VO2 or Sweetspot workouts to compliment zone 2 training?

I have been doing doing a lot of zone 2 work outdoors lately because the weather is amazing and you never know when you’ll be forced to ride indoors these days anyways.

Going forward i plan on doing 2-3 long zone 2 rides a week and to add one high intensity indoor workout per week.

My question is whether i should focus on VO2 or Sweetspot work when riding indoor to compliment my base training.

No specific goals this season for obvious reasons :stuck_out_tongue:
I just want to be an overall better rider.

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I think I’d add a VO2max workout. Depending on how hilly it is where you live you might end up doing some sweet spot anyway. I seem to remember coach Chad saying in a podcast that one VO2max workout a week would benefit everyone.


VO2. Not even a discussion i would say.


What you are saying definitely makes sense.

I do live in a somewhat hilly area and consequently do dip into zone 3-4 at times.

Is there any distinction to be made when it comes to VO2 workouts?
Should i focus on 30/30 workout, 3 minute intervals or just switch it up?

Depends how much you’ve done before I reckon - the plans start with 30 second intervals and build up to 3 minutes at 120%. Maybe mix it up unless you know you’ve a weakness so can work on that.

Have a listen to last week’s podcast #252 where they discuss VO2max

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You have to figure out where you are at in terms of length of interval as well as your work to rest ratio.
I was doing some riding recently where I would ride zone 2 for about 80% wish of my =week and have 2 harder workouts that were typically 3 sets of 30/15 that would be about 10-12 minutes long per set and a V02 workout that worked up from 4 X 2 1/2 minutes @ V02 max to 4 X 4 minutes @ V02 Max. I was going to try and get it up to 5 minutes @ V02 max and eventually bring down the rest to 2 minutes in between intervals.


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I am going to do the same. The weather in uk is great just now. I have done mainly turbo all winter, SSB1 &2, sus build. Now going back to base riding longer outdoors mainly z2 but hilly here so will give me a bit of tempo, SS and threshold . I am going to do vo2 max once a week. Looking at vo2 in ssb2 plan and doing -1 versions of them. I am over 60 and chad (and joe friel has said we need to keep up vo2 all year round.
This will be the first time I have tried this. Aiming to increase to 10 hours a week with longer outdoor rides.

I second (for the nth time) the VO2max workout. SS will be too similar to the Z2 work you are already doing. Work a different system.

Like you, in a couple weeks I’ll be starting a big outside Z2 block with 1 VO2/wk. I’m scheduling w/o like Spencer, Kaiser, Shortoff, longer intervals. That’s just my jam. Will be doing them indoor on the trainer.

vo2max; you’ll get solid aerobic fitness from the endurance and this top off the top end of the aerobic system.

use sweet spot when u need short cuts to longer endurance rides.



Hi Brendan. What, in your opinion, is the tipping point between doing longer endurance rides vs SS? Realise the answer is going to vary a bit depending on age, training background, etc. Just interested to get your views.

For context I typically average about 10-12 hours/week outside of recovery weeks, with a long ride of 3-4 hours. I can’t handle the SSB HV plan (tried a few times and blew myself up during SSB2) and am constantly tinkering to try and figure out how much SS is optimal for me during base training. Typically end up doing 1-2 SS workouts, a couple of group rides that hit every zone with a fair bit of VO2, and the rest mainly Z2.

this is a great Q! there’s so much in here.

ok, so the key part here is “during base”.

1-2 SS during base is fine, as long as you’re towards the end of base. When i hit the reset button after the season and start Base the next year, I start back at tempo, as I’m in the gym lifting also; SS 2x a week would be too much for me.

also i’m curious on the group ride. “Hit every zone” kind of sounds like a hammer fest…not the best for base season becasue while you can tickle vo2max , full on hammer fests will just make you tired and somewhat hamper the endurance adaptations that you’re shooting for with SS.

how far out from first events is your base? want to make sure we’re both on the same timeline.

my athletes that are able to complete longer endurance rides of 3+h only do about 3 weeks of sweet spot towards the mid-end of a 12 week base, then move into first preseason build block. It depends on the rider, but many only need ss 1x a week, cadence intervals with tempo–> threshold watts, and long endurance.



Thanks, useful info!

