Should i just do 2x20?

Hi, new on trainerroad this fall.

I got a power meter in June and did train based on an ftp of around 315. This was a guesstimate based on an earlier test on zwift (using cadence and speed sensor).

I have been doing 2x20 on 320w outside during the summer and now that it starts to get cold here and I also have a stricter calendar, I have to bring it inside. 2x20 on 320w was too hard for me inside, so i turned down to 300w which was manageable but painful. I do this twice a week, and i only ocationally have time for riding more than this.

Now, i signed up for trainerroad and did the ramp test for an ftp of 285. I chose the low volume ssb program, but i’m not sure if I will be able to complete all three workouts each week, but i can do two.

So here’s the question: for me the ss-workouts seem to be on way too low intensity when i know i can do intervals of higher intensity. What would be the disadvantage of just doing the workouts on a higher intensity at least those weeks i can only do two rides? I am getting a good amount of rest between the rides anyway. Of course, as I’m a total noob, i adjusted my ftp to 300 as well.

Sorry for the long post and possibly bad language.

First, welcome!

Second, it’s normal that you cannot ride at the same intensity indoor as you do outdoor. Your body temperature is most likely higher indoor which tends to reduce the intensity.

I think you should give the plan a try without adjusting anything. Try it for a month or two. If the intensity remains wrong you should change something. But whether it’s intensity or volume you need to change depends on your goals and the specific workout.

If you know that you don’t have time for three workouts a week you should of course do less but otherwise don’t change anything the first month or so.


The point of base is to ride at a lower intensity. You shouldn’t be destroyed at the end of a SSB workout as you are if you do 2x20 at FTP or higher. The idea is that you build your aerobic fitness and your muscular endurance while not accumulating a huge amount of stress as you do at higher workloads (hence the term sweetspot).
If you are able to fit in the 3rd workout a week, then I think it would be best if you just accept the FTP that the ramp test gave you and follow the plan. If you can only do 2 workouts a week of 1 hour, then I’m not sure if 2 hours of sweetspot is enough stress to generate the required benefits, if you have been doing 2x20s twice a week up to now.


Thanks both of you!

When you say that the point of the sweet spot is to build aerobic fitness and muscular endurance without accumulating too much stress, are you implying that doing threshold intervals like i suggested will not build aerobic power? I understand the point of ssb, but what are the drawbacks of doing threshold workout when i get a good amount of rest and also put in rest weeks every fourth week?

Good question. Each type of workout has a different physiological adaptation benefit. For example:

  • Endurance (up to about 65%) - building aerobic base
  • Sweet spot (88-94%) - building fatigue resistance
  • Threshold (95-99) and O/Us (95-105) - lactate clearing

So by elevating your workout intensity, you are merely shifting the focus of the physiological adaptation benefit of the workout.

One of the major goals of SSB (LV, MV and HV) is improving your fatigue resistance. If you are finding that 2x20 at 270 (90% of 300) is too easy, then I’d suggest progressing your DURATION from there. Try 3x20 or 4x20. Still too easy? 3x25, 4x25 . . . 4x30.

Regarding time for 2x sessions per week: With the presumption that you can fit in a weekend endurance/aerobic base workout, I’d make 1 workout a sweet spot and the other either type lactate clearing. However, generally speaking, based on your description of the your situation, I think it best to follow the TR plan, and for any workout session that looks too easy, you can try the +1 or +2 version in the workout library.

  1. There is nothing special about a 2x20 workout. It’s not a magic bullet. In the world of timetrialling it’s become this legendary session, but I don’t think it’s in any of the training plans. My coach never prescribed it to me even when I was training for time trials.

  2. If you can do 2x20 @ 300W but can only get to 285W on a ramp test, that suggests you have pretty good muscular endurance and aerobic base already. So I’d agree with @bobmac - don’t go higher in intensity, go longer in duration.

  3. If you can do 2x20 @ 300W but only 285W in a ramp test, it sounds like you need to work on your vo2 max and anaerobic power. Perhaps doing short or general build after the base program would work for you.


Those were some great answers complimenting the first ones, thanks!

Thanks for explaining the differences between what to expect from ss workouts and threshold.
I think i will just try the program for a few weeks to see how the workouts feel on an ftp set to 300, and eventually lower it if it’s too hard. I live in Norway, so theres practically no outside riding between november and late april if lucky, and the first “real” race is may 1st. So i have a lot of time to build fitness and probably shouldn’t rush things:)

I live in Sweden, southern part so I get to ride outside all year round, but I’m doing base until like february or something. Just putting perspective on your season.

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might be better off using 20-min test to estimate ftp. Or manually set ftp. And/or use 5-min power from ramp as estimate of best 5-min vo2max power like I do and ignore it for estimating ftp. There is another test you might want to try, although it sounds like your anaerobic engine is like mine and the 20-min test might give really good estimates.

And to paraphrase @martinheadon you might want to do a block of vo2 work to bring up your anaerobic power as it will likely improved estimates from the ramp test. I’ve done that this year, and have seen ridiculously low ftp estimates (before vo2 work) turn into reasonable ftp estimates (after a block of vo2 work). Keep in mind that all of these tests suffer from the same basic problem - each one doesn’t work well for someone. The challenge is finding one that does work well, and using that.


You are probably right. My power curve suggests my 5s, 20s and 1min powers are all right, but my 5min is pretty low and 20min is ok. I have not tested my 5min max, and i would normally see myself as the explosive type (mostly from body type and beeing a snowboarder/gymnast in my younger daya), but then again most of my riding outside have been long zone 2 rides of 3+ hours.

Thanks for all your replies. I’m of course open to more suggestions still.

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2x20 is a good way to estimate FTP. The TR workout Gray works well for this.

Like others have said if your Ramp Test FTP score is less than what you can do for 2x20, this suggests a relative strength in muscular endurance and a relative weakness in V02max work (this definitely describes me). It’s up to you and riding goals on the emphasis you wish to place on enhancing your strengths or addressing your weaknesses.




Just a little update, i set my FTP manually to 300w and I’m in week 4 of ssb lv 1. I started to hurt at the end of the third interval of eclipse, but managed to get through, so I guess my estimate was pretty accurate.


if you only do 2 x 20 you’ll get really good at 20m, and that’s about it. Definitely vary up your training schedule and I’m sure the TR program will do that for you. It’s not always about doing max watts each session.



I was hoping someone else was going to hop in and reply to this, but isn’t that kind of wrong? I thought doing long intervals around threshold and sweet spot were also supposed to raise your lactate threshold so that you can ride at a lower intensity for longer? In other words, you wont only get good at 20min efforts, but also ride faster at a lower intensity?

Sure if you bump up ftp you’ll be able to put out more watts but not necessarily the duration. Tons of athletes stop at 20m and their power profile Plummets from there.

I’m just saying add vo2max and ride longer than 20m

Good luck!

Brendan John Housler



Yeah, i’m already well into sweet spot base and i think i’m going to do a full plan and see what kind of progress i make. Just the visual input from tr makes it a little bit more motivating than staring at my bike computer :grin:.

Thanks for the input!

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no problem, best of luck!