Sweet Spot workouts on MTB - Normalized Power or Average Power?

I’m a few weeks into a new MTB marathon training plan.

So far I’m been doing my Tuesday/Thursday workouts on a Kickr or Rollers (depending on the interval type) on my XC bike.

On the weekends, for the mainly sweet spot intervals, I’ve been doing these outdoors on my road bike.

After several weeks of these, I miss riding my XC bike on the trails.

I don’t want to lose my technical and cornering skills.

So I’m thinking of doing tomorrow’s scheduled Tallac+3 sweet spot workout on a ‘flatter’ XC trail.

Should I be using Normalized Power or Average Power?

I have a relatively ‘flat’ XC track to use that takes about 20 minutes per lap.


I think NP. NP isn’t really ‘valid’ until 10min or so, and those look like 15min intervals. The power varies so much with the MTB, AP is hard to use. I’d also use the outside version, as trying to do the little ramps would be almost impossible.

You may find that you can’t really follow power targets or even look at your head unit in the same way you could on the road. So if I were you, I’d plan to primarily use RPE.

But then agreed that what you look at later to see how well you executed would be NP.

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Look at how much time you spend in zone (TIZ), so 6 x10 min SS efforts would equate to 1 hour at SS. It’s hard to perform intervals off road, but focus on your wattage targets, don’t go chasing a higher AP or NP by riding over or under your target power.
Depending on the terrain you might find you spend too much time freewheeling which isn’t ideal. Could you not perform the intervals on the road and then once you’ve finished then head to the trails?

I tried Tallac+3 on a local trail today. Didn’t work out. My Average power was about 50 watts lower and Normalized power was about 35 watts lower than the prescribed power levels. I basically had to ride at race pace to achieve these numbers. It was worth a try. Great practice riding fast though.

yeah you can and at least sometimes should do intervals / race pace practice off road, but it requires accepting that it’ll be a different training impact and focus and you really won’t be able to focus on or hit power targets, what power you do hit will depend on hte terrain and what workout you pick shouldbe something that is simple to execute using RPE (e.g., “go very hard”).

My outdoor mountain bike workout plan: gravel roads for intervals (still not perfect but better than trails), and then take single track back to the car or add more to keep up with skill set.

Yeah i do that, and sometimes will take a stretch of singletrack that’s easy to ride but challenging to ride fast, and try to ride it as fast as i can. Effort level gets pretty high and that ends up being an “interval” workout of sorts.