How are people finding the TR Polarized plans?

I just began an 8 week high volume polarized plan 2 weeks ago. I am not new to polarized training, but new to TR. I have AT enabled. To be fair, the bread and butter intervals of polarized training are pretty simple actually. There aren’t a lot of complicated steps to a 4x4, 5x5 or 4x8, etc. I was coming off of injury, with time completely off the bike and my FTP tested 30 watts lower than my high point in season, to be expected.

It started me off with some classic threshold (4x8) and vo2 (4x4) workouts. I used resistance mode / old-school pacing and completed these workouts a little bit harder than prescribed, but still felt like it was not as hard as I could have gone. I wasn’t sure if I should be going on all out anyway given where I’m at in my training. AT bumped up some of my adaptations and gave harder workouts for the future, which is cool.

Also, the easy Z1/Z2 1.5/2.5h “long” weekend rides are well below the norm for me. I am adding extra hours to my weekend rides. I figure this is probably going to skew things more towards 90/10 than 80/20 time in intensity. We’ll see what happens - only time will tell!

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With AT it will rapidly push you up to 120% from 106% for the VO2 work. Speaking from experience.

AT generally works well with the VO2 and threshold workouts in the polarized plans.

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@callemacody - The plan is going to look different depending on what your Progression Levels (PLs) are. I’m at an 8 for VO2 and a 6 for Threshold so if I look at a polarized plan it’s going to look a lot different (harder) than if I’m a PL of 1 or 2. You mentioned TSS earlier (which by the way is not a good indicator of intensity) - when I look at the polarized plan I hardly see any HIT workouts with TSS less than 100 TSS. Again the plan is adjusted based on where your fitness currently is and AT should adjust the plan as you proceed through it.

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That’s interesting that you have experience. So in your opinion, TR’s polarized workouts are broadly similar or the same as the ones you have been using previously?

AT does not reward you for overachieving your workouts. It is better to either tweak your FTP then or to choose an alternate workout that is a bit harder.

I think this is more a reflection that TR workouts are usually done indoors and most people cannot/do not like to spend as much long on the indoor trainer than outdoors. For me the limit is 3:00–3:30 hours on the trainer. Outdoors, I can easily do much longer.

I did the Polarized plans earlier this year (pre-AT), and this is NOT what I remember. It was NOT too easy - in fact, I had to modify things to ramp up the difficulty more slowly. And even looking right now at the Pol plans, I am seeing in week 4 Calzada which is 9 x 2 @ 124% = 108 TSS and Dutton 3 x 16 @ 100% = 123TSS. And looking at week 6 of the Build phase, I see workouts with 136, 159 and 170 TSS - these are not easy rides.

Obviously with the introduction of Adaptive Training, what you see is heavily influenced by your current progression levels - if your recent training history is light on in the relevant zones, the progression levels may not reflect your capabilities. But AT will adapt, and serve you up more challenging workouts if you find them easy.

Just trying to square my experience with your comments - what are you seeing in week 4 of Pol base and week 6 of Pol Build???

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I think this has to do with different people having different strengths. I would rather do Spanish Needle four times in a week than do 3x16 once. I know people who agree with me, but I also know people who can do 3x16 like it’s a rest day and find Spanish Needle almost impossible to complete.

When you put those people in a room together and say “how does this plan look to you”, you’re going to get incredibly varied answers.

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I’m halfway through 6 weeks polarized plan at present. I picked it to slowly build up fitness after having covid earlier on. For this purpose it works well I guess, along the lines of building me up prior to “build” phase of one of the conventional plans I’m intending to begin later. I’m not sure though if the polariased would be my choice to truly prepare for the season. I doubt it. Having been training with TR for many years now, I’m used to their higher intensity regular plans.

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I did both the Base and Build Polarised Plans this summer but it was before I started on AT. I’ve swapped in the Base plan to start next week so I’ll see how AT works with it for me.

I liked the Polarised Plans first time around, possibly that they made a change from the Sweet Spot plans.

Broadly speaking, yes. My experience is with a coach who gave me a polarized distribution for my training at one point in time. Also, I listen to the Fast Talk Labs podcast, and they often have Dr. Stephen Seiler (one of the main researchers of polarized training), talk about it. TR references his work in the blog post describing the plans.

