Sweet Spot Training For Cyclists 101
If you don’t have a lot of riding time available, sweet spot training may be the way to go. It’s an excellent way to get in shape or to prepare for an upcoming road race. Compared to other forms of training available to you, sweet spot training for cyclists delivers the most impressive return on time spent.
The simplest explanation of sweet spot training for cyclists is that it falls right in the area between steady rides and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). In terms of Functional Threshold Power (FTP), British Cycling claims that this type of training puts you at 88-93% of your FTP, which falls between zones three and four.
This may not mean much to you right now, which is why you should take an FTP test to see exactly where you fall. This is not essential to start sweet spot training, as you can simply use feel to gauge your effort level. The goal with sweet spot training is for it to feel difficult, but not to leave you in pain. For example, speaking short sentences should still be possible while you train, and you should start to experience leg fatigue after about 30 minutes. You need to pay attention with sweet spot training, you should not be looking to reach race pace.
Given the name, it’s no surprise that sweet spot training hits the mark between endurance training and intense effort. One of the greatest benefits of this type of training is that you get huge fitness returns without having to give in to long recovery periods.
Sweet spot training will make you fitter and allow you to get faster on a bike, but all without putting your body through a lot of stress. Done properly, you will still feel good enough to ride the day after a training session. Your legs won’t be at their best, but aches and stiffness will not be present. This is particularly good for people who commute to and from work on their bike each day.
You can get solid results by putting in 2×20 minutes sessions a couple of times per week. Consider the first 20-minute run in the sweet spot to be a warm-up run, and then perform your second 20-minute ride after a 4-minute break. You should be feeling it as you approach the end of the second session, but it should feel tough as opposed to painful.
Riders of all kinds will benefit from sweet spot training. That said, you will see some real benefits if you are a regular rider who simply doesn’t have time to fit longer rides into your training schedule.
Your anaerobic threshold improves with sweet spot training, making it easier to sustain the speeds required for time trials or hill climbs. The ability to sustain speed can last anywhere from minutes, all the way up to an hour.
There is no denying that you get a great workout with sweet spot training, but that doesn’t mean you should always train in that zone.
Your endurance improves with long steady rides, while HIIT rides will help with your top speed. Short intense rides will help improve your finishing kicks, and all three, when combined with sweet spot training will make you an all-around better rider. Build a training program that best suits your goals.
What this means is that sweet spot training alone will not turn you into an accomplished cyclist. Engaging in a couple of sessions per week, though, will make you fitter and faster on the bike.
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