An hour at zone 3, is it useful?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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ichobi
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by ichobi

There is some great insight in the simplest training advice ever given after all.

“Ride Lots. ”
- Eddy Merckx

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Hellgate
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by Hellgate

TonyM wrote:Funny that we seem to come back to the old days when I was training in the early 80s...LOL...
Base miles (at that time it was said at least 2500km to 3000km low gear high cadence low effort), then base miles and sprints (usually up to the sign of the town), and then power session in the first races...
Ok now it is scientic based training.
I was thinking the exact same think.

1) Stay in the small chainring and at a pace that allows you to easily talk. Ride in this manner from November thru February. IE LSD rides...Long Slow Distance. Lift weights, full body, going skiing.

2) Do telephone pole intervals to bring speed during the early Spring, during LSD rides, throw in shorter climbs.

3) Race into shape Spring though Summer.

4) Recover in the Fall October-ish, get off the bike for a couple of weeks, go on vacation.

5) Repeat the cycle the next November.

It's simple, it works.

I had a CTS "coach" back in '03 or so, waste of time and money.

by Weenie


iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

TonyM wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 6:46 pm
Funny that we seem to come back to the old days when I was training in the early 80s...LOL...
Base miles (at that time it was said at least 2500km to 3000km low gear high cadence low effort), then base miles and sprints (usually up to the sign of the town), and then power session in the first races...
Ok now it is scientic based training.
The body of research does help in instructing on how fast your hard efforts should be, how slow your easy efforts should be, and better estimating how many reps/how much rest/how many sets you should do before you hit the point of diminishing returns. These are marginal benefits compard to the (sometimes excellent) guesswork of top coaches of the past, but the biggest benefit is probably injury prevention and prevention of burn-out. This is why you have greater longevity in athletes these days compared to the past.

I think the biggest benefit to all this recent research is that it has shown we have been going recklessly too hard and too often, with an overemphasis on mid/long intervals. Somehow, the thinking had become that "base miles" were just "junk" and were only there to prepare you for the real training, i.e. the interval workouts. In fact, the "base miles" have shown to have tremendous aerobic benefit, not to mention increasing your Vo2Max nearly as effectively as dedicated Vo2Max interval sessions.
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by iheartbianchi

ichobi wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 11:55 pm
There is some great insight in the simplest training advice ever given after all.

“Ride Lots. ”
- Eddy Merckx
I can't remember where I read it, but I remember reading an interview by his teammate that Merckx used to ride 200km a day in the off-season, and all of it was so slow that his teammates were bored out of their minds and hated going on those rides.
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spartacus
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by spartacus

So far this polarized training thing seems to be working for me. I’ve been riding 60 minutes in the morning and 90 minutes in the evening 3-5 week days then one longer / harder weekend ride, occasional but relatively few sprints during the week. Almost all riding done under 120bpm or flat out. My sprinting power hasn’t really increased but yesterday I exceeded my previous 5 minute power best by 20 watts AND held it for 7 minutes so that’s something. Climbing feels a little bit easier in genera but I haven’t done a big climb in a while.

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TonyM
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by TonyM

I do the base miles etc...since the 80s as I was racing as an elite rider and it works well for me. But I tried the sweet spot/ Trainerroad etc...a few years ago. That worked also for me. Less time spent, more effort. More pain. Same results in terms of performance for me.

So to me it is about time and spirit:

If you want to achieve the best possible performance (within your genetic potential) and if you really don‘t have much time for cycling then the sweet spot etc.. is a good way to go.

But if you have time (or if you allocate more time for cycling) you can go for the „old“ method also.

On the other hand if cycling is about biking as such (and performance is coming second) then the „old“ method is the way to go. You have pleasure to ride and you can upgrade to more performance oriented session after the base miles.

AJS914
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by AJS914

Very cool! As I said above, I track my fitness on two uphill Strava segments we do on my Saturday group ride. One is 7 minutes long and the other is 17 minutes. I keep lowering my times week after week and I haven't been doing any dedicated interval sessions.

