Stagnation, too much sweet spot?

Am I the only one who often feels like they are posting unwarranted questions, because the answer is probably obvious? Trying to get better about asking anyway this year =D

Is it possible I have maxed out (for my lifestyle) my sweet spot gains for the time being? Or am I making another training mistake? hopefully my history is viewable. I THINK I am being consistent… did have illness (mild covid) in April, and a torn MCL last year… those are the two biggest downturns in training I have.

Quick picture of me- 36 years old, 5’6" tall, 135 lbs. Athlete forever, newer to cycling (2018). Relatively in shape- running about a 43:0x 10k, 21:xx 5k. Plant based diet.

Last RAMP test (before this week) put me from 230 to 232 after SSBMV1. Not huge, somewhat disappointing, but at least it was progress!

Took a test yesterday after SSBMV2 recovery week and felt FLAT… pulled the plug when i normally would’ve been able to go a bit more (would’ve put me at -12 points). Retested today, and felt MUCH better, but still dropped down to 225 (-7) points. I was pretty upset and deleted that test (stupid i know)… but I will say I went to failure.

I ALWAYS struggle with build, and ALWAYS have gotten good results with sweet spot base, so I think I have been repeating it too often (comfort zone?). I have scheduled General build for the next set, and am hoping that will fix my stagnation problem.

I don’t have many fitness friends, but felt the need to talk it over with anyone who has some experience, etc… Is it possible I have maxed out (for my lifestyle) my sweet spot gains

In short- here’s my to do list:

  1. I would LIKE to get more sleep, but not sure that is currently doable, but I do get 8-8.5 hours a night with consistent sleep and wake times… will try to keep that up or improve.
  2. food- start monitoring intake again, make sure I am getting enough (have had nutrition stop growth in the past)
  3. change it up- General Build here I come.
    Any criticism, thoughts, or encouragement welcome. =)

ALSO, moved my trainer to the garage last week- cleaned it out and made room to clear it from the living space. It is probably 20 degrees colder out there, but I have everything calibrated etc… although it could have some impact on my body I suppose? I feel comfortable enough

talking to myself over here- is this the correct anology?

Vo2max= size of my cup
Sweet spot work- works on filling that cup more and more…

maybe its time for a bigger cup? (bump my v02max?)

Remember: your FTP doesn’t define you. It’s literally one number to base your training off of.

There’s no way you’ve maxed out your SS gains if you’ve only been cycling 2 years. Not even sure it’s possible to max out SS, though a different stimulus is sometimes a good idea.

If you’ve always struggled with build, dig a little deeper to find out why. Not enough carbs? Not enough mental strength? Not recovering enough between workouts? etc.

It’s possible your FTP is stagnating because you’re not doing Build. Base training (z2 or SS) is great for lots of reasons, but it’s called base for a reason; it’s a platform on which to build.


Thanks @sam.fuller1! As with everyone else probably, always trying to be gentle on myself but it is hard!

Well, ssbmv2 has a lot of work other than sweetspot in it. It’s more threshold and v02 than sweetspot, despite it’s name. You could try a v02 block, but I suspect mid-volume may be too much for you. I might suggest dropping to low volume and adding a couple of Z2 rides to give you the volume you are looking for, but at much lower intensity. If you are cooked going into build, it will cook you more and that fatigue will stagnate your growth.

8 hours is plenty of sleep. I get 7 and my oura ring tells me i’m recovering well. are you drinking much alcohol? I found that even 2 beers a couple times a week was having an affect on recovery.


I don’t drink at all, no…

I don’t feel cooked… just felt flat on on Monday. Recovery week felt fine and I was itching to train again. I will closely monitor fatigue and scale back no problem, thanks for the suggestion!

First and foremost, everyone’s body and response to training and recovery is unique…keep experimenting and learning what works for you. I’m also alcohol free and mostly plant-based as well - technically lacto-ovo vegetarian. My personal, non-scientific opinion and experiences in response to your to-do list:

  1. It seems like that should be efficient sleep.
  2. I always like to check in with my nutrition periodically (once every 3-6 weeks). Quick evaluation of calories, timing, macro proportions, suffiecient micros, etc. I tend to get in a “rut” of eating the same or similar things and not notice until I do a quick, deliberate check-in with myself. So, I change my grocery list and try to establish a more diverse rotation.
  3. I like “shocking” my body with training diversity every now and then too (time of day, type of workout, length of workout, separating 1 workout into 2 shorter - 1 morning and 1 evening, increasing intensity when I feel great for a workout, etc.). I feel like my body gets better at coping with what I’m throwing at it and doesn’t respond the way I like (just as with nutrition). It seems like my body becomes better at absorbing the same/similar stress really well and doesn’t make the incremental change that something new would do for me. So, I change things up slightly for a short period and my body “wakes” up and says “whoa, what is this that you are doing now”.

