Sweet Spot Base versus Traditional Base plans

I just finished SSB1 high volume. I tweaked Some of the prescribed weeks because 5 days of SS intervals is too much for me. I mostly skipped the wednesday and friday workout and did som extra endurance work in de weekend. I made sure my TSS went up every week.
My rest week was turned really down and did my ramp test on saturday. I was well rested by then. My FTP was app. 306 and before the block it was 304. BUT
I feel i can easier manage long Sweet Spot blocks, which for me was a weak point. I also dropped 5kg by doing intermittend fasting (76 to 71) and it looks I am sub 10% BF. Almost all workouts were done in fasted state.

I started now with SSB2HV and i tweaked the program. I do the 3 hard Sweet Spot workouts per week and one long zone 2 wo in the weekend ( last weeks will be Vogelsang on Sunday). The wednesday workout is optional for me. I also added an extra rest week after 3 weeks. I will continue with SST until end of februari and will go to Spain for a week of riding in the hills. From then I will swith to polarized training for 8 to 9 weeks to reach my top.

Having had some time to reflect, I decided that this post could benefit from a rewrite. I believe that I can present my case more succinctly.

My original complaint was that after seven weeks of TrainerRoad’s Sweet Spot Base plan, my FTP had not changed. I decided to compare this year’s regimen to the results I got from TrainerRoad’s Traditional Base plan almost three years ago.

In the first five months of 2016, during which time I was doing TrainerRoad’s traditional base plan, my FTP did not change. It started at 143 and then fluctuated between 137 and 145.

I followed the base plan with two months of build. At the start of the build plan, my FTP was 139. Two months later my FTP was 171. A couple of months after that it was 194.

According to my analysis, the pattern appears to be that during the base phase, FTP remains flat. My guess is that although FTP doesn’t increase, endurance does. In comparison, during the build phase, FTP skyrockets.

Assuming my analysis is correct, what I’ve seen over the first seven weeks of the Sweet Spot base plan is normal.


I agree with you all, so true,

The bigger the base of the pyramid, the higher the peak :sunglasses:

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That’s part of the whole point. Time plus intensity of effort equals stress. If you want to do a 25 hour week in your base period of less than 60% ftp to get the adaptation but you don’t have the time…you have to up the intensity based on that. So when the pros say they do 80% of their training at a real low intensity it’s done over a LONG TIME. Something has to give. it’s a seesaw with time on one side and intensity on the other.


You also may have underestimated your FTP in the beginning of the Sweet Spot Base plan, (maybe not your best Ramp test) so the intensity was not high enough for you to get the stress needed to get out of sweet spot 7 what you needed to.

A masters athlete can easily maintain a polarized plan with only 7-9 hours a week – not just for the pros - and Seiler has confirmed this before. Without touching the middle of the seesaw (80-100% of FTP), you can up your Zone 1 to its higher end and then do as much 100+ % of FTP work you can do 2-3 times as week. For instance, next week now in my early base phase), I’m doing 2 days of 105% of FTP interval workouts, an easy recovery ride day, and then 90m of low endurance on Sat and Sun. That’s an easy week of 260 TSS, no sweet spot. A harder week, as I get into my build phase, would up the intensity of the two interval days (adding VO2max and anaerobic), maybe even add another day, and increase the time on the weekend rides, getting to roughly 400 TSS. This falls in the typical or guideline average weekly TSS of a 50+ masters racer like myself.

Easily maintain…ok. But to what end? What are your goals? How fast are you trying to get? Podium local races , top 5 at nationals? That determines the time required, or on the other hand your time available drives your plan, then you need the plan to be the most efficient inside that time available. But if you can’t put in the time , and you can’t handle the stress required to get to the goal you want something has to give.

Believe me, I follow you here and understand the painful implications of your rhetorical questions. :slight_smile:

As a Cat 3, 50+ track racer, maintaining a successful and rewarding full time career, being a responsible part time father (not just an every other weekend or Disney Land slacker dad), having even a pathetic social life, while at the same time trying to avoid injury or over-training, and competing and getting on the podium or staying in the upper half of the finish line in time trials and on the track against Elite masters is super challenging to say the least. Sure, I could de-prioritize all of the non-cyclist things in my life and become a fanatical machine, but at the end of the day that’s not going to make me a better, more balanced, or more rounded human being, and most likely it will lead to reduced performance in my career and as a father, neither of which are options.

In looking at my own personal training history and performance (below), I made most of my gains and achieved more objectives in my 2018 season after I switched to track, was able to get on the podium multiple times on the track, win a 3K pursuit state championship, and beat all my prior PRs the VO2max and anaerobic zones. What’s interesting is that my 2018 season had the most polarization and the least average weekly hours. Positive trend in support of more polarization? I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m going to attempt to increase my Z1 time to 80%, but also up my average weekly hours to 8. It should be an interesting experiment for sure!

Am I meeting my goals? Yes, most. I have several outcomes, performance, and process metrics I track. Am I going to be finishing the the top 10% at the Worlds Master Track Championships any time soon? Likely not, not without de-prioritizing the rest of my life or hacking my genome. :slight_smile: Am I in great health, super fit, enjoying life, and still loving to get on the bike because it hasn’t become a job or obsession? Absolutely. That’s the bottom line.


