One-Hour Workout: Sweet Spot Bike Intervals

Use this early-season bike workout to knock out the rust and improve that base threshold.

This week’s workout is brought to you by Alison Freeman, a coach with Boulder-based D3 Multisport. Freeman is a Level 1 USAT and Training Peaks Level II certified coach who focuses on long-course coaching for middle-of-the-pack and beginner triathletes. As an athlete, she is a four-time Olympic-distance age group national qualifier and multiple Ironman and 70.3-distance finisher.

“In this early stage of the triathlon season, athletes are typically looking to establish a base level of fitness while improving their thresholds, which ultimately determines race pacing,” says Freeman. “A good base-building plan will include a healthy dose of endurance work along with intervals specifically aimed at improving your threshold.”

“I love Sweet Spot intervals on the bike (which are faster than tempo, but not quite threshold) because they pack exactly that early season punch you’re looking for,” she says. She says the “sweet spot” for these intervals exists right in the 88-96 percent range of one’s FTP. Here, Freeman notes that athletes can increase their lactate threshold while also improving aerobic performance.

“Because the Sweet Spot is below your threshold, it doesn’t produce the same level of fatigue in your legs that above-threshold work does,” she says. “In this workout, throwing in a quick bit of above-threshold work before the Sweet Spot intervals has the added benefit of teaching your legs to clear lactate more effectively.”

Because this workout requires uninterrupted intervals—particularly the super-short high-intensity bursts later in the set—this is best done on a trainer indoors. However, this can also be performed on a safe, flat course outdoors.

4 minutes at 50% of FTP / 3 RPE on a scale of 1-10, where 7 RPE is your threshold effort level

3 minutes at 60% of FTP / 4 RPE

2 minutes at 75% of FTP / 5 RPE

1 minute at 90% of FTP / 6 RPE

3 minutes easy spin at 50% of FTP / 3 RPE

3 x (1 minute “openers” at a cadence of 100+ RPM and 90% of FTP / 6 RPE

1 minute easy spin at 50% of FTP / 3 RPE)

3 minutes easy spin at 50% of FTP / 3 RPE

Main Set
6 x (30 seconds at 110% of FTP / 8 RPE

2 minutes 30 seconds at 90% of FTP / 6 RPE

2 minutes easy spin at 50% of FTP / 3 RPE)

At least 3 minutes easy spin at 50% of FTP / 3 RPE, up to 8 minutes to finish out the hour