Are the Trial Polarized Plans actually Polarized?

Firstly, I’m a fan of trialing this approach to periodization. So my feedback and thoughts are intended to progress it, not to kill it off.
@tr.nate @ambermalika @CoachNate @coachchadtr

My reading about Polarized is that the low intensity needs to be really low and lots of it throughout the whole plan, and the High needs to be really high, and up to 20%., That said some articles also suggest a small component of something inbetween, but that is very small , eg, 5% max.

Both the medium and high volume plans follow a similar structure for the HIIT workouts.

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One workout is essentially repeat 2 minute intervals with 3-4 minute active recovery; these increase over the 8 wks, either in target FTP intensity 120%+ or reduced recovery. In the second block also duration bumps up a lot from 1 hour to 1.40.
The second workout is essentially repeat long intervals, typically 16mins, close to FTP; their duration also ramps up to 2 hours.

In the Medium plan 20% HIIT would be between 66 and 116min weekly total for both sessions. In the long plan 104-140min. But the pans are significantly higher, both in the 80-220 min range. Overall in the Low 31% in the long 23%, and if you remove the adaption weeks that % increases significantly.

So two things seem questionable.

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The weekly duration of the HIIT workouts is well beyond what the proponents and research into Polarized recommend, ie, up to 20% HIIT
Secondly, the 16min at 100% FTP also doesn’t seem to match the research., ie, too long and too low intensity

My reading suggests shorter workouts at the higher intensity. Hence VO2Max interval sets typically 2-5 minutes plus long recovery at very inactive levels. Secondly Anaerobic Needle type sets of a few seconds, up to 30sec at very high intensity with relatively long recovery at very inactive intensity.

Where all the R&D is at its vaguest is how they fit and change within a periodized plan and its phasing, base, build and specifics.

Have you seen the intensity distribution calculations and further comments regarding plan design in the first post here? 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉 Polarized Training Plans Are Here! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

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I have read them and was happy to read the link and its links again.
The TIZ approach I find hard to accept and I got the impression that Amber too, wasn’t convinced. Does it really make sense to count the recovery between VO2Max intervals as low intensity training? But that to one side, the vast majorityof the high intensity (ie, the repeat 16min sessions at 100% FTP) is Between VT1 and VT2, ie, the middle zone, not the high zone.

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My general takeaway is that they might not be “capital P polarized.” But nobody can agree on what that is anyway. So they’re TR’s version of polarized, as opposed to the many other versions that are out there; TR feels this is the best way to apply the polarized distribution to their system and their users. For now anyway. As an early access/work in progress feature.

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Disclaimer: I haven’t looked at the TR plans.

For me, POL is ~80/20 in terms of session distribution, and ~90/10 in terms of time distribution. Unless you’re going for a deliberately mixed session, you classify a session by its primary aim, so the 4x8 interval session, for example, is all classed as Z3 (Seiler) work.

In practice I might translate that into: 1 x 4hr easy (=Z1 Seiler) ride, 1x 2hr easy ride, 2 x 1.5 hr easy, and 1 horrible interval session of 1 hour.

None of this is set in stone, though, not least because as soon as you start riding outdoors, on hills, in traffic etc, perfectly controlling intensity becomes much harder.


I just looked at POL base and build and can’t tell them apart, build just looks like a longer base but maybe I’m missing something

I know TR has classified them as base and build - but that seems a mistake to me. There isn’t really a base/build distinction in Polarized training (at least as I understand it). There shouldn’t be a difference between the two as there isn’t really a meaningful difference in goals of the training

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I’m almost thinking to do Traditional Base and then move into POL “build” might be a better move

Totally depends on where you’re starting from. I’ve been able to do plans similar to these while building out my aerobic base - so you might be able to do the same and see the benefits of a longer ramp period on polarized training.

If your base is fairly shaky, then lots of base training is always a good idea

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I’d call that a long base. Traditional base would focus on aerobic endurance, and then POL to pull aerobic capacity up even higher. Depending on your goals/events, you could then work on muscular endurance (tempo/SS) or build out anaerobic capacity and repeatability.

