Base training - Sweet Spot Intervals

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by Toolish, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. Toolish

    Toolish New Member

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    I am currently reading Maffetone's big book of fitness and he talks a lot about training at a fairly low heart rate to improve aerobic performance. I have read a lot online about doing FTP intervals or sweet spot intervals being the best way to improve FTP.

    Do these two concepts gel together. i.e. spend a few months doing high volume at low heart rate then work from that into adding some Sweet spot intervals as a build into the season.

    My main focus is Ironman triathlon, but I am also doing some bike racing. Either way I want to improve my FTP and my ability to hold a high % of that FTP for a long period.
     
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  2. Subliminal-SS

    Subliminal-SS New Member

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    When you say interval what length interval are you thinking. Sweet spot is an area that you can sit on for a good 2-3 hours with decent nutrition. I think more also for more experienced folk. Any road for my sweet spot training it will consist of ~2 hour rides aiming to keep the number at 90% FTP. I have mini breaks down hills etc but normally no more than 2 mins every 30-40 etc but as long as I keep my heart rate up in 165-175 ill get a np for the ride of ~90% FTP. Otherwise known as the sweet spot. I did one ride which was 4 hours + with a break waiting for friends every 30 miles it had a NP of 90% so it's sustainable for large periods and I was super untrained at the time. Still am but more so than then. On a turbo doing it and actually holding it will undoubtably be harder and boooring. If not now in 3 weeks it will be.
     
  3. bmoberg337

    bmoberg337 Member

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    I honestly have not experimented with doing high volume/low heart rate training. I have always been time crunched and therefore look for the most time effective and efficient ways to get the adaptations I want. My base training last year included 3x1.5-2hr endurance rides with 40min-1hr of sweet spot work (roughly 90%) of my FTP and one 3hr-4hr endurance ride for fun. I was consistently adding about 6 watts to my FTP/month training this way. At one point I supplemented one V02max workout into my plan in lieu of sweet spot work. After two months of training like that I found that I made less gains in FTP, but better gains in my 5 min power output. I basically proved to myself the concept of specificity.

    I think incorporating sweet spot intervals into an endurance ride is specific and time effective for a triathlete. Whether or not you would see more gain by lowering your intensity but increasing volume is something you would have to experiment with. My guess is that it would be really hard for you to find the time to train at the duration needed to get the adaptations you want with low HR training.

    It's probably worth pointing out that I did not have any problems with mental or physical burnout training this way. In fact I have a lot more fun gettting the chance to open up the legs a little bit vs. riding for hours on end in zombie mode.
     
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  4. smaryka

    smaryka Member

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    My experience in Ironman racing was the Endurance Nation's approach -- build the "fast" first, then the "far". This might be seen as "reverse periodisation" by people in cycle racing but in reality it's completely specific to Ironman, given that the event is ~12 hours long!

    So I did FTP work in the early season right up til race day, though obviously once I started adding lots of volume, my FTP work was more about maintaining than building. About 3 months out from the event, I started adding more volume, with my biggest rides being the race distance/duration (not quite the same for running, more like 30k/2.5 hours, my marathon on race day was 3:45). The aim then was to raise my CTL as high as possible, to give me the base I needed on race day to perform for a long period.

    Unless you are a full-time athlete living in a warm sunny place during the winter (and assuming your Ironman is in summer), it's pretty brutal to be doing 4-6 hour long slow rides 6 months before your race. Better off using SST/FTP intervals to build your FTP then start building on your long weekend rides a few months out from your race so that you're comfortably doing 100 miles in your aero position a month before race day. Then a final week or two push, then taper. The higher your FTP, the more watts you can put out at endurance intensity too, and the faster you will go. Same for running, the faster you can run 10k, the faster you can run 42k too.

    There's no need to ride these long rides easy either, you can do your 2x20s or SST intervals within the long rides to keep that sharp. Same goes for running, my long runs all had intervals at ~half-marathon pace within them.
     
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  5. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by smaryka .

