I know there are plenty of types of saddle soreness, such as that caused by friction and that caused by bacterial / dermatological issues. I've been blessed so far not to experience those (knock on wood), either in my college cycling career or in my renewed interest that started last fall.
Unfortunately, I've been suffering from persistent sore "sit bones" (you know the real name) this time around. I have tried several different saddles including at least one that's often recommended here (Fizik Aliante). The only way I can stay marginally comfortable is with an add-on gel pad over top of the saddle - and this even with pretty thick padding on my shorts (PI Elite and Pro).
My past experience, and what I've read on the forums here, is that with conditioning the muscles between the skin and the sit bones should develop and end this problem. However, I've been riding consistently (2-3 times per week, 15 -30 miles each ride) and things aren't really improving. My sit bone area ends up sore, to where sitting on hard chairs is somewhat uncomfortable, for a few days after a longer ride.
My position is fairly, but not very, upright - bars and saddle are about level and I usually ride on the hoods.
Any suggestions on how to get to where I can ride comfortably on a normal saddle without a gel pad and without soreness afterwards?
P.S. not interested in recumbents at this time