If you're over 40 don't do Sweet Spot

Really good discussion here with Melanie McQuaid on the FastTalk Labs latest podcast episode. I thought her take on Sweet Spot training was particularly interesting.

Give the whole podcast a listen, but she gets into it around minute 8.

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I’ll give this a listen, but that’s QUITE the hot take, lol.

Are you sure that’s the headline you want to go with?

This isn’t Twitter.


Yeah, that’s no surprise coming from Fast Talk. I’ll queue it up.

An aside. they also hawk Inscyd tests lately. Also notice how Scientific Triathlon has dropped Inscyd tests? I wonder if there’s correlation.


They could shorten their podcasts by 10 minutes if they didn’t repeat how much they “SCIENCE” all the time.

We get it /iamverysmart

Listening to this now it appears they’re talking about Triathletes?

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Click bait bruh… click bait


It’s not though, but I knew it would garner attention. :sunglasses:

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The first “case study” athlete is not a triathlete, and most of the Sweet Spot discussion happens there. The second athlete IS an elite-level triathlete, however.

Regardless, there’s a lot of really good and obviously well-informed discussion about the drawbacks of Sweet Spot training.

LOL, around 9:00 to paraphrase, “SS training is important for road racers in longer events, and Ironman athletes since they spend a bunch of time racing in that zone…”. We also know that SS level work is super common in things like gravel racing and other events where we are pushing hard for long stretches, but below Threshold.

Not everyone needs this type of work, but this seems like another “this might be bad, so stay away” warning without real consideration that it can be quite useful. Additional points do make some sense, but can practically adjusted for if/when SS is desired. Proper timing and zones for adjacent workouts is all that is necessary. Like any tool in the chest, it can be used or misused, but that doesn’t make it bad on a broad level, like they seem to summarize.

Trever takes his usual over the top… “If you only do this…” warning. Crazy to assume that IMO. Sure, we all know some people who ride or train like that, but anyone taking more than a short look at this should learn that a mix of easy, hard and medium level workouts all have their place and time.

I get her earlier point on “overdoing the middle”, but think it is oversimplified to a point of uselessness. Her splitting hairs on the “over trained vs under recovered” is a funny one too. We might not hit the textbook definition of OT, but insufficient recovery could just as well be called OT in some cases. I especially think it could be called that if the best case scenario for a rider is applied (nutrition, rest, life balance and such) while doing just more work than is practical to handle with that “good recovery”.


Give SS to a slow twitcher and they may do very well out of it. Give it to a fast twitch athlete and say goodbye to any kind of meaningful performance. Totally athlete dependent.


What if you’re 42 but tell everyone you’re 38? Asking for a friend…


It was fairly short discussion, and my take-away is that she simply made the case that if you are over 40 then focusing more attention on hard/explosive efforts offers a better training ROI vs sweet spot.

My interpretation of the science is:

  • do as much low-intensity aerobic as possible, because endurance performance scales with volume
  • from a recovery point-of-view you have a limited weekly budget for doing medium/hard work
  • after 40 the aging process is working to decrease explosive power (fast twitch muscle loss) and max aerobic capacity
  • specificity supports doing medium efforts at appropriate times
  • in general you will see better performance by focusing training on combining volume with a couple hard/explosive efforts per week.

In other words, high-intensity work is the best antidote for age related declines in performance.

And I believe that aligns with Melanie’s point. Its not “don’t do sweet spot” its “do more high-intensity work.”


Im 45 but garmin says I’ve the heart of a 20 year old, does that make it OK? SS seems not to have been a problem for me for the last 5 years anyway :thinking:


I used to listen to the pod regularly, but gave up couple of years ago when he said indoor trainers weren’t useful for improving your cycling.

Maybe time for revisit!


+14 on ya and my Garmin fitness age is 31. Sweet spot only when I need some strength endurance :sunglasses: Blowing up on explosive efforts is compliance according to my fitness religion :wink:


/thread. lol


I’m 80 and my Garmin says I have the heart of a 20 year old.* So I bought three more Garmins to put on my handlebars so I see it in surround sound.

*And the brains of a 3 year old, adds my wife, when it comes to consumer savvy.


Another “up until your 40th birthday train as normal; but from your birthday onwards everything changes” load a rubbish.

Totally get the sentiment but sad people can’t dial back the sensational headlines…

Also totally agree it really matters what your goals are and how your physiology works - it’s individual.


Oh no, at 55 should I bail on my SS workouts? :thinking:

NOT ON YOUR NELLY, as they seem to be working for me.

I like the way it’s all " in my opinion" on that podcast. Bet there’s no study to back it up.

Now I need to go check my Garmin heart age… :grin: Ah, there we go 34. Must try harder some of you guys are crushing the fitness age!

Click bait from the off and so pleased I used up some of my valuable possible training time responding… :grin:

Nothing to see/hear here…


Better start hammering that SS if you’re in your late 30’s, because if you do it after that clock ticks over your quads will fall off and you will die. You’re only allowed a certain amount of intensity per week too, because you’re pretty much a frail old man at that point.

All jokes aside, there’s some good discussion here and I do think 40+ athletes are often overlooked when it comes to literature and training recommendations. However, it sort of bums me out that “your training will need to evolve as you age” so often gets interpreted as what people “should” and “should not” do based on one demographic category with no regard to periodization, specificity, or anything else about an athlete. But I am just a naive 20 year old so there is a very real possibility that I may be talking out my ass :stuck_out_tongue:


Her quote: “when you’re doing the maximum amount of intensity that you can combine with volume.”

The first problem here is “doing the maximum.” It’s easy to fall in love with numbers and to start thinking that the higher number must mean better training stimulus. no pain no gain, right? Apply that mentality to base training and you end up with riding most of your workouts in the mid-upper tempo range, which of course is a formula for stagnation, and will reduce VLA so you can’t do much explosive work.

I don’t think that would cover doing sub-threshold work twice a week, as a bridge to threshold intervals. Coggan and Allen were quite clear way back in the second edition of TARWAPM that “sweet spot” was a stage, not a destination.

The problem comes when self-coached riders just chase TSS to chase it, and lose track of whether or not that load is actually making them stronger, or just too fatigued to adapt to the stimulus.

As a 54-year old, I find that sweet spot helps scaffold me into threshold work without feeling like rubbish the next day at school. But, I’ll also add that a 2 x 20 at 92% is as mentally and emotionally fatiguing on a Tuesday night after 9-10 hours at school as a 2 x 20 at 100% on a Saturday morning when I’m fresh and rested. So, I’m not so sure I’d want to try to bang serious threshold 20s on a weeknight, anyway.