    The higher your FTP, the more watts you can put out at endurance intensity too, and the faster you will go. Same for running, the faster you can run 10k, the faster you can run 42k too.



    If only that were true.
     
  6. steve

    steve Administrator
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    Quote: Originally Posted by An old Guy .

    If only that were true.


    Whats not true?
     
  7. dkrenik

    dkrenik Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by Subliminal-SS .

    When you say interval what length interval are you thinking.

    Sweet spot is an area that you can sit on for a good 2-3 hours with decent nutrition. I think more also for more experienced folk.

    Any road for my sweet spot training it will consist of ~2 hour rides aiming to keep the number at 90% FTP. I have mini breaks down hills etc but normally no more than 2 mins every 30-40 etc but as long as I keep my heart rate up in 165-175 ill get a np for the ride of ~90% FTP. Otherwise known as the sweet spot.

    I did one ride which was 4 hours + with a break waiting for friends every 30 miles it had a NP of 90% so it's sustainable for large periods and I was super untrained at the time. Still am but more so than then.

    On a turbo doing it and actually holding it will undoubtably be harder and boooring. If not now in 3 weeks it will be.

    I would say that the "sweetspot training concept" is a bit more amorphous than that. Think more along the lines of "what regular training load can I endure that will get me to my training goal?" Is your goal to maximize the training load for a week? 2 months? A year(s)? Intensity will vary according to the answer and to how much time is available. The intensity for sweetspot training for someone with 20 hours/week to ride is going to be quite different than for someone with only 8 hours/week.
     
  8. Subliminal-SS

    Subliminal-SS New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by dkrenik .

    I would say that the "sweetspot training concept" is a bit more amorphous than that. Think more along the lines of "what regular training load can I endure that will get me to my training goal?" Is your goal to maximize the training load for a week? 2 months? A year(s)? Intensity will vary according to the answer and to how much time is available. The intensity for sweetspot training for someone with 20 hours/week to ride is going to be quite different than for someone with only 8 hours/week.

    This is all true for sure. However IMHO sweetspot training as a concept is something that is pretty much particular to someone with very little time i.e. 8-10 hours a week. @ 20 Hours a week I would expect a full plan of specific zone training that would allow me to train to my upper limit of what is possible.

    I suppose the point i was trying to relay was that at the normal hours we normally get in say 8-10 hours for me anyway obviously assuming this is true of the OP would be incorrect. But With that kind of time distribution I would expect not intervals at SST but entire 1-2 hour rides. And I wouldn't expect this to come close to the tolerances of what the body can endure. Tough at first, ease into it no doubt but the quote from the OP

    ''Either way I want to improve my FTP and my ability to hold a high % of that FTP for a long period''

    For me the best way to do this and train yourself to hold this FTP value for a long time is ~90% FTP SST rides or ~100% FTP intervals.
     
  9. dkrenik

    dkrenik Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by Subliminal-SS .
    This is all true for sure. However IMHO sweetspot training as a concept is something that is pretty much particular to someone with very little time i.e. 8-10 hours a week. @ 20 Hours a week I would expect a full plan of specific zone training that would allow me to train to my upper limit of what is possible.

    Based on your response I'm not sure that we're on the same page. Whether you've 6 hours/week or 30 it doesn't matter - everyone has a "sweetspot" to utilize and it will vary according to goals and available training time.

    Sweetspot isn't so much a zone as a concept. The intensity is defined, in part, by the above 2 parameters (and maybe more?).
     
  10. dkrenik

    dkrenik Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by dkrenik .
    Based on your response I'm not sure that we're on the same page. Whether you've 6 hours/week or 30 it doesn't matter - everyone has a "sweetspot" to utilize and it will vary according to goals and available training time.

    Sweetspot isn't so much a zone as a concept. The intensity is defined, in part, by the above 2 parameters (and maybe more?).


