Effect of Time Spent Out of the Saddle During Sweet Spot Intervals

Short version: Do brief times spent out of the saddle during sustained sweet spot intervals negatively affect training in this zone?

Background: I’m currently on SSB II, High Volume. I’ve found the longer sweet spot intervals (>15 min) with shorter recovery valleys increasingly more challenging, as one would expect. However, to offset the fatigue caused by a higher cadence (say 90-95 RPM), I’ve started to experiment with 2-3 minutes at a time spent pedaling (climbing) out of the saddle… perhaps 2 efforts for 3 minutes of climbing during the last few 20 minute intervals (something like Eclipse +3). This not only seems to help me finish these longer efforts without blowing up and while maintaining my target power on an ERG trainer, but it’s also in line with my intended outdoor riding conditions where sustained climbs are common.

Knowing the ramp test is done completely in the saddle, and that many expert climbers stay seated most of the time, am I cheating myself and the intentions of SS workouts by training out of the saddle for a few minutes, even if Chad’s written workout instructions don’t call for it? Perhaps I could experiment with a lower seated cadence (70-80 rpm) to achieve a more desirable training effect while simulating a grinding climb? I might also be able to implement some sports psych techniques to get through those moments when I feel like I “need” to get out of the saddle. I listened to the gents talk about the physical inefficiency of riding out of the saddle on episode 223 of the TR podcast, but without use of these brief climbing intervals in my recent workouts I’m not sure I could have completed the last few long SS intervals… where the recommended average cadence seems to land at 85-95 RPM.

Thoughts? Input?

If it means I’ll be getting a better training effect, I’ll find a way to dig deeper and keep my tush planted. Just need some training input and direction from the collective expertise of the TR community. Thanks in advance!

I drop my cadence during long sweet spot intervals as it conserves some precious heart beats. Older riders like myself on longer intervals tend to choose lower cadences. Type 1 slow twitch fibers are oxygen dependent, so I ride these intervals at 76-82 RPM. The shorter intervals anaerobic type 11 fibers, those efforts I can ride at higher cadences 86-94. Hope you find this of some benefit to your training.

I think if there are any negatives to this technique they are balanced out by the benefits of completing the intervals. Especially if you do this during your normal rides/races. I will usually get out of the saddle once every 10-15 min during workouts just for saddle comfort.

I don’t know the answer to your question, but I can say that I do the same - usually as a way to cling on and not give up before the interval is finished; also because I’ve had some saddle sore issues and 20-30mins of sitting on the saddle with ZERO rises is hard for me and makes it more likely I won’t have repeat injuries.

I agree if it helps you finish the interval rather than giving up or backpedaling, do it over not doing it. Like you say, it’s also what happens outside.

I had been wondering the exact same thing and could have written this post myself!

I did ssb2 hv for first time this spring. All outside and often included a long climb in my route to do a big part of an interval out of the saddle - sometimes many minutes straight. I trusted that since I still get my HR into similar zones and it helped me get through more total work thanks to variety, it was worth doing. I have also mixed in some intervals on aerobars depending on the day and has similar mental benefit.

The one observation I have after a while of this is that in prior months, I avoided out of the saddle as I thought it was “cheating.” And I never do on a ftp test. But since doing more of this mix on intervals, I think it’s helped me in ways well beyond the SS/TT riding. I’ve set PRs all over the place on local hills, and some 1-2 min KOMs with blowout out of saddle efforts that were all time power PRs for me, despite no short power training. So it would now take some real convincing for me to believe I shouldn’t do that mix in intervals. The SSB HV done that way definitely added a lot of capacity all over and was well worth it for me.

Getting out the saddle uses slightly different mussel groups, so you are effectively resting the big group you were trying to train. Just think why you get out the saddle on a hill? It is to rest the tired legs. You also tend to slow the cadence and push a bigger forces. I find high cadence when standing difficult. So often we grind it out when standing.