Traditional , what TR call Linear periodization, has the long low intensity in common with Polarized during its early base and build phases, where they differ is Traditional has an increasing amount of tempo, as opposed to HIIT for the latter; for endurance riders may never include HIIT, as that was considered Sprint training; but certainly included interval training with longer sets and reducing recovery between sets.
Where traditional proved difficult was for long distance endurance training, that requires an increasing distance load as the training gets closer to the primary events, (the converse of traditional) eg, marathon runner, isn’t going to begin their training with 20km runs, but will probably want to be getting close to that distance within a few weeks of their event. Also ‘Over distance’ training was often part of traditional for shorter event training, up to double the event distance, not something you would entertain for a marathon.

Been using the BETA TR polarized plans multiple times over the past 2 years. LOVE them, but they are very short (6weeks), which I think is OK, but I would like to see stretched to 8. I’ve been structure training for 5-6years and I experience burnout or plateaus with TR. I like to race/ride year round over multiple disciplines. Using POLARIZED helps me manage my love (addiction) with structure without burning out. It’s also making a BIG difference in my primary discipline (long gravel and marathon XC).

Any plans to update these plans, TR??

It’s both, since the BASE is 6 weeks and the BUILD is 8 weeks in the default setups:



ETA: I don’t know what core difference TR has tied into each of the Base & Build POL plans, but if you really want a 8wk x 8wk block, it may be just as easy to double up on the Build. No idea if there are hidden issues with things like ramp rates or workout assignments, but could be worth a look at least.


I feel that TR has abandoned the idea. It was to be trial, but there has been no feedback from head coach about any aspect of them, take up, benefits. Comparison of the different approach the SWAT of each, Sweet spot, vs traditional, vs polarised periodisation. They haven’t been revised, expanded; no context about how to use them as part of a full programme. There are more recent references, eg, Dr Paul Laursen research into the HIIT aspect, eg, main benefit come from high volume of very short intervals. Questions like do you change the ratio ( endurance:HIIT) during a whole programme, or do they remain the same for every block.
It has felt like lip service and remained that way.

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I don’t think that’s correct. I’ve used polarized blocks for several seasons and can say for a fact that the plans have improved. Most improvements were not advertised, though.

When you create a training plan with Plan Builder, you can exchange Base and Build blocks for their polarized variants. TR has added polarized workouts over time to make it easer of AT to adapt your training plan when you opt for a polarized block. (That’s also true in general, TR has added tons of workouts to allow AT to adapt your training plan more easily). At first, AT did not adapt single blocks, including polarized blocks. Now it does (I noticed this last fall when I did my traditional pre-season polarized block).

Yes, we do not know how popular they are, only TR knows that. We do not know how completion rates compare. For obvious reasons, TR is reluctant to share numbers. Plus, they are in beta and you need to flip a switch to enable them, so I reckon most TR users don’t know about them.

This harkens back to an issue that was discussed on the podcast and in various threads here: there is no single interpretation of what “polarized” means. TR has opted for a conservative interpretation, which leads to some odd choices in workouts (e. g. 1:20 hour workouts and rest being 50 % rather than 40 %, etc.). I’ve exchanged messages with at least one forum member who had experience with polarized training prescribed by a coach, and she claimed that her experience with that coach matched pretty well with TR’s plans.

The big question mark is how TR plans to evolve plans. I’d prefer if they didn’t care about the discussion and simply gave it their own spin. I have a few practical issues (e. g. 2- or 2:15-hour workouts during the week and workouts feeling too sterile), but I don’t think TR will abandon the idea. If I had to guess, they would wait until they can revamp all training plans and implement ideas that were outlined by @Nate_Pearson on the forum (as well as feedback by forum members). Them not releasing anything with fanfare or not releasing things until they are ready should not be conflated with them doing nothing.


