Sweet Spot Training, a guide to building a powerful aerobic engine - Page 2
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  1. #26
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    I think Nitro has it pretty much right. Basically the concept is that 3-4 hours of L2-L3 work can be crammed into a shorter period if you turn up the intensity. That does result in a lot of work in the "grey zone" or "no mans land" or "junk miles"* or even the "L3 Plateau." The benefit is that you turn up the intensity just enough to build aerobic capacity, but not so much that it leaves you worked for several days.

    This stuff really works primarily because you can do long aerobic sessions day after day after day. Well n=1, it has for me anyway.

    * there are no junk miles, but as Nitro suggests, there are rides where the intensity is so low and the duration so short that you aren't really doing much, but it's not a recovery ride either.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ogaz
    Thanks for your response.
    Tonight, I listened to Coach Troy telling me to stay 10 bpm or more below LTHR. With a max of 199 and a LTHR or 185, that would mean 175 or less, which is way above the 160 I try to observe as an upper limit for aerobic workouts. Into the 170s is a harrrrrd workout. I know HR numbers are very variable, but I think they raise interesting questions.
    When "Coach Troy" (who is that?) said to stay under 175, that would be 95% of your LTHR. Based on my above HR training zones, this is at the upper end of SST. You could go as low as 165bpm and still stay in your SST zone. Like I said above, not easy, but not impossible.

    Here is yesterday's SST trainer ride for me. As you can see, the HR zones fall right between L3/L4 on the graph.
    FTP: 261w
    SST: >222w.
    Avg Power: 238w for this 1.5hrs
    Avg HR: 162/199 = 81% of max = 90.5% of LTHR (=179bpm)
    Intensity factor: 0.91
    TSS: 125

    PS, I think you need to recheck your HRmax.
    PPS, ignore my ending HR spike and the Max HR I achieved. I was playing with my HR strap at the end by tapping on it with my finger.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #28
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    Oh, plz clarify

    THANKS for the responses and for that interesting graph, Nitro.

    Why do you suggest that I should recheck my max HR? As a Cat 4, very very soon to be 40 something, I've flogged myself to 199 in the last year. I can hold 191-4 very painfully through a 15 min TT.

    LTHR was not calculated in a lab but on a test advised by a Wenzel coach, but it could well be lower than 185.

    Anyway, it's interesting that IF we have similar max HR, your SST workout averages 162 bpm, whereas I peg 160 as the "back off" point for upper end pure aerobic work: maybe we're talking about the same thing with different words!

    Again, thanks for your input into this interesting thread.

  4. #29
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    Use your calculation of FT HR instead of Max HR.

    Max HR blows.

  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ogaz
    Why do you suggest that I should recheck my max HR? As a Cat 4, very very soon to be 40 something, I've flogged myself to 199 in the last year. I can hold 191-4 very painfully through a 15 min TT.
    This is why. As far as I know, holding a HR of 194 (of max=199) for 15min isn't possible. Evidence suggests that there is a good chance both your LTHR and HRmax are higher than you tested. I would guess your LTHR closer to 190, if anything. I'm reluctant to guess (because that's exactly what it is) what your max HR could be, but if I had to, I would say closer to 210, perhaps.

    Quote Originally Posted by ogaz
    Anyway, it's interesting that IF we have similar max HR, your SST workout averages 162 bpm, whereas I peg 160 as the "back off" point for upper end pure aerobic work: maybe we're talking about the same thing with different words!
    Which is why I said that SST isn't easy. You can hold the 160+ for a long time, it just takes a good amount of mental fortitude.

    Spunout -- the software likes to use HRmax, so I use HRmax. In reality, all my calculations are based off power...with a backup based off my LTHR of 179 (for posts like this).

  6. #31
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    Hey!.....This dude stole my plan. I've been doing this for years now. I guess that I should have wrote a book.

    I really won't start doing this again until February (indoors) and mid April (outdoors)
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  7. #32
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    This is a great thread! OK, so I did my test and I came up with a lthr of 164, or about 88% of my age based HR (I know, I know) I am an expert mtb racer, and when I wear a hr monitor in a race, I can sustain 90-91% for an hour, but that involves adrenaline, and it's outside, so I'm going with 164 since I will be doing a lot of training inside anyway (upstate NY) I figured out my zones and all of that. My question is : Do we have a concensus here that the "grey zone" ,which looks like the upper half of zone 2 and all of zone 3, provides no real cardiovascular training benifit? Obviously you can loosen up, get your sweat on, and burn calories, but it is more efficient to focus on either sustained sweet spot efforts, intervals, or zone1/2 recovery/ base miles. I just want to make sure I'm not misunderstanding any of this. My aerobic capacity is my weekness, as I am always racing @90%+ for the first lap, recovering for half of the second, and then cramping at the end of the third. It's frustrating because I am one of the better technical riders in my class, so I just need my climbing to catch up to my DH abilities.

