Sweet Spot Progression

Checking in after RR number 2 of my fledging racing career(!)

Not much SST or Threshold done at all in either race so far, but the muscular endurance gleaned from them, and ability not to be drained by efforts feels like it has been key to decent results. Some ‘fatigue resistance’ workouts I’ve done have also felt like great specificity - being familiar with going hard when you really don’t want to vs doing intervals fresh all the time.

My race on Sunday was 2:15:00 which I finished with 60s at 645w to peel off a reduced bunch with 2 others, and then come past them (unfortunately 2 were up the road). The part I was pleased about was that this came after almost 30 mins of time in Z5/6/7 over the race. This stuff definitely seems like it works!

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I agree with what you are saying. My point was and is that ( as a whole in cycling training ) right now we are so focused on intervals and power numbers.

I think EF is trying to say,
" scratch the blue blocks on your phone screen "
and
" We will teach you how to ride outside in multiple zones and combined competitive scenarios. "

What we also have to realize if we are talking about a " Marketing " technique like I mentioned in my first post is that maybe they are targeting an audience different than Trainer Road.

I think most on this forum and subscribers now have the hang of both blue block intervals and what its like to ride outside by feel.

EF could be targeting the " Peloton " subscribers or even Zwifters.

Just my opinion.

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Have started doing that. I’m now incredibly bad at it, for whatever reason. I hope that means there’s gains to be had…

How does this approach sound to everyone:

SST Block 8 weeks
3 weeks SST progression (focus on TTE, if TTE is good then raise % of FTP)
1 week rest
3 weeks SST over under (higher % or longer intervals depending how first block goes)
1 week rest
TTE Test as per KM protocol.
3 weeks VO2 Block
1 week rest
Repeat.

No repeat :slight_smile: if you do full 3 week vo2 max block - rest, and a lot of it.

Haha, I should have been clear; I meant repeat from the top i.e. SST progression again.

I’m just trying to get my head around the periodization of SST/FTP work and VO2 work, if I am cooked after 2 weeks of VO2 then so be it! :slight_smile:

Does this plan look reasonable over the winter, then in early '22 adding more AC work into the mix replacing some of the SST

Probably going to want more than one week of rest after VO2max.

The other recommendation would be to modify the second block:

  • Some O/U work structured as discussed above.
  • Some threshold or higher sweet spot sustained work.
  • Some tempo/TAN tempo.

That “intensive” block is tough to structure for me because I’m older, so the O/Us take it out of me. I had best success doing EITHER an O/U workout OR a sustained threshold interval workout as my primary workout each week, then supplementing that with a tempo or TAN tempo ride and a maintenance sweet spot ride (plus several hours of Z2 otherwise). When I tried to do a bunch of threshold work each week, invariably one of the workouts fell short.

YMMV, depending on how you structure the O/U work.

I’m intigued how we can build into this from perhaps a few weeks of z2 aerobic work, into a phase perhaps adding some tempo/tan tempo and then into SST?

If you have time for a lot of z2 work (12-15hrs/week) does tempo add anything to that? Last year I did 3 weeks of outdoor rides of extending tempo intervals (up to 2 x45 I think?) and then switched to indoor SST work, but I’m wondering if this really brought any benefits?

I was looking at the WKO5 Cusick presentations again and trying to work out how to make it all come alive?

Tempo adds a lot, especially if you have the time and you’re not really sharpening the blade for an upcoming imminent race.
Tempo can do a lot to build fatigue resistance. That can look like 2hrs of z2 followed by 60-90min of tempo. The back end loading really helping with that fatigue resistance.
As you said you can then transition that into more muscular endurance phasing into more SST work as you go.

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Interesting. I’ve always avoided tempo like the plague. I thought it was deemed to be the junk mileage (i.e. better accumulating less fatigue at Z2, or more adaptation at SS).

Should I be trying to throw tempo on the end of my workouts instead of Z2? Considering that my racing focus has a lot of pacing at high Z2/Tempo?

Obviously I would have to drop down the amount I ride post workout? Or drop down the intensity after a period at Tempo? It’d take a concerted effort to bounce back for the next ride I guess…

Tempo has a place.

It’s place is in your base phase helping to build muscular endurance, fatigue resistance, etc., where you’re not looking to go really hard in any of your particular workouts.

Tempo’s place is NOT in your build where ideally you’re working VERY hard in your hard workouts and the rest is easy.

Tempo becomes junk mileage when it’s all you do or you start thinking “If Z2 is good, Z3 must be better!!” A lot of riders zip around at 75-85% of FTP for hours on end and never do much else. They never really go hard, and they never really recover. They just kinda ride, and eventually they plateau.

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I fit tempo into my base phases in the midst of SST progression.

When my SST workouts got to be very long (well over an hour TiZ), I would swap to doing two SST workouts and a tempo workout, then two Z2 rides during the week. So my structure was usually:

M: SST progression
T: Z2
W: Steady tempo progressing TiZ
R: Off
F: SST progression
S: long Z2

This coming season I might move to: SST - Tempo/SST - Z2 - Off - SST - Long Z2 - Off to better build fatigue resistance. I’ve also built a couple of long weekend ride sessions which incorporate bouts of tempo in the course of a 3hour trainer session and end with SST to really plug away at fatigue resistance.

