Sweet Spot Training And Threshold Training: Differences

What is the sweet spot and threshold when it comes to training for that special performance at your next race? Many ask, including novices and experienced cyclists, what kind of workout is better to enhance cycling ability? Is it a moderate-effort session or a gruelling exercise to push the limit?

Do the current cycling training protocols created by coaches, scientists, and physiologists provide better results than the protocols of the past?

The improvement in the effectiveness of training is obvious, and it is now possible to observe amateur cyclists who have an FTP of 350 watts, yet who still only train 8 hours a week. How do they do it? A combination of short, vigorous workouts, planned activity, and adequate rest periods.

Many distinct training methods are available, and sweet spot training has become a favourite option among them. Horseback riders don’t often use threshold training, which is a more traditional, old-fashioned approach, even though it comes with advantages.

Examining the evidence may persuade you to attempt threshold training. In this article, we’ll analyze the common features and distinctions between sweet spot and threshold training, and offer assistance to you in pinpointing which approach is optimal for your circumstance.

Training For Endurance

Training for an endurance sport is both easy and difficult to perfect. Those who cycle frequently tend to perform better – they can cover longer distances, at a quicker rate, and in a more efficient manner than anyone else. So why don’t more people just ride more?

We do not possess the necessary hours in our day to exercise for between two to four hours. Most of us are capable of devoting one hour each day to something, and up to two hours on the weekends. That is about 10 hours of training per week.

Most professional cyclists ride 15-25 hours/week year-round. Only the most elite athletes in the world train for 30-40 hours a week at the peak of their training or race season. It is their full-time job after all!

The rest of us can’t spend that long on the bike, not even nearly. Rather than using a low-intensity workout, we decide to opt for a vigorous exercise session and structured training plan to take full advantage of the minimal training period that we possess.

Some of the highest-ranking amateur athletes manage to have comparable fitness levels to professionals, despite only training around 8-12 hours per week. The greatest distinction between novices and experts in this matter is their consistency, day after day and week after week.


RPE can be defined as “Rate of Perceived Exertion,” meaning how strenuously one believes they are working. The Borg rating system was the first RPE chart, ranging from a 6 for “no effort” to a 20 for “maximum effort.”

The scale begins at 6 and ends at 20 because these numbers approximate an athlete’s heart rate when multiplied by 10.

The RPE scale is an ideal way of gauging the intensity of a workout with its free availability, simple operation, no extra paraphernalia needed and its capacity to be used in any location at any time.

Even though the RPE scale is simple to use, it is not precise due to its vulnerability to the athlete’s feelings. The RPE scale merely inquires as to your sensation. No metrics are being measured to assess the performance or physical condition.

For those who are just starting out with sports, the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale is a great way to go and won’t cost you a thing. You just think about it, literally!

Heart Rate (HR)

Bicyclists can use two distinct tools to gauge their physiological effort: heart rate monitors and power meters. We will begin by examining heart rate monitors, typically consisting of bands that exercisers place around their chest, wrist, or arm.

You can use your resting heart rate and maximum heart rate to figure out the different heart rate zones for cycling. This can be done with just a few calculations and then you can use those for your training.

Eventually, you will be able to appraise your human resources statistics and styles to evaluate the condition of your fitness, rate how restored you are, and identify warnings of overtraining.

One of the major drawbacks of HR data is that it is affected by numerous physiological and psychological variables, including mood, caffeine consumption, health, exhaustion, warmth, and chilliness.

If you have experience with a heart rate monitor, you will likely have come across the phenomenon called heart rate lag. This is when there is a quick increase in difficulty (for example, beginning a Threshold interval), and it requires around one to two minutes for your heart rate to go up to the desired level of intensity.

This precludes the possibility of utilizing HR data for small intervals or any timespan shorter than one minute.