I see TR incorporating classic VO2/threshold workouts and then adding some variations, like splitting up the VO2 interval blocks into tiny repeating “slivers”, which I think gives you the same adaptation as doing the straight block. I guess this might be a little less boring on the trainer, or maybe makes them more achievable for more punchy types of riders.

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Cool, thanks for the real-world feedback. :slightly_smiling_face:

Maybe a little embarrassed to ask, but where do you find this Polarized training plan? I am interested to see what it looks like, but I don’t see mention of it on the list of training plans.

I think the website under the Experimental section is the main (only?) place to find them.

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Don’t be embarrassed: TrainerRoad wants you to opt in, because they are not as polished as their other plans. (Don’t worry, it’ll work just fine, it is just that there is a lot of copy and paste and no workout instructions for e. g. extra credit activities.)

Here is what you have to do:

  1. Go to www.trainerroad.com and log in if you aren’t already.
  2. Select Account on the bottom.
  3. Select the Early Access tab from the list of tabs under Profile.
  4. Enable Polarized Plans.

Then you can either add a polarized block. Or when you have created a training plan using Plan Builder, you can exchange Base and Build phases for polarized options. To do that you need to navigate to Calendar and find the first week of the block you want to replace with its polarized version. Click in e. g. Base 1 or Base 2 and exchange that for a polarized block at the top.

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Aha! Thanks to both of you!

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I had a quick look through this thread and couldn’t see the ratio of these plans discussed.

I am looking at the 8 week, mid volume polarised plans and I am seeing 2 Endurance workouts and 2 higher intensity workouts. That’s not 80:20 ratio. For 4 workouts a week, I’d expect 3 endurance and 1 high intensity.

Anyone else notice this?

There is a deep discussion about distribution in the original TR POL topic. I am pretty sure Nate and Jon both got involved too.

Muddy water is muddy.

  • Some people count the split based on pure Number of Sessions, regardless of session duration.
  • Others count Total Session Time based upon Session Goal.
    • (This is my personal preference because this makes sense to me and is also addressed by Seiler in more than one of his podcasts. I think Duration matters in the grand scheme, because I don’t see a 1-hour Z2 session as equal to a 6-hour Z2 session. It makes no sense to me to count them as “the same” as the first option above.)
  • Others look at the finite distribution of actual Time in Zone within each workout.
    • This often leads to a different distribution more along the lines of 90/10 or even 95/5, per Seiler.

Unfortunately, there is no concrete, singular definition here (despite what some claim). Even the key source to most of this info (Seiler) is wishy-washy with the definition and has not set a single option.

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Personally i like the boring stuff, its predictable. I can tune out (esp during z2 sessions) and watch tv, intervals not as much, i have music to entertain. For the purpose of increasing my base/aerobic fitness it’s worth it, imo.

I have a half ironman in july, so i’ll probably do 6-8 weeks of polarized with some easy running. Then when spring comes i’ll start adding more intensity on the bike, probably through a plan builder plan for rolling hills since thats what the course will be like and the swims will begin 3 indoors at first/week and then switch it up to 2 indoors and 1 outdoor when it gets warm enough)

So polarized for me is a good way to kinda remove the cobwebs from being lazy for a few months lol

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Thanks @mcneese.chad
I agree with all that you wrote. To me, it looks like the TR Polarised plans are trying to meet some other ratio; nothing from your list.

PS I understand Total Session Time based upon Session Goal to end up being about a 90:10 ratio.

I have no idea what TR did. I got out of the nuts and bolts of that level of discussion long ago.

  • I think the info they used is located in the topic mentioned, for anyone wanting to track it down.

My only point in sharing what I did was to point out just how UNCLEAR this all is and that anyone pointing to a single answer could be wrong (including me :stuck_out_tongue: ). I’m not heading down that rabbit hole again.

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There was a ton of debate about this when they first came out along with tons of people giving their definition of polarized. It was so confusing that I lost interest and quit following. If you do a search on previous threads, you can find lots of people who agree and disagree with you.

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