For me, someone spending considerable weekly hours in the tempo/threshold range may actually be wasting some precious recovery and effort time.
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I've just completed my off season "base 1" period which comprised of a lot of tempo work, and sweet spot work. During the 12hr training week I would spend between 2 to 3 hours riding in Z3, approx. 1hr in low Z4, the remainder would either be Z2 work, or Z1 recovery effort (read no effort at all)... Having previously completed my base training using the LSD methodology I found the tempo work brought on the speed across all zones much quicker, and in much training time.
So no it's certainly not "No Mans Land" but I believe proper time needs to be devoted to recovery, and too much of it like anything is likely to have a negative impact.
I read an article from Hunter Allen called "How to Rebuild Your Power Foundation" http://www.hunterallenpowerblog.com/2013/09/how-to-rebuild-your-power-foundation.html ; I found the article quite interesting and well worth a read if you are looking for something a little different to the usual LSD.
Coggan, who coined the term is a lot more generous with his description of the zone- meaning Z3 up to threshold or just above, and over various lengths of time.
Like anything else you have to train at other intensities for a more rounded performance.
What sweetspot seems to do, is, provide a good supply of coal for a fire, but the other elements of training bring the oxygen to make the fire burn.
I think a lot of the people who claim it worked miracles for them, are more often than not, seeing a big increase in cp20, mainly because they've learnt to ride for that duration, but not seeing much increase elsewhere.
This guy dropped his z5 work from 45min/week to very little (5min/week); increased his z4 training from nothing to 40min/week; increased z3 a bit; and virtually quadrupled his z1 stuff to ~15hrs/week!! After 18 weeks on this revised program with tonnes of z1, his vo2 improved 11%, and his FTP power improved 14%. He ended up coming 3rd in the Norwegian Nat TT, behind Hushovd and Kurt Asle Arvesen. I guess it should be noted that he has a naturally high vo2, and was probably frying himself with 2.5 years of all that z5 stuff.
From the article:
Case study #1
From Soccer Pro to Elite Cyclist
"Knut Anders Fostervold was a professional soccer player in the Norwegian elite league from 1994 to 2002. A knee injury ended his soccer career at age 30 and he decided to switch to cycling. Knut had very high natural endurance capacity and had run 5 km in 17:24 at age 12.
After 15 y of soccer training at the elite level, he adopted a highly intensive training regime for cycling that was focused on training just under or at his lactate threshold and near VO2max; for example, 2-3 weekly training sessions of 4-5 × 4 min at 95 %VO2max. Weekly training volume did not exceed 10 h.
After 2.5 years of this high-intensity, low-volume training, Fostervold initiated cooperation with the Norwegian Olympic Center and his training program was radically reorganized. Weekly training volume was doubled from 8-10 h to 18-20. Training volume in Zone 2 was reduced dramatically and replaced with a larger volume of training in Zone 1. Training in Zone 5 was replaced with Zones 3 and 4, such that total training volume at intensities at or above lactate threshold was roughly doubled without overstressing the athlete.
The typical effective duration of interval sessions increased from ~20 min to ~ 60 min (for example 8 × 8 min at 85-90 %HRmax with 2-min recoveries). The intensity zones were initially based on heart rate but later adjusted relative to lactate and power output measurements made in the field. Table 7 shows the training intensity distribution and volume loading for the athlete during the season before and after the change in training to a high-volume program. Table 8 shows the outcome.
Table 7. Comparison of weekly training intensity distribution and total volume in 2004 season and 2005 season – Case 1.
.Zone......................old prog................new prog
5 (95-100 %)...........45m (8.5 %).........0:05m (0.5 % of week)
4 (90-95 )................0.......................0:40m (4.0 %)
3 (85-90 %)............0:30m (5.5 %).......1h:00m (5.5 %)
2 (75-85 %)............3h:05m (36 %).......1h:00 (5.5 %)
1 (55-75 %)............4h:20m (50 %)......15h:20m (85 %)
Weekly totals..........8hr40m................ 18hr:05m
Table 8. Physiological testing before and after training reorganization – Case 1.
