Just how hard should sweet spot be?

Hi all,

I’m new to TR but not new to training. My previous training has never really consisted of sweet spot work- just a lot of suprathreshold work.

How hard should SS intervals feel? I’m in the 4th week of SSB mid volume, and while I haven’t done many long sweet spot intervals yet I don’t think getting through them is very difficult- certainly not matching up with Coach Chad’s text cues.

I have been thinking of bumping up the intensity a bit, but I’m facing a conundrum and am always open to opinions: I could certainly bump up the intensity a bit and suffer through a lot more, but I know that that’s not necessarily the goal of these sweet spot intervals.

What are your thoughts on this? Should there be a little more suffer going on? I think the longest I’ve done so far are 12 minutes, if that changes your answer.

Thanks in advance!

1 Like

Different people react to various types of training in a specific way. Sweet spot should feel doable, but with significant effort - you’re glad that an interval is over but if you had to, you’d be able to keep going. You’re not new to training and you’ve done a lot of suprathreshold work in the past, so you should have a pretty good ballpark FTP figure in mind, right?

How do the over/under workouts in the SSB plan feel? Do you also feel like it’s a smooth sailing through these at your current FTP? If yes, maybe you’re quickly responding to training stimuli and could use with bumping the intensity up a little bit. If over/unders still feel like over/unders - just stick to the current intensity.

I guess regardless of what you end up doing, you’re in week 4 out of 5 of real work, last week is easy and then you retest. Worst case scenario if you don’t up the intensity now, you’ll have an opportunity to do so in less than 3 weeks.


I was on the same boat. First I tried a bit during workouts how +/- 103% intensity felt. I then bumped it up to 105% for the whole next workout in line (a 1.5h one) and could just about finish it, but with very tired legs. I figured this was a bit too much to recover from regularly and went with 103% instead.


If you do Eclipse, Antelope, or Galena
You should need some focus to finish the last interval. At the end you should think that was somewhat hard but doable workout. Not as hard as the over/under stuff though.
I suspect that you may have a bump in your ftp being in week 4. If you want bump the intensity 2-3% for week 5. There is a week 6 recovery and SSB2 starts with an ftp test.


If you are finding that you feel the sweetspot workouts are a little too easy, then I would recommend retesting your FTP. It might just be that you’ve responded really well to the training so far and your FTP has jumped a bit (or maybe when you did the FTP test at the start of the plan you under performed a little bit).


I’m of the opinion that ssbi workouts are just easier and are mainly focused on strength endurance. If for most of them are less than .85 so they will not be really that hard. Once you get in to ssbii, you’ll be working just below or at threshold and those intervals the description better of hard but just easy enough to do it repeatedly.

1 Like

Sweet spot is supposed to feel manageably hard. 12 minutes certainly shouldn’t feel like a huge mission. It’s not “easy” but with a modicum of focus it’s easy enough to keep going without having to play mental HTFU games. You also shouldn’t have knackered legs afterwards.

Try “Polar Bear” and see how you feel about long SS efforts :wink:


Lots of good points here. I had a month with almost no riding due to the demands of my Masters course load and I think honestly a lot of this month was just waking the legs up again. Based on over/unders, I would say I’m a little low right now- but they were appropriate in the first week because I had forgotten how to hurt.

Regarding the re-test in 3 weeks, we’re thinking on the same track here. The implications here are obviously quite small for overall training effect, but I am trying to calibrate my gauge for the coming year I guess. What I mean by that is that if this is how they feel to me, so be it. It’s not the ego behind the number to me, rather training quality.

Thanks so much for your answer!

@schmidt Nice! Sounds like we’re in the same place. I’ll consider this.

@Alen I have Eclipse coming up this weekend. Maybe I’ll complete as is and re-evaluate compared to how you describe it there. Maybe I just start working in the ramp up a little bit mid-plan. Lots of tinkering to be done to learn how I tolerate this stuff. Thank you!

@RCC That’s a fair description of how I’m feeling right now, honestly, which is why I thought I would seek some input. Thank you.

One quick suggestion here…

If you are not already doing this, try spinning the SS workouts at between 85-95 RPM. I have a naturally-ish high cadence and spin around 100-105 RPM on the trainer. Lowering your cadence to the Coach Chad prescribed range of 85-95 will likely tax your muscles a little more and you might find them more challenging.

I have to concentrate to keep my cadence around 90 and the sweet spot work feels a little too easy to me at my natural spin rate. It’s more uncomfortable when I’m down in the muscle range.

