I started using TR back in November after my racing season finished, I used it for about 4 weeks and really enjoyed the whole echo system, (software, forum, Nate, Chad and Jonathan etc) and thought that my decision had been a good one. Then I started listening and reading to everything I could on Polarised training, ditched my TR plan and began going down that road. After 4 weeks good training I then came down with the winter plague so have been off the bike for 10 days, hoping to return in the next 2-3 days.
In that time I have been having conflicting thoughts about what training method I should go with, Polarised or Trainer Road (Either base build or general build). I have cancelled and rejoined TR 3 times in the last 10 days, one minute I think yeah go for one of the plans then another stick with a Polarised approach.
Time off the bike is making it worse but it’s also giving me time to think, problem is I have now overthought it too much and in a total black hole.
Current FTP: 290-295 / 66-7kG So about 4.2w/kg. Weight will go back to 65KG within next 2-3 months.
Time to train. 8 hours
Goals: Hill climbs in September/October, more generally to improve power at key interval (5 minutes, 10, minutes, 20 minutes and 60 minutes), plus road racing May-August and also time trials on my road bike. (I’ve previously done TT on full rigs etc).
Appreciate there are a lot of goals there, the hill climb stuff takes care if itself from September as I specialise totally on that. So you could probably slim that down to “Improving FTP and VO2 Max”.
Have you faced this challenge, what were your results? Opinions?
You can do allot on your own if you invest time into some researching.
TrainerRoad has allot of programs that are perfect for your goals.
I do not use TR but I love to get the training advise from the podcast and the forum.
Is it worth $150 to you to have someone tell you what to do and when to do it with almost guaranteed results.
For allot of people on here and using TR it is worth the money.
It’s probably the best training app out there so your choose.
It’s really that simple. I played with the 80-20 rabbit hole and liked the experiment. But the reality is that simply following a TR Base, Build and Specialty plan will make you a better rider. And it will do so without crazy time spent wondering how to plan and what should be next.
It’s stupid cheap money for what you get, IMHO, and I will always have a TR subscription, even if I did my own plan. The analysis tools and calendar are great on their own. But I love the simplicity of the plans and knowing that they are setup for success with little or no input from me.
For me it provides the structure I need to stick to training.
If I was left to my own devices I wouldn’t have time or knowledge to come up with a training plan, and without that structure my training load would slip, fitness would fall, motivation would wane and I’d be back on the couch. Having a pre-made structured plan I can load onto the calendar and know “today I’m doing over unders” (or whatever it is) keeps me on track, training and improving.
If you could write your own plan and stick to it, more power to you but I suspect for many that’s not the case.
Why choose one over the other? I tend to use SSB Vol 2 and Sustained Power Build (or general build) to bump FTP, etc and and “more polarized” approach in-season and then also this recent off season for base.
If you look at SSB Vol 2, you’ll see it’s really a type of build phase. These two build phases (SSB vol2 and SP build) are extremely tried and true ways of building the type of fitness you’re after, even outside the TR ecosystem. Even as a runner these look familiar.
I have only struggled with your dilemma during base phase. Full disclosure, I’m a bit of an outlier in that I don’t do many SS workouts. When I do, they are more purposeful (Rather than a time crunched substitute for Zone 2). When I want to work threshold, I work threshold…not threshold’s younger brother “sweet spot”. So SSB vol 2, as opposed to Vol 1.
I recently took a “more polarized” approach to base (so replaced two rounds of SSB Vol 1). During a 9 day cycle, 1 hard (vo2max), 1 med (threshold), and the rest as much zone 2 as possible. Also, I selected the -1 -2 versions of most of the “hard/med” workouts during a 12 week base. Brian McCulloch advised me: “don’t lose track of any of the systems regardless of time of year”.
I also tend toward a more polarized approach in-season because the events are frequent enough that they serve as a speciality phase in and of themselves. Remember, speciality phase is all about race/event specific fitness. There is nothing more specific to an event than the event itself. Some would say in that scenario that “its not polarized because there’s a lot of threshold in those efforts”. I think those folks are taking the polarized population studies too literally.
Edit: my approach is about prepping for a season, not a single A race.
Paralysis by analysis, a story as old as time. Consistency to any structured plan will have far greater affect than the actual plan you choose. There are no wrong decisions here (TR vs. Polarized), choose whichever looks the best (to you) and motivates you to train and be consistent.
Thank you very much for all the detailed replies, I just needed that shove in the TR direction. I think the next 6-8 weeks will be well suited to TR, after that I may well move to some polarised work and see how that compares.
