Trying to understand Sweet Spot

Hi all,
I am new to any form of structured training and I have been reading about sweet spot training programs.
There is one thing that puzzles me.
SS is defined as 84-97% of FTP, and FTP is defined as the power one can sustain during a 1hr time trial.
Based on these definitions, shouldn’t it be relatively “easy” to do more than 1h of continuous SS riding? Then why do suggested workouts start with 5-10 mins of SS intervals?
If 5-10 minutes of SS is already hard enough, shouldn’t it be because the FTP is set too high?

Thanks to anyone who can help me understand this.


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A good way to understand is by experience. Do Cumberland+2 this afternoon and report how it went, including whether you fancy another go at it tomorrow.


I will do that. But from a theoretical perspective I still do not understand the point of doing SS intervals of 5 or even 30 minutes, if the exertion rate is lower than what you can sustain for 1h.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to do SS for > 1h, and FTP intervals of like 20mins?

Uh oh…here we go

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doing max effort of 1hour is extremely hard. I would say most people wont reach their FTP for 1h duration, if it is not tested in 1h interval. Even then it might be only reached with perfect situation of fully rested and tapered.

I would be happy to reach it for 30 minutes. Still i think it is ok way to set the training targets for different zones. E.g. for me above threshold (Z4 in 7 zones model) tend to be relative easier vs Z4 workouts described by TR. So those zones % from FTP are a bit different to different people. It might make more sense to do the zone setting from Vo2max.

Anyways Sweetspot are hard workouts that requires good fueling, recovery etc to be able to execute day after day, week after week. 5min interval with short rest is good way to start doing them. 30 min continous SS is very challenging indoors without microrests.


This is usual “it depends” case:

  • on one hand, you want to cause minimal stress to body but still trigger adaptations. In this case, shorter intervals are good enough i.e. use minimum effective dose but more frequently.
  • but if your goal is to improve muscular endurance or TTE, then go for longer intervals or even for sustained power SS workouts.

Those sustained power SS workouts are interesting: once you reach past 90min of continuous intervals, it somehow becomes mentally easy – 90min vs 120min at 90% feel same.


Yes, but not as your first workout when just starting a plan. You build up to those duration. So, start easy, feel how it goes and build up from there.


Thanks everyone for the answers.
But there’s something that still bothers me from a conceptual perspective.

I would say most people wont reach their FTP for 1h duration, if it is not tested in 1h interval.
Then I am not alone, lol. But doesn’t this mean that FTP estimation on “shorter than 1h tests” is simply not FTP? It is another metric but not FTP.

Yes, but not as your first workout when just starting a plan. You build up to those duration. So, start easy, feel how it goes and build up from there.

This is what puzzles me. If I start a plan with a “real” FTP value of FPT_start, then I should be able to do long SS_start based on that FTP_start value. When I end the plan, my FTP will have incresed to FTP_end, and I should be able to do the same length that I did at SS_start, but at SS_end based on FTP_end.

Does it make sense?

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It does, but:

  1. Most people can’t hold their FTP for more than, say, 35 minutes. If 35 minutes is whay they can do then their TTE (time to exhaustion) is 35 minutes.

  2. Most people don’t have experience of chugging away for large chunks of time at 100% (or 90% for that matter) of FTP, so there’s a learning curve in terms of getting used to putting out that sort of effort and also, for example, managing fuelling.

If you want to create your own threshold progression across a couple of blocks, assuming a 35 minute TTE, try something like 98% of FTP for:

3 × 10
3 × 12
3 × 15
2 × 20
2 × 25
1 × 40
3 × 20
2 × 30
1 × 60

Similar for sweetspot, but increase the durations by 50% +/- 20%


Thanks Helvellyn!
This clarifies things. But then what we’re calling FTP is not really FTP is it?

On a related matter, I was thinking of buying Allen’s and/or Friel’s book. Do they discuss this stuff in detail?
Also, is one book better than the other, or are they complementary?



Don’t go there. Search “FTP” :sweat_smile:


Maybe ChatGPT can give us the half dozen or so “definitions” of FTP? :stuck_out_tongue:


If, on the other hand, that even though you are new to any form of structured training, you do have an accurate “full hour FTP” and are well trained, then a one off, one hour sweetspot workout would be fairly easy to achieve.

Quite how best to fit that instance of that workout into an effectively structured training plan that has a particular target in mind is a very broad question that doesn’t yet have a definitive answer that can be perfectly applied to every cyclist.

This is my thought as well.

When I first started structured training on the bike the workouts seemed pretty easy and my TSS was lower than it had been with my random rides and zwift stuff. I soon discovered that when every ride had a specific purpose (SSB mid) the intensity and fatigue started to ramp up a bit and I had to start paying attention to recovery. Eventually I failed a workout and no longer felt like the plan was too easy.

To the OP - If you feel like it’s way too easy you can add rides to the plan, and/or add duration or intensity by using alternates or just picking other workouts. IMHO you should add zone 2 rides for additional volume if you feel like you need to do more and have the time.

I will say that says I should raise my FTP by 10 (230 to 240) but I’m almost positive that I couldn’t do 230 for an hour right now even though I just did 240 NP during a fondo that took just over three hours and I felt like I could have pushed harder.


It’s called Sweetspot because it is intended to be in a sweet spot between going hard enough to create adaptations but not so hard that you can’t recover.


Ftp is supposed to be 1hour all out. 97% of that would be nearly as hard, so longer intervals closer to the top of the range are very hard. Yes, I agree that 5-10min if 85% ftp is an easy interval to complete.
The point of training isn’t to ‘max out’ all the time. Most programs hit you with a manageable dose of stimulus and use progressive overload across time to increase fitness.




This is a fair question. When I first started training the short SS intervals were hard to me. Probably a combination of FTP not being correct and me not being used to doing SS work for even short periods. 4 years later, I regularly try to do 1 hour intervals and don’t usually bother with anything short, UNLESS, the rest periods are really short. Some higher progression level SS workouts have shorter intervals, but very short rest periods. I think those are probably okay. It’s a mental challenge to do long intervals and I wouldn’t recommend that you do it every workout or maybe even every week. If breaking up the work into intervals helps with mental engagment, motiviation, and therefore consistency, then I think it’s a good choice. As long as rest periods are short!

Also, 85% is a lot different than 94%, so which end of the spectrum you are on can make a difference.

And one more thing, not sure if this is valid or not, but TR often talks about accumulating time at certain power. Interval workouts in general are designed to do this by definition. So, I think TR believes that 50 minutes at SS with 5 short rests is almost as good as 50 minutes without rest and possibly requires a lot less recovery and is more repeatable. I don’t think that’s true because you never know what a 50 minute interval feels like unless you do one.

IMO this can all be summed up like this. There’s really two* definitions of FTP. There’s the physiological definition and the training definition. The physiological has to do with lactate and all that jazz. The training definition, is what I think most of us are referring to; it’s just a number we use to base training off of. I honestly couldn’t care less if I can ride my FTP for the full hour or for only 35 minutes as long as it’s being used to serve me hard, but achievable workouts.

*Don’t come at me, I’m sure just searching this forum we can find 10+ definitions.

As an aside, I kind of think of my physiological FTP as the power I can do for an hour, but only if someone is putting a gun to my head and I’m perfectly prepared, fueled, etc. I’m not in that state when I’m doing an FTP test. I’m probably never in that mental/physical state.