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Optimizing your time in the saddle with SST (Sweet Spot Training)

February 15, 2018

SST sessions consist of training that include intervals between 85 and 95% of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power). If you are more familiar with the term MAP (maximal aerobic power), your FTP represents 75% of your MAP. If you don’t have a power meter, this is where you really feel the burn in your legs but can sustain the effort.

Functional threshold power cycling training

SST intervals usually last between 5 to 60 minutes depending on the athlete, their experience and period of the season.

There are multiple advantages to training in this zone:

  • Aerobic threshold and endurance gains: Allows you to optimize your workouts while increasing your body’s ability to use and eliminate lactic acid. This translates in increasing your aerobic threshold, all the while developing your endurance.
  • Maximizing off season trainings: During the off season in particular, you can replace your long rides in zone 2 by shorter SST sessions on your home trainer, leaving you with more free time!
  • Keeping it fun! Have you ever suffered through grueling trainings at 100% of your FTP or MAP? Of course, FTP or MAP sessions are necessary for performance gains, especially during specific training periods. But for an athlete who trains 2 to 3 times per week, a well-planned 1.5 hours SST training is more beneficial than a 1 hour FTP or MAP session. Perfect for those who train indoors on a home trainer in front of the TV (you’ll get a movie or two episodes of your favorite Netfilx series in!)
  • Preparing for long course races: If you’re planning a long course race, the 70.3 half-ironman distance is pretty much done at this intensity, making it an ideal training zone.
  • Time for other activities: For the amateur triathlete, time counts. Generally, a weekday training usually revolves around 1.5 hours, so it’s the best type of workout to optimize your training time.

Note that this principle also applies to swimming and running. For example, when preparing for a marathon, include efforts at 21km pace during your long runs to train different zones, shorten your outings and win some time.

Caution! Even if SST is an ideal training zone, it is not the one and only magic zone. In preparation for a long course race (70.3 or 140.6 Ironman), long outings remain essential 2 to 3 months leading up to race day.


Bart Rolet
Head Coach, Bart Coaching