Sweet Spot Progression

What is the optimal way to progress sweet spot duration? Assume the cyclist has completed a couple seasons of structured training and is just coming off their current season and a couple week rest period. In other words, stating the base phase for the upcoming season.

3x12 > 4x10 > 3x15 > ? > ? > ?

Do we like to drop the number of intervals at a certain point in the progression and start going for longer durations? Say that rider is nailing 3x15’s, would it be better to go 2x25 versus 5x10 (both have 50 min of total work) and start focusing more on longer duration?



Different coaches will have different opinions.

Coach Tim Cusick’s opinion:

PDF of slides:

Slide 30 is the sweet spot progression.



In the UK on our time trial forum most of the opinions seem to suggest that 1/ You reduce rest for roughly same volume by doing slightly longer sets .e.g 3x12,3x15,3x20. Then add time with the same rest e.g 3x20 to 2x30. When you can do 4x20 or 3x30 with about 5 mins rest then and only then raise the power a few watts. So most people agree that 3x30@88% is better than 4x15@90% - assuming of course you have the time for 2 hours SS on the turbo.


Thanks, super helpful. Actually had this PDF bookmarked and forgot about it!

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Last week I did 3x12, this week 3x15, and next week I’ve got a 2x25 on the calendar. Going to see how short/long it takes to extend duration on the trainer. Three years ago I did a sweet spot progression out to 60+ minutes, but those rides were all outside and just “keep trying to extend beyond 60+ minutes” rather some planned out progression.

I have a similar plan this year. Starting on 2x20 at 85%, and increasing duration and intensity over the course of the season. My races this year are all long events, so I’m prioritizing interval duration over interval intensity. Hence starting at 2x20 at 85%, and not worrying about shorter intervals in the mid 90%s.


Wish I had done more long 1-3 hour tempo intervals in Nov/Dec, instead I went backwards experimenting with things. No worries, sweet spot duration and TiZ is ramping quickly and in 8 weeks I’ll be ready for Wed night group ride.

I think for most amateur cyclists focusing on holding power for long durations is a huge bang for buck. Being able to told high tempo or Sweet Spot for at least 90 minutes will yield a lot of return on investment.

Fatigue resistance is a huge factor in deciding who hangs on and who pops


I’m nearing my Sweet Spot ceiling and am thinking its time to re-assess.

2 days ago I did 1x60 at 88% FTP; yesterday I did 2x48 at high tempo (83% FTP) and 75 RPM.

Today I’m doing Wright Peak https://www.trainerroad.com/cycling/workouts/20683-wright-peak

If I handle that relatively well, I’m probably working off a too-low threshold number.

I do love the bang-for-the-buck on these workouts :metal:


The progression I have planned is as follows:

  • 2x20 at 85%
  • 2x25 At 85%
  • 2x30 at 85%
  • 2x20 at 90%
  • 1x60 at 85%
  • 2x25 at 90%
  • 2x30 at 90%
  • 1x60 at 90%

I’ll do more than one ride of each workout, so this progression brings me through base and build.

My aim is to keep average heart rate for the 2nd half of each workout to below 85% of max.

And do every other workout at low cadence.

I’ll monitor how things go during my progression, and will tweak things where needed.

I’ll also be doing outside rides (endurance, and mixed intensity rides in the mountains) and some VO2 blocks as I get closer to my races. my goal with the above sweet spot progression is to lower my VLaMax, and improve fatigue resistance.

I’m largely avoiding indoor threshold intervals as a means to prevent overly fatiguing myself. On my outside rides, I’ll be doing sections of those at threshold, so will do some but not a lot of threshold riding.

I’ve based this on the TR plan builder recommendation, and replaced the TR sweet spot (Which tend to be at intensities approaching threshold) and threshold rides with the above progrsssion.

This is a lot more sweet spot than last season, when I noticed my fatigue resistance on longer rides was lacking vs prior years.

Will see how things go with this approach.


Are still doing those SS workouts (1x60@88% FTP) with the HR cap?

I am progressing quite quickly - I did a 4x20 @ 85% FTP today and legs are not tired. I will attempt 3x30 @ 85% tomorrow. Heart rate was quite high today though, around 81-82% of HR peak. I don’t think I can ramp up the intensity just yet if I want to stay under that cap.


I only look at the HR cap when I’m on the end of a huge block and I’m trying to actively manage over-fatigue…or if I do intervals longer than an hour I may use HR to manage strain/duration.


Thanks. I am just picking your brain on Steve’s approach :wink: I must say with the HR cap I can do a lot more work and not feel tired. However I had a low week during Christmas so that skews things a little. I won’t be afraid to move slightly higher once the duration of intervals is sufficient.

Wright Peak and Tray Mountain (plus variants) are a smorgasbord of 85% and 90% stuff with high TiZ. Think you might find long 2-3 hour Tempo rides at 80% to also be highly productive for aerobic base, good at increasing fatigue resistance, and easier recovery.

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Yeah - I’ve looked at those. They’re too long for me on the trainer :grin:

I made custom workouts for the progression above. The longest is 2x30 at 1:15.

They are long, but then my perspective changes knowing it’s dark outside and my a** is about to be kicked in 3 weeks. :mountain_biking_man:

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Fast forward two months…how go the progressions?

I’m sticking to them - which is the first, and maybe most important thing. Both in my indoor workouts, and outdoor rides.

The big difference between my intervals, and the typical SS/Threshold intervals in the TR SS plans (at least at low volume) is mine are lower intensity but longer. As a result, I’ve found they do not wear me out as much as the TR workouts, and I look forward to doing them, unlike for example doing something like Lamarck.

In terms of results, I don’t know yet. I haven’t tested my FTP as the ramp test is not very reliable for me (overestimates) and an increase in FTP isn’t all that I’m looking for - I’m also looking for increased TTE and improved fat metabolism by “converting” fast twitch to slow twitch. So I’m not overly concerned about FTP as a measure of success (side note: I probably need to switch to one of the Kolie Moore protocols).

The main test will come when I start doing longer outside rides on my usual routes on road bike, gravel, mountain (when the snow is gone). I also have a race at the end of May that took me 5 hrs last year. So that will be a good comparison point (assuming they keep the same course). I might also ride the Leadville Silver Rush would be another good comparison (I’ve done that 3x).

I’m also not doing much VO2max work in this base phase, so I think this has helped reduce my fatigue, meaning I feel more motivated to ride consistently. I’ll pick up the VO2max work more as that first race in May approaches.

All-in, this approach seems promising given my physiology (fast twitch) and goals (long rides/races) - it’s sustainable (so far) and in theory should be giving me the right adaptations.

Will report more when I have some results on if it actually works!


Same boat here. Will also report how it goes. Feels good so far


How did these progressions end up working out for you @DaveWh and @G650? I’m considering something along the same lines.