Intensity Days: POL vs. Short Power Build

I’m a few weeks into the SPB medium volume plan and can’t help but notice how much intensity there is vs. the medium volume POL plan I did earlier this year.

Each week the SPB plan has the following workouts:
TWO VO2 max

The POL has:
VO2 max
Two endurance(one long endurance)

I’m just wondering what other people’s experience is that have done both. I’m personally starting to feel a bit run down, even with the AT adaptations and am wondering if I’m just never really getting adequately recovered before the next workout.

For me, I do non-endurance training at most twice a week or my body gets tired or even sick, so I’m all about endurance training now except for one high-intensity session. If the body reacts to fatigue, I think I should listen to how my body feels, not the AT.


Since I changed to polarized training, beginning of August, I feel well rested leading in to the HIT. I’m not struggling to finish the last interval of a 5x5 or 4x8 VO2 workouts, but that doesn’t imply it’s easy or moderate… it’s still hard, but achievable.

With little to no racing at the moment, I don’t need to do any speciality-type training, so I have the time to do 10 hours per week (2x 60 or 60/90 minute sessions of HIT). All my easy rides are below 80% of max Hr, and thy 90-120 minutes at 70-80% on the indoor trainer are also not easy.

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In my humble and uneducated opinion I feel as though all of the Build plans at medium and high volume (likewise for Speciality) have far too much intensity for the average cyclist or maybe any cyclist. Which I think is validated by the numerous anecdotal posts about people either feeling burnt out or simply incapable of completing workouts.

That said, modify your training plan accordingly. Don’t feel obligated to follow the plan if it’s leading you down a bad path.


Agreed. But what to do in the interim? POL doesn’t work with AT.

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I can’t help you here as I don’t use AT. This might be one of the downfalls of AT. But maybe there is a work around.

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I’ve been using the Low Volume plans (3 intensity days) + and outside endurance ride for about 8 months now. It’s been fine up until now however my additional outside ride has ramped up from 1.0 hour to 3.0 hours long. I’m feeling really flat and to add to that I’m burning out mentally with 3 days a week on the trainer.

My next A race is 6 months away and I wrote my own plan that goes like this:

M: Intensity 1.5hrs
T: Off
W: Intensity 1.5hrs
T: Off
F: Endurance 1.5hrs (outside)
S: Endurance 3.0hrs (outside)
S: Off

I’m 43yo and find that longer days of intensity are more manageable (recoverable) as opposed to spreading it across more workouts through the week. I know this from my history in distance running. 3 days a week is pushing it and any more is out of the question for me.

I will say that using the standard low volume plans + the outside ride has got me from an FTP of 171W to 241W in 7 months. However I can feel I’ve hit the limit of this approach and something needs to change.

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POL works with AT if you use plan builder, then switch individual blocks from SSB (for example) to POL

Honestly can’t speak to the specifics of your question, but will say that I view this a major gap in the current TR plans, and specifically how AT will be used moving forward.

Personally, I respond best to two days of intensity per week. It does not have to be a polarized zone distribution, it does not have to be any specific plan, but two days is what I recover from and grow most sustainably with.

The only plans that TR offers that have only two intense days per week are the polarized plans. As such, even with AT, there’s no real alternative for me using their stock plans. I tried AT for two cycles and ended up in the same, burned out, place I had previously ended up in doing three days of intensity a week.

Letting us better customize these plans is, for me, a necessary next step before I can use AT fruitfully.


I agree it would be nice to have an option in plan builder to only have two intense days a week. That said, if you know your body, can’t you just skip one of the intense workouts and do an endurance ride instead? If you skip a planned workout, AT will adjust the upcoming workouts accordingly. You’ll have a slower planned progression, but it should be do-able.

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If it only adjusted that progression this would be a viable alternative, but it views fatigue across everything and lowers the progression across the board :frowning:

Not so sure about that. The only problem is the sst workout in place of lower endurance. If you replace it with Z2 is pretty normal training plan. Not saying that build is easy, it is hard but it should be really hard. I have done some researching of different cookie cutter plans from TP and every build phase is damn hard (like very hard). But the idea is you build the “peak” and then only maintain the gains.