Sweet spot

The optimal heart rate is located between Zone 3 and Zone 4, which is estimated to be in the range between 75% and 85% of a person’s maximum heart rate. Let’s break down the key differences between HR monitors and power meters before delving into Sweet spot workouts in more detail.

Many people forget that heart rate monitors and power meters are looking at two distinct elements: the former measure a person’s inner exercise load, while the latter measure an external exercise load.

A heart rate monitor will give you an insight into how hard your cardiovascular system is functioning, but it won’t provide you with information about how much energy you are putting into biking.

An example that can be used to illustrate this point is that two cyclists – one at a novice level and the other a seasoned professional – could both be cycling at 95% of their maximum heart rate; however, this does not provide any indication of their overall physical capacity. The novice cyclist could be pushing out 150 watts of power, whereas the expert rider could be generating around 350 watts.

HR data is likely the most restrictive element when it comes to comparing two different athletes. The resting, threshold, and maximum heart rates of each individual are distinct from one other, rendering heart rate data useless when comparing athletes.

Power is one of the primary characteristics that define cycling. Gaining in significance as the terrain inclines, the power-to-weight ratio is a highly regarded and widely discussed figure in cycling, setting apart amateurs and professionals.

Sweet spot Training

The sweet spot can be summed up as “uncomfortably comfortable”. It’s a place that pushes you, but you can keep up for extended periods.

Particularly beneficial intervals tend to last between 8 and 60 minutes. A potential session of intense exercise could be 3×20-minute intervals at between 84% and 97% of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) with a break of 5 minutes in between.

Training in the Sweet spot zone will lead to physiological adaptations such as:

  • Increased lactate threshold
  • Increased VO2max
  • Increased plasma volume
  • Increased stroke volume
  • Increased muscle glycogen storage
  • Hypertrophy of slow-twitch muscle fibres

The wider range of advantages that come from Sweet spot training can cause significant improvements in biking results.

Although Sweetspot training offers several benefits, it fails to take into account various physiological factors that significantly impact cycling performance. Sweetspot training does not:

  • Increase neuromuscular power
  • Increase ATP/PCr stores (high energy muscle)
  • Increase anaerobic capacities
  • Lead to hypertrophy of fast-twitch muscle fibres

The good and bad of sweet spot training

The primary motivation behind cyclists using sweet spot training is its ability to be consistently reproduced and sustained.

Sweet spot training enables your body to recuperate more quickly than other types of HIIT such as limit, Tabatas, or VO 2 Max intervals, which facilitates rapid fitness gains in the long term.

Overton suggests that sweet spot training should involve an appropriate level of both intensity and amount of work.

Threshold training can be hard on the body and mind, but sweet spot training is more manageable, allowing you to do it multiple times a week, and even consecutively.

By utilizing targeted training, it is possible to finish more repetitions, raise your exertion, and strengthen your biking proficiency in less training time.

The advantages of concentrating on sweet spot training are numerous, which have been noted previously, and several riders have succeeded in enhancing their FTP by an amount as large as five per cent, 10 per cent, or even 20 per cent with the help of sweet spot training only.

However, sweet spot training can be dull and boring. During sweet spot intervals, you should ride at a level of intensity that is somewhat hard for an amount of time ranging from 20 minutes up to an hour.

There are no changes in speed or mental activity, you just stay at a determined level of exertion and focus on sustaining a consistent effort. As competitive cyclists, we strive to push our limits, experience intense physical activity, and go at top speed for Strava Kings of the Mountain or for a national competition.

criterium championship. Using sweet spot training can be quite restrictive, and you may feel there is something that is not being fulfilled.

Threshold Training

The aim of threshold training is to boost your Functional Threshold Power. Without becoming too bogged down in technicalities, FTP is closely related to one’s lactate threshold, which is the intensity of physical activity at which the muscles start to produce an amount of lactate that cannot be sustained.

After about sixty minutes of exercise, the body’s ability to remove lactic acid from the muscles is reduced, therefore not allowing the body to maintain the activity intensity desired.

