Nate said "Sweet Spot Base is not... we shot ourselves in the foot" ...Confused? If the SS Base training isn't SS... What should I do for Base?

Hello TR,

EPISODE #394 - @34:45
Jon: “Nate, we’ve talked about this in the company… I wanna rename Sweet Spot Base Program”
Nate: “Yah, its NOT Sweet Spot… we shot ourselves in the foot”

I’ve been using and learning TR as my own athlete for about the past year.

As a technical XC racer, thank you very much for dosing some deep XC mud with your crew and Savilia in episode 399. Best episode to date. My bias is very clearly XCO racing, and I feel like we XCO/CX racers don’t get (as) much of a lens sometimes in the training world and literature.

Question: When watching episode 390 … while finishing my first block of “Sweet Spot Base Mid-Volume” … I hear Jon & Nate comment that “Sweet Spot Base” isn’t… and that the prescription is mis-represented due to “marketing”… and that it must be “renamed” ??

I used a traditional base plan last year for the months of Jan/Feb/Mar, and then used exclusively your plan builder (mid volume) to prepare for a mid July national level race… I own fully that I followed your plan way too closely and had a less than ideal result. I chose to sit (sitting was the main problem imo) on a trainer and chase a graph instead of riding my bike on the brutally technical trails. When race day came, my calves completely cramped out at zero watts on lap 2 of 5 during the technical decent while standing. I had not prepared my legs well enough for the abuse. I own that I wasn’t prepared because I followed the prescription to 99% instead of riding… Lesson learned.

Sooo… my question ! - I was planning to do Sweet Spot Base I/II/III instead of traditional (and to do a lot of standing on the trainer because that is where following a trainer base program lacks for we MTB folks in my experience). … after just finishing SS Base I… My legs are heavy and fatigued for end of January… I am a dad with too many things to do like so many. I can likely only afford 6 hours on trainer through the week and try for long (3 hour) ride on Sundays.

My A-race is mid July, the course is a brutally technical circuit with a 13 minute lap time (for me) with a 6-7 minute climb and another steeper 2 minute climb per lap… Of note, I am. a 40+ racing against ex-team pros… and our target race length is 1hr15min… this is a CX level output while racing an Enduro course.

Should I scrap SS-Base based on Nate’s comments?? and go to the traditional base plan ?? Confused.

Thank you.

Traditional is usually not widely recommended. Sweet spot is the default, for good reason. Sweet spot base is not unique to TrainerRoad, but used by reputable coaches.

If you feel too much fatigue, go low volume and pad the plan with endurance workouts. Also, replace the Sunday workout of the MV plan (and you want to stay MV) with an endurance workout.


You can get a LOT of effective cycling on 9 hours a week. I’m not world class but I’ve got respectable race performances on much less than what you’re doing.

As many have said on the pod and in the forum, be careful you’re not trying to maximize your cycling and leave no room for other things because you’ll always be scrambling to squeeze every minute out of the day. Not super sustainable and you’ll burn out psychologically before your season even starts and performance tanks after that.

But on your question for plan choice… What sweet spot base does really well is progress you through longer durations of sweet spot (and other workouts like sprinkles of VO2) to get a lot of muscular endurance. SS is great bang for your buck.

A good alternative recommendation with 9 hours of available time per week is either stick with a mid-volume plan, aiming for 6-7 hours per week. Use those extra 2 hours for sleep, foam rolling, cooking, or household chores (which results in an earlier bedtime). Or, do a low-volume plan based on 5ish hours a week and use Train Now to add workouts when you can. The good news is with a 1h15m race, you don’t NEED 3 hour rides. 2 hours endurance work is probably plenty. Sweet spot base will make sure you can last the whole duration as long as you’re well fed :slight_smile:


Sorry, I was unclear.

Correction, watch

EPISODE #394 - @34:45
Jon: “Nate, we’ve talked about this in the company… I wanna rename Sweet-Spot Base Program”
Nate: “Yah, its NOT sweet-spot… (laughs) we shot ourselves in the foot”

TR is very clearly indicating that their own “Sweet Spot” titled program is not “Sweet Spot” ?
And then they do not recommend a scenario for a base intended build for 4-6 months out for an XCO racer.

There is very little sweet spot in their sweet-spot base program and a lot of threshold and VO2.

