Stephen Seiler thoughts on Sweet Spot training

Hey guys,

I know Seiler gets everybody thinking crazy things about training so I wanted to share a video from his YouTube channel. Here’s the link: 5 great endurance training questions asked and answered - YouTube

He was asked a question about his thoughts on Sweet Spot, and how it can/can’t fit into the 80/20 model. He has a pretty reasonable, no-nonsense answer for it…and I think it shows how most training is similar and often lost in translation. For those who don’t know and for the sake of consistency: 80/20 isn’t a percentage of time in Zones 1 or 3. It’s a bin where out of 10 rides, 8 rides fall into the aerobic bin and 2 rides fall into the high-intensity bin.

I’m an ex-TR user, but genuinely enjoy a lot of the topics I read in the forum so I decided to make an account to post this.

Are you saying SS falls into the aerobic bin or the high-intensity bin? I’m pretty sure you mean the aerobic bin, but wasn’t sure from the wording.

The viewer describes Sweet Spot as being just below the second threshold (what we would call FTP or sustainable aerobic power). I think most cyclists aim for 88-92% of FTP when they do Sweet Spot even though the zone is 2-3% wider on each side.

Based on that definition, Seiler classified it as threshold training and said it would fall into high intensity bin. His reasoning was that if you do it enough (as in 45-120 minutes depending on your level), it’s a hard workout that induces stress and causes adaptation. Pretty much falls into line with what Coach Chad says, is that the goal is to extend and intensity the time at Sweet Spot as you get fitter since FTP is a moving target.

I think this makes your point about semantics. Similar discussion going on in this thread

I agree, a lot of semantics at play here. His near FTP sessions are essentially 80-90% of FTP. In a 5 zone model, Zone 3 starts at 76% which is definitely in the ‘gray zone’ of polarized.

I think what he’s getting at is that you can do a lot of Sweet Spot per week, and it’s not a waste of time. Where I think he diverges from TR is that he will pack a week’s worth of Sweet Spot into one workout, and considers that his high-intensity ride for the week. TrainerRoad might have Sweet Spot 3-4x a week that might only have 30-60 minutes per ride. ← This is just an assumption though, I am going off what my TR plans used to prescribe.

Well, maybe, but I think TR prescribes workouts that are above sweetspot that get confused with sweetspot as well. But the time in zone for both appears to be pyramidal instead of polarized, so the semantics of rides per week vs. time in zone sends all kinds of people in all kinds of directions. I think generally for a time-crunched athlete, what he’s describing, not prescribing, is effectively similar to what TR is.

I know that TR prescribes some VO2 work in the low and mid-volume plans, do you think that causes some of the confusion? There’s also a Dylan Johnson video out there that really perpetuates some false-stereotypes of Sweet Spot.

Neither Seilar or Coach Chad would say that their methodologies should be done year-round. They both agree that training needs to be diversified and that different energy systems need to be trained at different times of the year.

Looking at what Seilar does when developing his durability, it’s more SS than polarized. The significance of this is that I don’t think 80/20 was ever meant for the time-crunched cyclist nor have I ever heard it claimed to be.

In Sweet Spot Base Mid Volume II, out of 25 workouts, only 6 are actually sweet spot. 10 are Endurance, 8 are Threshold and 4 are vo2 max (arguably). I think people think trainerroad is just 3 - 4 sweet spot workouts every week.

And the reason Seiler looks SS more than polarized is because he is time-crunched. Pros can do 20+ hours per week, but probably still do about the same amount of intensity. As you lower the volume, the percentage of low-intensity should be the vast majority of where the cuts are made because you still need to do a minimum amount of intensity to get the adaptation. That’s why I think this is all confusing, number of rides per week, vs. time in zone and all varies depending on how much volume you do. The thing that I think is relatively similar across these theories is the time spent in tempo, threshold and above.


It’s weird that only the HV SweetSpot plans are actually (almost) all SweetSpot. I know the described reason behind it with the lower volume plans and being time crunched, it’s just weird that they’re still called SweetSpot plans when they’re really not (especially the Level II plans).

ETA: Like if you took Week 2 of SSB HV 2 and paired down the workouts into a LV setup of 1hr/1hr/1.5hr using variations of workouts within the same week you could go from SSB LV 2 being:
Taylor -2 (VO2Max, 70 TSS, 0.83 IF)/Donner (Threshold, 75 TSS, 0.87 IF)/Clark (SweetSpot w/hard starts, 102 TSS/0.83 IF)
Antelope -5 (SweetSpot, 70 TSS, 0.83 IF)/Gieger -1 (SweetSpot, 60 TSS, 0.78 IF)/Eclipse (SweetSpot, 104 TSS, 0.83 IF) or stick with Clark and end up with 234 TSS vs. 247 TSS for the week.

Will this make you faster or slower? Who knows, but it would be a SweetSpot plan like the HV version at least (for better or for worse :smiley:).

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