................Pre....8wk.post...18 wk......Change 0-18 wk
LT power....375w......420w....440w.........14 %
The athlete responded well to the training load amplification and reorganization. During the 2005 season, after 2.5 y performing a low-volume, high-intensity program, a season training with higher volume and lower average intensity resulted in marked physiological and performance improvement. Although the athlete’s training de-emphasized both training near his lactate threshold intensity and training at near VO2max, both of these physiological anchors improved markedly.
Fostervold won a bronze medal in the Norwegian national time-trial championships, seconds behind former world under-23 time trial champions and Tour de France stage winners Thor Hushovd and Kurt Asle Arvesen. His failure to perform even better, given his exceptionally high VO2max, was attributed to poorer cycling efficiency and aerodynamics and a lower fractional utilization at lactate threshold compared to the best professionals with many years of specific training. In 2006 and 2007 he represented Norway in the world championship time trial. His absolute VO2max in 2005 was equal to the highest ever measured in a Norwegian athlete.
One thing no one is touching here is that training your lactate threshold, training at tempo, and training at L5 all train fairly distinct capacities. Without some kind of decent multi-variate testing to model the entire power curve one will never really know exactly what their physiological limiter(s) are, which is why many still use stepped tests with/without blood lactate testing to plot the power curve. For me personally direct threshold work at 95%-100% of FTP is just as tiring as L5 work. I used to do my SST right around 90%-95% or so, but found that dropping it down to around 85% and truly separating it from work at or above my lactate threshold made a big difference. I should be getting a blood lactate test in a few weeks and I would not be surprised to see something interesting right around 3mmol, 4mmol and 6mmol to illustrate why this is.
The sad thing to see is SST used as a filler in place of actual decent volume. I hate seeing riders drop z2 riding to add lots more z1 to recover from SST workouts. IMO, a workout like that should be fairly easy to recover from completely within 48 hours even if the rider rides in z2 in the mean time.
User Name wrote:Knut Anders Fostervold was a professional soccer player in the Norwegian elite league from 1994 to 2002. A knee injury ended his soccer career at age 30 and he decided to switch to cycling. Knut had very high natural endurance capacity and had run 5 km in 17:24 at age 12.
After 15 y of soccer training at the elite level ...
Think I might have said it before, but drawing general training advice from a single case is not how things work. And for those who insist on this particular case, they need to take the career progression into account. For someone without years and years of professional level training (meaning lots of high intensity/sprinting workouts, on top of some decent endurance to make a 90min match), it's pointless trying to emulate his training, and hope for similar outcome. The body doesn't forget all those years of hard work.
Tinea Pedis wrote:Good TT'ers tend to be aero, which isn't linked to size. Tuft and Grabsh being two examples right off the top of my head. But that's a different debate.
And KW, would also spend how long Sst work was done for. I've had Sst hang overs for longer than two days...
Very true, but what duration and percentage of SST was that? I've definitely had crits or short road races that were right around 90% of FTP NP that left me hurting for a few days and definitely some rides with lots of climbing or longer SST intervals that have done the same.
The key difference though, in your case (from what I gathered from Strava) is that you also have a lot heftier volume than a lot of people that train in these zones multiple times a week with an average 9-5 job. In that case I hate seeing Mr. 12 hour rider try to just gut out gobs of work at 85%-90% and constantly train pseudo recovered (when that's not the primary goal) or compromise their ability to intersperse difficult sessions with normal z2/z3 riding. One example is of an above poster noting that they have dramatically increased their z1 time while increasing their SST time on the same hours. Overall, their weekly IF is probably about the same and while slightly more polarized, I'd imagine they're sacrificing true interval quality for quantity. Just because someone CAN do that kind of work all the time doesn't mean they should.