  • Average hours a week: 7.6
  • Zone 1/2/3 polarized %: 62/20/18


  • Average hours a week: 7
  • Zone 1/2/3 polarized %: 69/19/12


  • Average hours a week: 7.2
  • Zone 1/2/3 polarized %: 67/21/12


  • Average hours a week: 6.3
  • Zone 1/2/3 polarized %: 75/14/11

Maybe I need beta blockers…I’m 66 ( I have atrial trigeminy ectopic heart beats) and when I push my riding I often record over 200 beats per minute. I feel my REAL max heart is around 160 because soon as I reach the high 150’s my heart rate can go crazy and that is bit over threshold power.
A bit off track but my weekly TSS average is around 550-600 and I don’t have rest weeks ever but I never feel overly fatigued that I need rests. I just have two rest days a week and a small ride on Sunday. Four goodish rides a week where my heart rate averages in the mid 130’s which is over the recommended 80% of max heart rate.
Sweetspot efforts for me are in the 80-90% range of max HR

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@krispenhartung I just hacked the Relative VO2max chart to show time in 3 polarized zones as follows:

  • greater than 85% VO2max
  • 65-85% VO2max
  • less than 65% VO2max

The expression for the middle zone took about 10 minutes to figure out using wko4help.com:


So now I have a pretty chart with polarized relative VO2max and a text-based time-in-zone. For example here is a recent Mills vo2max workout:

I have a strong math/computer background and know how to make my own histograms in Excel, C/C++, etc., but can’t figure out the syntax as the example reports I’m looking at are using expressions like “bin(power,“cogganoptimized”)” to apparently pass a list of time-in-zone for each of the 9 predefined Coggan Optimized 9 power zones. The power distribution uses simple expression “bin(power,10)” to create a histogram (distribution function) of power by 10 watt bins. So it seems like Bar chart type wants a paired list of x&y values, or two separate x and y lists.

Thanks for any help you can provide!

all good, I found the syntax for bin and put together my first custom chart - polarized time in vo2max. Here it is for a recent Mills workout:


That’s pretty cool. I’ll have to try that chart out, though I generally don’t get down to the detail of my polarized zone ratios at the workout level, because my workouts are very structured and I know in general what it will be before doing it.

Also, I stopped using VO2max and switched to the polarized FTP zones. HR is much slower to respond and does not accurately reflect the nuances of your workout. For instance, if you do a 30 second sprint every 5 minutes in a 2 hour workout, your %FTP will show you in Zone 3 for those sprints (Seiler Zone 3, not Coggen Zone 3), but your heart rate will be slow to react and will not get to Zone 3. So your Vo2max report will show less time in Zone 3, or worst case scenario all your HIIT time in no man’s land, i.e., sweet spot. This is a problem, because all 30 seconds will be in Zone 3 from a % of FTP standpoint, but only the last portion, if at all, from a VO2max or Max HR standpoint. That is way too fuzzy and imprecise for my liking. This is why cyclists use power meters, and not HR meters to plan and track their training and fitness. And I have heard Seiler himself say that % of FTP is a better measure of your zone time, but use % of Max HR as more of a safety net or max guideline. Example: Depending on how you feel or what is going on with you body, you maybe be able to ride in high Zone 1 from a power standpoint, but your HR may go into Zone 2. HR and HRV varies daily depending on your fitness, status of your sympathetic nervous system, diet, sleep, stress, etc. When I do my long Zone 1 rides on the weekend, 3-6 hours, I am riding at roughly 60-70% of FTP, but depending on what’s going on with my body that day, my heart rate may rise above 70% of max HR, in which case I lower my average power. So Max HR becomes sort of a guard rail and boiling point alert.

and % ftp power for a 30-sec sprint is no guarantee that you will ever operate at max aerobic uptake. In other words, it is about knowing when to use a chart, and when to ignore it. The % VO2max estimates in WKO4 may not be perfect but are instructive, and based on 90-day power and weight (not heart rate).

Some really interesting vo2max info based on use of VO2 Master Pro oxygen mask during vo2 workouts: https://sparecycles.blog

Yes, but if you are training in the 30 second time band, like I do as a track cyclist, I don’t care about HR. It’s irrelevant. It’s all about power and speed. All that matters is that that the 30 second effort, or 10, 20, etc, is “All Out”. That’s my only measure. You can’t go any harder than all out, regardless of what your HR data says. I know what I can do from a power standpoint in an all out effort, but my HR data for that will be all over the board…means nothing to me. And if you are going less than all out, then you’re not pushing hard enough to create the adaptations need to cross the finish line 1 second faster than those behind you :slight_smile: So for me, the polarized model is very useful in light of avoiding sweet spot and staying low enough in my endurance rides.

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We are in agreement. VO2max isn’t about heart rate, and WKO4 does NOT use HR to estimate time at % of VO2max. As a road cyclist my endurance below threshold is very good, but am very weak above threshold at 1 to 6 minute efforts/intervals which impacts my hard group rides and racing. Which means that once I’ve established strength endurance with sweet spot, I need to focus more on vo2max work.

Therefore I’m less interested in tracking % vo2max as a polarized metric, and more interested in understanding time-in-zone (>85% or >90% vo2max) differences for the various vo2max workout protocols in TR library/plans: for example 30/15s vs 30/30s vs 90-sec vs peak-and-fade like Mills 2-min vs flat 2-min (etc, etc).

I too just completed SSBHV and did my ramp test to start Build. It was 2 watts lower then when I started. But funny thing is it didnt hurt as much doing the test. But in the 17-19.5 minutes I certainly could tell my body was really unaccustomed to High heart rates, and anaerobic contribution to the effort. So Im hoping that i see an improvement after the Build phase plan