Best Way to Raise FTP, Pro Nutrition, Strava Segments and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 296

I’d love to watch a live debate on the merits of sweet spot vs polarized training. I believe both have benefits and think sweet spot is valuable for a time crunched athlete.

I’d love to hear them debate Coach Conor of Fast Labs. They’d probably end up meeting somewhere in the middle instead of sounding so smug like they did on this episode.

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This book goes more in depth of why more intensity is better than polarized for most working class humans


I believe he said he didn’t know of any pros that do polarized. I think the issue is the large volume the pros do make their training look polarized because they can’t do the same percentage of intensity that low volume and do. It looks polarized because of the long low rides, but is probably pyramidal in reality. It feels like most are saying the same thing just arguing over semantics.


Hey @Captain_Doughnutman, hope you’ve had time to cool off!? I read the comments here before watching the podcast so was expecting some really controversial content and have to say I was a little disappointed as I was expecting more! :grin:

Yes, Nate and Jonathan tried to poke the bear with their comments about polarised training, but Chad was quite explicit, saying there just isn’t a magic bullet and training at different intensities all have a place. Even you must agree with that having trained and seen improvements with various methods over the last few years?

Here lies the problem with looking at other athletes without knowing their LT1 and simply going by %ftp. LT1 can range quite a lot between riders. You know this. The way Keegan described his riding did suggest that it leant more towards the “grey” zone.

My takeaway was one size doesn’t fit all and a varied approach throughout the season is needed. I’ve seen this with my own training and like to change things up a little after each phase. My current training is more polarised, but this will change to more tempo/sweet spot in a few weeks time as I try to keep my body guessing!

I hope your own take on the podcast doesn’t mean you abandon TR altogether. I for one would miss your comments in the forum!



The best and the most important point that people don’t seem to quite understand is the point that Chad mentioned in this podcast: Polarized training wasn’t presented as a way to train, a silver bullet, the magic formula, etc. It was simply an observation Seiler noticed when analysing some of elite athletes.

And why do they train polarized? Because they are professional athletes, training is their job, and they have all the time in the world to put in a lot of hours (volume) of training. They do their hard training hard, and then instead of going to work/recovering etc. they add on extra easy volume.
And to add one more thing: this doesn’t mean they don’t do tempo/sweet spot/whatever training; they still do it to meet the demands of their discipline, and that of course varies.

Average Joe? He has a job, family, kids, etc. He doesn’t have 30 or 40 hours a week to train. So he needs to do his hard work to provide enough stimulus to progress (minimal effective dose), and then instead of adding volume, he engages in other life activities. He doesn’t do (that much) active recovery, rather passive recovery. So his intensity distribution clearly won’t be (that much) polarized, because his hard work will take up more of his total training volume.

This is at least my understanding of things and my point of view, if anyone has anything to add, please educate us.


@Jonathan what were the grips you are using on the mountain bike?


Chad’s take on the question was great. It was about creating a more self-aware, goal-orientated cyclist vs promoting a product (via negativity). The others basically truncated POL into “long slow/easy riding” – period; while pumping “tempo” (aka sweet spot) as the way to win “a national championship and lots of big races”…even though Chad just finished saying there is no “best” way…and even though the example the guest provided of his training was exactly POL.


And for those listeners who don’t look up his power files…? ‘Ride a lot at 75-80% FTP with some occasional hard intervals thrown in’ is the take away.

Because POL Z1 includes 80% FTP, classic Z3 needs to be broken down further to give a more precise picture.

And does KG really think Grand Tour/Classics/WC medalists go out and “ride aimlessly for 6-7 hours”?? Sorry, van Vleuten, you’re never going to get fast.

[edit: I too doubt KG trains POL, but the example of his own training at the same time the dismissiveness of polarized methods was boggling.]

To further the point, Chad stated that the stimulus must change if you want to further the adaptations and improvements…yet TR plans have you doing the exact. same. thing. year. after. year. So, there’s that.

A disingenuous and misleading narrative.

[edit: in no way am I saying POL is a definitively superior way to train, just that the “conversation” pertaining to it in this particular AACC episode was wholly flawed.]


Got a week of dry sunny weather on the way to go out and put in lots of outside low-stress LSD to build my aerobic power = more time getting to ride vs more time having to recover! :sunny::grinning:


I wanted to chip in with my tuppence on sunglasses. I picked up some Tifosi Podium XC Fototec (Photochromic) glasses last year before my A-Race for MTB. They are fantastic and very affordable. Light enough in the trees on single track and dark enough to take the edge off in the sun.

