Thoughts on Sweetspot

Paritally due to all the hype and lack of science backing it up, I have been kind of anti-sweet spot (SS). Here is an example article articulating some of the problems.

I “hate” to say it, but I am warming up to sweet-spot based plans. I believe for most cyclists, SS is not the most effient way to get to the top of their game but it does have benefits

  • It is simple plan that can work for just about anyone willing to do hard work
  • Sweetspot workouts push many people harder than they they might do otherwise.
  • One size fits all. You don’t really need a coach. You don’t need to continually adjust your workouts as much.
  • There is very good marketing of them so people trust them. This is important.

So those are some benefits. Riders that don’t want think about their plan and are willing to do a little extra hard work, might consider a sweetspot based plan.

Top riders with coaches are not following SS plans. I would argue with a small amount of additional work, you could follow plans that are likely to be slightly easier in overall effort and yet more effective. The details matter and each individual is unique so there is no such thing as one size fits all.

All in all, I am see the benefits in SS based plans for the right individuals. Love to hear other peoples thoughts on additional benefits or negatives of SS based plans.

I am not saying their is anything wrong with sweet-spot workouts!!! They are essentially a threshold workout, and when used correctly within a plan have tons of evidence to back up their validity.

I’ve been back and forth on the sweet-spot debate, but as of now I stand on the side of: yes sweet-spot can be good IF your FTP isn’t set too high, AND you’re using it as a supplement to lack of training time (not as a full out training plan) or for specific adaptations you are looking for AND the intervals are long enough (imo most SweetSpot workouts are too short). So it has a place, but often it is used too much…

First problem is if you have an FTP set too high (ramp test puts you at 75% of MAP but maybe you are 72% of MAP… or perhaps 20min test puts you at 95% but your FTP is 93%), then these will be less like sweet-spot and more like lower-end threshold workouts. This becomes a problem with the fatigue you are introducing. The goal of SweetSpot, in my opinion should be to increase the adaptations but without compromising recovery (too much).

Second point is that I’m not a big fan of a full-out SweetSpot plan. The better coaches I know include SweetSpot in the case that riders need the progressive overload but simply don’t have the time to get it.
A basic example would be if last time I was training at 500 TSS per week of zone2 (say, 10hrs per week – numbers just for sake of example), then by principles of progressive overload, I would need more work to continue to adapt. But if I still only have 10 hours per week, there’s only so much zone2 I can do to get what I need. Therefore adding in 1 SweetSpot workout might be what’s needed to continue the overload. With that being said athletes need to be very individualized and some might not need a sweetspot interval until they are nearing the upper range of their fitness with their given amount of time available. Other athletes might need 2-3+ SweetSpot workouts per week with their given time and fitness. But just throwing someone into a SS based plan is probably not the best idea, in my opinion :slight_smile:

Last point is that most SS intervals are too short to get the adaptations that people are looking for. I look at some training plans and see SS intervals in the range of 10-20 minutes – the same as a threshold workout. I personally think these are just too short, but the reason they might work for people is because of point 1 – their FTP is too high, so they are actually getting in threshold workouts and accumulating more fatigue than they are ready for… Anyhow, this is mostly anecdotal, but I see myself and athletes I work with build a really strong “base” when SS is used sparingly, and when it is used, it comes in a long steady progression, much longer than a few 15min intervals… One of my athletes is in the middle of a progression where he does 3 x 30min SS. Next week he’ll do 2 x 45min and will follow up with a 1 x 90min. I’ve had some go past 1x120min SS. Progressing time before power is key, but there are many ways to build an island. (is that the saying?) This is just what I’ve seen


I appreciate your perspective here. I guess in your suggestions interval durations can start out shorter and build up to these longer durations? If so I agree that lack of strong overload progressions also plays a part in many plan problems.

Absolutely, you’re spot on. Should start out smaller and progress from there… I like 20min SS intervals with 60min “time in zone” as a middle-of-road starting point assuming FTP is accurate. For the less trained I might recommend 15min with 45min total time in zone, or pure beginners have them do 10min intervals with 30min time in zone.

So a basic progression over a block might look something like this… (some will find they progress faster than others):
3 x 20min @ 90%
2 x 30min @ 90%
1 x 60min @ 90%
4 x 20min @ 90%
3 x 25min @ 90%
2 x 35-40min @ 90%
1 x 75min @ 90%

Then you can re-test FTP and repeat, or keep going for a longer SweetSpot time-to-exhaustion depending on what your goals are

Here’s an example of a progression in a plan I once saw:

3 x 10min
5 x 10min
3 x 20min
5 x 10min
7 x 6min
5 x 12min
3 x 30min
3 x 20min
5 x 12min
3 x 15min

It does start to look better than this by the end of the block. But I feel this type of progression is selling yourself short. Especially since the first 1-3minutes of an interval is primarily ATP/anaerobic , some of those intervals you’re only getting 7 or so minutes actually at what I’d call “metabolic SweetSpot”. I’d personally rather do more Zone 2 and supplement SweetSpot instead. Probably will recover better this way mentally and physically, and build a better “base” in the meantime

I’m an older recreational rider (66), and seek mainly plans for fitness and health. I have ridden for 30-40 years, but no racing. And I have participated in many 300 km events. No event this year, but I have ridden over 3000 km in total this year, mostly with endurance pace

I started TR SSB base low volume plan some weeks ago. On the 3rd week is a workout Eclipse, 90 minutes with 3x20 minutes SS intervals. Which Jeremy suggest as a starting point for SS training.

Even if I have succeed the previous workouts in the plan, which should prepare me for this 3*20 SS workout, I failed, and managed to only do half of the last interval.

Maybe my FTP is set to high (I will test again), or the plan is not for me and I need more of base-base workouts.

So I think starting with 3x20min SS, maybe is not right solution for everybody. And even not TrainerRoads base low volume SS plan.

I agree with you 100%!!! I think Jeremy is talking about a racer in his 20s or 30s starting point and missing the bigger picture of the non-racers, beginners, older riders and others that would need to slowly build to these loads.

My pro-coach friend has been coaching for 30-years and recommends a much lower starting point. He focuses on threshold based rides but he suggest a starting point of

  • 5m @100% + 2m rest
  • 4m@100% + 2m rest
  • 3m@100% … rest

Like this

See how that goes… slowly build from there. You can extend those intervals a little if you want to do a SS focus. If this is way too easy for you then bump it up in the beginning but still do small increases, like 10% interval length increases a week.

I believe TR plans are designed for 25 year old racers. This is the reason I created TrainerDay to help educate people they must self-coach and find what works for them. If TR works for someone one, great. Even though lots of people on their forums talk about how great TR plans are, I believe that this is a minority of riders. Get 1,000 of their 100,000 users saying it is great and it sounds like they are the most amazing plans ever. I think TR is a great platform, I think the guys there are great, I just believe those plans are great for a specific demographic of rider. I think their singular focus is actually not a bad thing it’s just the rest of us need something else.

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I have participated in many 300 km events here in Sweden. First in 1985 and latest in 2019. I have never done any SS or TH workouts before, “just” cycled 3 times a week. 2 shorter workouts (brisk 60-90 min) and one endurance ride, longer and longer, up to 5-6 hours. And I have managed to complete the events in 11-13h (in 2019). Training has not be complicated.

It’s amazing @Cyclopaat is similar to you… :slight_smile:

I think you know where I stand on this :rofl:

The similarity you (@Alex) mention, is between me and Markku (@MSiipola)? He says he never does SS and that’s is typically all I do…

Mine are not :sunglasses:

13 posts were split to a new topic: FTP Testing thoughts