The problem of many people (me included) is doing some kind of intensity all year long and then periodisation is only a word. My personal opinion is if the sequence would be Traditional Base (key) → Sweet Spot Base → Build → Racing / Maintenance many people will have easier life with those plans. But if you rotate the plans all year long then suddenly you are digging a big hole. Not to mention doing Build couple times a year :slight_smile:


That is a corollary of saying the problem is TR’s approach to base. Which I’ve said before, and suggested the above as a possible solution. However I’ve also said Traditional Base needs to be updated. I have more confidence in two TrainingPeaks plans I purchased and can use over and over again (FasCat 18 Week SSB and Velocious Masters Full Season 26 Week). Out of frustration in early 2020 I gave up and obtained better results with one of those templated plans. Your mileage may vary.

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Basically - yes. But I understand both perspectives - there is a clash between good coaching and running a business for such a wide audience. Traditional Base is a good example - from a coaching perspective it is a good approach, from the user perspective - nobody wants to do it :slight_smile: sitting 2-3h on a trainer as a first experience with training would be horrible and consequences for TR as a business also unpleasant. Then tere is many more experienced people that look at this from a different perspective and know how “good” plan should look like. And yes - i know that following “good” plan would remove a lot of posts/topics about “10 min of threshold is not doable” :slight_smile:

But TR does recommend to take time off or at least significantly reduce your training volume before you start with a new Base-Build-Specialty cycle. If you don’t periodize, you’ll dig a hole also with a polarized approach.

IMHO the main issue is that people don’t choose volume appropriately and opt for a higher-volume plan than they can handle without making sufficient lifestyle adaptations to be able to handle the intensity. And they don’t periodize correctly and consistently. You could argue that TR should suggest this to users by e. g. telling them that they haven’t taken a break in x months and that they recommend you take some time off the bike.

You can use their LV plans and substitute the weekend workout for an endurance workout. And you could add additional endurance rides as your schedule allows.

Not just that, the issue is time. I don’t have time to spend 2 hours on the trainer Mondays through Fridays, I’d have to go to bed at 8:00, no later than 8:30 and get up at 4:30 am. That is literally impossible if I want to manage my life.

TR recommends Plan Builder, I just used it like a new user. Plan Builder gave me a full year of training with no breaks:

No breaks, no “hey partner, we don’t recommend 52 weeks of continuous training,” no pointers to a blog or support article, and no breaks after the first base-build-specialty cycle. :man_shrugging:

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Sure, TR gives you enough rope to hang yourself even though it shouldn’t. But the recommendation has been repeated over and over again on the podcast (and is part of the standard literature that covers periodized training). I agree with you that TR should pop a warning or so and/or incorporate breaks in such long training plans.

However, IMHO this is a separate issue of whether polarized plans are superior to sweet spot plans or whether you choose an appropriate amount of volume.

@Jonathan did say he used polarized plan to prepare for Nationals so…

… so?
Two things: first of, @Jonathan is a TR employee and AFAIK he is beta testing the polarized plan. Secondly, I am not against polarized plans at all. I plan to try a polarized block after I take return from my break this season. I didn’t want to mess with what has worked for me, but I am curious.

I’m just cautioning against having the wrong expectations. Polarized plans work great for some athletes, and for some of them that is because they have less intensity. And the more time you spend training, the more any sensible training plan will look like a polarized plan. But IMHO a lot of people just choose too much intensity for themselves and e. g. not sleep enough. (I’m guilty of the latter, and I had to cut back my volume from MV+/HV- to MV due to an increase in other life stresses.) Some people think that because they used to ride 10–12 hours per week no problem, that 6 hours of training per week should be a piece of cake.

Or some people are not aware that they have to take breaks from training periodically, and as @bbarrera demonstrates, TR’s Plan Builder doesn’t even pop up a warning. (And I totally agree it should trigger a warning.)

This misses the point, and further by skipping one of the intense days AT slows or halts your progression for all future workouts, not just the progression of the one you skipped

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