I didn’t know that, so thanks for raising it. I’d been manually doing POL so happy to see it in Plan Builder. Seems like a feature that could be better promoted.


@Jonathan has said multiple times on the podcast in the last 6-9 months that they need/want more people to do the polarized plans and complete them so they build their data set. One of the things I appreciate about TR is that they make changes/updates based on data. And they want it to be statistically significant data. So it’s not that they don’t want to update the polarized plans; they just need more data to do it right.

Along they lines, @Nate_Pearson said they had to go back and rework the workout levels V2 because of a coding issue or something. A lot of companies would have just released something just to appease the base. But the team isn’t going to release a product or update to the product unless they have fully tested it and believe in it 100%. I like everyone else would love to see more updates faster. But I also want great product and know the team is working hard to deliver it.


The concept underlying the Tradittional Periodisation for a training programme is understood, ie, the early base blocks are predominantly endurance 80%+, as the phases progress the proportion of endurance is gradually replaced by increasing intensity blocks, with the final phase and blocks being race paced intensity. This approach has its implementations, good for untrained athletes and short/medium duration events, but isn’t very practical for say long endurance events, the reverse of the Traditional approach probably fits those better, ie, gradual build of endurance time and distance.
The concept underlying Sweet Spot is extremely vague. Is it a periodisation approach ie, a structure for a whole plan? Even the underlying ideas for even a Phase/block of training seems vague.
The Polarised approach also suffers from similar aspects to Sweet Spot, eg, is it a periodisation approach, or just phase based concept. But if it is just the latter, at least it has a basis, ie, essentially 80% low intensity endurance level training and 20% HIIT based on R&D. The variations seem to occur due to its lack of race paced training, ie, training in the no go area between low and high intensity. The case for including race paced training is getting increased air time. The implies to me that thinkers are trying to move Polarised more towards a periodised approach covering an entire plan.

Although TR provides athletes with the ability to DIY the blocks an athlete wants, I don’t think that is the idea underlying TR. Rather they want to build a periodised plan for each athlete based on their goals and events; monitor the athlete’s progress and modify the workouts accordingly. Their basic approach is based on what they call Sweet Spot. But, provide the ability for athletes to choose a Traditional approach, although not their main focus. Likewise they created some Polarised Blocks as a Trial 2+ years ago, based on demand. TR want more participation to collect data, but the athletes want more than just repeating the basic blocks in a DIY fashion, and as it isn’t happening are abandoning Polarised. TR seem to want data to fine tune polarised, when there is still much to do at building the macro level, ie, it not the time for fine tuning, and won’t be without a whole of plan.

You can swap base and build blocks for their polarized variants, that’s officially supported, not a DIY hack.

No, adapting workouts has nothing to do with sweet spot. That’s something e. g. every coach does, they take feedback from their athlete to adapt, change and fine tune the next workouts.

Polarized and sweet spot are different ways to distribute volume and intensity. Sweet spot is mostly used during the base phase and not unique to TR. E. g. FasCat Cycling also heavily features sweet spot workouts in their training plans, and they coach everything up to TdF pros.

You don’t need to repeat them in a DIY fashion, you can swap in polarized blocks at will currently with any training plan created with Plan Builder. That’s fully supported from TR’s end. (It seems to me you don’t know about this functionality.)

And how do you know people are abandoning polarized? I don’t think anyone outside of TR knows how popular their truly are. I haven’t seen any indication TR will cut polarized plans. After all, they have kept traditional base plans around, too.

Quite a few forum members are vocal supporters who prefer polarized over sweet spot and traditional base. I’m not a rabid supporter, I’m more agnostic, but I have used polarized blocks regularly. And there clearly seem to be people who prefer polarized blocks for various reasons, be it that they find the workouts more fun or the gains are more in line with their goals.

Like what?

Currently, you can let Plan Builder create a custom training plan for you, and everything except the Specialty Phase can be polarized. (It makes no sense to make the specialty phase polarized, here you are practicing efforts specific to your discipline.) So as far as I can tell there already exists a whole plan.