Dylan Johnson's "The Problem with TrainerRoad Training Plans": it's gonna be a busy day around here

Even that’s contentious though, right? I seem to remember people arguing about Pogačar after he won the TdF, and where he was exceptionally good at lactate clearance, or just didn’t produce as much lactate, and how much of that was due to training vs genetics?

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In my posts I quoted several studies which show that those pro athletes have certain genetic factors us mortals don’t have. Also it’s not that one gene but likely many genes which contribute to that.

“Many physical traits help determine an individual’s athletic ability, primarily the strength of muscles used for movemen and the predominant type of fibers that compose them. (…) Studies focused on similarities and differences in athletic performance within families, including between twins, suggest that genetic factors underlie 30 to 80 percent of the differences among individuals in traits related to athletic performance.”

What’s also important to acknowledge is environmental factors. Taking training history as an example. People conditioned from their early childhood days are formed in a way that one cannot make up for when only starting 20 years later.

While the research out there is still in its baby shoes it’s in my opinion important to acknowledge that there are apparent genetic and environmental differences between elite athletes and the general population. Hence it might not necessarily be a good idea to copy their training regimen. Or it might not be required to train that way to reach our lower overall maximum potential.


Found them, thanks but they didn’t really answer the questions I have.

I’m not disputing that underlying that X% better performance is predominantly(?) genetic factors - I’m wondering why people assume that they work differently to us, rather than just better. Do they have some sort of biological process that we don’t - are they basically “X-Men” but instead of laser beam vision they can turn wheels harder for longer? Or are they just “scaled up” versions of regular folk? Where’s the suggestion that we should train via different methodologies, instead of just scaled to our abilities, coming from? Is it just “bro-science”? :wink:

Edit: Also, this is interesting from your previous PubMed link

A favorable genetic profile, when combined with an optimal training environment, is important for elite athletic performance; however, few genes are consistently associated with elite athletic performance, and none are linked strongly enough to warrant their use in predicting athletic success.

The thing is pros train a lot. Like a lot, a lot. So I just wonder how you could scale back a pro training regime to someone training 3-6 hours/week.

Or to put it differently: Sure we are the same people as pros, but our goals and frameworks for training are wildly different

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you do.

I guess the easy and honest answer is that we just don’t know yet. Though there are some logical assumptions we can derive from what we know. Especially when factoring in environmental factors such as training history.

The main assumption I for myself derive is that it makes likely no sense to train as the pros do. Even if I would be able to replicate their environment (time, resources, staff, …).

I don’t have their training background and I likely don’t have the genetics (muscle composition, ability to recover, …) so I won’t even bother training 20-30 hours per week to reach a potential that’s not good enough in the first place.

Though would I would do (and am doing) is go with a training program that has proven to work for non gifted athletes in a similar to mine environment (job, family, …). For me this is TrainerRoad. Like I have mentioned above, I guess I have made the right decision for myself: 4.8 wpkg in 3ish years. All backed up by WKO5.

Obviously, some might derive a different conclusion and have success by following up on it. Which is fine for me. After all it just shows that we are all different. Which brings me full circle. It’s not ideal to blindly follow a training regimen. One has to think about it and tailor it to their needs. That single most effective cookie cutter plan isn’t just out there (yet!)


Can’t argue with that logic.

Although I’d point out that 4.8 W/kg puts you at the very pointy end of the TR bell-curve:

And similarly for the good ol’ Coggan power profile dataset, you’re in the “Excellent” bracket, and not too far off “Exceptional”.

So I wouldn’t be so quick to assume you’re not capable of more if you had the extra training time (and inclination) to hit 20 or even 30 hours per week.

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I don’t know, even if the genetics would be there I certainly lack the training background which will have an effect on what I can achieve.

Luckily I don’t have to ask myself that question. 10-13 hours are the maximum I can spend on a regular basis. My family and job don’t allow for more.

Though we got carried a way from the initial question at hand. I firmly believe the expectation to have that predefined plan laid out for you which you then blindly follow is inherently wrong. And, it’s not what TrainerRoad is offering.


Eh? Did you mean to reply to me?

How do you get the training background if you never try? It’s just gradually increasing volume year on year. If you keep it easy there is no reason why you couldn’t increase mileage 50% year on year.

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I completely agree with everything you wrote.
I am currently assessing if I should extend my TR subscription. To evaluate the offering, I would like Trainerroad to tell me whether they are addressing the criticism from the community.
DJ’s video was merely the spark that made this barrel explode.
@Nate_Pearson announced that they will respond to the video in the next podcast. I would much rather they made a statement on whether Trainerroad is going to address the major criticisms in this thread.

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It’s like he’s reading this forum… if he is training Malene Degn (Danish Champ, 2nd U23, and 5th in 2019 for World Cup) that’s #credentials


I meant to post this much earlier but forgot and it and it may be a bit late now, but for anyone wanting to learn a bit more about Dylan he was interviewed recently on the “Inside the Big Ring” podcast: Episode #99, Jan7th

Not sure if my attempt to link it will be successful but here goes:


If you actually read the scientific literature that you claim to support polarized training, you learn that things are in fact quite muddled.

Contrary to Seiler’s original claim, subsequent observational studies have clearly shown that most elite endurance athletes do NOT train in a polarized fashion.

Interventional studies - all of which are limited in duration and sample size - are split about equally as to whether polarized is better or worse than alternative TIDs, with the outcome seeming to depend in part on the basis for comparison.

Rather than just echoing what some coach says or what you read in a lay outlet, I suggest you pay attention to those actually doing research in this area (and by research I don’t mean Twitter surveys).


Nearly 2000 posts and still nobody linked Nate’s answer regarding SS vs and POL from October 2018… :man_shrugging:

I linked it already here Feb 25th Podcast - #145 by Rizzi but just in case anyone missed it…it was there all the time :wink::

This thread is too gigantic for me to handle…so I’ll just leave it like that.


DJ addressed POL vs Pyramidal in the video, and pointed to studies showing similar results from each.

I think this thread is missing the mark by arguing that point.

The really important question, as I see it, is whether or not the average recreational cyclist (TR user) benefits from increased frequency of high intensity work over 2x/week.

Chris Carmichael, in The Time Crunched Cyclist, argues, basically yes, reduced volume must equate to increased intensity, and prescribes plans that look very similar to TR’s plans. The difference though, is that his plans are only 8 (maybe 12? it’s been a while) weeks long, and he is explicit about
scheduling lots of recovery after the block. He does not prescribe 3-4 HIT sessions per week for 26 weeks.


I listened to this on Thursday and really enjoyed it. TR’s @Jonathan is interviewed on another—also great—episode.


As that Fascat podcast pointed out, the biggest ever increases found in VO2max and muscle characteristics were in studies that had subjects going really, really, really hard 4-6 days per week.

Most people don’t have the motivation to keep that up for more than a few months, but successful competitive athletes aren’t most people.

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For how long did they do that? Most people I don’t think could physically handle it more than a few weeks, but done sparingly I’m sure it would produce good results.

It’s almost as if this clickbaiting money hungry YouTube attention seeking 20 something inexperienced TR hating kid knows what he’s doing :flushed:


5 months in the one study, 10 weeks in the other.

FWIW, I’ve always thought that there must be a relationship between the human gestational period and how long folks are willing to keep their nose to the grindstone. Either that, it is the turning of the seasons that make even most elite athletes dial back periodically. (OTOH, you have roadies who go straight into racing 'cross or indoor track all winter, then straight into the Spring Classics, so is any off-season really needed?)

In any case, unless you are unusually fragile, you’re not going to become physically overtrained in just a few months, much less a few weeks.