  8. #33
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    Crapsteak!

    Chris charmichael suggests doing your base miles at anything up 86% of lthr, which is right at the top end of zone 2! OK, so now I'm thinking it's really more like there are two grey zones, the upper end of zone 1, and pretty much all of zone 3. Low/mid zone 1 for recovery, zone 2 for base, zone 4 for tempo/ LT training, and zone 5 for lactic acid clearing and sprint intervals. I'm seeing now that in the past I've done my base miles at too low of an intensity, and really I should be at 70-75% of MaxHR. Um...right?

  9. #34
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    No, not quite. For the record, most physiologists do not believe in a "gray zone." I explained this in an above post. No matter what your workout is, you are getting some benefit. The question is, is it the most benefit you can achieve given your time constraints? If not, that is the gray zone.

    Riding in low L3 is a rough all-day pace, and it's exactly the level at which most pros train. Why? Because they often do 4-5hrs every ride. You can't do SST for 4-5hrs. If you have 15-20+hrs/wk to train, by all means, skip SST until closer to the season. But for the rest of us, intensity is key. Skip Carmichael's ideas -- they're not practical for most people. Follow the guidelines from the website and from my first post.

    The no-mans-land is probably at a low L2 pace, I guess. This will only stress your system enough to prevent recovery, but will not stress it enough to cause physiological adaptations. It's a good starting warm-up pace, though.

    Also, skip anaerobic efforts until ~2mo before your first big event.

    Did I answer all your questions?

  10. #35
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    grey zone = old school myth, right up there with "no intensity till you put in 1000 miles." Aerobic training is a long continuum, not descrete zones which only have benefit if you stay in them. The whole SST concept in this thread is based around the premise that people can generally train at SST levels day after day after day, without much recovery. Go slower, you can surely go longer. But if you have limited time and can't go longer, you're going to have to go a little harder. Too hard though, and you'll probably need recovery. So SST is basically another way of saying "just right" for your given time to train (more time = lower output/less time = higher output).

    But it's not like this concept (or any HRM based protocol) is precise enough that all benefit evaporates as you cross a 1% output threshold. In other words 84%=86%=88%=close enough.

    A pet peeve of mine is doing winter training rides with people who've set their HRM with an aerobic "I'm going to explode" alarm. Yes, you shouldn't go all out for long durations (unless you're building in some recovery time too), but a foray into the red zone now and then isn't going to kill you, and in fact will at least keep you mentally prepared for what that feels like.

  11. #36
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    Thanks. I was planning to stay away from zone 5 until at least late febuary. I'm thinking I will try to get in some 3.5+ hour rides at low3 in december, and then switch over to more 30-90 min. sst trainer rides in Jan. At mid. Jan. I want to be starting an interval program I stole from Bicycling magazine a couple of years ago that I had a lot of luck with. I will replace the long cardio rides in that program with shorter SST rides, which is great, because those were hard to do in 20 degrees, or in the living room. For the record, my season is from late april to mid october, with most of the racing in june/july and september
    Last edited by guava; 11-09-2007 at 10:34 AM.

  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by guava
    Thanks. I was planning to stay away from zone 5 until at least late febuary. I'm thinking I will try to get in some 3.5+ hour rides at low3 in december...
    But if you happen to stand up to get over a roller and hit z5 for 20 seconds, that's perfectly OK. No need to be overly anal about it.

    (Can you tell I've done some winter training with those types?)

  13. #38
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    So have I . I know exactly what you mean!

  14. #39
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    it's not clear to me what the basis is for staying away from higher intensity training until close to event time. This too seems like a myth based on extrapolating training methodology from pros. If you face a season of 100+ race days with 200km stages/days, then it makes sense to have a long period of rest and work on aerobic endurance since you're going to have a huge training-race volume to tune other systems. But, aerobic endurance isn't that big of a limiter in most US races (even for pros), since the majority of races most amateurs will do aren't that long and the training/race volume will never be anything like a pro sees. Why not incorporate training during the winter that includes work on limiters like anaerobic capacity, neuromuscular power etc? You can simply control the peaks by periodizing and the total work volume. Otherwise, it seems like you're just detraining a bunch of systems. It's OK to lift weights, but that's essentially non-specific neuromuscular power, which is maybe of direct cycling benefit. Why not do that on the bike in neuromuscular drills, for example--almost every US amateur racer could do with more top-end power/speed,

  15. #40
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    1. Coach Troy im assuming is the Spinerval video guy.

