Any benefit to Traditional Base vs Sweet Spot?

Hi everyone,

Firstly, sorry for my English, not a native speaker. I will try to describe my road so far.

I’m 44 y.o male and using TR almost for three consecutive years and have increased my FTP from 190 W up to 305 W. I’m an amateur MTB racer. In my country, Estonia, the MTB season starts in May and lasts until October. The races are almost every weekend, single-loop with a changing landscape, between 40-70 km in length, 1,45-3,5 hours to complete depending on the race.

For the last two years, I tried SSBMV, which suited me relatively well. I’ve started with the preparations for the next season almost immediately after the season ends, which means that I was able to complete Base, Build, and Speciality. The only point to consider for the next season was that at the end of the SSBMV I was slightly tired.

Based on my racing results (8th overall in my category) and personal feedback from the competition I understood, that my weakness is (I hope “was” )sustained power over the course duration. Because I have no previous cycling background, my aerobic base has a lot of room to improve. My Vo2 and anaerobic capacity are good, but unfortunately, it is not enough for cross-country marathons if you don’t have a solid aerobic foundation.

So this year I’ve decided to take a different approach and focus on aerobic. All workouts are completed indoors (Tacs Neo 2T) since I have a good training room and a good fan.

At the moment, I have completed TBHV I, II, III exactly as described on the plan and started with SPB HV (although in this phase, I need slightly modify workouts to fit my further goals). So now my thoughts and feedback only about TBHV I, II, III phases.

  1. Phases I and II were physically easy, but sometimes mentally challenging because of the length of the weekend-planned workouts. It is not fun to ride a trainer for 3hr. My best friend the Netflix helped a lot.
  2. The phase III first two weeks were also quite easy, but the last 2 weeks were harder on the weekends because of the long workouts (up to 4 hr). Besides, tempo-workouts are new to me but managed them successfully.
  3. The only workout which left incomplete is Baird Peak right at the end of the 3rd week of Phase III. I was tired, but my personal opinion is that 2hr SweetSpot workout with IF 0,83 is slightly out of place in the plan
  4. I have done occasionally gym work on the “rest” days; I know I know :slight_smile:

Some observations:

  1. The prescribed ramp test hasn’t worked, simply because there were no high-intensity workouts in the plan. Instead, I did 20 min FTP test, and this was much better.
  2. My FTP went down from 305 W to 290 W. I’m ok with that because the goal was to improve my aerobic base and without a single threshold exercise over a period of 3 months it is completely normal that I haven’t had an increase on my FTP.
  3. Now I have much lover HR when doing aerobic staff and this is a solid achievement.
  4. I’ve lost 3 kg of weight and some % fat (base on the scan)
  5. I can easily handle 3-4 hr Z2 workouts indoors
  6. My fitness is increased (based on intervals.icu), but FTP is slightly lower. Maybe my previous FTP was higher without a reason, it was conducted on WattBike (not a smart-trainer version) and we all know that a ramp test is anaerobic in nature.

I do not know, I have a lot of thought and observations on this matter :slight_smile:

My general conclusions are:

  1. Will I recommend TBHV? Definitely yes, if your goal is to improve aerobically.
  2. You should be mentally prepared, it is not easy.
  3. Good ventilation is crucial.
  4. Eat a lot on the bike. Drink even more.
  5. Be ready that you do not see an FTP increase for the 3 months of training

All suggestions and comments from the podcast are applicable, just need to find the one right for you and your training style.

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@Evermen, OMG, we are the same person, lol. I’m a 44 y.o. male using TR for 3 years (this July) and have increased my FTP from 193 up to 302. I’m an amateur XC MTB racer at the Expert/Cat 1 level. My race season is from May until October as well and since I just moved up to Expert/Cat 1, I’ve finished 6th and 7th place. I’ve also done MV plans up until this November and my weakness has been sustained power over the course of the race. We are literally living the same cycling/racing lives on the other side of the world.

I’ve tried TBMV in the past, but this November 2020 I tried SSBHV. It was my first attempt at a high volume plan. SSBHV is amazing! I find it “easier” than SSBMV. I’m already at my 302 FTP that was my peak in 2020 and I’m hitting all time power PRs in my weekly SSB workouts. I can’t believe how fit I am already and I’m curious to see how this year will go after my Build and Specialty plan.

I know you’re preaching the benefits of TBHV. But if you’ve never tried SSBHV, I can’t recommend it enough. Bonus, the longest workout is only 2 hours!

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I’m likely not able to handle the volume in SSBHV - but looking at the individual workouts, I much prefer the ones on SSBHV over those in SSBLV.

The HV workouts really are sweetspot, with longer intervals. Whereas many of the LV workouts are actually threshold, and short intervals - so not really a sweetspot plan.

I think TR needs to rethink the LV SS workouts - and replace the shorter interval threshold workouts with longer interval sweet spot workouts.

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Indeed, a twin-brothers :slight_smile: it is a truly amazing coincidence, I start to think that it is a story for successful athlete(s) podcast episode:)

Regarding SSBHV I agree, it could be beneficial as well, I just wanted to try something different than a SS, and challenge myself mentally. Next year will do SSBHV for sure
TBHV has its own benefits, for some folks, it could be an easier approach, although the 3rd week of the last phase was hard because of the overall volume and additional gym work

The real challenge of TBHV is to fit gym work into the weekly plan, it is kinda hard to include some sessions if you already doing 14hr on the trainer

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I live in San Francisco, so all the cafe stops have been canceled by COVID :skull:

I think this is why: FTP is basically the power at Maximum Steady State. When lactate production exceeds the bodies ability to combust the lactate being produced it builds up in the blood stream until it stops you pedalling. The body combusts lactate in the mitochondria and the more you have and the better they work, the more lactate they can process resulting in a higher ftp. One of the ways you increase mitochondria is by long Z2 rides using mostly fat and minimal carbohydrate as these rides stress the slow twitch muscles fibres where the mitochondria reside. It is obviously a lot more complicated and nuanced than that but that is my simplistic way of looking at it. If I’m wrong I assume I will be corrected!

