I struggle with sweet spot but not VO2 Max work. TR FB post lit a bulb for me

So I signed up for TR back in Oct and I’ve made a few posts about initial struggles with doing SSB Mid volume. I train with my partner and she didn’t have issue with the mid vol plan and doesn’t struggle at all with work at or under threshold, but VO2 max has her on the edge of tears. I’m just the opposite, I find VO2 make work while work to not be sole crushing but long sweet spot efforts really make me struggle. My cadence drops and I’m grinding out most 85%-102% intervals by the middle of a workout (currently about to wrap up the low volume Century specialty phase). By grinding out I mean my cadence falls to 65-75 RPM…but my partner is spinning away at 90-100 rpm.

Then yesterday I was reading this post by Chris Wheeler on the TR FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/askacyclingcoachpodcast/permalink/327568021240309/

And the discussion sparked true to me, specifically this comment by Brian Holm: Brian Holm It means you are slightly lacking in muscle endurance and your aerobic endurance is more developed and stronger. As a result, you probably over estimate your FTP on the ramp test because it is more like a Vo2 workout making your sustained workouts harder on an already slightly weaker system.

Ok so going with this what is the best course to build that muscle endurance? I’m sure it’s do more sweet spot work but should I lower my workout intensity? Does this mean I should do (and I’m dreading this) a 20 or 40 min test to get a better assessment of my FTP and then work from there? Or simply turn down my FTP by 10% or something so that I can keep my cadence up for 85%-100% intervals?

I believe this is the reason I couldn’t do the mid volume SSB plan, the fatigue was building up too high because my FTP was effectively set a bit too high due to my ability to do more work (relative to my FTP) in the VO2 max region.

My struggle is that if I just go with a lower FTP I won’t be worked as much in the VO2 max sessions…but I’ll be building a better base, which of course I want.

Thoughts on this wall of words?

You can only lower intensity on your sweet spot efforts so much before it ceases to be a sweet spot effort. I back-pedal a lot (up to 4 times for a 10-minute long interval, spaced evenly).

Right but if my FTP is over estimated then I’m actually doing work higher than I should be and it’s not really sweet spot it’s work above threshold.

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FTP range from the ramp test is 72-77%; TR uses 75% as the calculation point. You might calculate the range based on your highest 1 minute avg power from the ramp test, then multiply by .72-.77 to see the range. Maybe take the .72 or .73 value and train from there.

I’d encourage you to set your FTP lower, then raise up the intensity on the VO2max workouts for the reasons you’re spelling out. Better to be able to train the majority of your workouts appropriately. You can do the first interval set of the VO2max workouts and see if you’re getting the desired level of effort, and if not, bump it up a few %. Power in those VO2max workouts isn’t the overall goal; achieving maximum oxygen uptake is. You can probably get that in a pretty wide range of powers, say from 115% - 130%.

But as you noted, when you’re trying to ride Sweet Spot or Threshold, the range is narrower and you’re trying to train those muscles for much longer intervals… getting the power right is much more important.

FWIW, I’m in a similar boat. I can test up to 270W for FTP, but reality is I can’t train the long sweet spot and threshold stuff at 270, so I’m training at 260W for now to build the muscle endurance up after coming into the season at 232W.

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Another option would be to sub out the recommended sessions for -1 versions until you build the muscular endurance base needed to complete the regulars.

I would say it’s probably a nutrition/fueling thing rather than your FTP is too high.

Even if your FTP was too high you’d be doing threshold efforts instead of sweet spot efforts, and those should still be manageable.

As others have said, start with shorter efforts with lots of rest. I like Antelope for that.

And make sure you eat your carbs. I find that I can do VO2 or Anaerobic efforts without nailing my nutrition, but long sweet spot is darn near impossible if I don’t eat well.

When that happens I question everything; why do I ride bikes, how can I be so bad, will I ever be good again, etc. It all comes down to a bit more food 3-4 hours and my outlook shifts.

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In the past you were doing fasted rides (1-2 a week) and looking to lose weight concurrently; is this still the case? As I recall, you were eating but your choices were a little tough, i.e. oatmeal in packages (high sugar) rather than quick oats.

I’m with @Nate_Pearson on this one from your past posts (assuming nothing or very little has changed) - look first to nutrition.

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Man, during my LV sustained power build, my legs just didn’t feel like they could make it all the way through the suprathreshold and threshold stuff. Usually the first few suprathreshold intervals and the first long threshold one would go fine, but about 2/3s through the workout I was done. And I felt like I was taking in Nate-level carbs relative to my size… maybe I needed more. Dunno.

Interesting, I’m the exact opposite. Won’t even try VO2 work w/o carbing up first. I find that I can do sweet spot underfueled. It’s just a heck of a lot more mentally and physically taxing if I’m lacking in the nutrition department.

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So good memory and no I pretty much stopped fasting most days at this point because of the previous discussions. I really don’t think this is a fueling issue and I’ve gained a good bit of weight this winter which SUCKS. I KNOW my diet isn’t the best and could use work but I’m also very sure that I’m getting enough to eat and enough carbs. I’m not an elite athlete and I’m not trying to be. Just trying to be more fit and a stronger cyclist. I struggle with the thought that I’m not getting enough calories or enough carbs.

I’d love to be someone’s case study or lab rat. Hand me the right food to eat and analyze my data. Tell me what I’m doing wrong (other than too many donuts). I know you guys are doing this to some extent, I struggle to get it all together with work, kids every other week and a desire to eat shrimp tacos.