To be very clear, I understand the philosophy of Sweet-Spot training vs. traditional base. I am not questioning its use and application. I AM confused to the fact that TRAINER ROAD is stating that THEIR SWEET SPOT BASE training program IS NOT SWEET SPOT (Nate’s words), and I am currently following their prescribed Mid-Volume Sweet Spot Base II program under the intention that it IS a Sweet Spot training protocol that will provide equivalent or better results for my available time.

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I have listened to that episode, and since you did not mention any time stamps, let me go from memory: I think the point was that TR’s sweet spot blocks do not just contain sweet spot workouts, but also other types of workouts, including threshold (over-unders typically) and endurance workouts.

Is that what you are referring to? If not, can you provide a time stamp so I know what bit of the podcast you are referring to?

Really? I don’t think so. I do both, road riding and mountain biking, and base training is base training. I don’t see any reason why it is less suitable for a mountain biker.

Overall, given that you want to spend about 6 hours per week on the trainer, I’d switch to a low-volume plan, pad with endurance work when necessary, but otherwise ride outdoors. Just make sure that you can recover from the outdoor rides in time.


Thank you for your replies @OreoCookie … I think you may be right…

I may be mis-listening to Jon & Nates conversation and misunderstanding that they are not implying that their Sweet Spot Base Program is exclusively Sweet Spot and that is ALSO includes Threshold & V02 work in the program?

That is the important stuff that can be seen as lacking the the traditional LSD style base… The errors I made last year!

Thanks again & Yes! lower virtual volume and more real riding is absolutely my plan…

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I think the lack of any efforts beyond Z2 or the occasional dip into Z3 can make you a bit blunt. And in mountain biking (unlike road riding), you know that you sometimes have to dig deep to e. g. get up a steep incline or traverse an obstacle.

If you are struggling with intense workouts, you can do a mini week with short, but intense workouts (≤ 45 minutes) to get you used to intensity.

They regret calling it sweet spot base, because other content creators troll them and suggest that TR only has people sitting in sweet spot.

I can’t speak for Nate, but rather than calling it sweet spot base, they should just have called it base training or some other marketing term. This is all about marketing and not whether it is base training or not. It is base training.

As far as your issue with feeling sore. Make sure you are eating enough before / after the weekend training rides, Saturdays are going to be a tough workout. And if you look in the trainer notes you can also switch out a weekend ride for a longer endurance ride. Which, if I have time I actually prefer. If you have additional time during the week, add in endurance rides.


I suggested Balanced Base. Since then you have Traditional Base, Balanced Base and Polarized Base to choose from. All descriptions are IMHO honest and immediately transport the difference between the plans.


We covered the naming aspect in detail as part of the original podcast post. I think this is about the first one and there’s many more with ideas and related discussion.


I was surprised to see a weekly VO2 and weekly threshold progression in my low volume “sweet spot” base plan. The 3rd workout is sweet spot. :grin: If you’re truly time-crunched, your base will have some harder intervals and I think that’s ok - desirable.

I think it’s ok even in a more traditional base to have some short z4 and 5 sprinkled in.

And for mountain biking - yes we absolutely have to go outside and rip on some trails similar to what’s in our goal race. I want to go to the pump track. I want to go ride my enduro sled from time to time. I have no idea how that all fits in to the weekly TSS, because it’s not an easy Z2 “filler ride” to pedal my 180mm bike up 12% grade long climbs to descend 30% grade DH’s through rocks drops and tight switchbacks. Is this a sweet spot ride? threshold interval session? No clue. It’s definitely tiring. But it’s helpful even in XC races and it’s fun and that’s why we ride in the first dang place. :woman_shrugging:


Ignoring the technical skills / cramping aspect- what happened to your numbers (ftp etc) when you used TR last time?

For me- you’ve picked up on the real problem with TR’s “plan builder”- they should include a discipline specific outdoor skills day!!

If they were really cute they could link this to some of their brilliant YouTube content like the Lee McCormick episodes for mtb’ers or some of the Crit and Road racing skills videos etc to keep you in the app.

Way back when in the mists of time (around a decade ago), I bought a canned cyclocross plan pdf from Sufferfest. Two days a week were dedicated to SKILLS.

