Base vs Build (Polarized)

It might be really obvious and i’m totally missing it, but what’s the difference between TR’s Base and Build Polarized plans? Other than 1 being 6 weeks and the other being 8 (recovery week in the middle), they largely look to have similar workouts…

They are meant for different phases of your training. The progression is Base —> Build —> Specialty. You only have polarized plans for Base and Build phases, because the Specialty phase focuses on efforts that are specific to your discipline.

If you want a training plan that uses polarized blocks for Base and Build, use Plan Builder. Follow the instructions. By default it will use sweet spot base and either standard build or short power build. In a second step you will replace those with polarized plans: Go to your calendar to Week 1 and select Base. You will be able to switch to a Polarized plan and change volume in the dialog.

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I’ve made a similar observation. Indeed, plan builder now has me doing a 6 week build phase of polarized, albeit still with a recovery week in the middle. (And don’t get me started on the fact that the recovery week is the week after my vacation with no riding. Might make a big deviation from the plan that week.)

It is posssible that the ramp rates are different for base vs build?

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Yes, and that is exactly as it should be. Fundamental training principles such as periodization and progressive overload are independent of how you implement these principles. That is, no matter if you use traditional base, sweet spot base or polarized base, regular rest weeks are part of the plan. Rest weeks is when you get faster, because your body regenerates.

In most cases, you will have 1 rest week every 4 weeks. For a six-week plan, you could either err on the side of caution and have two rest weeks or push and have one. IMHO it is better to err on the side of including extra rest weeks.

Did you create a plan with Plan Builder? If yes, then simply schedule time off. Plan Builder will adapt your schedule accordingly.

Ramp rates will always be different, and adapted to the individual. Adaptive Training will change your ramp rates according to e. g. your workout surveys and whether you have passed all workouts as prescribed.

I think OP was saying the workouts look the same between build and base. Not what those actual blocks are.L and those differences. Just my take.


That is what I did. And yet the recovery week is right after my week off. Plan builder in only so flexible/smart. Note - I’m not complaining. Just explaining.


That’s a good point, I hadn’t considered that.

The difference with polarized plans is more subtle, because workout types are the same (by choice). I’m basing my observations off of the stock plans. However, they will be adapted, so in all likelihood, the actual workouts will be different. Still, the trends should persist.

  • In the build phase workouts “progress further”. The default is to finish a 4 x 16 minutes at 102 % for threshold, for example, as opposed to 2 x 16 minutes.
  • Sunday endurance rides are much longer, towardsa the end of the Build phase the end you are expected to spend 4 hours on the trainer. (I don’t think I have ever done that, the longest was 3:30 hours, I think.) Some of the endurance workouts also have sprints or some tempo intervals.

Overall, the Build polarized plans seem to be more, more intense, progression to much more difficult workouts and simply more volume and intensity than Base.

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I’ve had that, and I’ve also had PB give me 8 straight weeks with no rest week. After multiple attempts to “fix it through PB”, I just gave up and built a new plan on my own without using PB.

I dug this up as I considered trying a polarized plan instead of substituting my weekend workouts with Z2 rides. However, the overlap between the two plans really is striking. What I find particularly difficult to understand is how the interval workouts from the base plan repeat at later points of the build plan. Good, they occur after the rest week. Still, how come Navado (5.9) is repeated before Salado (5.6) which is then followed by Navado once more? Where’s the progression? This looks a bit like the same couple of workouts are repeated in random order, which, I’m sure, is not the case.



When you start the plan, AT will change all the workouts based on your PL’s, performance, and survey response.


I know :wink: Even if these are just placeholders, I find the sequence of workouts in terms of their levels curious - and why not put different workouts of the same level in if they change anyway?

As it is now, it seems as if you could simply do a productive VO2 workout on Tuesday, a productive threshold workout on Saturday and endurance workouts on Thursday and Sunday to get your polarized plan. I still don’t see a structural difference between the base and build phases except for the ratio of load and recovery weeks…


Again, it all changes when you apply it. I agree that it’s weird that it does that so drastically, but it is what it is.

Having said that, you’re right. It’s VO2 Tuesday, Threshold Saturday, and various Z2. The “Build” part ramps faster and with higher TSS.


Even that is curious though:

VO2 5.1 → 5.9 (+0.8)
Threshold 4.0 → 6.1 (+2.1)
Endurance 6.2 → 6.3 (+0.1 “Base”???) (I compared the highest WL of each load week)

VO2 5.9 → 6.1 (+0.2)
Threshold 4.3 → 7.0 (+2.7)
Endurance 6.0 → 8.3 (+2.3)

Everything will look different when AT goes to work on this, but it still doesn’t make sense to me that VO2 ramps more in 6 weeks of Base training than in 8 weeks of Build while endurance seems to be intended to barely ramp at all.

Also, the types of workouts barely change. If you have a look at the traditional plans, there is also a change from 30/30 type workouts to longer VO2 intervals from Base to Build. I’m not saying that this should also be the case here, but I think there should be some explanation in the plan description. Even if these are beta, someone surely put some thought into the types of workout included.

Since this thread popped up again, I’ll just mention, yup, same here. Had a vacation week scheduled into PB with the pol plan at what would be have been week 14 of my plan and it scheduled a recovery week for the next week I was back? Bizarre. Needless to say I changed that to something more challenging for my by then fresh legs.

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I hear you on this. I have modified my HV Polarized Base plan to be more pyramidal. I removed VO2 workouts and switched Threshold to those days (Tues). I then turned Saturday interval session into a long tempo workout (2-2.5hrs) with progressive overload on the tempo intervals and z2 between them.

It seems to me that focus during the base phase needs to be on building that aerobic engine / endurance. The Traditional Base plans can work too but it seems like having some higher intensity during base leads to better performance gains even later in the season.

Also, I have been declining most endurance adaptations. At least with a HV plan, I don’t want to be doing a ton of 75% FTP “Z2” work. That’s likely to push me over LT1 too much. Even during a Build phase I want to stick to 70% max during Z2 days and really prefer most time around 65%.


Not to argue, you do you, but doesn’t your post imply you changed every single workout in your plan? If so, why use their plan? Wouldn’t it be easier to just create your own?

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Fair point. I find it easier to edit a plan as I want rather than start from scratch. That said, I didn’t think about it much until I started the first week. I was going from MV to HV and didn’t think it was wise to both increase volume a lot and also keep two intensity days during a base phase.