Polarized Training Workouts & Experiences (80/20)

yeah, I don’t hear it as much of a graduation, but a calibration towards your own physiological responses instead of using an arbitrary percentage of FTP that is good for a population, but not always good for an individual. I can think of some recent examples of someone doing some extensive endurance training, but were spending 25% of their time in their “zone 3” HR, even though power was in the level 2 the whole time (overall ride .7 IF).

So I did mostly suffer through that podcast, I personally don’t like their format and editing in how they bounce back and forth with some other people’s comments. I did get a little chuckle out of Coggan’s response to Weber, as if Weber himself doesn’t have the resume to back up his statements.

that one was definitely a bit jumbled, lots of clips from other podcasts

good luck with the training!

OK, so attempt 1 at a block of polarised training. Here’s my HR graph for the last 4 weeks, “zone 1” is anything up to 75% HRmax. Note that weeks 1 and 4 included a race which accounted for the bulk of time in Z2 (75-87%).

Slightly deeper dive (using Seiler zones), hard session in bold…

Week 1: 2.5hrs Z1 turbo, 1.5hrs Z1 turbo, 5hrs Z1 outdoors, 2hrs Z1 outdoors with race opener efforts, RACE (2:20 at 266 NP)
Week 2: 2hrs recovery outdoors, Seiler 4x8min turbo, 2hrs Z1 outdoors, Seiler 4x8min turbo, 5.5hrs Z1 outdoors.
Week 3: 4x6min vo2 session on winter bike, 1hr Z1 turbo, 1hr50min Z1 turbo, 2.5hr club run with 3x8 and 1x4 Seiler-style hill intervals sprinkled in, 2.5hrs Z1 on Zwift.
Week 4: 7x3min vo2 hill reps outdoors, 1hr Z1 turbo, 2hr50min Z1 ride outdoors, 30min turbo race openers, RACE (2:03 at 276 NP)



  • Doing that much volume is hard to schedule, especially when you start a new full-time job half-way through the block, which is why the total hours decline. I ended up basically sacrificing evenings to do 2.5hr Z1 turbo sessions, which aren’t huge fun.
  • In a polarised plan, the interval sessions almost come as a relief. After all that slow and steady, you’re really looking forward to getting stuck into some intensity.
  • I did feel less sore and fatigued during the week than I did while following a build plan.
  • Getting the most out of the 4x8min intervals is hard during the summer on the turbo, you feel like you’re limited by the heat. I did get outdoors, but the only 8 minute hills are some distance away so on weekday evenings I had to compromise and do some 3min efforts instead.
  • My NP for the races (both hilly/rolling road races lasting over 2 hours) went from 266 in week 1 to 276 in week 4. Improved FTP, fresher, more motivated?
  • I do think I started getting better at maintaining a lower HR during low intensity sessions and not letting it drift. Though an increase in FTP would also explain this.

Took a rest week due to travel and through in a ramp test upon return. 230w up 5+ watts from prior tests. But this one was solid whereas the others I was flogging it. So happy with the current training directions.

Back on track with the 4x8 crusade this week.

Good effort today. 4 x 8, mid-day, outdoors in 90-95 deg F heat (but no wind - LOL)

250, 240, 238, 225 Current FTP estimate is 230w

Loop has a couple right hand corners so depending on traffic might lose a few watts depending on cars and such.

These are good workouts. Hard enough and long enough and feeling pretty good about incorporating them. Still a long way from riding a solid indoor 4x8 with 2-3 min recovery. But its coming along.


My season has been cut short by injury, travel, and work. Looking ahead, I’ve got another 2-3 weeks of travel before I start my annual base in late August. Thought about modifying TR’s traditional base (adding some vo2 work), and instead am going to try the 2014 Stöggl and Sperlich 9-week polarized intervention. I used the paper and Watt/Kg plan to create the 3-week block that is repeated 3 times:

Interestingly, that 9-week block delivers the virtually same training load as doing TR’s SSB1 high-volume followed by 3-weeks of SSB2 high-volume:

Polarized (2014 Stöggl and Sperlich) 9-week block:

SSB-1 HV and 3-weeks of SSB-2 HV:

Personally I love the TR calendar (versus TrainingPeaks). Would be nice if TR licensed CTL and used it, but comparing past results between

  • WKO’s CTL which is 6-week exponentially weighted average TSS
  • TR’s 6-week average TSS

The curves are very similar with similar values. TR’s proxy for CTL is more than good enough for planning IMHO.

One more comparison on ramping load, polarized first and then followed by SSB-HV:

Now I’m going to remove SSB-HV from calendar, and insert (some/all of) SSB-1 before the polarized block as I’m actually traveling a lot between now and the end of August.

Ended up with a nice 15 week base and then low-volume sustained with outside rides on the weekend:

Training load peaks around 81 and stays in the 70s all the way to February. I’ll need to do a little more rearranging, need to change SSB1 to 2/1 to accommodate work travel - that way I can plan out work travel every 3 weeks.


Love the research and interested to see how it works for you.


Work disrupting the 4 x 8 quest and screwing up my consistency. That’s fine, don’t get paid to ride a bike. Out today for a couple hours and had a nice surprise.

