If you like how your fitness is shaping up with Sweet Spot work, it may be worth considering doing a Mid Volume or Low Volume plan and then adding in some more low-intensity riding on top of that. TrainNow is useful for these situations, and you can also check out some more tips we have from the following training article:
You also have a good point about how our plan volumes are named. While volume/frequency is a differentiator between each plan, TSS/intensity is arguably the more important difference. This is something we are looking to improve – our team is brainstorming ideas for better names for the future.
Our High Volume Polarized plans will have athletes on the bike six times per week with volume building up to 10 hours per week. If you want to increase your training volume, you can add an extra low-intensity workout or extra time to the workouts already in the plan. Doing so will further increase the plan’s polarization and volume. That said, these plans are still in Early Access and will be improved upon as more data is collected, so we appreciate your feedback!
I’d have to go back and look at how many times I did it. Once at least before AT and I think once or twice after AT. As far as I remember I always came out of it feeling like a rock star, but then crashed and burned when switching to build plans and as I generally progressed in a season. I documented some experiences with it if you search on my name and are curious.
There is a time and place for that type of work, but my lack of ability to translate it beyond being good at completing huge sweet spot workouts has taken me on a long journey to the point that my training now looks completely different than anything I’ve ever done with TR, and that journey started after spending a good deal of time on AT.
A few thoughts I have:
I would not consider it a “base” program in that it is building aerobic base. If you are well-trained enough to do it, then it likely isn’t building any aerobic base and very well may be deteriorating your aerobic base by neglecting time in the training zones that do build it.
Depending on how you seek to express your fitness, I could see it as a specialty program.
If I was going to do a high volume sweet spot block: keeping weekly training hours constant, I would drop HV into my plan builder and drop some intensity days for zone 0 or zone 1 time (no zone 2 time) vs. dropping in a MV plan and adding those zone 0 or zone 1 days. I always shorter workouts at the same PL felt harder than longer workouts. Especially doing a lot of intensity, my body likes a nice long warm-up to get going. YRMV
My own opinion? There is no substitute for classic base building by spending a lot of time in the moderate domain. And what you consider moderate domain may be harder than you should be working - particularly as a high-volume athlete. Assuming you don’t burn out quickly on sweet spot - which for sure is less risky using AT - you’re very likely to see a tangible initial bump fairly quickly in work you can do in the heavy domain. The key is compounding fitness gains in all domains year over year - that I never saw doing years of sweet spot work.
Out of curiosity, for those who have completed SSB HV a few times before and after AT (without rescuing the number of intensity days), do you find the after AT program to be easier/better because you were starting from a low PL and progression was held back somewhat vs the standard plan?
Otherwise the only difference I can recall is Wednesday now being a recovery ride.
I’m pretty sure I was still at a high PL when I did it, but still found it easier than pre-AT. I think there was a pull-back on intensity prescribed in general around the time AT was introduced. Maybe I am mis-remembering.
That jibes with my recollection as well. The Tues / Thursday rides are now shorter (1:30 vs. 2:00 in some cases) and there seems to be more rest intervals (my recent experience with Sloan +2 aside…BTW, it was not as bad as I expected it to be. )
To be honest I don’t know how developed my aerobic base is. I’ve read it can take years which I guess depends on several factors. Also, I don’t really have an accurate/objective way of expressing my fitness, probably because I don’t race, pay much attention to my performance data, or have any specific goals. I know I’m loads fitter than I was, FTP increases, V02 max increasing (according to Garmin), RPE (in general and not just cycling), TR progression levels etc. I could analyse my data in greater detail, but that’s not really why I’m using TR, or cycling in general.
Point 3 also makes sense to me and I think this will be my approach if/when I complete these SS blocks. Or I’ll go back to 2 to 3 TrainNow workouts a week and make an effort to keep up the overall volume with lower intensity rides, mostly outside.
I’m half way through week 2 - I still feel good and enjoying the SS sessions and been eating like a horse. I was pretty tired this morning (poor sleep) so swapped the 2nd Z2 of the week for a 1 hour very easy ride outside. I’m tempted to do an AI FTP test (last one was 22 Dec) but really want to wait until the first block is done.
Thanks for the response!
Ah I didn’t realize the polarized plans were different from traditional base. I am seeing 3 rest days each week for traditional base which I think is too low for a high volume plan. Looking forward to the polarized plans!
My thoughts around SSHVB1 + 2 so far…
This is the first time I’ve ever tried to follow a training plan and I love it. Looking forward to the build phase. I do think I will be faster than ever with less total time on the bike.
I raced every weekend in October mostly and then took November off for the most part and started the SSHVB1 in December. My usual training volume had been 12-15 hours a week usually, 6-7 days a week for the past several years so this was a decrease in the total time on the bike (which is great because I have a baby) but definitely an increase in the sweet spot intensities. I have struggled with knee pain in the past (PFPS) and it came back with a vengeance about 4 weeks in to the SSHVB1.
I backed off once the knee pain started and built up slowly with endurance rides plus lots of PT exercises, ice, etc.
I started SSHVB2 a week or so ago with the intention of making sure I wasn’t overloading my knee, perhaps swapping the Sunday ride with an endurance ride.
I’m definitely getting a lot better at SS intensities - becoming easier now. I also have gotten my knee under control.
I never actually complete all prescribed workouts because I have other commitments and sports but do my best to fit the intention of the plan into my schedule. So I get a bit more rest + recovery than prescribed. I think this will help with burnout.
Most importantly to me, HVSSB1 assumes/implies that you’re coming off a rest period and it is the first training block in a progression. Because of this, I think it should start with lower intensity and add intensity over time instead of starting with lots of intensity from the get go to reduce injury risk. So instead - doing workouts that are primarily endurance with a few SS intervals thrown in for the first couple of weeks to build strength. Like Round Bald + 2 minus the third interval (endurance instead). In future years maybe I’ll create my own B1 plan like this plus do weights and then do SSHVB2 with endurance on Sundays instead of the prescribed intensity. Or I’ll give polarized a go.
If I want to replace the Sunday SS workout with a longer Z2 ride as suggested in the notes and by others, should I delete the original scheduled SS workout from the calendar and add the recommended Z2 workout (or do an outdoor ride), or leave it in the calendar and just ignore? I’m using adaptive training.
It doesn’t matter either way, but I always delete the SS. Deleting/skipping the SS will prompt AT to reduce future SS workouts on Sundays, which doesn’t matter because I always do z2.
Last year AT used to suggest Sunday’s SS at a much lower PL around -1.0 of your current PL. Now it appears to just give you an “achievable” workout at or just below your PL. Which is ridiculous and too much intensity for the week. It’s fine in SSHV1 when PLs are low, but not in SSHV2.