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All the literature suggests that 10 minutes is the minimum length of a good SST interval and longer is better. There 6 * 15 is much better and also more efficient as you are having less breaks/recovery.

Thanks - really appreciate the detailed reply.

So taking a step back in the base phase then, tempo could also play a role before leading into SST work? I’m thinking maybe a 4-6 weekblock of z2 with occasional z5 work every 2 weeks or so, then 3-4 weeks introducing tempo with increasing TiZ. Then a lead into the SST work and repeating what I did last winter when I got out to 100 mins @90%.

Last winter I finished this period pretty fried though - I tried to start some 100-105% work and just couldnt do it. I had to take a break and just went to some z2 work again until I was fresher. I never really went back to the intensity as the weather improved and while I built great endurance and fatigue resistance, I never saw an FTP increase.

My goals are gran fondos and multi-day trips to the mountains, so this is not a bad result for me, but I would dearly love an FTP bump and some improvements at therepeats on the shorter and steeper hills!

Great thread, so much information in here I’m going to have to re-read a lot of the content as I’m confident that I’ve missed something despite learning a lot.

I race in the UK and I’m targeting crits and road races. I’m currently ~88kg and 305W FTP - although this was tested on a ramp test some time ago. I’ve been training formally for ~16 months and in this time have added ~110W and lost ~15kg.

I have this following framework that I’m due to start September.

W37-39 - Z2 and no structure to intervals
W40 - Testing week per Tim Cusick (WKO5 ATP #1)
W41-43 - SST Progression
W44 - Rest
W45-47 - SST Progression
(6 weeks SST progression - aiming to get out to 90 - 120 minutes)
W48 - Rest
W49-51 - Threshold / OU
(3 weeks threshold or OU aiming to get out to 60 minutes)
W52 - Rest
W1-3 - VO2
(3 weeks VO2, may reduce this to 2. Following the format of severe intensity with 2/3 workouts per week)
W4-5 - Rest
W6-8 - SST Progression
W9 - Rest
W10-11 - OU Progression
W12 - Rest
W13-14 - Race Readiness
W15-16 - Rest

  • SST progression will lean on the information here building out TiZ based on WKO5 TTE. 150%/90 minutes seem to be the most common targets.
  • Threshold / OU progression following a similar basis with TiZ, but somewhat reduced.
  • Rest weeks will be structured so that I’m predominantly Z2, with a very achievable interval at some form of intensity up to VO2.
  • I’m unsure where to add specific testing, but will be ensuring workouts throughout the stages are provided to maintain my WKO5 90-day model. Retesting will likely be done with the Kolie Moore protocol to save me spending another week adding the baseline testing.

Appreciate any feedback!

That’s a pretty long lead in for sweet spot work. Sweet spot shouldn’t be THAT taxing if your FTP is set correctly, but I don’t know how many sessions you were doing per week. At 44, I find two sessions and a tempo session was effective for me for several months without excess fatigue, but everyone is different. I wouldn’t recommend more than three sessions of SST per week.

But yes, tempo in base as a lead in or supplementing your SST work is perfectly viable.

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I was 50 at that time and ‘thought’ doing 2 SST per week in memory, but just went back over my calendar and a lot of weeks were 3 sessions and even sometimes a 4th tempo. I find it hard to train indoors at z2 efforts and quickly get bored, so often default to some intensity to give me a focus!

I was doing 90% and the sessions themselves were no issue whatsoever. I quickly got out to 100 mins and HR etc was spot on the entire way. I’ve done a LOT of SST over the years and once upon a time it was great at bringing up my FTP but the last couple of years it hasn’t achieved that really, but gives TTE benefits.

I suspect I may be banging up against my ‘ceiling’ for FTP right now, as the last 18 months I’ve hugely increased volume and consistency but its done very little for FTP at all. It may be time for a good dose of intensity and see if that creates some headroom. Thats going to be my focus as we go towards Autumn I think…

Thanks again

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…bringing this thread back to life as many of us probably are starting to think about the approach of autumn and winter :wink:

I’m going to be doing this again during winter but this time I nee to add more of a focus on the threshold progression as well, as this let me down this year. As part of that I was wondering about how best to use over/unders in these progressions?

I’m wondering if o/u are best used at the end of the SST progression as part of a lead IN to threshold work, or maybe better used DURING the threshold work or perhaps even towards the end of that block with vo2 work is looming? Does anyone have a view or experiences with this? I’m not racing so my thinking is around using these purely for FTP development.

Slightly concerned that I’m actually looking forward to this indoor work starting all over again :crazy_face:

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Threshold O/U’s are awesome for building power.

Something to incorporate during your SS phase is SS workouts w/bursts. Search the workout library. They are well worth the effort.

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I know the SST bursts - good idea!

I guess with SST bursts during the SST progression, you would do more typical O/U’s sprinkled in the threshold phase as well?