How do you deal with all of the conflicting research / recommendations?

One problem that I keep running into is an inability to decipher different and conflicting sources of research and advice, primarily relating to training and nutrition. This is not just leading to confusion, but generally just bouncing around between different strategies and plans versus finding something to consistently try to achieve. Training has a hundred ways to skin a cat (at a high level can be broken up into Polarized and Steady State / Threshold, but with a huge amount of variation) and nutrition might have even more (high carb all the time, low carb all the time, low carb training and high carb racing, everything in between…).

Each school seems to show research and has a plethora of stories regarding why their method works (both for racing and for every day health and fitness), and I often find myself agreeing with them and then switching training / diet strategies on a ~weekly basis (I think I’ve started the SS Base plan 6 times this year alone before dropping it for a Polarized approach…). I have to think that just picking something and going with it is the right approach - but struggling to find this consistency in all of the noise.

For those of you who were able to find something that resonated with them and stick to it - how did you do it?



Consistency & overload/progression. 99% covered. If implementing the latest (fad) science helps with achieving this (because of motivation) why not. People often complain about gadgets and all these things but when they help to train consistently wiht overload and progression, why not.


It’s important to make a distinction between basic (overload, specificity, connection between intensity and volume, macro nutrients etc.) and specific (ie. Nutrition timing, block training, breaking intensities into granular level, ceramic bearing etc.) recommendations. Most of us in this forum do not need to concern ourselves with the higher level knowledge or marginal gains (I am guilty as anyone). I figure out the most robust theory of a given topic and rely on that until there are no gains to be had and then move on. I do give these ample time as well to really see if something is working or not.

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Paralysis by analysis. Simply follow a base - build - specialty program consistently and you are guaranteed good results. Following a consistent structured plan progression will get you to see gains for years. Once you do that, come back on the forum and ask how do you break through the 300w FTP or 4 w/kg plateau that you can’t seem to get over.

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Trial and error?

Pick a plan (training plan, diet plan, whatever) and follow it for a year. See how your body responds. Then try something different the next year - or if it is working really well, keep at it.

As you hear over and over again - we aren’t professionals and our income doesn’t depend on our results. This gives you the freedom to experiment and find what works best for you.

For instance - I’ve always been an evening workout person and haven’t really done much early morning intensity. I’m using my end of season downtime to start conditioning myself for early morning workouts so that when my serious training starts in a couple of months I hope to be able to consistently workout before work. Small change, but going to give it a try for a year and see how it impacts both my results and my life in general.


Simple guiding principles are consistency and volume. Pick a plan and stick to it. Training more consistently is an easy “get” for most. Then ride more if you have the time.

After a training season or two, you’ll know more based on your riding discipline and performance where you might need to improve, and can start tweaking from there.

I’ve read a lot of these studies. Their biggest limitation IMO is that they don’t appropriately control for rider profile - training history and “natural” physiology. For example:

If two riders go into a trial block of VO2 workouts, and one rider has done no VO2 work prior and the other has, the impact of the VO2 block will be different for the two riders.

The training that works best for a given rider will vary based on their underlying physiology. Lots of things here, but one is muscle fiber type, slow vs fast twitch. Another is genetic predisposition to respond to training. And I’m sure many more.

I read them for learning and entertainment purposes, vs finding the Silver bullet for my training.

  1. Just be consistent. If you can reach 500-600 hours a year on the bike, you’ll get pretty fit. Don’t eat garbage all the time.

  2. Don’t split hairs. When I first started reading about sports nutrition – in 1985 – the prevailing recommendation was 60% CHO, 20% PRO, 20% Fat. Guess what? Chad said the same thing in a recent podcast. Fine tuning is fine, but just getting the basics right might just be better.

  3. Look for consistency across sources and across decades. Pretty much every training source will say something like “two hard days each week, one or two recovery days, the rest general endurance.” They start to split hairs about what intensity “hard” is, at what time in the training year, but the “30,000 foot view” simplifies it pretty quickly.

If you can put in more than 10 hours a week on the bike, eat a decent diet, and don’t overdo the intensity days, you’ll be fine.


I actually just hear Seiler say this all the time. Most others say “it depends”

And the question what a hard day is seems pretty fundamental to me. Did a 4h “TdF pro session” yesterday. Lots of intensity. Hard but not tough because this came after a rest day. Today 2.5h endurance pace. Not hard but super tough. Felt so miserable.

Well, I’d throw Lydiard, Daniels, Canova, Steve Magness out there (in running) – for the most part they’re all two hard days, the rest easy.

