Zone 2 - How Many Hours a Week?

Hi All

I cycle (indoors and outdoors) about 8-9 hours a week.

I had a cycle test done by a physiologist years ago (like over 10 years) who said my aerobic base was non-existent (not a huge surprise as I only did weight training back in those days) and that I should strengthen this.

I usually start at this time of year with Sweet Spot work in TR but never really make a huge improvement in my 20 min FTP efforts despite moving through the various TR phases.

So this year I thought I may do 2 months of zone 2 (heart rate) work to see if that helps.

My week looks roughly like this:
Mon - Sweet Spot 3x20 mins (indoors)
Tues - 90 mins fasted Z2 (indoors)
Wed - Off
Thurs - 90 mins fasted Z2 (indoors)
Fri - Sweet Spot 3-4x20 mins (indoors)
Sat - may or may not cycle
Sun - Outside 2-4 hours trying to stay in Z2 when possible

Not overly exciting but my question is this:
I don’t want to waste my time doing something that won’t add up. Am I doing enough hours in zone 2 to make a difference? I can’t extend the 90 min cycles as these are done before work and I can’t really create more time as have other things in life that have to take priority.

My thoughts were to do this and then in Dec start on a Sweet Spot program on TR.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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Doing the 90min rides fasted will definitely give more of an endurance effect.

I guess the answer on “how many hours a week?” Is, as many as you can without negating the intensity of the workouts in your plan.

Hope this helps

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You could try and tack on some Z2 onto the SS Workouts

Replace Friday with 1x45 (or longer) Tempo. Skip the fasted, just a light snack beforehand. On Sunday, ride Zone 2 but you can venture into low-mid Tempo on hills or whenever you feel strong.

The Zone 2 is the single most important riding you are doing. When you switch over to a TR program you will target FTP plenty. In the meantime, build some base.

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A lot of this depends on what the trend of your season looks like. If all you want is to see more gains then the easy answer is to focus on completing all the workouts and prioritizing your recovery. Once you have those nailed, then look at adding extra volume, usually by adding 20-30 minutes of z2 on the back of your sweet spot workouts for a moderate TSS increase.

Other points that may have an impact but again depend on other factors, do the ramp tests instead of 20 minute tests, and throw out this ‘I had a cycle test done by a physiologist years ago (like over 10 years) who said my aerobic base was non-existent’ statement. It was 10 years ago and has no bearing on what kind of athletic powers you have today.

At the end of the day nobody can tell you something will work or not, but the general consensus is Consistency / Recovery / +Volume is a progression that will work.

Also final point on fasted rides, there are plenty of forum topics here with scientific and anecdotal evidence addressing this issue, well worth taking some time and looking into it as it may not be the benefit you’re after.

Agreed. Assuming you’re realistically 5-6 months out from the true start of the road season–if there is one. You have PLENTY of time to gradually build up intensity.

I would love to see TR revise their Sweet Spot Base plans. It’s time. There needs to be an optional 3rd 6-week block. Too many folks complaining about burnout or plateau on the current 2x6 week model.

My hunch is that it’s because there are too many Sweet Spot rides in a given week as there is only one 45-minute Z2 workout in SSBMV1. Not to mention the introduction of VO2 max work in the second week of SSBMVII…which is only 8 weeks into your “season” if you start it with SSSB1.

That leaves many of us who reside in cold-weather states/countries doing VO2 max work in like December or January if we start our Base Season in October. A bit premature IMO, but I’m not a coach so…


Yeah, this was an assumption I was making. Good to call that out.

Agree. Isn’t that how we all ended up here? :wink:


Although I never had any physiological tests, I felt the same way after my first trip through SSB 1 and 2. I have done two blocks of Zone 2 training, and my weeks look something like this
Mon 2 hr zone 2
Tues 2 hr zone 2
Wed off
Thurs 2 hr zone 2
Sat: Group Ride Lots of climbs requiring VO2 max efforts–my only intensity for the week3-4 hr.
Sun Off.