BTW I used to be a Peaks Coaching client. What Hunter noted in that article is exactly how I was coached for a full year give or take the odd long week here and there. After a season of LOTS of L3/SST I had severe mental and hormonal burnout and had a lot of periods of really bad riding/fatigue. I could hit 85%-90% of FTP all the time, but I couldn't necessarily do quality sessions when it mattered. Last season I simply told myself that I was allowed 2, maybe 3 "hard" days/week that included work that was 85% of FTP or higher (usually 1 day of a max 2x20, 1 hard group ride, and maybe a tempo ride). My CTL peak was lower, my TSS/week was lower, duration was slightly longer, and I had none of the physical or mental burnout problems. Also, when it came time to hit the gut-busting workouts in the spring I seemed to have a much better track record of completing hard workouts and recovering for the weekend's racing. Comparing the 2 years, I did about 50% of the SST work I was doing before, but when I actually did do the work at or above SST it was of a much higher quality. My average hours/week for last year was only 13, but that was heavily skewed from some base/off-season weeks where I went to warmer climates and simply rode a lot. Instead of having 2 days a week off or riding z1 and another day of z1/z2 riding to recover from the SST sessions I was able to ride another day/week and turn up the amount of mid-high z2 work.
Everyone is different, but the all SST/tempo all the time is a dangerous trap IMO. Its hard enough to make you think you're really working, but often times you're just piling on fatigue without much distinct affect.
And if your FTP and MMP tests showed that the latter training program worked, then certainly that's the way to go - for you. It's no slight on SST work/its merits as a training protocol. Any good coach should be able to recognise, after time and feedback from the rider, what approaches do or do not work.
I certainly feel though that, at least for those I race against (not, obviously, at National level), that a lot struggle and would benefit from SST work. As one glance at my ave power 90 minutes in to a race will tell me how many guys I know will be at their limit and about to blow. Which, I should add, does include me!
KWalker wrote: In that case I hate seeing Mr. 12 hour rider try to just gut out gobs of work at 85%-90% and constantly train pseudo recovered (when that's not the primary goal) or compromise their ability to intersperse difficult sessions with normal z2/z3 riding. One example is of an above poster noting that they have dramatically increased their z1 time while increasing their SST time on the same hours. Overall, their weekly IF is probably about the same and while slightly more polarized, I'd imagine they're sacrificing true interval quality for quantity. Just because someone CAN do that kind of work all the time doesn't mean they should.
KW not sure if you are referencing my post above or “User Name's”, however now I feel the need to clarify my post from earlier.
Yes the Tempo/SST was increased, as was the Z1/2 duration, there was an increase in weekly hours from 8-10 to about 12-14, typically a Tempo / SST session would be followed by a longer but easier day (i.e. 3 or 4hrs at Z1/low Z2). This was also something that was only done for a period of training 6 weeks during which I found the gains to come on fairly quickly, possibly due to more structured training. Prior to this I experimented with program a little and discovered it were not possible to back up a tempo / SST day with another of the same and complete the session properly, a good 48hrs was required to recover from such efforts and feel fresh often with the longer Z1/Z2 ride acting as a recovery ride while adding volume. I took this approach to my Base Period as simply put I do not have the time (any more) to ride 20+ hours a week.
I’m not advocating riding Tempo / SST all the time, nor recommending neglecting other areas of training.
I found doing the Z3/Z4 intervals quite mentally draining so I can certainly see how training in this manner year round would lead to burnout quite quickly, having used peaks coaching in the past I found their coaching / programs to be quite rigid and offer little in the way of relief when the chips are down; Linda W being the exception in my case.
''Too many people train too many hours at
medium-well effort rather than having high
dynamic range in their training intensities.
Consequently, they cook their performances
That's not to say he doesn't do higher intensity work. He gets some of that while racing. But even at nationals, he rode most of the race in z2, and crept up into z3 and z4 only when climbing the hill on the circuit and the final sprint (obviously). But when he trains, it's virtually all z1 and z2. Just go through his rides on strava to see that in action.
In his view, intervals are only necessary to reach peak performance after you've maxed out your aerobic engine, which he believes most people (including many pros) haven't done. That means being able to ride in z2 for hours without heart rate drift.
So yeah, he does consider z3 junk miles. Z1 burns fat. Z2 develops the cardiovascular system and teaches the body to more efficiently burn fat as energy. Z4 improves the body's ability to manage lactic acid. Z3? You can ride in Z3 and build endurance in Z3, able to ride longer in Z3, but it doesn't make you more efficient or faster. That's the theory, anyway. Freddie's success, particularly at his age, lend it support.
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