Friel usually has no more than two hard days (zone 4 or higher).

I remember reading Maglischo’s Swimming Faster in the early 80s…two hard days, the rest easy…

Well, running. Different beast.

But, it does work fairly well for cycling…

My motto: “Keep it simple, stupid”

As the others have already said, consistency trumps everything else.

As far as nutrition is concerned, find healthy foods that you enjoy eating. Don’t go for fad diets, eat enough carbs, don’t obsess about your weight.

Way too many people get lost in the details before they’ve got the basics right.


I think most methods have merit. Some may be better than others, but if you stick to something you are a leg up on most people.

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I think we’ve all been there. And you’re asking two different questions. 1) How do I find out what works for me? 2) How do I stick to a plan?

A coach named Dan John is fond of saying “the goal is to keep the goal the goal.” That’s it on a day to day basis.

And there are a million schools of thought, and everything works until it doesn’t.

You’ve started the SS Base plan 6 times and dropped it. The real problem with that is you haven’t learned anything, so you don’t know if it works for you. Maybe focusing on that fact will help. You have to finish it to see if it works.

Choose a plan, execute the plan, assess what happened. That is it, that’s the whole ballgame.

Just remember that as your fitness improves it changes, so things don’t work forever. But you won’t even begin to figure things out unless you start sticking with things long enough to get a solid assessment of whether it works for you.

I’ve come from a sport where I had 1 main coach I would say, and 2 other coaches that I took parts of their training and utilised it to my own.

Not every coach will have the same philosophy and structure, and lets say you really like one type of interval structure from one coach, then take that and use it. I use TrainingRoad but I also have a specific coach for my events that dials my training in.

Read and listen to all the information you can and utilise what works for you. Some information out there works for everyone if your talking diet or general fitness. But everyone’s body and circumstances are different to achieve your own goals

This part is something I struggle with - there’s no way to do a quality scientific “control / compare” test, so even if I have a "good " year with one method, could I have had a better year with another? I’ve been mostly following a Polarized approach, and got up to ~4.2 wkg, but can’t tell if that’s “working” or if the TR Base / Build / Specialty would have been even better…

I think that’s right - the problem I keep getting in to is struggling a bit with the plan (vs Polarized, which seems to be a better fit) and then asking myself if I’m just wasting the time figuring it out, and that 6 weeks would have been better spent with a different method.

I think a bit piece of this is matching my training to my personal constraints - due to my schedule, I can train for about 90 minutes a day @ 5AM, and hard to get up for the intensity of 90 minutes of sweet spot then (which for me usually requires decent fueling) versus most days easy and then only really fueling well on my 1 - 2 intense days. So I probably need to worry much less about “what’s the best training” and focus more on “based on my personal constraints and considerations, what training will I execute reliably and enjoy the most.”

They say the devil is in the details - maybe that just means I need to avoid the details!


I think you are overthinking things. As long as you are progressing with the approach you are using then continue with it. 4.2 is great, but everything is relative. If you’re at 4.2 this year and 4.3 next, 4.5 the year after…then keep at what you’ve been doing.

If, however, you’re at 4.2 this year, and next year, and the year after. Then it is time to start experimenting with different protocols.

I’d also suggest that since plan adherence is an issue for you - one of the things you could change, rather than shifting directions/plans entirely is to try to shift to adhere to a single approach more consistently.

The best plan for you is likely to be the one you can follow

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All this & a bag o’ chips.

Was listening to Endurance Planet where a new father had gone from marathon racer to doing 20 minute dog walk runs in the morning. Like him, you gotta work with what ya got. Construct your personalized framework and then see what type of (consistent and completable) training fits into your space. Read all training and nutrition research and advice and take what is applicable. Or, don’t read ANY of it and just follow a plan.

I’m a huge repeat offender of obsessing over the mountains of scientific research and have to fight it all the time. Currently my focus is on two simple aspects: nutritious diet and volume. That’s it. Two weeds in my yard!

As others have clearly stated, keep it simple and consistent, this pertains to not only your training but to your goal(s) (e.g. will starting/stopping a plan 6 times/year help me achieve my cycling goal?).

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I think your second to last statement is spot on. The best training program for you is the one you’ll follow. That’s part of why they say on the podcast so often that it’s much better to nail a low volume plan than to mostly follow a mid volume plan.

I hear you on the early morning intensity, I was ok with SSBI early in the morning, but found SSBII much more difficult to do early.

I sort of think the “devil in the details” is a bit backwards. None of the little details matter until you’re doing the most important thing, executing a structured training plan.

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