Is there training effect lost with altered rest times between efforts @ Threshold / Sweetspot?

For context I am 74kg, my ftp is 325w or 4.39wpkg. Thanks to trainer road in 3 months I have gone from 296 and 80kgs to my current fitness level. This is wholly due to information I have gleaned from the podcast on fueling etc and following your incredible training plans! At the moment I am based in the Swiss/French Alps. I live in a van (with power for my trainer and trainer road on my phone naturally :slight_smile: ). I am in the last 3 weeks of my Short Power build phase. Afterwoods, I will then revisit Sweet Spot Base for 3-4 weeks before starting the Criterium Race Specific plan. (This is a good season plan right? - bit off topic but still…#selfmadeplanangst)

My problem is:
I do a lot of my Sweetspot / Threshold work outside. I like to do them on the plethora of HC climbs I have access to in Europe. The problem with this is that @ 4wpkish for these efforts (give or take) I only seem to be able to do 2 of the efforts before running out of mountain. I have tried different rest/work ratios and was wondering which is the best to do.

For example:

  • Ratio 1 :
  • 2 (effort -> descend) -> 2 (effort -> rest as per the workout) -> z2 to the top (usually only up to 5 mins at the most).
  • Ratio 2:
  • 2 (effort -> rest ) -> descend -> 2 (effort -> rest) ie decent in the middle or the workout
  • Ratio 3:
  • 3 (effort -> rest) -> descend enough for the last effort - (last effort) up.
  • Ratio 4:
  • 3 (effort -> descend) - (last effort) -> z2 to the top to tack a bit of extra z2 on top of the workout.

The descent is of course without much if any force on the pedals however I do spin my legs out as much as I can. But I do try to stick to the rest period wattages as best I can (beauty of being at this level is I can do this on mountains).

My question is whether these differing effort / work periods that are not 100% to plan are negating the training effect, and if so how much?

What are your recommendations for these adjustments outside?

I understand at the lower level of training that these things matter less, but I am beginning to get into the level of strength where 5% difference can have much larger consequences and I want to be as strong as possible, as fast as possible (haha dont we all?).

Or am I just being overly finicky about something that has very little effect over all?

Thank you very much for everything! Your training plans and podcasts are simply the best there is! I have already left 5 star reviews wherever I can!

Episode 114 of the podcast goes into recoveries and the impact they have on the overa)l training picture. It’s about 34 minutes into the episode.

If you want maximum training effect, it’s probably better to put in your hard efforts at lower altitude.

If you are climbing, say, 1000m, your power output at the top will be about 6-7% lower vs at the bottom (to clarify, your VO2max will be 6-7% lower) - so you won’t be putting your muscles under as much stress at the top vs bottom. Note: this is the logic behind the “train low” part of “live high train low”.

If you’re really looking for the famous marginal gains, do your hard stuff at as low elevation as possible.

Reply to the wrong thread, @DaveWh ?

It depends on the purpose of the workout.

If the purpose is to push your aerobic system to the limit (e.g. Lamarck, 4x10min @ 100% with 2min rests), then short rests are important, as they don’t want you to start each interval fresh.

If the purpose is to improve your muscular endurance and your ability to spend long periods at or near threshold (which is the case in most sweetspot and threshold workouts), then I think it’s fine to have a longer recovery interval.

So if it’s the latter, take your time, go back down the mountain, do whatever. Just make sure you do all the work intervals and don’t worry too much about what happens in between.


I should have added - if the OP is concerned about the altitude having as little impact as possible, do the intervals as low as possible on the climb - which would point to interval->descend, repeat.

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Hi Dave,
It was not my intimal concern. But after climbing to Arosa from Chur yesterday I certainly noticed the difference in my efforts at the top! Thanks for letting me know I wasn’t just being soft haha.

Out of curiosity, I noticed that although rpe was on point for a 14 minute threshold effort (worst thing ever!) My heart rate didnt go outside of what I would be normally for a Sweetspot effort. Ie HR between 165-170 rather than 175-180.

