Sweetspot – The Biggest Bang for Your Buck
For most of us time-crunched athletes, it’s difficult to fit in training around work and other life commitments. Unlike the pros, we can’t ride around for hours and focus only on recovery off the bike. If the training is too difficult (too much intensity or too many hours) we’ll notice the effects afterwards and so being smart in the way we train is important.
“Sweetspot” describes a power zone ranging between upper zone 3 (tempo) and lower zone 4 (threshold). I like to call it ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ as it is hard to maintain riding within this zone, but it takes a while fatigue to build up in your legs. It’s hard to maintain conversations whilst training in this zone.
Sweetspot training is commonly used since is provides the ‘biggest bang for your buck’. You’ll see the most significant increase in your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) for the least training time (1 hour is enough time to do a sweetspot session). Recovery periods also tend to be short between sweetspot workouts meaning you won’t be too tired afterwards.
Replacing long winter base miles with shorter, condensed sweetspot sessions can promote aerobic adaptations without needing to spend hours training. It’s also easy to incorporate sweetspot intervals into commutes.
Varying the durations of sweetspot intervals and planning timings of the sessions correctly can lead to big performance gains. It will strengthen your aerobic engine which is the base you’ll need for the race season ahead.
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Article by Jack O’Neill