The other day I tried an interval session. I only had 45 minutes to be on the bike so I decided to give a few intervals a try. I did seven 20-30 second full on intervals with 2-3 minutes of rest between them. I felt strong doing the intervals but I was exhausted the next day when I did 2 hours of slow.

This training is very counter intuitive. At first it was hard going really really slow at 120bpms. Now I'm going faster and seeing my heart cruise at 110 or even 105bpm. I've gotten quite a bit faster in 8 weeks of doing this. (About 10% faster on those strava segments which are pretty much done at threshold or a little higher.) I'm really curious how long I will keep improving at this rate and when it will taper off.

AJS914
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by AJS914

Was responding to spartacus, and then TonyM cut in.

In a low volume TrainerRoad base plan, how much sweet spot do they prescribe? Is this like 30 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day?

One thing I've always read about sweet spot is that since it's not too fatiguing that you can do a lot of it. I wonder where the break point is? I mean, I'm riding 9-10 hours a week right now. I couldn't do that and do tons of sweet spot without it putting me into fatigue. But say one only had 3 to 5 hours a week to train, maybe sweet spot plus one longer ride on the weekend would be the ticket?

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TonyM
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by TonyM

I found the sweet spot training very exhausting, physically and mentally. You know you go on the bike (usually home trainer) and this is not going to be a pleasant hour. For all sessions during the week.
Not my thing.

But if you don‘t have mich time (like only 1 hour per day for 3 to 4 days during the week and one longer ride of 3-4 hours on the weekend) then it is working.

I allocate more time for my hobby (I usually ride 10 to 25 hours per week) and all-out performance is not any more my main focus.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

spartacus wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 5:04 pm
So far this polarized training thing seems to be working for me. I’ve been riding 60 minutes in the morning and 90 minutes in the evening 3-5 week days then one longer / harder weekend ride, occasional but relatively few sprints during the week. Almost all riding done under 120bpm or flat out. My sprinting power hasn’t really increased but yesterday I exceeded my previous 5 minute power best by 20 watts AND held it for 7 minutes so that’s something. Climbing feels a little bit easier in genera but I haven’t done a big climb in a while.
You really won't improve your sprinting speed without a significant investment in strength training. You need more muscle fibers (and more fast-twitch) which can only be achieved by full-out short sprints or weights.
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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

AJS914 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 5:39 pm
Was responding to spartacus, and then TonyM cut in.

In a low volume TrainerRoad base plan, how much sweet spot do they prescribe? Is this like 30 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day?

One thing I've always read about sweet spot is that since it's not too fatiguing that you can do a lot of it. I wonder where the break point is? I mean, I'm riding 9-10 hours a week right now. I couldn't do that and do tons of sweet spot without it putting me into fatigue. But say one only had 3 to 5 hours a week to train, maybe sweet spot plus one longer ride on the weekend would be the ticket?
I disagree that sweet spot is not too fatiguing. The whole point of sweet spot training is for those people who have limited time to train. So let's say you have 10 hours of riding a week - I think even a WT pro would have a hard time doing 10 hours worth of sweet spot riding each week. Now a lot of online coaches play fast and loose with their definition of "sweet spot," which can range anywhere from a Zone 2 effort to Zone 4 (give me an f'ing break). By "sweet spot," we generally refer to solidly Zone 3, low-to-mid Zone 4 efforts.

Like some "coaches" online advocates 300 minutes of "sweet spot" training per day for WT pros! LOL! But they find ways out of such ludicrous claims by having a ridiculous range for sweet spot 84-97% of FTP...come on...that's just lazy. This kind of advice is repeated by dozens of online coaches peddling their services, and they simultaneously mock polarized training or "junk miles," and tell you that you need to obsess over your FTP and power meter numbers.

