Can I continue to improve without doing Threshold work?

In my 6th year of TR and cycling in general. Late 40s. Seen my biggest gains this year with consistency and focus on long endurance/low tempo and Vo2 and Anaerobic. Started a SS/Threshold/Sustained plan for a fall event. Really finding Threshold workouts challenging, especially outside. If I look at my all-time PR curve +/- 1 hour is my biggest gap.

I know we can stand to work on our weaknesses, but for the way I ride (lots of rollers locally, and tend to do longer endurance fondos with decent climbing), I don’t need much actual threshold. I don’t TT. I don’t race crits. I don’t care about time-segment based fondos.

So are there other reasons to focus on Threshold - to continue to increase FTP, edge up my endurance/tempo range?

I remember in one of the podcasts where the group was laying out their ideal PL profiles and I think Keegan wanted Tempo to be most/all of it, with some Anaerobic. I identify with that!

I may stick with it, for sake of variety and see how well I do, but after today’s ride was just wondering what the point was…

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I do mostly century type events and training for fun and exercise. I have made gains by doing 2 sweet-spot rides a week and then a long Saturday ride at endurance. I have been doing that for the last few months and my ftp is growing. Sometimes I had a recovery ride in there as well or I’ll do some threshold intervals at 100% ftp.


I think doing work at threshold can’t be replicated with other riding simply because that’s the intensity where you blend the aerobic system with the glycolytic system. Do a quick search of the 3 energy systems for a better understanding.


@llmonty If you do fondos with long sustained climbs, wouldn’t that be greatly benefited by threshold specific work?


I’m on a similar boat. My focus is longer events, so my training is mostly endurance (outdoors) and anaerobic TR workouts.

I haven’t done an SST workout in months, but I did Wright Peak -1 today:

So anecdotally, I’d say my training has been pretty effective!

That’s not to say I wouldn’t benefit from Threshold workouts. Just not something I’d incorporate into my training year round.


To answe your question…I think you CAN continue to improve without riding at threshold in training…until you can’t :wink:

In other words, the adaptions from lots of z2, z3, z5, z6-7 work will continue to develop your fitness (however you want to define that) very nicely. Just because you dont train by riding threshold it doesnt mean you cant ride at your threshold! As you don’t TT or seem to ride long sustained climbs it means threshold work isnt particularly ‘specific’ to your events, while tempo and vo2 is very event specific training.

There might come a time when you reach the point of starting to stagnate from your current plan and simply need to switch things up to continue to make gains, and more threshold training ‘might’ be one way to do this. However as you are already riding a good mix of different work I suspect this point will probably be a long way into your future. With 6 years riding/training under your belt the easy gains have probably ended and it will become harder and harder to make gains in FTP etc, but if you’re still getting gains from your z2/3/5/6/7 work then stick with it if it works for you.


^ This. There’s only one aerobic system afterall. Improving your aerobic fitness will improve your threshold. It doesn’t matter whether you do threshold work or not, as long as you are getting aerobic stimulus.

That being said, threshold workouts do provide great bang for your buck. If you can’t do long steady intervals (outside) maybe try doing some over-unders or shorter “mini-intervals” with short rest (say, 15x45s/15s). Doing higher-end sweetspot workouts and combining that with long vo2 workouts works too. Just pick your poison, i guess :smiley:


Sweet spot and threshold work definitely has its place in a well-balanced training plan. And the fact that you are struggling with threshold work means you still have plenty of room to grow.

Sweet spot and threshold are different kettle of fish: the mental component in threshold workouts is huge, and something that needs to be trained for many reasons. You are riding on the knife’s edge, a few watts make all the difference. That’s why sweet spot workouts are a thing: you are farther away from the knife’s edge and they are much less fatiguing mentally than threshold workouts.


To these points - Some of the events do include sustained climbs - from 30 min to 90 minutes. Often more than one in a 75-100 mile event. And these are the most challenging, particularly as they get closer to an hour. Having said that, I would never plan to do these at threshold, but rather high tempo, low SS. The rides are generally just too long for anything more than that.

So that was where my thinking was to train to the specificity for the events. Like I said, I will probably give sustained build, including the threshold workouts a try for a change of pace, but curious as to the benefit vs. specificity.

I appreciate all the comments.

Bottom line: incorporating VO2 Max and Threshold training will raise your FTP, meaning that you’ll be producing more power, and moving faster, when riding at Sweetspot in your event.

You’ll also get more used to discomfort, so it’s likely your RPE will be lower when riding SS.

Diminishing returns applies, too.

The choice is yours.

I rode all of last year skipping threshold / ftp power and focused on sprints to vo2 efforts up to 10min. My ftp stayed relatively the same and my ability to climb a ~15-20min climb was pretty much the same RPE (at that ftp power). Maybe I could have pushed ftp up a bit with more focus but I’m pretty well trained at my hpw load so I doubt there is much head room without increases volume. I made substantial improvements in the sprint to 10min power PR tho (since I never explicitly focused on them). Rode around 50-60% ftp when not in a group ride or doing a structured interval.

So yeah, in my experience, I’d say why not. Just understand you prob won’t improve your ftp doing so unless you’re not well training at your hpw (I’ve been riding many years at this level).

The Giro d’Italia Blockhaus stage winning time was 5 hr 34 min by Jai Hindley. They do threshold work (along with everything else) not to ride threshold for 5+ hours. But rather, to be there at the end or at least in good position to go with or make a race winning move. They do threshold work to avoid burning matches and stay out of the red for as long as possible.

Multiple 30-90 minute climbs over 75-100 miles=tailor made for threshold work IMO.