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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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