I’ve figured out over the years that I need to either race or do group rides ~2 times a week to keep it fun and motivate me. If I focus too much on doing the optimal structured training then that inevitably leads me to a diet of mostly indoor and solo training, and then at some point I lose sight of why I’m training at all, and then my motivation and plan compliance drop. So it’s more a case of including the group rides, and then figuring out how to ride them in a way that best works towards (or at least doesn’t hinder) my goals at that point of the season. The rides I do are fast paced but on fairly flat or gently rolling roads, and I’m strong enough to be able to hang with the group reasonably comfortably and do my pulls at SS-threshold without burying myself. So during base it’s just a question of sitting in for the parts where people are really hammering and resisting the urge to hammer with them. I’m also a bit older (44) and find it useful to at least “tickle VO2max” every week even during base phase, so will typically stretch the legs a few times with a pull above threshold, maybe launching an early break before a hammer section, or leading the chase for a few minutes if somebody else goes first.

I try to follow the TR full plan timing so my base starts ~28 weeks out from when I’m aiming to peak. Then will do a bit of base again before rebuilding to hit a second peak for the year.

For the riders you mention who only need SS 1x a week, is there a correlation with the total volume they’re doing? E.g. riders >12 hours/week tend to need less SS? Or 15 hours.

Some good points here - did 15 hours of zone 2 last week with just a 40mins SS block on Tuesday - haven’t done any VO2 max for 6 weeks when it became obvious there would be no racing. But I’m going to add an hour of intervals once a week for the next couple of months along with my extra zone 2. If we get to race it will help, if we don’t it will hopefully help me for next year :grin:

Coggan originally stated, over a decade ago, that sweet spot “is a concept, not a zone.”

“Sweet spot” as a concept is about maximizing TSS within a manageable fatigue load. So, that depends on available training time – if you go back to the (in)famous chart, “sweet spot” could be anywhere from about 73% of FTP to 94% – it all depends on the size of the training dose.

So, the question is what kind of adaptations are you looking for, at what time in the season, and for what reason?

Long intervals, or long sustained “chunks” of 90-94% might be good if you want to slowly raise FTP from below, and develop more muscular endurance/stamina.

A lot of riding at 76-85% might just build up fatigue and not yield significantly better aerobic adaptations than just riding in upper zone 2.

I like the 90-94% stuff once or twice a week during base phases, then saving the work right at threshold for a the weeks prior to an event that prioritizes FTP (a mountain finish, or a TT). I’ve actually shifted a bit this year to cutting out zone 3/lower zone 4 work, since Base was over at the end of January. The hard days are either at or just under FTP (stamina-focus cycle) or zone 5 (VO2 focus cycle). Everything else, zone 2.

I’d like @brendanhousler to chime in here, but the spot in the week where I see a place for 80-90% FTP is after the hard parts of a quality session are done. Say, 45-60min of 96%+ FTP, then 5 minutes steady zone 2, then an hour of tempo. Or VO2 work followed by the tempo. If you’re limited to, say, a 2hr ride, then I think that tempo follow-up to the hard work helps prepare your body to ride in the break after the selection has been made. One of these days a week is enough, because it will tear you up pretty well – especially for a 40+. But, I think it does help you go deeper, for longer, in a 2-2.5 hour road race.

That may all just be “I think,” though.

that’s awesome that you’re in tune with what you need and how to get it done, sweet! i have a hard time not going too hard even when sitting in…fast is fast no matter where i am in the group.

no correlation with volume…riders with more volume normally get more endurance, some get an extra interval day but it wouldn’t be SS since they’re already riding so much. riders with less volume would mean more intensity, since they can’t get volume.

agree 100% it slowly killed me.

man that’s a tough day doing 1h SS then the tempo. I do have a Tempo Finishers workout for athletes to do 2-3 larger chunks of 20-30 minute of 85-90% on day 2 of the weekend. On paper it’s like “NBD!!!” then you get out in the wild and it’s the red emoji face with his tongue out

So… if I am training for my century (have 95KM for next Saturday), I should do it in endurance and not in sweet spot??

what are you doing the rest of the week?

I’m in build. Typically, Tuesday VO2Max, Wednesday zone2/3 (1h3) which I do outside motly now, Thursday Threshold / over under (inside), and Sat/Sun long ride (3-5 hours) currently around 90% FTP, and the other day in the weekend 1h30 tempo or sweet spot (in line with build).