Hard starting a Tempo or Sweet Spot interval - does it do anything or just make you tired?

I hard start my VO2 intervals and some threshold intervals. But I was thinking today as I rode, does hard starting tempo or sweet spot work help with anything? Or since the bulk of the work is below threshold it doesn’t really produce an adaptations and runs the risk of you not completing intervals?

For me, tempo and sweet spot intervals are all about extending the duration of that interval, not so much about the power. They are more race specific. Could be that you know your race / event starts hard and then settles into tempo/ss so you could train that. But otherwise I don’t see any real benefit.

My plan recently gave me a few workouts that started with a hard 30, then into 10 minutes threshold. Yeah, they definitely make it harder. I’m not sure about the physiological benefits, but I was doing better mentally after doing a couple workouts. It makes you realize that you can recover at threshold. From a physiological standpoint, I’m guessing that it’s training your ability to clear lactate. It’s also likely increasing the aerobic strain during the interval since you should be blunting the anaerobic contribution at the start. No data to back any of that up, just speculation.


Yeah for threshold intervals that makes a lot of sense IMO. I can recover at just below threshold, it’s not comfortable but at 90-95% you can recover.

those theoretically work on lactate clearance. there are some studies that show clearance rates are best around 80-90% FTP (surely there’s individual variability in there) so the thought process is “go above FTP to create more lactate” and then ride under FTP to train the clearance aspect. There is not a ton of literature on these yet but anecdotally a lot of people do them.

on the flip side, if you truly believe in benefits of long sweet spot work, and see this hard start as damaging to it, then it might not be beneficial to your session.

I would chose even more overs (over unders) than doing HS tempo or HS SS but that’s just my viewpoint.

good luck!

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Yeah makes sense. I don’t do a lot of tempo work but a couple times a month I do when I may have a harder ride coming up (as I do Saturday) and I still want to put in some work without building fatigue in my legs.

When you’re going good and you actually feel like putting the power down out there in the real world you are going to want to front load it a bit because presumably someone trying to follow will also find it tiring. They say when you are dishing it out it always hurts less.