How to Use Sweet Spot Training to Get Fitter Faster
Over the past few years, the concept of Sweet Spot Training has gained a reputation as being one of the most time effective ways of getting stronger on the bike. Best used with a power meter, but still doable with heart rate, Sweet Spot Training, or SST, is done by doing intervals at 85 to 93 percent of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). If you do not have a power meter, you can use Lactate Threshold (LT), though it is not as accurate.
Where is the Sweet Spot
Other training zones have very specific names like Endurance or Anaerobic because it defines the system you are working when at that effort. Sweet spot however crosses over two zones and covers the high end tempo to low end threshold zones. To be more precise, founder and head coach at FasCat Coaching in Boulder, Colo. Frank Overton who has been using SST with his athletes for more than 10 years defines it as 84 to 97% of your FTP.
Why Does it Work?
The reason this range is so effective is that it allows you hit a number of key physiological areas at once in a short amount of time, so you get a tremendous bang for your buck. For the time crunched triathlete, SST can be a lifesaver. The chart below from Dr. Andy Coggan shows exactly what types of adaptations SST can provide
As the chart shows, for all but the most explosive efforts, SST training can be effective at improving your fitness. With SST, you can build your mitochondria (the key to a strong aerobic base), increase your lactate threshold (helping you handle intense efforts), increase muscle glycogen storage (up your body’s ability to store energy), and increase your VO2 max (raise your physiological potential). All of this can be done from holding SST for 30 minutes to three hours.
How To Sweet Spot
How is SST best accomplished? Should you do several short intervals? What about one long interval? What about doing it in a group setting? Many athletes start with what has become known as the classic SST workout, 2×20 with 5 minutes of rest.
However, that classic workout may be a bit too hard to start with. When it comes to starting out with SST, or even for athletes coming back after a season break.
This sort of structured training plan can help you get the most of the time you have available to train, contact us to find out more.