That’s just how my partner is. If she isn’t properly fueled for a VO2 max workout she REALLY suffers.

Upper tempo and sweet spot are working the same physiological adaptions. Id argue an extended continous block of upper z3 is better than smaller SS intervals.

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This is my exactly my story.

I signed up in Sept '18 with really strong VO2 powers and shameful muscular/aerobic endurance.

I did SSBLV as an intro into structured training. After that I did Sustained Power Build HV and SSBHV. Basically 3 months of doing a lot of Sweet Spot and Threshold work. That combo really grew my muscular endurance. I was doing race specific intervals so regular 40min SS efforts (60min at max), but you can definitely build up to longer rides.

A few take aways: 1) I was a lot stronger but not necessarily more powerful, in other words I didn’t have more watts but I could push the watts I did have for longer and longer periods; 2) my VO2max abilities suffered, simply because I didn’t train them for 3 months, that high end was gone; 3) as a result, I found the Ramp test a real challenge and actually lost power, so I did a different kind of test just to calibrate the different efforts and to reflect the training I had done. Results were very similar but more…realistic(?).

I doubt you have to adjust your FTP, you just need to go through the growing pains of developing the weak portion of your FTP. It’ll take a while but very well worth all the effort! After that you can go back to focusing on VO2 work and you should end up crazy strong. (Plan some end of season races to crush 'em!!)

:+1:

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Thanks for the reply Cap. Yeah I think hours upon hours of tempo and sweet spot is what I need to do but MAN do I find it boring. I will say that even though my FTP isn’t up by leaps and bounds I am getting stronger. I set a PR on a little local climb last night…it’s one EVERYONE hates because of how steep it is. Even though my weight is currently up I still managed my best ever time up this climb by 12 seconds over a time that was 5 years old and some 35 seconds over my best time from last summer when I was probably 15 lbs lighter.

So there is improvement there for sure…but I hate doing these intervals and knowing that I shouldn’t be grinding away at 60-70 RPM but spinning at 90. I just can’t do it right now. Look at Rogers +2 from last week for instance. I did the whole workout, never stopped and no backpedaling. First block average cadence of 89, great, second interval 83, third 72 and finally 4th was 69 but my cadence dipped as low as 53 rpm in that final interval. I don’t believe at that point I’m getting the right benefits from the workout…maybe I’m wrong?

If you can’t seem to get your cadence up, I’d work on it. There’s still benefit from doing low cadence work, it changes a little bit what’s physiologically happening, but it is still useful.

I find it a lot harder to drop my cadence that low, and have to make a point to work on it sometimes, because it still has benefit. IMO, anytime you find that you can’t get your cadence to do something, it means you should work on that. For you, that may be just focus on a minute or two at higher cadence, even if it’s hard. And then work on growing how much time you spend at 90+ until it’s not hard to do anymore.

For clarity I can do high cadence, I can’t sustain that cadence for multiple intervals of sweet spot and threshold work.

A bit of extra info I used to play volleyball competitively, so I have years and years of explosive efforts in my legs which I believe helps with the VO2 max and higher efforts. But no training of any sort in the endurance areas. Sure I’ve ridden for years which gets me something but I’ve never focused or trained tempo to threshold efforts before last year.

OK. I find that my 1 min power is really strong, and I find it tough to hold a long effort. I too struggle with sweet spot and do well in VO2 Max. I need to backpedal quite often during Sweet Spot efforts.

In absence of newer TR data, I am attaching my 4DP test data. This is after SSB LV1 and SSB LV2. I have been detraining past 2 weeks due to life getting in the way, but here are the numbers:

5 second (Neuromuscular Power): 603W (valid)
1 minute (Anaerobic Capacity): 337W (valid)
5 minute (Maximal Aerobic Power): 236W (valid)
20 minute (Functional Threshold Power): 175W (valid)

Find a zone you find fun, tempo works well for most people, and see how long the intervals are on that that you can manage. I think most reasonably trained riders can spin at tempo for ages, if they’re properly rested and fed, and sort of enjoy it if they’re warmed up.

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What power are you typically doing the sweet spot intervals at, and how long are they?

Mike

Just illustrate the difference, I’m good at sustained efforts and find vo2max work really hard. My same numbers for 2019 are 946W for 5-sec, 346W for 1-min, 283W for 5-min, 240W for 20-min. We have almost the same 1-min power, and then diverge on longer durations.

Whatever the particular workout calls for, last week the one that really stuck out was Rogers +2, I posted a link to my ride above but that is 4x7min at 102% of FTP. Again was fine for the first one and my cadence fell each successive interval (look up). Saturday was Spruce Knob +3, which is 3x30 at 85% of FTP. So that one is actually sweet spot (the other being threshold). For that workout I was 87 rpm for the first 30 min, which is fine, 81 rpm for the second and 76 rpm for the third.

To those guys posting 4DP numbers…yeah I’ve never done that test and having seen it done on YouTube I will never be doing that test. LOL

Saturday will be Tray Mountain +3 which is the last hard workout in the Century Mid Vol specialty phase program. Next week is a taper/endurance/recovery week and the following week we are headed to CA for the Vegan Cyclist’s Yosemite Cycling Camp so I will get to see how all my training has helps as we do an 86 mile/8,200’ of vertical ride the first day.

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