This is somewhat of a better link:

https://roadcyclinguk.com/how-to/six-th ... ining.html

But to summarize, "sweet spot" training is basically a slightly less intense version of "tempo" training. You've all heard of "tempo" rides right? "Sweet spot" sounds somewhat novel and new, but it's something that was actually developed by the running community, and the runners call it "steady state" training. Kind of funny how cycling coaches repackaged a well-known training method used by runners into something "novel" to make a buck by peddling questionable coaching services online, but that's another issue. :roll: Elite runners build in "steady state" (i.e., sweet spot) training into their regular polarized regimes. However, somehow amateur cycling coaches have turned it into an entire training paradigm, where your training revolves around sweet spot efforts. I think it's "probably good" enough to do so, but I still have my doubts as to whether your entire training should revolve around getting in sweet spot efforts. This would be unheard of in the running community where it was developed in the first place. As an aside, cycling is always a step or two behind running in terms of training. Yeah, we're obsessed about power and metric, but running is a much larger sport globally, and you have entire research universities coming up with cutting edge training methods for their university athletes (which is a huge industry compared to cycling), and cycling is always late to adopt despite our obsession over gear and aero and what have you.

Anyways, these are very high quality AEROBIC efforts, but still tough. For even trained amateurs, I would never recommend more than 45 minutes of steady state (or what we call "sweet spot") in a single day. And at most 2 sessions a week. So if you can only ride 3 times a week, and you insist on doing sweet spot, I would do 2 sweet spot rides (but on those rides, you should try to do at least an equal amount of riding in Zone 2, so 45 minutes in sweet spot + 45 minutes in Zone 2), and 1 longer solidly Zone 2 ride (throw in a few sprints though). For someone riding 3 times a week for 1-3 hours each ride, the worst thing you can do is stay in Zone 2 for every minute of riding. The trickier question is, should you do polarized or sweet spot? Or should you mix some minutes of sweet spot in an otherwise polarized training? Well, a diverse range of stimulous is better for your development, so in theory mixing sweet spot into a polarized training program is beneficial. However, at only 3 times a week, your base fitness is going to be pretty poor, as is your ability to recover, so you can quickly run into overtraining and fatigue issues if you are doing both sprints and sweet spot in a single session.
Last edited by iheartbianchi on Fri May 10, 2019 7:45 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Jugi
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by Jugi


iheartbianchi wrote: You really won't improve your sprinting speed without a significant investment in strength training. You need more muscle fibers (and more fast-twitch) which can only be achieved by full-out short sprints or weights.
By the way, are there any reference values for "a strong enough" cyclist? What is considered as excellent, good and decent peak power , 10s power and 20s power?

In my opinion gym work takes a toll on the other aspects of training. Time needed for recuperation increases etc. I have steered clear of weight training because after some short sprint workouts, I can hit over 12W/kg for 10s and almost 17W/kg peak power. I don't recognize a need for any additional peak power and definetly don't want to gain muscle mass.

iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

AJS914 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 5:32 pm
Very cool! As I said above, I track my fitness on two uphill Strava segments we do on my Saturday group ride. One is 7 minutes long and the other is 17 minutes. I keep lowering my times week after week and I haven't been doing any dedicated interval sessions.

The other day I tried an interval session. I only had 45 minutes to be on the bike so I decided to give a few intervals a try. I did seven 20-30 second full on intervals with 2-3 minutes of rest between them. I felt strong doing the intervals but I was exhausted the next day when I did 2 hours of slow.

This training is very counter intuitive. At first it was hard going really really slow at 120bpms. Now I'm going faster and seeing my heart cruise at 110 or even 105bpm. I've gotten quite a bit faster in 8 weeks of doing this. (About 10% faster on those strava segments which are pretty much done at threshold or a little higher.) I'm really curious how long I will keep improving at this rate and when it will taper off.
7 20-30 second sprints is a lot, and with only 2-3 minutes of rest, you are right to feel exhausted the next day. Try taking a longer rest next time, unless you are intentionally trying to build in Vo2Max training into your sprints by having shorter recovery periods. And one thing to add - it is RIGHT that you feel tired the next day. There is no such thing as a "recovery" ride. That's just a term invented to make us feel better about going slow after a hard-ish day. Every day after a hard day is going to feel bad, no matter how slow you go. People say "recovery rides" are meant to help "flush out the lactate" (sorry, not possible) or to "speed up recovery" (again sorry, not possible). They are basically aerobic rides after a hard day so you don't lose out on a day of aerobic training. But your legs hurt because you have micro-tears in your muscle fibers (and you also have lactate sloshing around), your ligaments and tendons are stressed, so the point is to not go so fast on your "recovery rides" that you cause further tears or create further lactate. But it will hurt :P You just get used to it, and eventually over time, your muscles tear less, your connective tissue is more resilient, you create less lactate, and your body adapts to recover faster. Pros will often do 2, even 3 hard sessions back-to-back to offset delayed onset fatigue, but they are fit enough that they can do this.

