Sweet Spot Progression

After doing some of the FasCat 18 weeks of Sweet Spot Base back in late winter / early spring, what I found interesting is that shorter TiZ interval sessions can be surprisingly effective. Where TiZ for an individual workout was simply hitting ~100% of TTE during mid-week - simply doing 2-3 intervals with a total of 40-45 minutes TiZ.

A lot of Coach Tim Cusick references in this thread, the “Building FTP, TTE and Stamina WKO5” webinar has some info on the basic template:

This is somewhat similar to other coaches. What I found interesting about Coach Cusick’s full-season masters plan (off-the-shelf plan) is that it has 18 weeks of aerobic base development before getting into vo2max and anaerobic capacity work. And that duration of aerobic base building is the same as 18-week FasCat plan.

In other words, phase 1 and 2 in that template are taken out to 18 weeks in both the Cusick and FasCat/Overton off-the-shelf plans that target 8-12 hours/week.

Another view:

FWIW I’ve just completed 16 weeks of aerobic foundation (base miles + ‘all the tempo’ LOL), while at the same time doing about 2 strength workouts a week (ran out of time before Christmas). It was a good investment in time, as I continued to see gains and no reason to hurry things along. Haven’t done a formal FTP test since the first week of June, while I could have done a ramp test or 20-min test it really wasn’t necessary.

Moving on to phase 2 / Sweet Spot…

Again looking at Coach Cusick’s off-the-shelf plan as a reference, the first full SS week of ‘base3’ in that plan has:

  • 660 minutes total (11 hours)
  • 125 minutes total SS TiZ (7 intervals spread across Tue/Thu/Sat)
  • 535 minutes in zone2 and z1 (endurance and active recovery)
  • 2 functional strength training workouts of the plan (in fact its the last week of strength in the plan)

For that week (base3-week2) the SS TiZ works out to 19% of weekly volume. Looking at it another way, its 81% time at zone2/zone1 and 19% time at sweet spot intensity (the 80/20 split should look familiar).

While that is slightly below the 20-30% target from the webinar, he does have the Saturday workout targeting fatigue resistance by putting the SS intervals at the end of a longer zone2 ride. If feeling strong I could see bumping up the TiZ, as long as it didn’t impact downstream workouts and you stick close to 80/20 split (say 70/30 or perhaps even 60/40 on an overload week). While I haven’t done the Cusick plan, it probably would work well as-is and you exit the 18-week base phase with a CTL of 80. The plan then has 8 weeks of vo2 and FRC work, with a final CTL of 90.

Based on my recent ‘fresh is faster’ / ‘less is more’ experience doing the FasCat 18-week plan this spring, it was surprisingly easy to go from doing short 12-18-minute mid-week sweet spot intervals and then on the weekend do freestyle sweet spot including the occasional 1x50-70 minute SS/threshold effort to verify my fitness/FTP (and feed WKO). Without an upcoming event, I was patient and stuck with the plan’s mid-week interval prescription to see ‘how low can I go’ (minimum effective dose) while secure in the knowledge that I was capable of doing longer intervals. Ended up with a higher FTP versus prior two years, and a surprising boost in short power, so in the end the ‘fresh is faster’ experiment was definitely worth it. For context that was my 5th season on a road bike and the same number of years training with (less/more) structure.

Some food for thought when people are thinking about these progressions and minimum effective dose, within the context of a season.