Love VO2max workouts, absolutely despise Sweet Spot

I’m about three weeks into my SSB2 routine and I find myself really enjoying the VO2max workouts. SS, on the other hand, I absolutely dread.

Here’s how If feel with sweet spot workouts:

  1. Consider reducing effort levels
  2. Rest between sets never feels enough
  3. When I’m done, I feel drained and low energy

Here’s how I feel with VO2max workouts:

  1. Bump up the last set by 5% to 20%
  2. Feel like there’s too much rest between sets
  3. When I’m done, I feel markedly more energetic and I’m almost bouncing off the walls.

Shouldn’t I feel the opposite? I’m not trying to humble-brag so I apologize if I seem like I am, but the contrast between sweet spot and VO2max for me is notably huge and I would honestly like to know why. What is it about me that makes my VO2max workouts so enjoyable compared to sweet spot?

My fueling strategies are the same for each workout: caloric intake ends at 8pm the night before, small carb-centric breakfast and coffee about an hour before I start, 0.75 serving of Skratch’s hydration mix. It doesn’t matter if the sweet spot workout is shorter than the VO2max workout, by the time I’m in the middle of the sweet spot workout I’m seriously contemplating quitting.

Please let me know your thoughts, thanks!

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The relationship between what feels like “hard work” at VO2max-level efforts and what feels like “hard work” at threshold or sweet spot is pretty variable. Some people’s repeatable 2-3 minute efforts are 115% of FTP, for others it might be 130%. I fall in the former camp currently; you sound like you fall in the latter. There’s always a glass-half-full or -half-empty way to look at it: I see myself as having meager VO2max relative to FTP (half-empty) or as having awesome aerobic endurance relative to VO2max (half-full).

In terms of your training, you might want to experiment to see what kind of bump up in workout intensity you need so your VO2max efforts leave you gassed. Surging at the end is probably not as beneficial as hitting all of the work intervals at a taxing level. I think most of the VO2max workouts in SSB2 (and others) have text encouraging this type of experimentation. That’s just my opinion, though. Good luck.

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Thanks for the response!

Agreed, I didn’t mean to just bump up at the end but I was telling myself I should just stick with the program and not mess with it…until I saw Chad’s comments halfway through :stuck_out_tongue:

That being said, I’m interested to know why/how some cyclists have a higher VO2max work capability than others. For instance, I thought VO2max is supposed to be your peak aerobic fitness as you’re literally at that point where you’re maxing out your O2 uptake. If that’s the case, why does sweet spot leave me totally gassed since sweet spot workouts operate at a lower “intensity” than VO2max?

Need to learn to love it. Embrace the suck, let it wash over you and keep pushing. Its like the most recent podcast where they talked about pain management. I was terrible at this stuff when I first got a trainer, and I learned to end up loving these intervals. I know what they’re supposed to feel like and I feel its so much more mental then physical.

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Opposite for me. You probably have a strong anaerobic system, and/or have more fast twitch muscles. My muscles have been slow twitch my entire life although I have decent 5-sec power, and really struggle in the 30-second to 5-minute vo2max range.

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From my personal and recent experience of SSB 2, the SS intervals are significantly longer in duration than the VO2 intervals. If you’re working at around 92% for 8-10 minutes, it should feel taxing.

Once you’ve experienced Spencer and 3 minutes at 120% on repeat, the true horror or possibly love of VO2 reveals itself.

I found that building my base with regular endurance sessions is beginning to amend my SS weakness.

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Hah, yes I used to despise the trainer when I first started cycling last year. I thought “why would I ever use a trainer, bikes are meant to go outside”! But ultimately, efficiency in power growth requires me to use the trainer. But undercarriage still complains after 1.5 hours on the trainer though.

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Thanks for the reply. Does spinning at a higher cadence favor fast-twitch muscles? I was thinking about it and one big difference is that for the VO2max intervals, since they’re generally less than 5 minutes, I can hold a 100+ cadence without losing form during the interval. When I try that on sweet spot I tend to go up and down in cadence, going under 90 RPM and I feel like I’m mashing.

