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PERFORMANCE COACHING | Sub-Threshold Training & Avoiding The Dead Zone

Threshold training has great training benefits however it is really quite fatiguing and most people, short of the very elite, find it difficult to do every day. On the other hand, sweet spot (or Tempo) training people often find quite comfortable to do and often do it every day as a default however it does not gives the same training benefits. I call sweet spot training the ‘dead zone’ because of the lack of benefits of the training. So how do we get the most out of our training for training benefits without fatiguing ourselves too much? This is where sub threshold training (Or Moderate Intensity Endurance Training (MIET)) comes in.

These sessions are easier to tolerate at a longer intensity than threshold training so riders can often find themselves being set 40 minutes to an hour or more of this type of training. I often describe it as race pace (or breakaway pace). So what is it? It is exactly the junction of threshold training (90-105% of threshold) and tempo training zones (75-90% of threshold). This effort is targeted at 90% of a rider’s threshold. This allows the rider to get a lot of the benefits of threshold training while minimising the amount of fatigue which it causes. This session is great in your early to middle build phases of your training before you progress to full on threshold and VO2 work. A practical example – If we look at the data from one of the SUVelo race team riders for today. His session was to do just one hour of sub-threshold work with a warm up and a cool down. This was placed between a hard anaerobic work capacity session and a hard threshold session in his late build phase. This session allowed us to keep pursuing the intensity and training benefits while not fatiguing him too much with the other hard sessions arounds.

To the numbers this rider averaged 312W for the hour effort he did. His threshold is 340W so almost exactly 90%. He was not 100% consistent with his power for this effort but that isn’t as important for this as it is for threshold efforts. While averaging these high watts he averaged just 150bpm hr this is a long way short of this riders mid 170s threshold heart rate. The T-score for this ride was 100 which considering this rider is aiming at an ATL of over 100 it is a less fatiguing then average day. So as a summary it will provide great training benefits especially when combined with the rest of the week while still causing less than an average days fatigue. Want to know more about how you can get the most out of your training. Send an email to and we can set you up with a totally individualised training plan to help you achieve your cycling goals whether it’s to get to the coffee shop faster, beat a mate up a hill or take on some of the best riders in the world.

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