I just recently discovered this and have exactly 1 workout under my belt doing this…so your mileage may vary.

Good luck!


I, too, have a high cadence naturally. Maybe I can credit MTB, but low 100 is normal for me. I have been doing Chad’s cadence work just for something to do and while I do find it a little more difficult than it has to be, I figure the low cadence work would be useful for climbing.

1 Like


1 Like

Do y’all use HR during your SS workouts ? Where do you finish blocks during a Hunter session for example compared to your Threshold HR ?

Just performed a Ramp Test and feel like it should be just a bit more difficult since I am finishing the three 20 minutes blocks (88%, 92%, 89%) at 85, 87 and 90% of my THR. Feel super strong right now, but feel like I could/should do just a bit more.

Should I increase intensity by 2/3% already ? What do y’all think ?

What did you end up doing? I cranked my last 20 minute interval up 3% (i think? maybe 2) on my last 3 x 20 and it felt OK, but I decided I would wait out the rest of this block and re-assess. I figure I will tinker in the next block (SSB2) and see what the legs think after a rest week.

I’d find them manageably hard, as described. My last workout was Eclipse, which is 3 x20 - the timer definitely seemed to slow for the last third/ quarter of the last interval.

Unless you really screwed up the ramp test, I’d be inclined to trust the plan.

1 Like

Your hr sounds about right. For ssb1 type intervals i would only get to about 10 beats below threshold hr for the last interval. For some people that might feel pretty easy and others fairly difficult. In ssb2 they’ll increase to low threshold and should start approaching your threshold hr or above when doing over unders.

I am being eaten alive by the first week of high volume sweetspot, really painful for me. I have a tendency to go too hard and relish the pain but in this case I feel like the intervals are too hard to complete.

I’m suspecting the ramp test didn’t represent my fitness. I think there should be a way to validate the sweetspot/lt workout difficulty using heart rate or breath and I would appreciate some professional guidance.

In my training I’ve noticed some stuff about my heart rate, that if it goes much above 165 that it keeps rising until I pop, so I think that is right around my lthr. I think there’s something wrong with the intensity when these LT intervals are putting me above 170, as an experiment I let hr go to 175 which is just wrong for this sort of workout, that is me struggling with one breath per 1.5 seconds. All signs to me point to my ftp being overestimated.

I have been really punishing myself to complete these workouts, am loath to drop the intensity but today I’m thinking I’m going to need to.

Can someone point me to specific instructions on how to determine if intensity is set correctly? Speaking specifically to these sweet spot workouts: Where should my breath rate be at the end of the last/hardest interval?


to be honest, I think you might be better off taking a couple days off and retesting next week (Mon or Tue) using the 20-minute or 8-minute ftp test. Those should give you a better estimate of your base-level sustainable power needed to complete SSB-HV.

1 Like

It is hard to determine ‘hardness’ of a given workout - there are so many variables. It is similar to defining pain in a clinical sense - pain is very subjective and varies greatly per person.

I generally have pretty good muscle endurance, but here is how sweet spot feels to me and what my HR and perceived exertion are.

My max HR is in the low 180’s, the max I hit inside on the trainer is usually around the high 170’s. What I hit on my latest ramp test was 176. If I am doing say…Tallac - my HR will stabilize in the high 140’s or low 150’s for the first interval, the low to mid 150’s for the second, and then stay at the mid to high 150’s for any future intervals (count of intervals depends on which version of Tallac I’m doing).

All of the intervals feel very mentally taxing to me, but I don’t start to feel heavy muscle fatigue until I’m into the second interval and even then the fatigue typically starts to build only after 5 to 10 minutes of the interval. Consistently the first few minutes of every interval feel easy as my HR is low

In my experience sweet spot should be as much of a mental challenge as a physical one

1 Like

similar here, HRmax is 175 and depending on the day I finish longer intervals with HR in mid 140s to low 150s. Its definitely a mental challenge to continue while the legs are burning.

I’d echo this.

Given the Sweetspot range can vary 10-15% I find that at the lower end of this range ‘switching off’ isn’t overly challenging, muscular endurance isn’t overly taxed, pedal strokes feel neat-tidy-even and breathing is naturally well controlled.

At the upper end of this spectrum I’m much more conscious that it’s become fairly uncomfortable but still manageable. More focus is required to keep ‘on-top’ of things, I feel the ‘lactate’ cup starting to brim but not quite overflow and breathing is understandably getting a little messier. The sooner the interval ends the better but I’m not going to be grinding to a halt anytime soon.