Low Tempo vs Sweetspot

Would low tempo workouts adjusted to increase the time in zone to give the same TSS as sweet spot workout (ie longer) give the same or similar physiological adaptations?

Sweet spot is bumping up against your LT power (maybe even is LT for those who have their FTP set too high, which is pretty common for less trained or more anaerobic leaning riders doing short FTP tests). So you’re getting the physiological adaptations that come with riding at FTP. Low tempo provides most of these adaptations too, but it will take significantly longer for your body to adapt at these lower intensities. So I think it would work (eventually) if that’s really what you want to do and your event doesn’t require higher power efforts.

That said, I’m pretty sure most coaches would say if you have more time you should keep the same amount of high intensity work and add time in Z2.

Remember this chart?


The usual caveat being ‘not all TSS is the same’. Eg: Z2 will develop your VO2max but doing 90 TSS of Z2 won’t produce the same effects as doing 90 TSS @ VO2max/Z5.

Doing longer duration low tempo is more likely to mirror Z2 adaptations than SS adaptations. But that said, nothing wrong with long Tempo rides. :+1:

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In the chart, what does “increased lactate threshold” mean? Seems like it could mean a couple different things–less lactate, more ability to tolerate lactate, etc. It in and of itself is not really an “adaptation,” right?

Lactate threshold is kinda sorta your FTP.

And yes, you can train/increase lactate clearing and buffering adaptations.

I’ve lowered the intensity of SS intervals vs. the usual TR levels, and increased the duration of the intervals (I’m doing 85-90% FTP with 20-60 min intervals). This is to build muscular endurance (specifically, lower VLaMax) without overly stressing my cardio system (by avoiding threshold).

But I don’t think I’d get the same adaptations doing low tempo. Wouldn’t recruit enough fast twitch fibers.

Right, that’s exactly my point: FTP is not the result of just one metabolic process, it’s the meeting point of multiple. So just “raise FTP” doesn’t mean that much, without knowing what of the multiple processes you are impacting in order to get that rise

Listen to this podcast:

Um…do we have to know these things in order to do the training to raise FTP? Or can we just do the training?

To do the training, no, of course not. But to design and prescribe your own trainings, then to get the most out of it, yes you do. Because there are many other training prescription optiosn besides sweet spot, and SS or something else might be the right choice at different times, depending on what you are trying to do (lower lactate production, increase vo2max, increase lactate tolerance, etc.). You have your training “budget” and you want to spend it right.

I guess that’s why we have people like Dr. Andy Coggan, Ph.D to figure all that stuff out for us and write books like “Training and Racing Using a Power Meter” which includes convenient training adaptation charts. :+1:

To the OP: yes, but, the right combination of volume and intensity would take some figuring out.

“sweet spot is a concept, not a zone” – Andy Coggan.

We’ll agree to (partially) disagree. We definitely lean on the experts but i think figuring out the “why” is half the fun :slight_smile:

To the OP (@carytb), the adaptations are going to be a lot of similarities but not identical. What are you trying to do? Try to get the same amount of “adaptation” done in less time?

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Thanks, I’d forgotten about that chart. Looking at the chart it appears, very simplistically, that if you do approximately 25-33% more time in zone at Tempo over SS you will get virtually identical adaptations. It a shame that the level of fatigue and recovery times aren’t shown on the chart as well. My personal experience is that I recover faster from Tempo intervals as opposed to SS.

No, quite the opposite! I’ve got plenty of time to ride my bike. If I do lots of sweet spot/threshold I find it compromises my ability to ride every day. I appear to be able to produce lactate for fun and want to reduce my production of it and to that end, as well as lots of Z2 work I’m starting to do increasing amounts of low Tempo at low cadences and was just wondering about that vs SS.

Until you fatigue and then the fast twitch fibres (Type2a?) start to kick in.

oh I see! Okay.

For that purpose it should be similar or potentially even more effective. The difference would be, potentially, recovery time.

Looking at my 2 hour workout today (Hunter 3 x 20 SS) I decided I wanted to instead ride outside for longer since it’s so nice. Referring to the “Tips” in SSB2 for this week it’s recommended that if you want something less intense try Ochoco (Black Mesa is the outside workout). Black Mesa is 2:30 of high z2.

So as far as TR and Coach Chad are concerned the substitute for SS is z2 at a longer duration and not tempo.

I don’t think there is a way to quantify fatigue or recovery as, like you pointed out, it’s based on a personal physiology.

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Not always! In the first block of GBMV, Boarstone +3 (2:00 tempo) and Town Hill (2:45 endurance) are the two suggestions to replace the 2-hour SS ride at the end of the week. In the second block, the recs are back to endurance (Flattop, Allegheny, Big Mountain).