Over-Unders vs Sweet Spot in TT position

Hey guys,

I’m a triathlete and I’ve been using TrainerRoad for a couple of years now and seen some steady gains in my cycling in that time. This year I’m having a crack at my first Ironman having done three 70.3s in the past 18 months. Alongside training for a marathon in April, I’ve done most of the sessions in SSB1 & 2 low volume, supplemented with a weekly endurance ride (usually Pettit) and longer outdoor rides when weather allows - if we have ropey weather, I’ll usually go with the prescribed TR session.

Anyway, I’ve just started Long Distance Tri Build low volume, with the plan to add in a weekly Pettit. A lot of the plan’s Thursday sessions are Over-Under intervals and I like to do this session on my Tri bike to get used to the TT position (I use my roadie for the Tuesday VO2 stuff).

I’m interested to know if other users think this is the right thing to do or would I be better off going for lower intensity, sweet spot session on the TT bike instead? I did the first of the over-under sessions this morning and it was bar far the toughest session I’ve done so far, so I’m a little concerned about how I’ll deal with bigger or tougher sessions further down the road. I know I could lower the intensity on the sessions or take an FTP test in TT position, but I’m reluctant to muddle my FTP given that I don’t want to be all about the TT bike. In terms of lowering intensity, I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that it’s possible to minimise power losses in TT position over time - does it make sense to keep the intensity at 100% in an effort to acclimitise?

Apologies for the long post! Thanks in advance. Andy :slight_smile:

This is a good question and I have listening to TR podcasts since I started using TR 14 months ago. I to trained for Triathlon, I have done IM bike leg in 6 hours just from training outdoors only and that was a few years ago. It will be interesting to see what I could do perhaps in 2020 if I was to enter an IM. Currently I am focused on training for ITU Aqua bike (3Km swim - 120 KM bike - no run).

I can tell you that your FTP in TT position when tested on the trainer is about 15% less than it would be when doing the test on the hoods in upright. (and the boys on the TR podcast have stated that this was the case for them as well.) My take away from that is if your FTP as determined on the trainer is say on the hoods as opposed to the aerobats then when doing the MV02, threshold, or over and under sets are probably best done on the hoods to meet the targets of the workout. The sweet spot WO although only set at 88 to 92% of FTP and long sets, and done at the end of the week is sometimes the hardest set and these are the only ones where I do most if not all of it in time trial position.

I have tried doing the harder sets in aero thinking I should. But not this year. In the podcast they interviewed former Tour rider and IM Pro Cam Wurf (fastest IM Split) and he stated he rarely trains in TT position on the trainer.

When I look at the objectives of the set: Build aerobic or anaerobic systems I don’t think it is relevant your position.

When training so that you are use to the TT position then I suppose you need to do more sweet spot work and avoid the other kind of WO’s.

For me I’m in TT position when I ride outdoors which will not be till the weekends starting in April (maybe soon in March), and I can virtually ride outdoors all year (Victoria BC) but I don’t because I hate being cold and wet and hate biking thru the debris on the road.

When first doing these harder sets like over and unders … they are hard or getting harder as all of these WOs do as you move towards the end of the WO: physically and mentally. But as I do all of the WO as designed it is not surprising that I now find these over and under and threshold sets are easier and it is the MV02 sets that make me go mentally squirely… Last week and this week did some tough MV02 3 min intervals hitting 260+ watts for the first time. now threshold and over and unders where I hit about 230 watts is much easier.

(did sustain build Base-MV1 & MV2, and just about to finish Sustain power Build MV.)

Anyway I have been doing the over and unders on the hood this winter.

1 Like

Do you happen to know podcast Wurf said that? I’ve been doing all of my workouts in the TT position after listening to a podcast when they talked about specificity.

Garden City comrade! :grin: :+1:

Thank goodness you’re one of those Tri weirdos so we don’t have to compete against each other!

Was just thinking about this, remembering Lionel Sanders’ training vid…riding on the tops…no aerobars in sight.

I believe Coach Chad has mentioned he doesn’t spend a great deal of time – if any – in aero position until the Specialty phase, and even then, only certain workouts, e.g. Threshold.

It was episode 122. Sorry not cam with. It was Andrew talansky

Im following the Olympic base, build and speciality and chosen the approach of doing as much as possible in aero, only coming out of aero when I can no longer hold the power. My thinking is I’m training my body to be able to the produce power even in this “compromised” position. So far its going well.

Specificity is the key - your FTP may be lower in TT position but that is why you train in TT position - to become accustomed to the position and eventually generate more power.

In winter my TT bike goes on the trainer and all training is done in TT position for 3 - 4 months. My FTP on road bike and TT bike are now identical and interchangeable which is quite unusual as the TT position normally gives a lower FTP.

1 Like

I am on the same boat as @Kendal. Because of the difference of FTP between road and TT bike, when you use the same FTP on the TT bike you make a sweet spot workout a threshold one…

Morning all - thanks for replying; there’s some really interesting input here and gives me a lot of things to think about. A couple of takeaways so far for me: -

  • Some people prefer/benefit more from doing all their ‘work’ in the less compromised position of being on the hoods rather than in aero and focusing on the physiological adaptions from threshold/VO2 work
  • Others benefit more from doing all their work in the TT position, starting at a lower FTP compared to their road bike position, but see the two correlate more closely over time
  • Specificity is key - especially the closer you get to your target race. With that in mind, I’m not sure that doing repeats at 95-105% FTP is entirely specific to a race where I’m aiming for ~5 hours at 70-75% FTP.