    Another way to look at it (from Andy Coggan):
    Quote: The sweetspot concept in a nutshell: if the exercise intensity is too low, then it will not induce further adaptation unless one performs very large volumes of training. OTOH, if the exercise intensity is too high, then either one cannot perform a sufficient volume of training to achieve maximal adaptation, and/or the adaptations that are induced will themselves be different. In between lies a fairly broad range of intensities that represent sort of a "sweetspot", wherein you are simply trading volume for intensity and vice-versa, with the end result being the same.
     
  11. Subliminal-SS

    Subliminal-SS New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by dkrenik .

    Another way to look at it (from Andy Coggan):


    Fair enough, I interpret Coggans summary a little differently, Im sure you understand my angle as I do your's. I would just say that what you describe, IMHO is more like different training plans, time levels different Zones Like Z3 High Volume Training.

    As you say I see it as more of a Zone that sits in halfway up Z3 and Halfway through Z4. I wouldnt change this just because of volume. To say im doing sweetspot training for me means to not be rolling in tempo but not be smashing it for a tops of 1 hour in Z4. Instead I ride in a 2-3 Hour Sweetspot that I can sustain and for me get the most out of that 2-3 Hours. Rather than getting 1 Hour Quality and 2 Hours less stressful Miles.

    Your SweetSpot concept for me just sounds more like a good training plan that pushes the rider to his Maximum for the duration he has. But of course each to their own and I'm not saying you are wrong not by any stretch.
     
  12. bradg

    bradg New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by Toolish .
    I am currently reading Maffetone's big book of fitness and he talks a lot about training at a fairly low heart rate to improve aerobic performance. I have read a lot online about doing FTP intervals or sweet spot intervals being the best way to improve FTP.

    Do these two concepts gel together. i.e. spend a few months doing high volume at low heart rate then work from that into adding some Sweet spot intervals as a build into the season.

    My main focus is Ironman triathlon, but I am also doing some bike racing. Either way I want to improve my FTP and my ability to hold a high % of that FTP for a long period.


    I tried something similar last year. I tested blood lactate, and paid special attention to the wattage & heart rates corresponding to lactate concentrations of 1.5mmol, 2mmol, and 4mmol, with the intention to track how I improved at 4mmol, and noting the other two for training purposes. When I tapped out I was somewhere around 12mmol, but I wasn't really concerned with that. Taking inspiration from the interesting but sometimes confusing articles at lactate.com and Andrew Medcalf (who's more a rowing coach...but endurance is endurance, to a degree), I did the bulk of my volume at 1.5-1.8mmol, which was something like 70% of MHR. I don't necessarily advocate heart rate training at all, and certainly not anything that's based off of percentage of max. Essentially, I'd ride 10-12hrs/week at this middling intensity exclusively, no intervals, no SST, just easy riding. It was very easy work. Let me repeat that: easy. I read about rowers, XC skiers, and cyclists who did this sort of training and there seemed to be indication that it worked.

    My results: first test in Sep 2012 was 4mmol @ 240W. In early Dec 2012, my 4mmol wattage was 270W. I don't correlate 4mmol with anything like lactate threshold or whatever--it's just a number.

    Then, thereafter, I realized that doing tons of volume on the turbo indoors was more than I could tolerate and I started screwing around with intervals and time-crunched stuff and whatever else. A few months after that, I decided to focus on track sprinting and largely forgot about all of this, except when I was coaching rowing. Now, I just do a number of even easier rides combined with either sprints or *very* hard intervals.

    My sense? Doing a huge volume of very easy miles has merit if you pay attention to the operative words: "huge volume." Assume that the average TdF rider does at least 20,000 miles per year, possibly more (I think there's a study by Stephen Seiler in which he notes that it may be 25-30K or more?). Many of those miles are likely pretty easy. Like Coggan points out, you have to do a lot to get the most out of it. Unless you have that amount of time, I think that figuring out your SST--find that chart with the curves and zones, it really clarifies that there's a gradual progression of efficacy, as opposed to the hard lines you might unconsciously impose--will lead to better results. RapDaddyo has a great document outlining his success with it.
     