    2. Your LTHR will raise as you get in better shape. *proven*

    3. You must build a good aerobic engine for cycling. Everything we do including LTHR riding and sprints depends on this engine.

    4. What "zone" are we refering to here? There are about a dozen different coaches that have different HR and power for each zone.



    For me im training 9 days straight then one day rest. There is no way I could do SST work every day (or even one) during this peroid of 9 on and 1 off. Currently I stay between 145 and 165 HR (LTHR of 188ish) to build a solid aerobic base. After 6 weeks I am seeing results. My weight is dropping, my legs are getting bigger and more toned, and my average speed on the same courses/trainer has gone up every week while staying in the same HR range.

    SST work wont start for me till I add in more rest days.

  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike
    But, aerobic endurance isn't that big of a limiter in most US races (even for pros), since the majority of races most amateurs will do aren't that long and the training/race volume will never be anything like a pro sees. Why not incorporate training during the winter that includes work on limiters like anaerobic capacity, neuromuscular power etc?
    That first statement is just, well, wrong. Aerobic endurance is definitely the biggest limiter in bike racing. Just try racing after boosting your threshold power by 5-10% and see whether you concur. IME, it's a whole lot more fun not being crosseyed just to stay on.

    And definitely yes, you do need to work on anaerobic stuff. It's not all or nothing. This time of year, though, there is not much use for anaerobic conditioning, given its detrimental impact on being able to train the aerobic stuff repeatedly. That anaerobic stuff is like the point on the stick. Better to put a point on a big stick than a little one.

  17. #42
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    what you're referring to isn't aerobic endurance, but threshold power. You won't train that by doing aerobic endurance base 2 training as discussed in the thread. At least the SST to increase power at threshold. My point was that the biggest limiters in shorter, US racing is anaerobic-bridging a gap, accelerating out of corners etc. A lot of racers can sit in a pack but can't make these jumps and disappear at the end. There's a big difference between these coming during a 1-2 hour race (most US races even at cat2) and a 5-6 hour race.

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike
    what you're referring to isn't aerobic endurance, but threshold power. You won't train that by doing aerobic endurance base 2 training as discussed in the thread.
    Yes, as a matter of fact, you likely will train threshold power. Threshold power is aerobic. So is SST so is L2. Any aerobic work is going to have a positive impact on threshold power (assuming you haven't already honed it). You don't need to ride AT threshold to INCREASE threshold.

    EDIT: see below, I'm not making this up.... effects of L2 and L4 are the same, the magnitude is just less...

    Image3.jpg

    http://www.cyclingpeakssoftware.com/power411/levels.asp

    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike
    My point was that the biggest limiters in shorter, US racing is anaerobic-bridging a gap, accelerating out of corners etc. A lot of racers can sit in a pack but can't make these jumps and disappear at the end. There's a big difference between these coming during a 1-2 hour race (most US races even at cat2) and a 5-6 hour race.
    That's because those racers aren't recovering as fast. Their thresholds are lower and thus to stay on, they are digging deep into L5 while the guys dictating the race are coming back down to their threshold power, which they can do for a long long time. If the guys getting popped off the back had higher threshold power they'd stay on. It's usually not the single surge that snaps off the slow guys, but the cumulative effect of waves of those surges.

    By definition, L5 is not a power output that ANYONE can do for a long time. Threshold, yeah, you can do that for a long time. Work on threshold, raise the floor, THEN put the point on the stick.
    Last edited by shawndoggy; 11-09-2007 at 09:34 PM.

  19. #44
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    Wow s-d, that last bit sounds cool.

    But can you put it all into one metaphor? And you've got to call threshold something clever and analogy-like...

  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawndoggy
    That anaerobic stuff is like the point on the stick. Better to put a point on a big stick than a little one.
    And the sharper the point, the quicker the stick wears down.

    Anerobic training will always come at a cost to aerobic capacity, which is why in the off season doing any serious anerobic training is just counterproductive.

    Put the point on the stick right before you need it to poke someone.

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argentius
    Wow s-d, that last bit sounds cool.

    But can you put it all into one metaphor? And you've got to call threshold something clever and analogy-like...
    Busted. What is this, English class?

