Sweet Spot Base versus Traditional Base plans

That will require some math and looking at your own data. I would first take your 80% of HR max, and then find several training blocks where you maintain that average and see what your average power is. Likely, it will be in the upper tempo zone. Probably the reason why he uses HR and not power, is that % of max heart rate is a better indicator of when your body starts to get into that stress response state. Power may not be a good indicator of this. When we spend too much time in this stress response state, or “no man’s land”, as he calls it, it prevents our bodies from recovering and adapting to our HIIT work. So this is why he is hammering this notion of surrounding your HIIT work (no more than 20%) with Zone 1 work. vs, just sprinkling a series of workouts through the week that are neither HIIT or zone 1. It’s the lawn mower effect, as I call it…just a monotonous stream fo efforts with not a lot of specialization or differentiation. So the idea here, as i understand it, it to drive a large and more sever wedge between your HIT work and everything else, everything else being in what he defines as Zone 1 – nothing over 80% of HR max.

Polarized training…perhaps? In concept it appears so, but I have not researched the concept, nor does he mention it in his research.

I can’t use HR as I take a daily beta blocker which has the effect of reducing my max HR

Interesting. Hmmm…do you know by what % it reduces your HR? Maybe you could do some calculations and then use those to find the corresponding power average.

BTW, if you are more into audio, this podcast features Joe Beers where he discusses this notion of the stress response, 80% of max HR, and the impact to training. Its a great discussion! How much hard training is actually need? That’s the question initiating the discussion.

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I’ve no idea by how much as I’ve trained using power alone for the last ten years

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Excellent thanks. I’ll listen to that tonight! Cheers

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I’m listening again now. He says 40-60% of Peak power which I assume he means FTP. This aligns to the base heart rate zone 2, what is called the low lactate zone. So in Andy Coggen terms we are talking power zones 1 through mid zone 2.

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Interesting! I take a beta blocker as well. Consequently, my maximum heart rate is around 150. When I don’t take the medication, my heart rate easily exceeds 200 beats per minute.

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So probably about 60 to 75% of ftp

Late to the party, but I am trying this adjustment this year and think it will be helpful for my 45 yo body.


Nate was kind enough to respond to that same question I had on reddit, and the following has been Coach Chad™ approved:

  • SSB1 week 1
  • SSB1 week 2
  • SSB1 week 3
  • SSB1 week 6 recovery
  • SSB1 week 4
  • SSB1 week 5
  • SSB2 week 1
  • SSB2 week 6 recovery
  • SSB2 week 2
  • SSB2 week 3
  • SSB2 week 4
  • SSB2 week5
  • SSB2 week 6 recovery
  • Build week 1
  • Build week 2
  • etc


Edit to add links to my master threads that grew from this post:

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Yup, I think so.

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I am getting help with the WKO4 guru community to create a custom HR histrogram chart in WKO4 that will show: 1) % of time in less than 55% of Max HR, 2) % of time between 55 and 80% of MAX HR, and 3) % of time in 80% or more of max HR.

Then to apply the science and evidence behind what Beers is suggesting, namely that Base level must be 75-90% of time, all year, and base level is 55-80% of Max HR, I’m going to start tracking this on a weekly, monthly, and year to date time frame using the TR Sweet Spot Base Mid Vol. 1 plan…starting next week.

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Well, it looks like we’re getting our money’s worth.

Initially, I was discouraged by what I perceived as a feeble response to my post. Since then, however, the groundswell of support has been overwhelming. I am not alone. Although I’ve yet to isolate the answer, I am optimistic about my prospects.

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This is cool. I’m 41, typically used to 3 on 1 off training, but trying the 5/1 from SSB MV. Admittedly I’m pretty cooked today, but I’ve recovered well enough so far. We will see how week 4 goes… may shift to the 3/1 above. Good stuff.

I have seen that thread on FB, WKO4 group. Following.

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It’s very interesting. I love using the data like this. What I am struggling with is that Beers uses % of Max HR to determine the split in polarization, and the reason why he does this is because he is multi-sport. However, in the WKO4 cycling community, they show the polarization via % of VO2max, and have some really cool reports, monthly, weekly, histograms, etc) to show your polarization data. And they don’t use VO2max as calculated by FTP power zones, but actual VO2max. So, even though actual VO2max has to be calculated in a lab, WKO4 has some fairly sophisticated algorithms to calculate this, and then it will tell you what your average power is at VO2max.

Related to this topic, it appears there is a strong case for Masters or non-pros to use sweet spot for base, which is the opposite of polarized, and then switch to polarized for build and speciality.

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Why is this?

Into my second week of Build, I would agree with the POL Build-Spec recommendation; those long threshold workouts can really build fatigue.

Based on what I am reading outside of this forum on the topic of polarized training, sweet spot, etc, the problem that Masters and non-pros have, given that we have day jobs, is that we can’t put in the base hours that pros do, so the “theory” is that we can cheat this traditional system and sweet spot is an effective, time crunched replacement of traditional base. With sweet spot, you aren’t putting a ton of stress on your body (but not low either), so that by the time you get to build and your first race, you aren’t already at your peak and your power wad is not blown before the season even starts. This is what I see with guys who are racing online all winter and doing tons of HIIT or high volumes of sweet spot. They show up at the first spring race of the season and kick everyone’s ass, but by the time State champs come around, they’re spent. Once you get to your peak, there is nowhere to go but down, which is why most pro athletes plan and train for maybe only 2-3 peaks in a season. This is just periodization and physiology 101. So the idea is that you use sweet spot for base get get your CTL up as high as possible without fatiguing, and then when you get to build, you are switching to polarized…which makes sense…if you have races coming up in a few months, you need to be able to sprint and perform well at VO2max and threshold. But there is no way in hell you can do both sweet spot training and HIIT 2-3 times a week throughout the entire build phase…you will be massively fatigued by the time you get to your first race. By the time you get to 6-8 weeks out before you first race, my training plan and workouts start to emulate actual race efforts. So if I’m a track cyclist, doing a lot of mass start races, points, etc, then my build is going to include a lot of VO2max and Anaerobic work, with shorter threshold, but everything in between these workouts is going to be below 65% of FTP – no sweet spot, in other words. Since you only have so many kilojoules to spare a week, sweet spot is basically wasted effort (so the theory goes based on that resource I posted from J. Beers) because it’s neither allowing you to recover, nor is it emulating or allowing you to adapt to race efforts. It just keeps you in a half assed state of fatigue and fitness.

Check out this resource: Toolbox: Polarized Training Simplified - PezCycling News

“Over years of experimenting with these systems, I have found each one an effective tool that can be used to design training programs and achieve peak performance. In the simplest terms, HIIT training is a situational solution that works for time-crunched athletes, and I tend to focus more on the sweet spot and polarized formats in my planning. Sweet spot is my go-to system for base training, and when it comes to performance training (pushing toward peak), my focus tends to switch to polarized training.”

I guess it all depends on one’s goals and purpose of cycling. If someone isn’t a competitive racer, then I see no reason why they just can’t do sweet spot all year long and just keep the volume at a level that they can maintain consistently without fatiguing. But based on the data that Beers is showing, elite athletes are not using sweet spot training all year long. 75-90% of all their training, all year, is below 60% of FTP. So how do we scale this model down to someone who can only put in 7-10 hours a week?

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I’m sorry I’d assumed that the Pulmonary Emboli had resulted in a extended period off the bike with a resultant drop in fitness. The false starts with plans during 2018 seemed to reinforce that I thought.