Do u think I was fatigued as I had thought or is this a clear effect of elevation @ about 1600m?

Thanks heaps for your info, very interesting.

Thank you very much for your reply Martin. This is pretty much what I had thought. Though sometimes the workout description is a bit ambiguous.

Ie yesterday I had Augusta which is 4x14 mins @threshold with Sprint start and 3 mins at recovery. Today I have aniakchak which is roughly 4x18mins @ Sweetspot but z2 in-between.

The latter is clearly meant to train repeated Sweetspot efforts w less recovery. But the short time between those (evil) threshold efforts - surely doesn’t matter right?

Very interested to hear if I’m in the right thinking here :slight_smile:

So with Augusta, you can get a clue by looking at Augusta +1 and Augusta +2 - which are the same as Augusta except with longer rest intervals. So that suggests that the important thing is not the length of recovery, but that sprint at the start of each interval. As long as you go hard enough in the first 30 seconds to make the rest of the interval uncomfortable, you’ll get a great workout.

This looks like a session that I’d try to find some flatter or rolling roads to do, unless you have a 2-hour climb near you. It does seem important here that the work intervals aren’t too hard, and the rest intervals aren’t too easy. And it’s quite difficult to achieve this if you keep having to descend.

I think of these kind of sessions as “chain tight” rides when I take them outdoors. Find a flat or rolling course, and try to stay between Z2 and sweetspot power, keeping a constant pressure on the pedals, no coasting or soft-pedalling if at all possible. The terrain might make it difficult to follow the intervals to the letter, but if you just keep on pedalling for 2 hours and aim for a total Intensity Factor that matches the workout, you’ll be pretty close.

(If you don’t have any flatter loops near you, then this is where some kind of compromise may have to be found…)

You could be fatigued, as this is also a cause on HR not getting to usual levels.
Higher altitude also results in lower HR, although the effect is variable across people.

If you are able to hit your target power for intervals higher up those climbs, then I wouldn’t worry too much about this effect.

I thought it might be relevant tho, given you mentioned HC climbs which are the big ones!

Not necessary that you try to hit any wattage target during the rest period - just spin out the legs gently on the downhill. The value is from the efforts themselves rest periods to allow you do deliver a quality interval. The intensity of the recovery is simply because the workouts were designed for indoor trainers.

Tried using all sorts of word combinations of “podcast, 114, #114” with no luck on either Google or in the TR youtube channel. Even sorting youtube videos by date doesn’t do it. does not seem to be working (yet?), youtube of tr podcast 114 yields a time trial. How do you track the Episode #s since they don’t seem to be listed in the podcast titles until recently?

Soundcloud has all the old stuff and if you search “trainerroad ###” for the episode number, you should find what you want.

Listen to How Much Racing Is Too Much, Rest Intervals, Crossfit & More - Ask a Cycling Coach: 114 by TrainerRoad on #SoundCloud

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Find bigger mountains? (TFIC)

For those too lazy to find and listen to this episode. Essentially coach Chad says that for these efforts it’s more about getting the volume of work done rather than the considered work/rest intervals. He even says something along the lines of ‘these are packed together for the consideration of the entire session into the two hour range’ or some such thing.

I tried this this weekend with both of my workouts. The problems being:

a. The longer mountains such as ablula pass, jernier pass and Arosa that I climbed this weekend is that they are very undulating in grade with random false flats often during the middle of the perscribed effort.

B. Elevation plays havoc on your ability to output both power and raise your heart rate. For example anaikchak is something like 18-16-14-29 min efforts at 285-300-285-300 for me. I was only able to hold the perscribed efforts for a little over half of the perscribed time. I think avg for the work was like 287-292-290-275 and holding 170ish bpm (as sweet spot avg for me) was impossible for more than about 10 mins over 1200meters.

I think this is individual to me and my current fatigued also but interesting for others to consider

Best approach may be to find a lower elevation climb with 20 mins of steady gradient, and do repeats on that.

Why not do the complete effort from bottom to the top?