Thanks for the reply. Yeah I started looking at some of the more difficult VO2max workouts and they’re definitely intimidating. I’m certain that part of it is duration, I’m also looking at Mary Austin which is on my schedule for this week and I’m already dreading it :stuck_out_tongue:

maybe it is better to say you’ve got a stronger anaerobic energy system, and that you would benefit from working on muscular endurance.

spinning at a higher cadence shifts burden from muscles to aerobic system, by reducing the amount of force to produce a certain power.

after doing a block of SSB, I’m able to do 95-100rpm on sweet spot for example Tallac+3 is a 5x15-minute sweet spot for two hours and I was able to hold 98rpm at end of week4 of SSB1. But a couple months later did it again and was only able to hold 93rpm. For vo2max intervals I’m also spinning at 95-105rpm.

Right now I’m detrained and would struggle with the muscular endurance to do a 15-minute sweet spot, despite being naturally inclined to do well on sustained efforts below FTP.

how did sweet spot intervals feel during SSB1? Was it low or mid volume?

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Its because your vo2max zone is calculated to be 120% of your ftp. But for some people, its actually higher, so at 120% ftp, you’re not really in the right zone, and need to bump the intensity. The other issue is that the ramp test actually needs quite a bit of vo2max work, and from reading the threads on here, people with high vo2max power seem to overtest a little (or, the opposite, those with high steady ftp think they underperform in it). This would set your ftp too high, which you’ll mostly feel at sweetspot and threshold workouts.

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Thanks for the post. SSB1 low volume was difficult for the first two weeks but got more manageable as I progressed through the routine. Actually for the first two weeks I had to reduce the 1.5 hour workouts to 1 hour because I couldn’t handle being on the trainer for that long.

In comparison, SSB2 low volume is hitting me about the same way as SSB1, with the exception of the VO2max workouts.

Thanks for the reply and that’s a good point, I hadn’t considered how VO2max plays in with the ramp test. I guess that makes sense, judging from what others have said here VO2max seems to pull a lot from anaerobic energy systems which could influence my FTP results; it would follow that having a high VO2max power but lower aerobic threshold would make me suffer on sweet-spot and threshold efforts.

yes, @splash makes two good points.

If you are strong at anaerobic efforts, then ftp estimate from ramp test is very likely to be estimated too high. And if ftp estimate is higher than actual lactate threshold power, then sweet spot work becomes threshold and is a lot harder to perform.

Another possibility is that you rarely push the pedals hard for more than 5 minutes at time, and you just need to work on it (my original point). That can happen if you do a lot of group rides, don’t pull, and only go hard on climbs. But again your ftp estimate needs to be close to actual lactate threshold power if you want to progress thru SSB1 and SSB2.

People are very different when cycling above lactate threshold power. The average for vo2max work is 120%, but some people can only handle 108% while others can handle 150%. That is a pretty wide range, and why “above ftp” is highly individual.

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If you’re three weeks in to SSB2, you’ve been doing short VO2max intervals. Lots of folks including me go through this… see how you feel after Spencer+2. I prefer VO2max workouts, but they get a hell of a lot more difficult than the ones in the first half of SSB2.

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I saw that one in my workout search, not looking forward to it.

Some of the Build ones are downright nasty. My second foray into SSB2, I did the “OG” VO2max progression which was a bit more difficult. I don’t get much out of the 30/30s at all. But the Baird+6 and Bashful+6 combo in General Build is brutal (90/60s at 118 and 122%). Or the three minute jobbers at 120% are just fall-off-your-bike hard. I love them more than SS work, but they’re definitely not easier IME. Just… different… and more up my alley.

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vo2 is my weakness and I find Bluebell’s 6x1-min @120% to be easy… week 3 confidence builder for sure! But it makes for an abrupt transition to the 2-minute jobbers in week 4 (Mills). Next time doing SSB2 my plan is to drop week2’s Taylor and move Bluebell (3 sets 6x60-sec) up a week, then in week 3 add 30 seconds and do Baird+2’s 90-sec intervals, and then back on plan with Mills in week 4.

vo2 is my weakness and prior to TR I found redemption doing them outside, but inside on the trainer its harder to muster motivation to complete all the sets :man_shrugging: probably because outside I wasn’t doing sets LOL hoping next time around the SSB2 block it goes better.

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I did Mills -> Dade -1 -> Huffaker -> Spencer +2 last time through. I felt like I got more out of that and got through all of Gen Build’s VO2max workouts thereafter.

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