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Very interesting input and experiences.

I have now adjusted my TB plan for the next four weeks, averaging 09:30h and 430TSS per week.
Most workouts range around 0.65-0.70 IF only Sundays 60min rides reach up to 0.80.

Curious if I can handle it while also going back to my rather low Carb intake strategy.

So far I followed the SSLV plans but added workouts ending up at 5.5-9.0h with 300-450TSS, but most workouts were well above 0.70, mostly around 0.80 IF.

Thanks for such an understanding answer. Now it is more clear for me.
I’ve never tried tradition method (long z2 rides) and see improvements. I choose sweespot method and see big gains but i’d would like to try it also.

Thanks again. :slight_smile:

A lot of training is a cost benefit analysis. The cost is fatigue.

Say you can do 2 hours of sweet spot per week before getting overly fatigued and that you could do 10 hours of relatively easy endurance riding. Sweet spot gives you 100% of the benefit and easy endurance riding gives you 75%. Thus the 10 hours of endurance equals 7.5 hours of benefit for the same fatigue.

I’m just making these numbers up to make an analogy. This is why most training plans need to limit intensity. You can only do so much before you fall apart but you can do a ton of endurance riding. So you do a little bit of high intensity, some medium intensity, and a lot of low intensity. This is why Pros do an enormous amount of low intensity.

There is also something to be said for the shear number of muscle contractions that happen when training. With 2 hours of SS, you get two hours of muscle contractions. With 10 hours of endurance riding, you get 5 times more.

Besides building more mitochondria, you also build more capillaries. The more you ride, the more you build.

This is just a gross analogy. It’s not meant to spark a debate. :slight_smile:

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The goal of “z2 in long durations” is not to increase FTP.
The goal of sweet spot is not to increase FTP.

TR says about both:
Z2

primary goal…is to develop or improve your aerobic endurance by shifting your body’s fuel preference toward fat

SS

aimed at increasing your ability to drive the pedals harder and longer, via improved muscle endurance and higher fatigue resistance

Pretty much the only “zone” which has FTP as its primary target is Threshold:

The primary aim of Threshold work is to extend the amount of time you’re able to ride at your FTP.

That said, “muscular endurance”, “higher fatigue resistance”, and “extend the amount of time you’re able to ride at your FTP” are most definitely products of long Z2 hours…ok, and SS intervals.

See below.

:

n=1 Report:

Any benefit to Trad Base vs SSB?

For me? BIG difference and looking like my “game changer”.

After doing blocks of both POL and Trad Base VHV this year, I’m pretty sure that I’m a good responder to as much Endurance volume as I can get…like 20+ hrs/wk. Bottom line is that doing tons of Z2 leaves me feeling strong, fresh, and w/o fatigue, even though the mathy metrics say I should be suffering. Doing a ton of SS (e.g. SSBHV+) loads me up with too much stress and fatigue. The results of both types of training are reflected in my heart behaviour – healthy & responsive vs smashed & fried (tested w/ VO2 intervals).

As above, Z2 can definitely provide much of what SS and FTP work does – muscular endurance, higher fatigue resistance, and extend the amount of time you’re able to ride at your FTP. Here’s the breakdown of my TiZ between my last two FTP tests (6 weeks):

Screen Shot 2021-01-13 at 11.00.33 PM

90% sub-SS (Tempo was capped @ 80%FTP, by design)
4% SS

FTP didn’t increase, but I extended the amount of time I’m able to ride at my FTP by almost double, today I churned out a 3x20 @ 90%, and most surprising, my pVO2 went up almost 4%…all on the back of lots of long endurance riding. (Flashing back, after my 2-month summer POL block, I was smashing so many all-time PR’s it was ridiculous!)

Will definitely keep Trad Base/POL VHV as part of my training calendar…until it stops working, that is. :grin:

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Wrong on both counts.

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^

read this:

Ah right!!!

I totally forgot that riding ONLY long Z2 will indeed produce a 400w FTP!!!

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

it is a goal, and it accomplishes that by increasing your muscle mitochondria which improves your ability to oxidize both fat and carbs. More carb oxidation means less lactate and less acidic buildup in muscles, and an increase in power at max lactate steady state / FTP.

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I will have a look at this. I need to more my curve to the right:

Just to clarify: is Z2 in your discussion 75% max FTP or Z2+Z3, means up to 90% FTP?

It’s Coggan Z2.

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One thing I’ve noticed having gone through traditional base is my heart rate drift between sets has really gone down, so while I’m not sure if my FTP has gone up or not, I feel like the repeatability is better and I’m able to do way more work without pushing my HR up as high. Doing 3x20 at 90% the last 2 intervals were within 1bpm of each other, while mostly hanging out in the “tempo” HR zone albeit the higher end, but FELT very manageable. We will see how prepared I am for Short Power build

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Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

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Back to the OP:

TBMV: I - Endurance; II - Endurance + Tempo; III - Endurance + Tempo + SS + Threshold

SSBMV: I - SS + Threshold; II - SS + Threshold + VO2max

Both TB and SS contain a minority of namesake workouts.
Huge disconnect between TR’s plan labels and actual content.

Of course SSB “makes you faster”, because it’s mostly NOT SS!

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