Been trying to get back over 500w for 60 seconds. Now and then I’ll give it a hard effort. Got 500w on the button today. Best five in a long time and my best ever is only 530w.

Toward the end of my rides there is a small roller and I usually give it full blast. Target is 1,000w max and got close today with a 970w max (930w for 5s).

Guess the block of short power work paid off. There might be something to this training stuff after all.

Back to the longer stuff this week unless work surprises…


Good post, I’m pleased you highlighted the point about “time above threshold”…yes the studies used 4 x 8 but it’s not the session to get fixated on, that one is 32 mins of work, 5 x 7 is usable, 6 x 6 even, so many variations.

At 53 years of age I’ve found that the very hard work is way more achievable after 3 or 4 days of LT1 work.

I’ve taken a polarized approach to prepping for ‘cross this year. I’m a low FRC guy, TTer profile, and wanted to try an approach that really worked the aerobic end of things until about 4 weeks or so before the season starts. With about a month to go, I’ll do 100’’ intervals at about 100-110% of pVO2 max to start working the top end. I’ve stuck to the 2 days of intensity and the other 5 days I’ve done endurance rides. Recovery has gotten better day to day and also between intervals. I’ve increased weekly training loads without feeling like I’m starting to buckle. I have to agree with Seiler when he talks about the endurance rides giving you “metabolic resiliency.” This works for me because I have July and August free, so finding the time is not an issue.

Ok, so im the poster who kinda started the whole discussion with the 4*8 question.

So after investigating this at length and taking in to conisderation other research, including that of periodiztion and other related research here is where I am at.

  • First point: sweet spot/tempo etc GONE! - Sweet spot in my mind goes against all the research on conditioning
  • I have massively simplified my TR workout selection to allow for better tracking and periodization
  • I train 8-10 hours a week depending on work and races etc.
  • 2 sessions a week are ‘intensity’ days.
  • The other sessions are social rides/recovery pace or Baxter (and variants of Baxter) where my HR peaks at 150 at absolute max.

In relation to periodization

  • Each week I will do San Joaquin - 1 (6*30 sec @ 130%)*3
  • These I do on a 3-up-1-down model, so starting 130% going up 2-5% each week
  • I also do 1 session of longer intervals but this is where the periodization really comes in.
  • Say I’m 4 weeks out, ill do
  • Week 1 3*15 ~100%FTP / 90% HR
  • Week 2 4*8 ~108% FTP
  • Week 3 4*8 +5% last week
  • Week 4: 8*4 at +5 of 8 minute intensity. (~115%FTP)

Just a note: I am still doing the 30 second efforts as I think you simply cant ignore the research on HIIT.

So far I have increased my FTP by 10% in about 8 weeks (it sat pretty still on TR programs). Ill also note; my last XC race I was leading my bunch right up to the point where I binned it on a rock and broke myself :stuck_out_tongue:

In relation to the future; Ill be adding more XC rides in on weekends now the weather is improving in Australia (we’re currently at the back end of Winter). These sessions will be aimed at technique.

Also my next race is a 6-hour XC, so there will be 1 or 2 long road rides (5-6 hours), more just to give myself the mental confidence I can pedal a cycle for 6 hours.


Indoor 4 x 8 @ 105% So close!! 240-240-240-234 but was flogging the last one for sure.

Current training plan is not so much a plan as enjoying summer. Like several of y’all above I’m shooting for two quality training sessions a week. One is 4 x 8 or similar and the other is VO2max oriented both on weekdays. Other trainer rides are Z2 and then on the weekends I have fun. Mountain bike, calm group ride or long solo. Also hitting upper body weights (maintenance) a couple times a week, core as time permits, etc etc.

Am finding that mix is definitely driving the type of fitness I’m after. Getting stronger on bike, enjoying summer season. Come fall am going to hit the weights hard and double down on periodized with two hard efforts per week.


Hi all,

I’ve been trying to polarize my training as of late. I’ve noticed that it is actually hard to find endurance workouts at 1:30 to 3 hours length that stick my effort into the Z1 (out of 3) HR zones. i’ve even found baxter to consistently throw me into Z2 due to the tempo efforts mixed in. Any recommendations for some TR workouts of a longer length or should I just build my own?

I like Boarstone and Koip. See if those meet your requirements.

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I’ve used koip but I’ve noticed that anything in the 70% range is a bit too high for me. Boarstone is similarly a bit too hard. Anything in the 55-65% range that you’ve tried?

Conness and Gibbs does come to mind. There is also a -1 version of Boarstone. You could do a search of endurence workouts and sort by intensity, that will give you some alternatives. You can also knock down the intensity some if needed.

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Thanks for that. I’ve searched through and I have these on hand as well. I wanted a bit of a sanity check as it feels like there isn’t really truly easy rides on hand.

Agreed, but I dont see any harm in touching z2 slightly as long as recovery isn’t affected.

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Agree but just keep an eye on your heart rate to check it doesn’t go to high

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You know, its funny. I thought some of these rides that touch 70% should be fine. However, looking at my rides with golden cheetah, I’m finding that such spikes in intensity really push my HR into Z2 for the remainder of the ride. So much so that what I think is only Z1 turns out to be a split of HR at both Z1 and Z2 levels. Kinda started validating why I was feeling so fatigued a day later.