So, to summise at this stage - different approaches work for different people. Personally, I prefer riding my road bike on the turbo, especially for more intense sessions but I do like the familiarity gained from retaining some TT riding during all phases. I’ll probably go with doing the higher intensity sessions on my road bike and the easy/endurance sessions on TT and see how that goes - nothing’s set in stone and it’s all a learning curve.

Thanks again everyone!


I’m getting close to starting the speciality phase and I can see I’ll be spending a lot of time in aero. The WOs lend themselves to it. It is the century plan. As I’m essentially trading for a 120 km time trial.

I’m not an expert, but to me it makes sense to do a separate FTP test in the TT position. Your TT-FTP is (very likely) going to be significantly different from your road-bike-FTP. Whatever the goal of a workout is, you’re going to be targeting the wrong systems if you’re using the wrong FTP.

A test in TT position is a good idea at minimum for confirming power so pacing can be determined (if power is intended for use in the effort).

It can also be applied early and throughout training to identify the difference between a low and high position. That can set a gap to watch during adaptive position training, as well as a possible data point to experiment with position to improve power (and minimize aero losses?).

I can see the merits of a TT-position FTP test, but I’m not really keen on doing that and effectively giving my TT bike primacy over my road bike. Most of my riding is still done on the road bike and I don’t really want to change that or manually chop and change my FTP setting each time I use one bike or the other, unless it’s really beneficial or essential.

In an ideal world, it would be great if TrainerRoad could store different FTP settings for different bikes and you as a user identify which bike you attempted a workout on - possible future feature?


I agree here. What do you want to end up with; faster on the road bike or good TT? Muscular needs are different with the different positions so train what you want to be better at. Sure, your FTP will likely be lower in the TT position and that is a blow to many people’s egos. It kind of reminds me of the guys lifting too heavy weights to have proper form. If you want to be a faster triathlete, you need to train like one.

You could do a ramp test on the TT bike, but not push the updated FTP to TR. Then you can mentally adjust any targets downward on any rides you’re doing on the TT bike. Or maybe use the “Workout Creator” to modify an existing workout to the adjusted targets, then push that in as a substitute on your calendar? I haven’t downloaded “Workout Creator” yet so I don’t know if there’s a one-button adjustment you can make that dials all targets back a certain percentage. At worst, you’d have to dial back the intervals block by block.

I took the ego blow and did the FTP test on TT bike, full aero position till the end. I was at 255 on road bike at the end of SSBMV1, switched bikes for start of SSBMV2, retested on TT bike, was at 238. 7% loss I think.
Did all of SSBMV2 on TT bike, every second of it aero. Finished it 2 weeks ago and did that ramp test on TT bike to see. 258. I feel as though I acclimated to the TT position quickly and could quickly tell which muscles were getting beat up more. I also was nudging up the intensity percent a few very quickly into SSBMV2, within 4-5 workouts. Im very glad I did it this way.
I also know that my road bike FTP is up based on the few local rides and group rides ive been on tracking my power.

Going forward I plan on pushing my FTP as high as I can by doing my VO2 and recovery rides on the road bike, and all my Threshold stuff on the TT bike. Thinking if my breathing is the overall limiter in the TT position, I will not limit that by doing VO2 on road bike. What im doing now is adding 5-10 percent to the VO2 workouts manually at the start of the workout, and monitoring HR and RPE during.
I will keep the threshold work done full aero and keep that musculature working going forward. I am doing Sustained Power Build now and theres plenty of longer Threshold workouts to keep my TT work improving steadily.

1 Like

You had already the first glimpse that on TT position you’re not able to hold the same power levels as on the road bike. I would try it one or two more times and if you see that they are still too dificult that’s probably because you’d need to play with your FTP in order to complete the WKOs on TT position. On that case i would do everything but endurance rides on the road bike.



I can’t understand why you would train in a position different to your race goal.

I initially took at 30watt ftp difference in the TT position ftp test. Ego copped a whack, but through training exclusively in the TT position I’ve closed that gap considerably.

Another advantage to train in your TT position on the trainer is on the road, holding the TT position feels 1000x better because you’ve done the work indoors in a fixed position, and it actually feels easier at power due to micro breaks with inertia, and the bike is always slightly moving under you.

Jamie I good to know that you took the risk and have seen positive results doing them all in TT position.

I think next season I will give it a better try. This being my first full season,

The in the base and build phase training pattern in Mid volume was:

Mon - MV02
Tues - recovery - petit.Drills etc
Wed: supra-Threshold - 8 to 12 min sets
Friday - Over /unders
Sat - sweet spot.

It is safe to say it was Tues /Sat only in TT position.
Next year I’ll Test in TT - and certainly work the Wed & Fri workouts in TT position even if it means decreasing the intensity till I no longer have to.

Actually I might start that with my short build/specialty phases in May to July, which will commence when I return from ITU Worlds in Spain on May 4th. Might as well get use to it.

To me, it’s simple. I test in the TT position and train in the TT position. If I tested in the upright position, I wouldn’t be able to complete over/under workouts on TT bars and would struggle with sweet spot as well. As a matter of fact no workout except for Pettit would be manageable in the TT position. The difference is just too big. If I tested in the TT position but trained upright, I wouldn’t be getting the full benefit of the workout.

In this respect I choose specificity any time of the year. It’s bad for the ego, good for the race.