 block with better metrics (HR, decoupling, RPE). Its kinda boring so I ended recovery week with a 250 TSS group ride, probably not the smartest training move but hey sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do to mentally stay in the game (doing base1 HV next, then base2, base3).

If you’ve been doing 500-700 TSS a week, then mid volume base1 may either be a welcome break (if you haven’t taken one), or a step backwards because the volume is too low given the intensity. My average TSS the past 4 months is laughable low, and after the first 4 weeks in MV the volume doesn’t seem enough.

1 Like

Since you’ve written this several times now, just curious, which cycling pros train polarized? Or on which data is this statement based on?

My N=1 is that it’s not an either/or decision but more of a sliding scale depending how much time you have to train and how much SS you can handle. SS gives you more bang for your buck, so if you have less than ~6 hours/week to train then SS is the way to go. It also takes more out of you, so as you increase volume there comes a point at which you start to struggle with that much intensity. TB doesn’t build the base as quickly, but you can handle a lot more of it and there is less risk of burning yourself out physically or mentally. Longer Z2 rides can also help to be better fat adapted (you can do part or all of them fasted, whereas SS needs a lot of carbs to get through), and help build fatigue resistance. More relevant if you’re looking at doing longer events.

So if you have ~10 hours/week to train then theoretically the SSB HV plans could work, but in practice a lot of people struggle with that much SS work. IMHO it takes a few years of solid training as well as nailing nutrition and recovery to be able to deal with that training load. So a better approach for many (most?) people with 10 hours available would be the SSB MV plan, supplemented with a 4 hour Z2 ride (or adding in extra Z2 work throughout the week, e.g. extending warmdowns). The more time you have available, the more that tips you from SS to TB. The right balance is going to vary by person, depending on age, genetics, training history, nutrition, recovery, etc. Personally I wouldn’t switch completely over to a TB approach unless I had 15-20 hours/week available. I’m currently at ~12 hours on average, so I’m about 50:50 SS:TB.


I’ve always gone traditional base. And life always seems to get in the way, resulting in me not spending enough time on the bike for traditional base to have the required impact.
So, this year I am doing SS base for the first time

1 Like

Sorry can’t provide specific names & dates, but they’re probably out there.

And there’s some discussion of professional cyclists in this publication:



yes, there is something on professional cyclists in there

In professional cyclists (Lucia et al., 2000) and top-class runners (Billat et al., 2001) engaged in pre-competition training, similar proportions of HVLIT were reported (78%). The distribution of zones 2 and 3 were however, polarized (4 and 18%) in the runners and pyramidal (17 and 5%) in the cyclists.

during competition phase:

Lucia et al. (2000) reported that elite cyclists performed approximately 810 km·wk−1 (May) with a TID of 77/15/8%, while elite cross-country skiers and biathletes (Tonnessen et al., 2014) showed a higher proportion of HVLIT compared with THR and HIT (~87.5% zone 1–2 vs. ~12.5% zone 3–5) when compared with the cyclists

In elite cyclists a trend from a nearly complete HVLIT (preparation period) toward pyramidal TID (pre-competition, competition period) can be observed.

Comparable findings were reported in U23 elite cyclists with a 78/20/2% TID during the winter (“volume mesocycle”) and 70/22/8% during the spring (“intensity mesocycle”) (Zapico et al., 2007).

Not entirely sure where you see any evidence for pros/elites (cyclists) training polarized.

By the way, this is the one review paper Seiler was referring to in one of the VN podcasts. He was a reviewer for this paper and it has changed his view on pol as he saw that not all sports practise this approach.


and since the referenced literature is quite antique, here the power distributions of the last 12months for 3 pros. So far I have looked at the distributions of >25 riders. They all look like these three.

The large zero column is coasting, descending and coffee breaks. Especially TdG.


In an ideal world, Average Joe would do both: 14-15 hours a week, with two days of 40min+ in the 90-94% FTP range.

If it’s a matter of making the most of 10 hours a week, then remember Coggan’s comment that “sweet spot is a concept, not a zone.” Sweet spot = how to get the most TSS that you can adapt positively to in the available training time. What that means will be different for every rider, based on age, training history, and power profile.

I come back to the “translations” to heart rate that Arthur Lydiard’s former runners, or those trained by his former runners, have come up with: a lot of time between 70-80% HR Peak, with two days a week of 80-83% HR peak “3/4 effort” runs. That would probably work out to three days of riding between 75-85% FTP, a couple of 90% days, and a couple of recovery days after the “hard” days. One could do worse…


There’s always the self-proclaimed “King of Polarization” (and former U23 World Champ), Benoît Cosnefroy.