When I started this my goal was to keep my heartrate down in the 120’s My power was a measly 110 watts. Currently for the same pulse, I’m doing these workouts at 138 watts. My VT or upper limit of zone 2 seems to be in the low to mid 140 watt range. After doing this everything seems to be better–sweetspot, threshold, and even VO2 max work.

I built my own workouts, a short warm up then a straight 2 or 3 hr block. I dial the power up or down accd to what I feel. Interestingly, usually my pulse gradually declines over the course of the 2 hrs.


Correct me if I’m wrong, From what I understand, sweet spot is a replacement for zone 2 riding. They should bring similar physiological adaptations.

I’m not a physiologist (although I did stay at Holiday Inn Express), but I think there are a couple of things to consider. Sweetspot, Tempo, Zone 2 all lead to the same or similar adaptations, the difference is the cost. Unless you are very far along in your training history, I doubt you can do anywhere near the volume of sweetspot that you can of Zone 2. I can’t imagine doing the schedule I posted above substituting Sweetspot for Zone 2. And if the physiologic adaptations are the same, makes sense to maximize time the easiest way possible.


And fat utilization. The closer you are to Threshold, the lower it is. Threshold itself has virtually no FATox. By “cost” I think you mean fatigue. And if so, I would agree. But don’t forget the fat.

It is not, see above about Fat.


Not being able to speak to anything other than my personal experience, I don’t necessarily think the way to build aerobic base requires more z2. I do HV SSB (one endurance ride, 5 sweet spot rides per week) and I can assure you my aerobic base is solid (I did a 100 mile ride this summer and had only 4% decoupling over a 5:15 ride). 12 weeks of solid work should be go a long way to establishing an aerobic base.


you can build a base either way. Having done both SSB1 HV and similar hours with more z2, both built a base but I got better results with more z2 and less SS. YMMV and all that.


I should start being more precise with my terms. Yes, I believe you can get fit either way, as @bbarrera says. With SST, your FTP should improve. All depends on how you define base. I look at it a bit differently than “improve my fitness” or “make my FTP higher”. But that is a rabbit hole.



Im starting this in 2 weeks time. Do you think Doubling up on SSBHV1+2 twice is too much?

I’ve never tried doing them back to back, I think generally it’s recommended you do a build phase prior to doing another round of SSB. Additionally, if you want to take SSB to a new level you can check out the thread about sweet spot progression and do a third custom phase where you’re doing more continuous sweet spot intervals.

and in my mind that rabbit hole starts with the inability for most folks to measure an increase in “aerobic base.” It certainly doesn’t begin and end with aerobic decoupling. In any case, aerobic fitness is real and perhaps doing a lot of zone2 work is asking too much (too big a leap in faith) if your only measure of improvement is FTP.

For those of us without a lot of endurance training experience (5 years here), I’ve seen some pretty big gains in FTP by investing in z2. And counterintuitively big gains in 1-5 min power. And thats comparing to TR’s SSB.


I was planning doubling up on base as I feel like starting a build phase in January time (start of season is late April) is a little too early?

I actually done some experimenting with the SSB progression thread/workouts for 3 weeks or so, and I had some of my best race results to date. However, coincidence or not is difficult to say.

Don’t want to derail the thread but I could not agree more with this. :+1: And even just defining it, too. I would certainly accept “hand-wavey”-ness with a definition if we had a generally agreed upon measure of change, like we have with FTP. There are lots of adaptations that lead to an FTP improvement, but I’m happy just proxying all those adaptations to a single metric (or FTP/TTE, etc).


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I should add, I’m 66 years old currently. I’m also pretty much “off the couch” prior to spring 2018, although I raced up to age 56. There’s no way I would recover doing HVSSB, and even MVSSB. Currently started LV SSB, and substituting workouts in from MV to increase the duration of the SSB workouts. If you look through the SSB plans, as the volume goes up, the intensity goes down. Agree about the fat utilization, but I found that I just felt better doing Zone 2 with a little carb in the bottles.