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At some point riding at Cyklus you will likely hear an instructor refer to riding in the “sweet spot”. With your legs and lungs burning, you might be asking “what is sweet about this?”
Intelligent training, that’s what. Bang for your buck, in terms of time on the bike. Why? Simply put, the sweet spot is where you are training both endurance and power… in fact, it is the power output where those training benefit curves cross. The sweet spot lies at around 80% to 95% of your FTP. The key benefit is that not only will training at your sweet spot increase your FTP, but it will increase lower level endurance and sprints as well. Best of all, it is a repeatable workout that is less likely to leave you over trained.
Don’t yet know what your FTP power is? When training in the sweet spot zone, you will feel like you are going around a 8 out of 10 effort, with 10 being the best effort you can do. You should be able to maintain a breath punctuated conversation at this intensity. At the end of the interval, check in with yourself. You should feel activated and worked… but not slayed. This training zone is just sub threshold (as in just below your FTP) so in practice you will be able to hold this intensity for a long time, albeit with some “fire in the legs”. This is good!
Remember, training only endurance (rides of over an hour of moderate intensity) is like building a strong foundation for a house… but then never building the house! You will have a broad athletic base to call on, but should you require additional intensity to keep up with a group on a hill, or even run up a flight of stairs quickly, you might find yourself lacking.
On the other hand, training only power is great for quick bursts of serious work… jetting up some stairs, standing up and over a hill on your bike, or even running from the occasional zombie… but you will find the gas tank is quickly emptied if you didn’t build a fitness foundation for that power. A quick burst of speed will surely be impressive, but you might be much slower after it as your recover time is much greater than it could be.
So make good use of your time, and train in the sweet spot as often as you can. Long intervals at this intensity really do give great bang for your buck, increasing your power and your endurance at the same time.
It really is a great way to spend limited training time. You will still want to do some super hard and short intervals to amp up the anerobic system, but you might find you can forgo the long, slow endurance rides. Sub-threshold work (like sweet spot intervals) will build that foundation for you while you keep the power up.
Afterwards, go ahead. Have that doughnut!
Ready to ride after reading that? Book a class now!