  22. #47
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    My question was really, is there good evidence that cyclists should be doing low intensity base type training throughout the winter. The question is, what are the specific physiological adaptations? Is large volume, low intensity exercise really the best way to spend the winter?

    Some indications that it is not: may actually decrease cross-sectional profile of type I fibers, decreases hormones related to positive adaptation (testosterone, growth hormone, thyroid hormone), and evidence that in well-trained athletes endurance is improved through higher intensity intervals. Michael Ross appears to be one of the few sports doctors presenting this against low-intensity base training.

    The idea that zone 2 long training rides have a positive effect on threshold power, VO2 max, etc. is in part due to conflating findings on untrained subjects. On the other hand, there is substantial evidence that higher intensity training has a positive effect on endurance performance. Laursen, one of the researchers doing interesting work on this, puts it as follows:

    "While significant improvements in endurance performance and corresponding physiological markers are evident following submaximal endurance training in sedentary and recreationally active groups, an additional increase in submaximal training (i.e. volume) in highly trained individuals does not appear to further enhance either endurance performance or associated physiological variables [e.g. peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), oxidative enzyme activity]." Laursen, Paul B, and David GJenkins. "The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes." Sports medicine 32.1 (2002):53-73.


    In terms of relative improvements in endurance performance, higher intensity intervals is better than low intensity. In addition, purely anaerobic training such as weight training will improve endurance by delaying the recruitment of type II fibers during performance. THis is the effect of higher intensity training as well. In addition, higher intensity training will improve the oxidative capacity of type II fibers, resulting in less fatigue (as measured by lactate accumulation).

    Other sources:

    Laursen, Paul B, et al. "Interval training program optimization in highly trained endurance cyclists." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 34.11 (2002):1801-7.

    Wsfarjani, Fahimeh, and Paul Laursen. "Manipulating high-intensity interval training: effects on VO2max, the lactate threshold and 3000 m running performance in moderately trained males." Journal of science and medicine in sport 10.1 (2007):27-35.

    Midgley, Adrian W, Lars RMcNaughton, and MichaelWilkinson. "Is there an optimal training intensity for enhancing the maximal oxygen uptake of distance runners?: empirical research findings, current opinions, physiological rationale and practical recommendations." Sports medicine 36.2 (2006):117-32.

    Meyer, T, et al. "Effectiveness of low-intensity endurance training." International journal of sports medicine 28.1 (2007):33-9.

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike
    My question was really, is there good evidence that cyclists should be doing low intensity base type training throughout the winter. The question is, what are the specific physiological adaptations? Is large volume, low intensity exercise really the best way to spend the winter?

    There is over 40 years of data and studies that say low intensity/tempo work is key during the winter months. This method is proven to work best for the vast majority of athletes. Everybody is different and there are a few that have a natural aerobic base that excel with harder efforts year round. The cyclist that train this way are far and few between. Put it to you this way, you will find more cyclist that say they tried going hard year round and it failed than will say it works for them.

    Going hard during the winter is not a new idea as these coaches would have you think. There have been several books throughout the past 40 years that pushed this method. Only reason you hear about it more today is because of the internet IMHO.

    Just because somebody has a PHD and writes a book saying its gospel (or that it works) dosent mean it does. Trial and error trumps all IMHO and i'm doing whats worked for millions of cyclists for years.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike
    My question was really, is there good evidence that cyclists should be doing low intensity base type training throughout the winter. The question is, what are the specific physiological adaptations? Is large volume, low intensity exercise really the best way to spend the winter?
    Nice strawman! Who was advocating that in this thread? SST is not large volume low intensity exercise.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by StillRiding
    And the sharper the point, the quicker the stick wears down.

    Anerobic training will always come at a cost to aerobic capacity, which is why in the off season doing any serious anerobic training is just counterproductive.

    Put the point on the stick right before you need it to poke someone.
    is this true? anaerobic development comes at a cost of aerobic capacity?

    this never has made sense to me. and, while it is often repeated, I have not seen it supported.

    From what science I've read (as in, science, not the received wisdom of the ages, which has huge question marks), developing anaerobic capacity in February is not recommended because it is unnecessary and it comes at a mental cost, not because it is detrimental to aerobic development. I didn't think that aerobic metabolism ever is supplanted by anaerobic metabolism, just that it occurs in addition to aerobic metabolism. Otherwise I wouldn't be breathing so hard.

    But I also have heard the opposite enough so that I might be missing something. What have you got? Does anaerobic development hurt aerobic capacity or development?

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