The 30,00ft view is that they aren’t engaged in a 5/90/5 Sweet Spot training regime at any point in the season, let alone all season long. :+1:

1 Like

Fellas- I appreciate your passion but please take the brawl elsewhere. I’d really like to keep this on topic please.

Back on topic… @MI-XC has an interesting perspective, and might stop by and share a few thoughts. Here are a couple of his previous posts:



'Tis no brawl. It really is about trying to suss out which type of training provides the most benefit – on a personal basis. The different methods have to be matched up with a few different and important factors such as available time, fitness level, and end goal.

To the question if anyone has gone from SS base to trad with good results? I’m guessing, in the short term, no; but in the long term, yes. Your fitness will invariably fall due to the lack of intensity, but over the course of a few seasons, your fitness gains could be substantial.

Would be interesting if you did a full TradBase --> SSB --> Build --> Spec cycle just to see what happens.


and for what its worth, Garmin VO2max estimate jumped to highest level since Nov 2018. And while my muscular endurance and ftp are down a bit at this point (not the focus of trad base1), subjectively that feels reasonable and believable. If vo2 keeps going up, I’m planning to go straight from traditional base into build. If estimated vo2 improvements taper off, then I’ll insert a 9-week vo2 intervention between traditional base and build. Hoping to go straight to build and work on vo2 repeatability.

p.s. when fed good max effort data, WKO generally agrees with Garmin vo2max estimates. So I tend to believe Garmin estimates. And I haven’t fed WKO yet, so it’s useless at the moment.


Hello, it is my first message in this forum that is helping me a lot to learn about training.

I write from Spain and use the google translator to communicate, so I apologize if something is not properly understood …

This post interests me a lot because this will be my second season training with tr and I am thinking about making some changes and I would like to know your opinion.

Last year my plan was ssmv 1, ssmv 2, sustained power buil mid and specialty century mid, although I didn’t follow it exactly, I practically did it at 85%. On Sundays I went outdoors and since April I already made long group trips. The results were good in my goals, but the same thing has always happened to me in the tests I do, races of 5-7 hours with several climbs, the final part of the races under a lot of performance and I need to improve the resistance to fatigue.

This year I have planned to do the following: traditional base 1, 2 and 3 mid, ss base mid 1 and 2, sustained power build mid (making at least one outdoor outing on Sundays in all phases) … .specialty would do it already alternating with some careers because I think it is the part that gets less improvements

Do you think it is a successful approach in my case? My main goals are to improve ftp and be able to maintain more watts at the end of the races. I am currently at 4w / kg although my powermeter assioma duo is not very optimistic and measures below other powermeter

Thank you all … I hope your help


I think where you will see the benefits will vary depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Last season I did SSBHV and had mediocre results when it came to FTP improvements but had a very strong aerobic base. I do not intend to repeat SSBHV this season - I am debating between SSBMV+ (basically turning it into a HV volume but with the MV intensity - likely by adding in additional endurance time) and TBHV (if I can figure out how to squeeze in the long rides during the week).

I am debating the above because the events I care about are 2-4 hour road races where having a strong base is necessary to compete at the end of the event, but the lack of high end improvement that I got after building on top of SSBHV last season limited my finish peaks

For someone on the mid volume plans I think SSB is likely your best bet over TB. At the hours/week you can train you would need to commit to stringing together TB for quite a long period of time before you developed sufficient base (either over multiple seasons or running the complete TBMV course multiple times in a row)

That said - you’ve done SSBMV and know what that gets you - if you’re really curious you can go out there and try TB for a season and see how your body responds. As people say - we aren’t professionals and you can certainly afford to experiment

1 Like

That is a great approach and you should see some great gains with that strategy.

1 Like

As @bbarrera mentioned above, last year I did all mid volume plans following: TB 1, 2, & 3, GB, SSB 1 & 2, GB, XCM Specialty. It took my FTP from 260 to 298. That trained me for a full XCO race series (won my local XC series :grinning: and moved up to Cat 1/Expert), as well as prepared me for the Marji Gesick :100: (17.5 hours of grueling singletrack).

This year I’m staying with mid volume but doing SSB 1 & 2, repeating SSB 1 & 2, Short Power Build, then XCO Specialty. I’ll look to add a bit of extra z2 to these plans making them mid volume +, as high volume is too much. While I had great success with Traditional Base last year, I’m not sure if I can mentally do the long hours on the trainer again in TB. Also, for the type of races I focus on (XC sub 2 hours), I’m guessing I’ll get more bang for my buck with SSB. I would never recommend TB instead of SSB, but TB in addition to SSB seems like a good way to go depending on your experience and goals. I will say that going from TB to GB is brutal and does NOT prepare you for over threshold efforts.