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Sweet Spot vs Traditional Base

With two dedicated Base Training options available, it's perhaps a little unclear on which is the better fit for your training goals, available training hours and level of experience. And while our article on Picking the Right Plan can help steer you in the right direction, it can still be a bit of a toss-up between these two base options unless you understand the intent behind each plan.


Sweet Spot Base (Majority of People)

  • I have a reasonable amount of time to train, but it's not my life
  • I'm also running and swimming
  • My race season is a few months away
  • I still have a lot of improvement to make on the bike
  • I like the variety and challenge of sweet spot work
  • I want to see an FTP improvement in 6-8 weeks

First off, these plans are more a bit more varied than the traditional plans. Everything from neuromuscular bursts to VO2max intervals to Sweet Spot work is included with the intention of getting you generally fit in a hurry. 

This also means that these plans dive right into the upper reaches of aerobic conditioning. There are no strictly Endurance or Tempo workouts and it's likely you'll only see intensity levels that low during recoveries and warmups. 

These Sweet Spot plans are also potentially shorter in overall duration. Like the traditional plans, these plans each run 6 weeks for a total of 12 weeks of general conditioning but they don't offer options for increasing the plan duration - 12 weeks and it's on to the Build plans.  

The SST base plans are more concise and spend all their time addressing training adaptations that will have a strong and evident effect on your fitness. While they still maintain a progressive nature from week to week, they favor intensity over time, quick fitness over more gradual fitness.

Finally, these plans will leave a rider far closer to race-ready than the traditional plans. The more thorough cross-section of interval types cultivates a more versatile rider. You could jump straight from these plans into a racing schedule and still do quite well, even without a full Build program.

So the ideal Sweet Spot candidate is a rider who wants a good level of all-around fitness in minimal time and probably a rider who hasn't scoped out his entire season but instead is prepping for something only a few months out.


Traditional Base

  • I have lots of available training time in the winter
  • I've been riding for a long time and I'm beginning to see diminishing returns
  • My race season is many months away, and I plan on training for many months in a row
  • I'm ok with building a base (which might be boring) to reap rewards later

With all this in mind, who are the best candidates for a more developed, longer term, base-centric plan?

A longer base plan like this one is geared toward athletes who have planned their seasons well in advance of its beginning. By targeting key events well in advance of their dates, riders afford themselves the option of cultivating a wider base of fitness, one that lends to a higher and more sustainable peak level of performance. 

The traditional approach also lends more readily to beginning-level riders. For riders new to extended periods of time on the bike or perhaps even riders unfamiliar with structured training, these plans are a gentler introduction to power-based training. 

And it's no secret that a more developed base season lays the foundation for fitness that is deeper and longer-lasting than quickly built fitness. Not only do the performance peaks rise higher, but the possibility of holding this peak fitness for longer durations is far more likely. 

But this means a more delayed response in terms of your highest fitness. It won't come right way, but when it does it's likely to be well worth the wait and longer journey.

 

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Morgan McDonnell

    This is all well and good but I cannot find Traditional base or Sweet Spot Base anywhere within the options. I am using the ipad/iphone TR app. I am clearly doing something wrong in my search so would appreciate some instructions as to how I find these options in order to use them. I am told it is in 'Workouts' > Plans. I have the Workouts tab but cannot find a 'plans' option anywhere.

  • Avatar
    Steven Griffin

    Morgan, you are correct. The training plans are not on the APPs. I located them on my PC by going to the trainerroad.com web site and reviewing the plans, deciding what plan to use, and writing down what workouts that I should do for the week. Hope that this helps.

  • Avatar
    Morgan McDonnell

    Cheers Steven.

  • Avatar
    Brian Ulliott

    I'm a bit miffed that none of the plans are visible in the ios apps. Anyone know if there are any plans to resolve this?

  • Avatar
    nicholas edwards

    hey guys,
    it would be AWESOME if you guys could sync the training programs with the calendar function on trainingpeaks... crazy awesome.

  • Avatar
    Darden Mueller

    Nicholas: This is something that we may look into this summer when we revamp our entire desktop app. For now it may be best to throw your request into our future request site. http://trainerroad.uservoice.com We will definitely consider it in our next development cycle.

  • Avatar
    Chad McNeese

    Great article. I'm planning on the Traditional Base, now deciding on Low vs Mid Volume and have a question. I think I have more time to ride than the Low plan, but might be hard to meet the Mid plan.

    Is it possible to take the Low plan and add rides similar to the Mid?
    Or is it better to use the Mid base and drop rides or sub in shorter ones from the Low?

  • Avatar
    Larry Sussman

    Hey Chad,

    Sorry for the late reply! You're absolutely welcome to incorporate rides from the Mid volume plan into your Low plan, as much as your available time to train allows. Just make sure that you're getting enough rest between workouts, and not "blocking up" all your training during one part of the week. Let us know if this helps! :)

  • Avatar
    Marlon Kruis

    Another question, after HV base I and II mostly done, I don't have enough time (in hours/week) to do a base III. What is your advise on switching to Sweet Spot HV II instead? Especially with the upcoming days of Christmas and vacation I won't get enough time in with the longer base plan.

  • Avatar
    Larry Sussman

    Hi Marlon,
    You should have no problems switching to the High Volume Sweet Spot Base II, and it'll bring your workload down to 8.8hrs/week. The eight weeks of Traditional Base have built a substantial amount of aerobic fitness, so you're primed and ready.

    The only thing to consider is the fact that the workouts will be much more intense. This may seem overwhelming at first, but if you stick with it you’ll find the higher-intensity workload manageable. Also note that the Sweet Spot Base II is 6 weeks long, in contrast to the 4 week Trad Base III you're replacing.
    Happy holidays, and enjoy your vacation! :)

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