  13. acoggan

    acoggan Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by An old Guy .

    If only that were true.


    It is true (note: N=89):

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by acoggan .

    It is true (note: N=89):


    Your graph seems to have nothing to do with my comment or the issue I commented on. But that seems to be on par with your other posts.

    ---

    I would approach the question along the linies of:

    Find a pair of athletes with FTPs differing by 10-15% where the one with the higher FTP has lower power for endurance events. Compare their lives and see if we can change the life of the one who has the lower FTP enough to increase his FTP at the expense of his endurance. And run an experiment.

    I have gone out with guys who had higher FTP than I. After 12 hours of sucking my wheel they were pretty well beat up. That seems to indicate that we can find pair of atheletes to do the experiment on.
     
  15. bradg

    bradg New Member

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    Just a reminder that life on this forum is much better when you block this guy.
     
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  16. maxroadrash

    maxroadrash New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by bradg .
    Just a reminder that life on this forum is much better when you block this guy.

    Agreed. It's even better when people don't quote him in their replies.
     
  17. needmoreair

    needmoreair New Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by smaryka .
    The higher your FTP, the more watts you can put out at endurance intensity too, and the faster you will go. Same for running, the faster you can run 10k, the faster you can run 42k too.

    I agree with an old guy.

    This is incorrect, at least the running aspect. In a marathon you aren't limited by speed, but by fuel. And in that regard making your body as efficient as possible trumps everything. To do that, specific training for the marathon focuses on getting your AnT (anaerobic/lactate threshold) as high as possible before bringing your AeT (aerobic threshold) as close to your AnT as possible. This is due to the fact that the more lactate your produce, the more calories you are consuming.

    Renato Canova, a very famous Italian coach living and working in Iten, Kenya, has said on numerous occasions that if you are running a half marathon PR (sub 60 mins at that level) a few weeks before your goal marathon then your training has been all wrong because you have trained your body to run fast at your AnT rather than your AeT and you're going to hit the wall in the last 10k of a marathon. Same thing applies to the concept of training to run a fast10k instead of the marathon. Completely different beast entirely.
     
  18. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by Toolish .
    I am currently reading Maffetone's big book of fitness and he talks a lot about training at a fairly low heart rate to improve aerobic performance. I have read a lot online about doing FTP intervals or sweet spot intervals being the best way to improve FTP.

    Do these two concepts gel together. i.e. spend a few months doing high volume at low heart rate then work from that into adding some Sweet spot intervals as a build into the season.

    My main focus is Ironman triathlon, but I am also doing some bike racing. Either way I want to improve my FTP and my ability to hold a high % of that FTP for a long period.



    Quote: Originally Posted by smaryka .
    The higher your FTP, the more watts you can put out at endurance intensity too, and the faster you will go. Same for running, the faster you can run 10k, the faster you can run 42k too.

    There's no need to ride these long rides easy either, you can do your 2x20s or SST intervals within the long rides to keep that sharp. Same goes for running, my long runs all had intervals at ~half-marathon pace within them.


    I agree with smaryka, but I have to admit I have gone a backward approach or in some sense try to gel the two as the OP asks. I do not race and have not intention of racing, but for whatever reason I have focused in on an Ironman type of pace and distance.

    My typical weekday training is indoors and my target goals are 60 minute of SST even though I try to push up into L4 with a goal of trying to creep up higher into the L4 range if possible. On Saturday I typically do a 4 to 5 hour ride and as smaryka suggests within that 5 hours there are a few stretches of road that I can get a sustained block of L3 and sometimes L4 if I am not too fatigued, but then I also try to balance total TSS for that 5 hour ride. Too much intensity on a 5 hour ride and it trashes my scheduled training days following. If I can keep TSS down into the low 200's I can typically go out the next day and get another 2x60 of L3, but typically if I get closer to 300 TSS my legs are too fatigued and I end up with a 2x60 of L2.