You will continue improving, as long as you adapt your training to your newfound fitness. Sorry for a long story, but let's take a runner who goes on daily training runs of 10km in 60 minutes. Over time, he'll continue doing 10km each day at the same effort level, but he'll naturally get faster. So he'll do 10km in 55 minutes. He keeps this up...and what happens? He gets slower and loses fitness! Why? Because he is now spending a shorter amount of time in zone. So whereas he used to spend 60 minutes at X effort level, he is now only spending 55 minutes at that same X effort level.

So in order for you to continue to improve, you need to ensure your time spent in zone remains equal (or longer) (in otherwords, that you cover more distance during the same time), or alternatively, that you introduce greater effort for the same time of exercise.
Last edited by iheartbianchi on Fri May 10, 2019 7:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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iheartbianchi
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by iheartbianchi

Jugi wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 7:17 am
iheartbianchi wrote: You really won't improve your sprinting speed without a significant investment in strength training. You need more muscle fibers (and more fast-twitch) which can only be achieved by full-out short sprints or weights.
By the way, are there any reference values for "a strong enough" cyclist? What is considered as excellent, good and decent peak power , 10s power and 20s power?

In my opinion gym work takes a toll on the other aspects of training. Time needed for recuperation increases etc. I have steered clear of weight training because after some short sprint workouts, I can hit over 12W/kg for 10s and almost 17W/kg peak power. I don't recognize a need for any additional peak power and definetly don't want to gain muscle mass.
Those categorizations are pretty broad, but from a highly competitive perspective:

Peak 15sec Power 1200+ watts
Peak 30sec Power 1000+ watts
Peak 45sec Power 900+ watts
Peak 60sec Power 800+ watts

As to what's "strong enough" for you, I think a peak power of 800 watts is good for an amateur club cyclist, but that's all subjective.

I wouldn't really look at W/kg to measure your sprinting ability, as that's really a more useful metric for climbing ability.

Also, I only offered my strength training post because you mentioned you weren't able to improve your sprinting speed. Sprint intervals really help with your sprinting, but you really need to hit the weights if you care about your sprinting speed. Interestingly, the more often you do weights, the faster you can recover and over time, it will have less of a detrimental effect on your riding.
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bilwit
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by bilwit

AJS914 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 5:39 pm
Was responding to spartacus, and then TonyM cut in.

In a low volume TrainerRoad base plan, how much sweet spot do they prescribe? Is this like 30 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day?

One thing I've always read about sweet spot is that since it's not too fatiguing that you can do a lot of it. I wonder where the break point is? I mean, I'm riding 9-10 hours a week right now. I couldn't do that and do tons of sweet spot without it putting me into fatigue. But say one only had 3 to 5 hours a week to train, maybe sweet spot plus one longer ride on the weekend would be the ticket?
It would be 30-40min on Tuesday/Thursday (within a 1 hour workout), then 50-60min on Saturday (within a 1.5 hour workout) with every day in between being dedicated rest days (many people swap that longer Saturday workout with an outdoor ride).. so quite a lot but it's designed to be pretty recovered going into the next one

Base plans are 5 weeks of doing this and then a full weeks rest (with some Z2 rides sprinkled in) at the very end and then you can decide to continue to the next plan or do whatever

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