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.

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.

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

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.

This is only the distribution that seiler found on avg in elite endurance athletes(and not cyclists) especially for lower volume this distribution should be skewed more towards intensity, limiting it to 2-3 days per week with the rest being Z1(Z2 coggan)

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.