    I agree that it makes sense to raise my FTP by doing shorter focused higher intensity training would then allow me to use that raised ceiling. Math wise then if I am pacing a 5 hour training session at ~75% of FTP the speed will obviously be higher with a raised FTP ceiling. But there was another problem that I had and it was a mental issue. Before I started training these 5 hour solo events I found that my attitude kind of went south at about the 60 mile mark and I needed an attitude adjustment. I was so used to doing 60 mile routes as a maximum and sometimes no more than 40 miles with higher intensity that about 60 miles a thought would cross, "okay I am done with this" and when that happened my performance dropped not out of a physical issue but because a mental issue. Last year I separated from my group rides to focus on doing 80+ solo to eliminate drafting, coasting, store stops and tried to get to a point to where there was not much difference between "moving time" and "total elapsed" time. The other aspect was getting really used to being tucked in aero for over 90% of that time as well.

    Skip ahead to current day and my attitude has drastically changed. I love cycling solo. I love cycling long distance. Five hours seems to go too fast now and I just about hate it when the ride ends. My endurance has improved drastically. Keeping a sustained cadence for long periods of time is not really an issue. In fact now when I rejoin on an occasional group ride what really stands out to me is how all my friends always train in a pace line and they are used to doing their short turn on the front, but the majority of the time they are drafting/coasting so they struggle to hold a cadence for a great distance. I have also become accustomed to other little small things like eating on the bike while in aero. I keep track of nutrition on the bike and I am comfortable with how much and when to take in food. Maybe not big issues like FTP, but things have changed for the better on my long course training. Main thing is how fast 5 hours seems to slip by. My friends are completely baffled as to why I would sit out there on a fairly boring route (same one) week after week, but the more I do it the more I love it and the more I love the better it seems to get. :)

    I would not imply this is a good approach, but I am pretty happy with it so far. As winter comes on I doubt I will be out there freezing for 5 hours so I will probably drop it down to 3 hours or less in the coldest months and adjust the intensity based on the duration and what training is scheduled for the next day(s). That is the biggest thing for me is finding the balance of the training load so that I can train consistently and also lean a smidge into progressive training. If there are a number of ways to "skin the cat" my way may not make sense, but hopefully the cat will still get skinned. :)
     
  19. acoggan

    acoggan Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by needmoreair .

    I agree with an old guy.


    Sorry, but smaryka's statement is correct (which make you and AOG wrong). In fact, the correlation between performance over shorter (but still vastly aerobic) durations and longer durations is strong enough that you can predict the latter from the former with considerable accuracy (e.g., see http://www.sportexperts.org/publication/42.pdf).
     
  20. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by acoggan .

    Sorry, but smaryka's statement is correct (which make you and AOG wrong). In fact, the correlation between performance over shorter (but still vastly aerobic) durations and longer durations is strong enough that you can predict the latter from the former with considerable accuracy.


    Let's start with the graph you posted. It hides a lot of details. I think a similar graph was posted a while back. It included variance bars. As I recall: The variance was 0% at 1 hour and 100%FTP (by definition). The variance was monitone increasing in both directions. But even that graph hid a lot of details. Each individual's performances appears as a line. Those individuals that outperformed at the shorter distances tended to underperform at the longer distances. Those individuals that underperformed on the shorter distances tended to overperform on the longer distances. Equally important is that the graphs removed the details that needmoreair alluded to. The needs to refuel, to hydrate, and whatnot add not so subtle details to the graph.

    Let's continue with the link you provided. There are a number of online calulators that use formula based on similar papers. They are often recommended to people who want to predict their performance. Often with the recommendation comes the comment that predicting longer events based on (short event) results leads to errors.

    ---

    You have made so many claims that turned out to be false. You need to be more careful.
    The reality seems to be that the correlation is not as good as one would need to make the statement that I objected to.

    More on point is that neither your grnaph or the paper is on point as to the claim.

    As I said I am not sure about the claim. And I gave an experiment that would sway me.
     
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