Taking sweet spot outdoors

I’ve just started up with TR so structured training is pretty new to me. I want to try to ride outdoors as much as possible whilst trying to emulate the scheduled TR session.

With sweet spot how important are is it to maintain a high cadence? Yesterday I went out and did repeats on a hill which almost perfectly matched the required timings, but some of the ramps were steep which meant grinding in bottom gear at 50rpm, and also meant freewheeling for portions of the descents during the recovery phase.

Secondly, How important are the interval durations? I would prefer to pick a circular route taking in lots of up and down, rather than just repeats on one hill (flats isn’t an option round me). Would an outdoor ride that ended with the same ratio of work to rest as the scheduled workout be OK, even if some of the intervals were significantly longer and some shorter than those prescribed?

Thanks in advance

I am no expert but I would think if you are working very close to your correct power zone ( won’t be erg mode and will jump around a lot more), length of effort and TSS aligns very closely for the full ride then you are good to go.

I think if you’re having to grind away at 50 rpm then you’re likely not targetting what the workout was trying to achieve. I sometimes do the sweetspot workouts outside. I usually do a big long flat ride and use my power meter to roughly do the same power as the workout. I keep the durations the same.

My suggestion is important workouts like interval workouts are best done inside. Lower intensity rides and especially the easy rides can be done outside. With these when I do them outside I don’t usually bother too much with the power. I just use the power meter to make sure I don’t go too hard plus I’ve done them often enough inside and know what my heart rate should be so I try to maintain the same heart rate.


I agree that some of the key sessions are best done optimally and that may well be best indoors.
It is also unlikely that you will find a hill to climb where you need SS power and the recovery coincides with the one suggested by the workout.

I have tried doing sweetspot workout outdoors but then I find it very demotivating and I loose concentration. I now prefer doing them indoors. However, I prefer doing workouts like Gibbs, Baxter and more 3+hour endurance rides outdoors but I wasn’t able to get out for a while due to extreme cold and wet roads.
Regarding cadence, you should find what works best for you. I personally spin at 85-90rpm when I am at sweetspot but again, more higher the more better but if your heartrate increases then your cadence is too high.
And for your outdoor ride with the same ratio of work to rest as the one scheduled in TR, make sure your interval is not too short. If it is, then the stress is not long enough to cause adaptations. I checked Hunter Allen’s blog which says that sweet spot intervals need to be 10 minutes longand I have checked many TR workouts to confirm this. However, there are some sweet spot workouts which are having intervals less than 10 minutes but the thing is that they have very less recovery time. If you want to keep the intervals long then it would be cool but make sure that you can hit your target!

If you are grinding at 50 rpm at SS, you may need to rethink your gearing.

You may have to hunt around to find the right terrain, but I regularly do weekend SS intervals on some nearby hills that take about 20 minutes to climb. Is it as precise a power number as on a trainer? No, but it is in the right position using the same muscles, and dealing with inevitable ramps and false flats that real hills involve.


Hi, thanks for all the replies. I think I’m going to have to find a compromise between optimum training and enjoyment! Sweet spot intervals are probably my least favourite and I have another 5 weeks of them. To make sure I don’t remove all the joy from cycling I will have to take some outdoors, but I guess I will have to keep the majority indoors, and those that I do outside will have to be well planned.

Thanks for your input

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I find when I can put myself on a relatively flat route that doing long and steady Sweet Spot intervals outside actually works very well. Have to adjust a bit for occasional intersections of course, but that’s usually not a big deal. A little thought about routing can go a long way.


Threshold and VO2max intervals are also very doable outside. Need the right hill/course and gearing as have been discussed.

If I do a long single track climb on my mountain bike, that can approximate an over-under type effort. Then on the descent I get to practice my descending skills :grin:

If you’re thoughtful and deliberate on route choice and pacing, a lot of outside rides can approximate indoor workouts - just not as precise.

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It is a good point you make about enjoyment and the outdoors. I don’t think anyone wants to be a lab rat toiling away indoors without seeing the light of day. However, if you really want to accurately reap the plan benefits then it’s a good idea to follow indoors as much as possible. My compromise is to do 4/5 weekly rides on the trainer (not a big deal given it’s winter in the UK) and still retain my Sat club ride with my mates – it’s worked so far.

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I think I’m going to have to suck it up for now. I will aim to do more indoors, and then see what performance benefit there is. After that, I can judge whether the the difference is worth it, or whether I just default to hammering it outdoors with the occasional steady ride, which is more in line with what I enjoy doing.

Lets just quickly remember that we “train” indoors to replicate racing / riding outdoors. So surely if you can safely and effectively replicate the training in outdoors then surely that’s got to be a good thing. Its going to work bike handling, different upper body muscle groups and so on.

I love trainer road but 100% of my training is done outside on the roads because that’s what I love doing, sure from time to time my recovery windows are a few minutes over but I feel like I have trained myself to a level that allows me to be very compertive in most races I take part in.

Just takes a bit more planning, so for SS efforts I often use my local TT loop, or I have some routes where I can safety ride a 20 min SS with out any interruptions.

Its great fun once you get used to it.


Not really the way I see it. We train indoors to improve our fitness for use outdoors. The workouts we do indoors are not necessarily typical of our outside rides or races.

The actual point of indoor training is to stress the body in a way that leads to positive adaptation in specific energy systems. As such, many of the workouts we do are structured to maximize on time and effectiveness of the trainer itself. They don’t always relate to a goal outside in a 1:1 relationship.

The workouts run the spectrum from short and easy recovery rides, mid length VO2 Max or Anerobic efforts like 30s on / 30s off (which is not necessarily a direct representative of outside events), up to long steady Endurance, and many other variations.

This is splitting hairs a bit, but we aren’t just reproducing exact copies of outside rides. We use specifically tailored work/rest sessions based on lab studies to make the most of the time inside.


I think if you have to ride similar hills and will be forced to use a 50rpm cadence that is GREAT training. However, I would make sure to switch it up and get some SS work at higher cadences too.

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