They aren’t dark enough to be sunglasses for super bright days out of the shade, but I’ve found them to be great.

I can’t ride without glasses, too many times I’ve had something hit my in the eye.

I thought Photochromic glasses were still too expensive for the everyman, but the technology seems to finally have come down to normal areas. I’ve just picked up some $10 AliExpress Photochromic glasses that are styled like the current humongous glasses (100% etc) I’ll report back but so far they seem incredible for the money, just cheap feeling frames. I can’t use them for racing I don’t think as I don’t get enough airflow over my face with them on, but they are great for saving my Tifosi ones

Loved the eating on the bike discussion, and Keegan inspired me to do some online searches and found this:

Yes, I can finally answer the siren call of the apple fritter and not feel guilty!


What hex-bar do y’all use? Guessing Rogue, but just wanted to confirm. Thanks.

@Nate_Pearson @chad

Yes, rogue.

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If you have the $$$ check out the kabuki strength one, it is amazing. So much variety with the open back


It seemed to me that @Nate_Pearson didn’t want to hear Keegan’s answer to whether his training is polarized. Keegan said he spends hours “Floating around that Tempo Zone 2 border that for me that is around 270 - 290 watts.” Keegan’s FTP is 360. That’s a range of 75 -80%. Not 90% as Nate claimed. When Nate asked Keegan earlier if he spent all of his time in either Zone 1 or VO2 max Keegan obviously thinks he is referring to Coggan’s description of Zone 1 which is 55% or less of FTP not Seiler’s Zone 1 which is up to the first ventilatory threshold in a 3 Zone system. 75-80% of FTP is the upper end of Seiler’s Zone 1, 77% of FTP. I was disappointed and surprised to hear Nate so clearly confounding Keegan’s answer to his question. Keegan says he spends hours at this level of intensity. Sure, he sometimes mixes in high intensity efforts on these rides but based on his own description he spends most of his time at between 75 and 80% of his FTP. @Nate_Pearson if you don’t think polarized training works or you don’t like it, that’s fine. Please don’t attack it, though, by confusing zones from 5 and 3 zone intensity descriptions. Based on what he said in response to your question, Keegan is clearly spending most of his time in Zone 1 of Seiler’s 3 zone system. The low end of Tempo could easily be at or below Keegan’s first ventilatory threshold, aka LT1. That’s zone 1 in a polarized 3 zone system


I thought I said 80% when I did the math, did I say 90?

Keegan does not train polarized. You can check his data online.

I didn’t Say polarized doesn’t work. I’m just saying not all pros do it.

I’m sure there are some. But there’s a saying that “all pros train polarized” which I believe is inaccurate.

I think it should be “Pros can only take so much intensity, and the fill the rest if the volume with endurance work”.

I also understand the difference between the three zone and five zone model. I already knew Keegan’s training before this episode. He does tons of threshold , threshold over/unders and sweet spot.

I would say he’s more pyramidal.


These things are great, until you blow out your finger tendons that have never been trained to support your body weight.

a former climber who occasionally blew out finger tendons even after a decade+ climbing.


Re: Hex deadlift
Chad seems to prefer it over other variations and mentioned its more like a squat movement as you are able to keep the body more upright. With regards to the body position I have a safety squat bar which allows me to keep more upright than a barbell squat. I’m feeling this movement would be just as good as Hex lifts. Do you think that overall the squat is superior to the deadlift for cycling performance?

They are similar but different. Do both. The form is different, trap bar or flat bar.

You get more glute, and hamstring work with deadlifts and you get trapezius.

Trap bars are awesome.


My bad. You said 80^% not 90%. My apologies. I don’t have access to Keegan’s data or the data of a lot of Pros. My main point is that Keegan said he was spending a lot of time at the border of tempo/endurance, 75-80% which is zone 1 in a polarized system.

It’s public. Keegan is pyramidal.

That alone does not define polarized, though. He spends the bulk of his time in Z1 and Z2, in a 3 zone model. He touches on Z3, but the emphasis is on threshold and sweet spot, for his hard work.


I’ve seen those crowbarred into ‘Seiler Zone 3’ on here before, possibly quoting from Seiler himself…