Sweetspot much harder than VO2

This is my 4th season cycling and 2nd on TR. I’m half way through Sweetspot Base - Vol 2.

This year I’ve noticed that sweetspot workouts feel a lot harder than VO2 ones. I’m usually spent. My question - do most people feel the same? Or do I need to do more work to improve muscular endurance? Typically during the summer my workouts do involve a lot of threshold and VO2 work so maybe I’m just more used to them. Also I do struggle on events with lots of flat road that force me to keep subthreshold for long periods of times. Thoughts? Should I redo base again to keep building that base?

Sweet spot is definitely hard. Intervals are relatively long, so you are both accumulating lactate and pushing muscle endurance. The length (for me) adds a mental component to the workout.

I’d wonder about some general things, like is your baseline testing accurate (are your targets correct) and do you have enough cooling around your trainer (heat makes the longer workouts feel harder for me)?

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Yes on both counts.

Keep going, it gets “easier”.


Quick note - the vo2 workouts don’t really get properly hard until the second half of SSB2. You might be saying something different after week 5.

However if you still feel like sustained efforts are a weakness, then work on them, and if you have the time before your season goals, then repeating base sounds like a good idea to target them. However be realistic and make sure your FTP isn’t set too high. Sweetspot workouts should be challenging and feel hard but shouldn’t feel like you’re at the edge of your endurance.

Last thought is, make sure you’re fuelling properly for them. Sweetspot workouts place a high demand on your carb stores so if you’re not doing this already, get a carb-rich snack 2-3 hours before and some energy drink to have during. This will also reduce the perceived exertion.

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It never gets easier… :joy: only like LeMond said, you only get faster.


I feel like it has a lot to do with your experience with training the different energy systems.

I can do sweet spot or longer threshold workouts all day. On the other hand I find even shorter V02 sessions to be extremely difficult.

Guessing it has something to do with my background as I spent 10+ years as a triathlete training mostly threshold and below and very little specific V02 work.


Yes, SS and threshold are hard. I also have no problem with VO2 max - to be honest all of them during SSB2 were easiest workouts from whole plan. Holding power for longer duration is other thing and only solution I have found is simply to do workouts involving holding power :slight_smile: When you do short intervals (so up to 10 min) you will be good at holding power for around 10 minutes (it is my case but I am after whole 4 months of cycling and TR). So yo have to move on and do longer intervals like 15 and 20 minutes and then ramp into longer time. Probably there is no other solution - especially that long, steady power is not only endurance of muscles but also battle of mind and perfect time to test your nutrition habits on the bike.

I’ll do 3x30 sweet spot every day vs anything vo2max. I absolutely despise vo2max & even did a SSBV1 block to avoid it in SSBMV2. It is so stressful for me, it’s ridiculous. I get panic attacks & jump off the bike, pull off gloves, helmet (if outside) & on & on. It’s a serious problem for me. If I could afford it, I’d honestly go to a therapist for it. Took me 4 tries to finish the first 1.5 minute interval of Baird +6 last night :scream:


Hehe but vo2 max workouts like Baird and spencer is only pushing a little bit harder on pedals having a knowledge that the pain will stop very soon. During 2 or 3 minutes even the heart do not catch up with power. Long, steady efforts are like constant, uncomfortable “itch” that has no end :slight_smile: I would love to be better and comfortable at holding power but I lack any form of aerobic base.

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Wait until Spencer, taylor, bluebell and mills don’t really count. They are by far my favourite workouts. Spencer and onwards however…


For me sweetspot workouts (and of course treshold intervals) feel much more harder than VO2 ones, too. I have no problem with short vo2max but I feel afraid when I see that my next training looks like Galena +1 (3x20 at 95% FTP). Everyone has different power profile, I like the discription about me created in intervals.icu: “Puncheur. Rolling terrain with short steep climbs is your thing, no-one can match you for 5 minutes” :smile:
Now, I started working on my long time power, so after SSB1&2 I’ve choose Sustained Power Build - it will hurt.


Ha! I can deal with an unending itch I can’t scratch, seemingly for a lifetime :joy: but that moment I realize I’m not getting enough oxygen to keep up with the work I’m doing freaks me out & I crack like egg.

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I’m in the last week of SSLV2, and all I see are VO2Max, over-unders and threshold workouts. 3x20 @ 90-95% sounds like a dream vacation now.

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Yeah, starts to make you wonder what part of this is ‘base’!

you must be on low volume. ss only shows up in medium volume, in 2hour saturday workout.

Exactly. There was a time, pre-TR, when I did mostly VO2 work, after I stopped that my power plummeted and doing a normal 2-3hr ride would kill me. Aerobic strength contributes to almost every zone. Work on it.

The general consensus is that SSB2 is actually SSPre-Build.

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That’s what I am trying now. I have (I think) learn a lot reading this forum, so I know better how to modify my plans to put more emphasis on my weaknesses. I know that lack of any base is also determined by the fact I am a cycling noob and I cannot be good at it - this is a long term game :slight_smile: being a little bit time constrained I cannot do full TB (what will be probably the best solution) so I am trying to focus on progression into longer efforts.

Even after 4 months of training I see that despite being more of a “climber” weight my muscles are good in shorter efforts and I do not have any problem in progression in this aspect so I know that can be easier build in the future than muscle endurance and ability to hold power for more than 30 min. That’s why I am trying to incorporate more of these efforts into my plan.

On the other hand my rationale is if I could not do VO2 max workout - there is nothing wrong with it, it is a “specialty” and everybody knows it is hard and it is simply limited by my body and the fact I am not an athlete.

But holding power is an essence of cycling and not being good at it causes that you are not good at cycling, hence I have to sell my bike and my clothes and find another hobby. It is like being a runner not being good at running :slight_smile: so my biggest fear is that not being able to finish long intervals like 30 or 40 min of upper SS or threshold makes me “phoney” cyclist :smiley:

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The funny thing about sweet spot base (I’m taking mid vol here) II is that there isn’t a lot of sweet spot in it! If we consider the TR sweet spot definition:

“The Sweet Spot power zone, which we define as 88% to 94% of FTP”

mid vol SSBII is characterized by Tues VO2max, Wed endurance, Threshold Thurs, Sat over/under, Sun SweetSpot. So really there is just one sweet spot workout in the plan & it comes at the end of a challenging week of training. Everybody loves to follow up Mary Austin with Tallac +3! Yeeha!

So maybe it’s not surprising that it starts to bite a little. If you do any sweet spot intensity interval long enough it’s gonna turn into a VO2max effort.

One other thing to consider, though, is that your minimum power to elicit VO2max & Threshold might not have improved in lockstep. Consider what would happen if your threshold has been improving at a slightly faster rate than VO2max over the past couple seasons. So that by now, threshold sits very close to the minimum power needed to elicit VO2max. Now, with a little bit of fatigue over the course of a few sweetspot intervals or maybe one long sweetspot interval you can go from sweetspot to VO2max.

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to do a ‘VO2max intervention’ for a few weeks and give yourself some more room to grow that threshold/sweetspot intensity.