Base for Juniors?

Hi im a junior (17yo, 335ftp, 60kg, riding 13-20hr a week, xc mtb and gravel). Im trying out a new base phase of polarized because i find i get mentally taxed from sweet spot, even if i only do it 2x a week. (sweetspot is my strong suit too). I also seem to recover well from vo2 and threshold. Does anyone else have this same experience or insight/guesses? Does being a junior change anything? @brendanhousler

That sounds great to me! You’ll definitely benefit from more base training either way, so I’d go with whatever is more fun and achievable. Those kind of hours are way higher than typically prescribed by a SS plan too, so I think polarized is a good fit especially if you’ve got some intense sessions in the mix as well.

(also kudos on the monster FTP, that’s crazy!)

hey DCH! That sounds like a good idea. Changing it up is great, altho when you say “base phase of polarized”, my initial thought is to say “leave out the hard stuff”, if you are truly doing a base phase. Might be a bit early for that though if you still have races left?

As a 17yo, be careful with too much structure. Play the long game! A large portion of junior cyclists hang it up early because they get toasted on trying to be a pro cyclist and think this all needs to be done by age 20.

Ride the bike. Mix it up. Have 1-2 group rides a week (and count those as hard days).

Just avoid the blah feeling. Hours will be your biggest friend right now.

(and spoiler, this advice is great for all of us. Have fun, accomplish goals on the bikes, and don’t get burned out!)

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It’s getting close to the end of the season, so motivation. And accumulated fatigue are going to start adding up. If you’re getting blown out with two interval sessions a week back it off, take a rest week. Go down to one interval session a week until you feel fresh.

After you finish your last event, take a couple weeks off the bike and get refreshed. Come back for a bit without any intensity and just hit the volume.

I think you should not focus on whether polarized is better than sweet spot or anything else, and rather focus on building good habits, building bike handling skills and a good aerobic base. Over time try to learn about yourself, to learn about training, nutrition and the like. Don’t do everything at once, do it bit-by-bit. Make sure to play the long game and to remember that riding bikes should be fun!

I wouldn’t worry too much about polarized vs. sweet spot or anything else. If you have 13+ hours to play with, you’ll have plenty of time to train. Probably if I were you I’d start with a low-volume plan and add all other rides. Consider these three rides as your “must do” workouts and everything else is gravy. With your fitness, that should be easy. I would not choose polarized, because if you add lots of rides anyway, then your plan will become quite polarized one way or another. Also make sure to fuel your workouts.

And you should try riding different bikes to see whether you perhaps like one discipline and to teach you bike handling skills. IMHO riding a mountain bike could be a boon here, because you learn to not freak you if your rear wheel loses traction for a moment and the like. That also includes group riding and the like. Try to find out what you are good at and perhaps not so good at.

Given the volume, I think you should be doing a fair amount of Z2 rides. I’d do most if not all Z2 rides outdoors if you can. Z2 rides on the trainer can become miserable and super boring, so best keep it interesting. Make sure that you set yourself goals for rides, even and especially for Z2 rides so that you really stay in zone. You could also do some mini structured workouts where you e. g. spend most of the time in Z2, but you smash it up those 4 hills with VO2max efforts.