Likewise with Friel- write a plan from his book and you’ll be encouraged to add “speed skills” (ie cornering drills, bumping, form sprints or mountain biking specific practice) at least once a week or more during the base phase and then add practice C and B races with some frequency during build.

In a sport where lack of skills can lead to other people getting injured- it does feel negligent to create people with giant engines who can’t ride for toffee or go outside and get cramp!

I know- the podcast is supposed to counter that to some degree but encouraging people off the trainer at least once a week should be hard-written into all but the ‘general fitness’ plans.

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Balanced Base would infer that its balanced… which its not haha. Thats the whole issue with the number of intensity rides they are throwing on people.

It builds short term and relatively fragile fitness that gives good results on ramp tests = keeps people onboard as customers.

I understand that most people don’t wanna do Z2 rides on the trainer, but the answer to that isn’t to do threshold instead.

OT: If you’re feeling sluggish and legs are dead, you’re doing too much intensity. It has to be a long term approach, and as you said, life is more than the bike.

I would in your situation jump on the Polarised plans, do the hard sessions and then as much easy riding as possible that you can fit in :slight_smile:

Also, you can split the easy rides. Got 45min in the morning and 45min once the kids go to bed? No problem, just do double days with easy rides etc.

You get adaptations from easy riding as well, thats the key here.

The easy rides also keeps you fresh in the head and body for being a dad :slight_smile:


I personally wouldn’t say it builds fragile fitness… for me it built real measurable fitness that has a focus on sustaining threshold efforts.

My issue with the plan was ssb2 was almost build in difficulty so the build and specialty plans would then fry me since i was already very close to peak fitness. Illnesses were also common for me during those winter doing ssb, but the fitness gained from the threshold and vo2 work was legit. Now the plan is more of a hodge podge of workouts chosen by AT.

I have found that the torque demands of off-road riding can be trained through off-road riding. Even rutted up gravel roads still can’t prepare you for that rock step up 3/4 of the way up a 20% incline. That is ime where a cramping issue comes in to play.

I think the naming issue largely stems from having the same name for plans of differing volumes. Since to a certain extent they’re trading intensity for volume. I.e. the high volume plan really is all Sweetspot other than the endurance workouts, the low and mid volume plans are predominantly Sweetspot in Base 1 but with a bit of Threshold added, and then in Base 2 they’re a mix of SS, Threshold and VO2. So Sweetspot base is a great name for the high volume plan, just not so much the mid and low volume plans, particularly the second phase of those plans where Sweetspot isn’t even the predominant workout type.

Not sure what a better name would be! As in reality there are so many different ways and reasons you would pick those plans. I.e. you might pick LV because you really do only have 3-4 hours a week to train in which “time-crunched” would be a pretty good name. But you might also pick it because you’re a Masters athlete with 10+ hours to train so you’re not time crunched but can only handle 2-3 sessions of higher intensity riding and then you pad it out with Z2 and recovery in which case . Or maybe you pick it as a MTB rider, get those workouts done indoors during the week and then leave your weekends free for trail riding. “Foundation Base”? Gives you all the important stuff but then leaves you time to other things whether on or off the bike.

It’s fragile fitness if you put it into perspective of the sport of cycling itself.

Of course everything is relative, but I have a lot of friends that do TR, ride hard got great sustained power etc.

And then we have myself and a few more that do a lot of Z2. And sure, during a single ride <3 hours we are all pretty even, but past 3-4 hours, they really suffer with hard efforts, day 2-3-4 of training trips they literally fall apart.

Programs like TrainerRoad just don’t build that base fitness that harder efforts can “lean on”, if that makes sense.

But again, whatever is important for you personally. For me doing 25-30 hour weeks with 1300 TSS when abroad, doing 4x10min at LT2 after 4 hours of riding etc, are things that I like to be able to do.


Yeah, they’ve been discussing quite a bit lately that what they originally named the plans maybe wasn’t the most appropriate now that all the plans have fully been developed, since there is just as many rides in other zones as there are in sweet spot.

Sweetspot base 2 really is the odd one out, with 2 threshold workouts but only 1 optional sweetspot workout


Agreed, the name is fine but all that threshold should be replaced by actual sweet spot IMO.

Totally agree with @Dubadai

Sweet Spot Base is not “base”. That doesn’t mean that riders won’t get a benefit from it as many riders, especially new ones, do. But to call it Base is a misnomer.

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