Good luck and keep us posted on your experiments and progress!!!

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Thank you, I think I need to re-commit to a bit more intake of whole foods- I’m getting a bit lazy perhaps. Grocery delivery order in progress!

I was really hoping somebody would recommend that I get a new disc brake road bike, and that would fix my problem-but I guess not :sob: (joking)

New equipment almost always kick starts motivation :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Don’t overthink it! Last year I had minimal gains in SSB1&2 and massive ones in Build. This year, I am getting gains in SSB and that has me excited to start build in 2 weeks. The point that I’m trying to make here is that you cannot simply compare one metric year over year and draw a conclusion. I felt similar to you last year, almost that I was going backwards from SSB1->SSB2 but learned that was not the case… as I gained 22 watts in the first half of build which is just 3 weeks + 1 recovery! Stick with it, gains are a comin’.

I’d suggest digging deeper to either see what’s up or if maybe you can find some satisfaction in other areas of cycling not named FTP. You can ask yourself questions like ‘am I stronger now than I was at this point in training last year?’, ‘have other aspects of my performance improved over last year, ie. the ability to work at sweet spot at higher watts’, then there are life stressors etc to consider that may play a part…

FTP can give you a clue per se but should not be used to draw conclusions that will really change how you go about your training.

While your FTP didn’t go up, if you stuck with the program and completed the workouts then I can guarantee that your muscular endurance has increased along with many other positive physiological adaptations. In it’s simplest form, base training is meant to build your aerobic system before build really packs on the power. Any gains that you get in SSB are bonus.

I kind of rambled but hope it provided some insight to consider.

Hate to break it to you, but you’re not getting out of the sweet spot work just yet buddy :smile:

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Thanks @LevinLarge… good insights for me…

And i wish I could JUST DO SWEETSPOT! I’d take that any day over just about any other type of work!

my n=1 experience having done SS and into build more than a few times now; when i do SSB1&2 and see minimal gains in absolute FTP i have seen a MASSIVE jump in FTP during the build block. I reckon this is because i’ve built a solid foundation and then i heap the Vo2 work on top and it shoots up.
When i have seen big gains in FTP during SS plans i have struggled during the build. Overall it all seems to come out in the wash by the end of the full cycle though.

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I’d just add to this that build is going to make you better at the ramp test than SS. I struggle with the ramp test as an ultra-distance type of guy, and love sweet spot. So struggling through a build might help OP’s ramp test results too.


Update for posterity:

Made it through build, and FTP has increased to 240. That would be +15 points from original post. I also gained a couple of pounds so my w/kg didn’t change a bunch. Sitting around 3.9 w/kg.

Thanks for everyone’s input!

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I think that’s the answer right there.


It’s possible to stagnate on the overall volume/intensity. Don’t become a one trick pony. Think about other training stimulus that stretch you:

More volume
Long, slow 2-3-4-5 hour rides on the weekends
VO2max block
SIT intervals

You have to mix it up.

Don’t be afraid to rest more. Those 5 week SSB blocks are long. Many people could benefit from 3 week blocks and more rest weeks.

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This. It will definitely take a few rides to get the engine running right again. Been there…done that.

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I found the sweet spot stuff stopped doing it for me too. I could do a HV sweet spot base plan, feel like I was smashing the longer intervals near the ends of the plan, and then test no higher.

I would write that off as the effect being better muscular endurance at sweet spot or something useful for later, but honestly never really saw much from it.

I think maybe the first time I did sweet spot plans I got some boost though, when I hadn’t done any structured training before. Also failed on some HV SS plans too at other times.

I’m back trying structured training again but VO2 it is. Think even in winter now I’ll still throw in some VO2 work, just less of it.

Sounds like something similar… I’ve smashed HVSS plans too…

SS got me from untrained @ 148 (november 2018)-225ish… but i stayed there. I had tried some build but kept failing…

Now that i FINALLY got through a build I’m at 240 and ready for another cycle!

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