Maybe I’m missing something…80/20 or (90/10/polarized whatever you want to call it today) exists in periodization. No one that I know advocates nor tries to comply with EITHER polarized, HIIT or LSD 100% of the time. There are outliers admittedly. Like the guy who rides 3 hours/week…They do, however, do LSD followed by HIIT (polarized baked in by design). Periodization is all that which you get in a TR BBS progression.
The most successful plan is going to be the one that you commit to and that has you training with consistency.
I also struggle from paralysis by analysis. What helped me fully commit to TR (especially when the weather gets nice) was 1) the trust and loyalty that the podcast built in Chad, Jonathan, Nate and TR, and 2) race results.
I’ve also debated 80/20 vs. TR. My takeaway was that 80/20 would be great if I could dedicate 20+ hrs/week on the bike, which isn’t a reality. TR plans are built so that you get the most return for time invested which for most people is likely less than 10 hrs a week.
By trusting TR to take care of the bike training, I can spend the time that I would stressing and obsessing about my bike workouts stressing and obsessing about other things! (nutrition, what races to pick, goals, normal people things…).
My advice? Pick one. Stick with it for a season and fully trust it. Avoid reading anything more the plan that you didn’t select.
No matter which you select, if you commit and train with consistency you’re going to come out the other end as a better and faster cyclist.
To be 100% clear - polarized is not an alternative to trainer road - it is an alternative to a type of training. I think you’re conflating trainer road with non-polarized training and this is a mistake. You can do polarized training in trainer road, you can do non-polarized training in trainer road.
Not to say one is better than the other - but I don’t think you should be choosing your training platform based on what type of training model you want to follow. Any of the indoor training platforms can handle polarized or non-polarized approaches
The analysis tools and calendar are great on their own
I wouldn’t go that far. I do like the calendar tool, but the analysis is very basic compared to software like WKO, Golden Cheetah, etc. I still use GC for all the heavy duty analysis because the ability to customize the fatigue/fitness model is something I find useful.
TR is not the only way to train, of course. There is more than one way to skin a cat and a million variations of each way to skin a cat. So for me, it is not merely Coach Chad’s workouts that keep me coming back.
I respond very well to the discipline and accountability of the TR plans and operating within the TR universe. And the plans themselves work for me. Sure, there are other ways to do this training thing but this system has a track record of working for me so I will keep using it.
In my opinion, unless you have tons of available time to train, the 80/20 training regimen is tough to follow AND succeed. I only have 7-10 hours (MAX) a week to train. So I follow Sweet Spot base training because I don’t have time to go out and ride for 2 hours a day in zone 2, with 4 hour weekend rides. You get the most bang for your buck with Sweet Spot training. Big training stimulus with a relatively low amount of stress on your body, so you can do a lot of Sweet Spot work and recover quickly.
The biggest, and only real downfall I see in TR is that it is really just a cookie cutter training plan. It is not catered specifically to YOU. So if you have a glaring weakness that you’re not aware of, like your 5 minute power, TR will not fix that unless you’re aware of it and specifically pick workouts that will train your weaknesses (limiters).
BUT, with that being said, following a structured training plan, whether it is designed specifically for you or not, will still make you faster than training without any structure whatsoever. And the more you train, the more you may learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, and you may be able to cherry pick workouts that help you improve your weaknesses.
Do you race (specifically MTB or Xterra)? If so, please remain in the situation you are in now – making a decision to not decide anything and not get faster. If not, make a decision and get on with it. Consistency is the key to improvement. Just make a freakin’ decision, stick with it, and get better. When affording a coach puts too much of a pinch on the budget, I created a plan – right or wrong – and am going with it. I don’t have time to mess with second-guessing what I am doing. Will see how things go – and know no matter what, I will be better than I was last year (when I did not do that).
As others mentioned, 80/20 works best if you have a lot of time to dedicate to riding. This is just me, but TR MV plans have given me direction in an otherwise unstructured 2019 season. Raising a toddler, expecting another in four weeks, and making a career transition this year have all likely sidelined me from racing. That used to mean I didn’t train or just noodled through some rides and other workouts with little purpose. TR and the forum here have helped give me some focus such that when I do return to racing, I’ll be faster on the bike instead of just trying to get back to where I once was for a whole season.
Without an A event, it can be really hard to train consistently. That’s what the TR plans do for me. Otherwise, the platform and interface are the best and that alone is worth it. If you want to train 80/20, you can. If you want to fully customize your training, you can with the calendar and workout creator. Totally, totally worth the money.