The workouts in the threshold intervals are intended to push your performance to the range of 91-105 per cent of your FTP, to help you to increase your FTP/threshold. The amount of time spent in the threshold training zone during a threshold training session will generally range from 20 to 60 minutes. An example of a threshold training session could be four sections of fifteen minutes each that are done at 91-105% of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power).

At the start of the season, when aerobic capacity is least developed, aim to reach a power output that is 91-95% of your functional threshold power.

Later in the prime of the racing season, try to aim for 95-105% of your FTP during threshold training to maximize the performance from each and every workout.

The good and bad of threshold training

The advantages of threshold training are just as great – if not better – than sweet spot training, so why not give it a try?

Threshold training is much more difficult than sweet spot training as you go beyond your Functional Threshold Power throughout specific periods.

The body experiences more stress and exhaustion both physically and mentally during threshold intervals compared to sweet spot intervals. This means that it takes more than 24 hours of recovery time before you’re ready to do another threshold interval session.

Cyclists prefer sweet spot training since it is sustainable and can be done repeatedly, while threshold training is so strenuous it should only be performed one or two times per week.

For effective recovery, you’ll need more time between threshold training sessions, so the total amount of exercise and the number of intense intervals you can do will be less than if you did sweet spot training.

This implies that you won’t have to put in as much effort, but you won’t get the full potential out of your fitness that can be accomplished with sweet spot training.


Training in Threshold will lead to physiological adaptations such as:

  • Increased lactate threshold
  • Increased VO2max
  • Increased plasma volume
  • Increased stroke volume
  • Increased muscle glycogen storage
  • Hypertrophy of slow-twitch muscle fibres
  • AND increased neuromuscular power
  • AND increased ATP/PCr stores (high energy muscle)
  • AND increased anaerobic capacities
  • AND lead to hypertrophy of fast-twitch muscle fibres

Using Threshold Training, you can get a variety of physiological changes that are similar to those achieved with Sweetspot Training, as well as a few more. The main disadvantage of Threshold training is that it is extremely demanding on both physical and mental strength.

It is not beneficial for the majority of cyclists to do Threshold intervals for more than one day in succession. The body just can’t recover fast enough. If you don’t allow yourself additional recuperation time between workouts, you are not taking full advantage of the potential advantages of the training.

Choosing between threshold and sweet spot workouts

It is necessary to emphasize that both sweet spot training and threshold training are effective.

Both types of intervals create different effects on a person’s physical fitness and in some cases, they may have a similar effect along with different levels of weariness. The selection of which option to take ultimately depends on the person in the saddle.

Intervals with a moderate effort level are the most effective way to gradually build your FTP, resulting in a sustained improvement in fitness over an extended period.

Cycling enthusiasts interested in taking on gravel trails, competing in stage races, or simply accomplishing their first 100-mile ride should rely on sweet spot training as a means of preparation. For optimal results during your exercise regimen, you should focus on performing sweet spot intervals to increase your fitness level and eventually achieve your desired objective.

Training with a threshold level of intensity is advantageous for crit racers, time trial riders, and track cyclists because of its emphasis on extensive, hard exercise followed by extended rest durations.

For gravel riders and road racers, the ability to sustain powerful riding for several hours is needed, while track riders and crit racers require only short stretches of highly intense energy output that last fewer than 60 minutes.

The gains from threshold workouts compared to sweet spot training will be great for cyclists who need quick and powerful output, such as increased motor power and enlargements in fast-twitch muscle fibres.

Disc brakes vs. rim brakes and tubeless vs. clinchers have been heated topics in cycling, yet both choices will get the job done. You must stick to your decision and do your utmost to make it successful.

Make sure to create a well-structured workout plan that finds a balance between tiring yourself out and getting plenty of rest, so you can best keep up with your cycling objectives. Regardless of whether you choose the sweet spot technique or threshold training, your efforts will be greatly rewarded.


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