Delayed response - 100% agree with your point and think it’s important for riders to know that 120, 130, whatever percentage are not miracle numbers.
Mention my experience as have a ton of data. When I switched training from criterium focused to TT focused some of the top end went away due to training changes. Over a period of 5+ years the 1 min and 5 min maxes dropped.
Recently decided to take more time mtn biking and a bit of a break from TT’ing so working those shorter duration efforts again and seeing the snap coming back. Albeit slow progress.
I’m also old (low 50s LOL) and very much consumed with career so an odd time for training.
Cheers and thanks for your continued insightful posts on the forum.
Did my best HC climb after doing high-volume sweet spot base, thought it was perfect prep for a 2+ hour sustained climb.
My biggest ftp gains were from pyramidal training, during a 3 month period with distribution roughly 40% zone1, 45% zone2, 15% zone3.
Also seen good gains during periods of time where I increase long rides in zone 1. I’ll bet polarized would work well for me too, in particular for events like crits or road races. At times I think more time in zone1 is needed to work its magic, which means 12+ hour training weeks. Sweet spot definitely works for me on a 6-9 hour training week.
rough averages for all workouts over the 3 month period.
Using WKO4+ estimates for relative % vo2max:
Zone1: ~40% relative vo2max < 65%
Zone2: ~45% relative vo2max > 65% and < 85%
Zone3: ~15% relative vo2max > 85%
those averages are eyeballed, for example zone1 by month is 42.5%, 38%, 37.1% and roughly accounting for time by month (Jan 30.5 hours, Feb 24.6 hours, Mar 26.5 hours). At some point I’ll get this properly charted and let WKO4 do the math.
Using GoldenCheetah with power zones based on CP (using FTP as proxy for CP):
Zone1: 45% CP < 85%
Zone2: 23% CP >85% and < 100%
Zone3: 32% CP > 100%
I’m a 5-9 hour/week guy (2015: 360 hours, 2016: 424, 2017: 328; 2018: 304). In summer it gets hot and its my off season, and I move my workouts to the gym and pool.
Really no months averaging >10 hours/week except for May 2017, which happened to be two months after that 3-month Jan-March block. Around here “May is Bike Month” and in addition to riding more at lower intensity, I also did an 100 mile ride and 200 mile double century. With that context, during the 46.5 hours logged in May, the % vo2 polarized results were 64.3% / 31.4% / 4.3%; and power polarized 68% / 16% / 16%.
My WKO4 modeled FTP went from 239 in early January to 278W in May, then dropped into 250s by July with a whooping total of 25 hours between June and July (my off season). Stayed in 250s until dropping into 240s by December. A testament to the lasting impact of building a large (for me) aerobic base.
Colleagues – For the folks doing, or trying to get to a point of doing “polarized”, specifically working toward 4 x 8’s or doing them, is it worth having a support group thread for progress and general “this workout kicked my butt” type stuff.
I know there is the Workout of the Day thread but that is diffuse and the big POL thread Chad M. created.
But this 4 x 8 fixation is a specific type of bike training fetish.
A perhaps non-productive and overly simple response:
After missing the Spring season due to illness, I set a mountain summit finish RR as my goal event for the year (it was the first Saturday in June). My prep was to commit to riding 300mi/week for four weeks, two days of riding intensity zones 3/4, and every other days riding in intensity zone 1 or 2, depending on how I felt.
I set a PR on the climb. FTP was 340 @ 72kg going into the race (it was around 330 at the start of the 4 week block).
I’ve kept up with the same 300/week, two days of zone 3, the rest zones 1-2. It’s been three more weeks, FTP is up a bit. I’m lucky in that I’ve had the month off from teaching, so all I have to do is ride and recover (And my 52-year-old legs need it!). One more week of this and I’ll do my first intervals of the year.
The Keep It Simple part: really, all I’ve been doing is the same thing that HR-based coaches were saying, and I was doing, 30 years ago. Ride as much as you can. Two days of maybe 40 min in HR zone 3 (in a 5 zone system), the rest in zone 1 or 2 depending on how you feel. After 12 weeks of that, “polarize” and start doing the zone 5 work.
It works, whether you’re doing 20 hours a week or 8. On the low side of volume, you’re riding a bit more in HR zone 2 and less in zone 1. Maybe the hard days are zone 4 rather than the 3/4 borderline. But it’s about the same as Lydiard was saying in the 60s. You can powermeter or lactate analyzer split hairs over this (and over the last 20+ years, I’ve gone down that rabbit hole), but it’s pretty simple.
This is brilliant @mcneese.chad, I’ve copied this for editing myself. I only started looking into POL today and I have gone so far into a black hole I don’t know how I’ll ever get out. I’ll be sending an SOS on here if I can’t!