Metabolic training. What is this?

No worries. Tone is hard to convey and infer on the internet.

1 Like

Some people are definitely looking for the “secret”. My brother in law visits a LOT of questionable “health care providers” (“quacks” IMO), buys A LOT of supplements, is on a never ending search for trainers with “the secret”. I’ll admit, he is having some body comp changes on HGH (or maybe it’s HCG? not totally sure). But sleep, diet, alcohol, and consistent training all have tremendous room for improvement. (And I’m not saying this because I have the basics nailed, I enjoy a happy hour round or 3 as much as the next guy followed by pizza and ice cream).

It’s natural to look for ways to improve so I can kinda understand where the search is coming from. However, in this day and age, secrets are a lot harder to keep.

Watching his effort over a quarter century has really made me believe “there are no secrets”. Other than maybe picking the right parents. I’m sure there are literally millions of amateurs across sport who have the knowledge and dedication to be professional except they aren’t 4 1/2 w/kg off of the couch.


1 Like

McNulty’s session is just a 3*1h @ tempo. Specific session for his role at UAE that year, which was to take long pulls during GTs.

1 Like

People are looking, in part, because so many people are selling. TR is even guilty of this. They said so many times how people going from structure to non-structure resulted in huge gains.

I’ve personally never seen these huge gains because I’ve already been a very consistent rider. I like to train and ride. If anything I don’t rest enough.

I raced in the 80s and 90s. Nobody I knew did intervals even though I saw them mentioned in a few books. We rode a lot, and raced twice a week (training race + weekend race) or we did hard group rides. You get in pretty darn good shape doing that as it’s basically two tempo-SS-FTP-VO2 (all rolled into one) sessions per week.

Yep. And it’s gotten worse over time here. E.g. The polarized low and mid volume plans shouldn’t even exist, but I’m sure they sell subscriptions.


i’d go a step further, a lot of the low volume plans (in my opinion) I feel fall short. I think there’s a time and place for doing plans with mixed workout types, but i’ve really come to enjoy working threshold on its own, doing vo2 on its own, etc. a lot of build plans to me seem to be sort of the deal as speciality


The only guru cycling needs!

1 Like

I prefer block periodization for me and most of my athletes as well, but I do think mixed blocks work best for some (older Masters and lower volume riders, in particular).


He literally asked the goal of a training session. If person A asks a question; person B can “teach” by answering it.

You are assuming he is looking for a miracle session. Maybe he agrees with you on everything you have said.

Suppose we are at a gym and person A sees someone doing an exercise they have never seen before so they ask a question about the goal. Any response other than the answer or “I am not sure” is, for lack of a better term, d-baggy. One could further respond by saying “The goal is X, but there are other better ways to achieve X”.


Try creating a product that has appeal 10s of thousands of people with varying cycling backgrounds.

Why do you think the low/mid Polarized plans shouldn’t exist? I myself am at the tail end of a mid vol polarized plan and I’m enjoying the simplicity and results so far. Curious as to your opinion on this, thanks.

1 Like

Hi @Clement32000 ! Thanks for the heads up about that video. Interesting to give it a listen.

When they are talking about ‘Metabolic training’ they are referring to improving fat utilization and lactate clearance. Or, as it is referred to in layman’s terms, ‘training’. When you’re a coach it’s hard to differentiate yourself…so sometimes you need some jargon to act as a ‘hook’ that grabs an athlete’s attention & focuses it on some type of work that is really just the same old thing that cyclists have been doing for decades.

‘Metabolic training’ means ‘training’. That’s all. Specifically they were talking about tempo work with the intent of improving the use of lactate as a fuel. As we have discussed on this forum many times in the past there are many different ways to upregulate lactate transport in the body. For more on that you can see my post about superfluous over/unders:

For those that are interested in the Wakefield video, here is where they talk about tempo work:


The OP asked, “What is metabolic training?”, to which I facetiously replied, “Next year’s zone 2?”. I think that makes my take on it perfectly clear.

Now if you really believe it is truly a thing and want to try to provide a more serious answer, be my guest.


I think you have that backwards. It is lay folk who speak of attempting to specifically train particular metabolic adaptations (e.g., “increasing MCT1”). Scientists recognize that this really isn’t possible, and just talk about “endurance training”.

(BTW, the extent to which training increases lactate clearance is still unclear, because the data from the tracer methods used to assess it aren’t easily interpretable. What is crystal clear, however, is that the primary effect of endurance training is to reduce lactate production - even Brooks’own data show this to be true, although of course he would never admit it.

Here are the slides from a talk I used to give at an NIH-sponsored conference on tracer methodology if anyone wants to go down this rabbit hole:

19 - Lactate kinetics.ppt)

Edited to fix link.

1 Like

Thanks for that link, @The_Cog !

All I know is I’m not going to waste my time riding tempo. Everybody knows those are junk miles. Nope. I’m going to do metabolic training instead because that’s much better and totally not the same thing. :wink:

But, really, who am I kidding? I’m going to ride tempo for 25 minutes and then try for a couple of KOMs.



1 Like

Oh you really pwned me with that one lol

Just because something has mass appeal doesn’t necessarily make it great

I think they create this perception that because something says it’s “polarized” that makes it magical. The focus of “polarized” training is high-volume endurance riding alongside adequate (minimum effective?) doses of high intensity.

Now, what “high volume” means is dependent on the athlete. Someone off the couch doing 3.5 hrs per week of “polarized training” made up of 2 1-hr interval sessions and a 90-minute endurance ride will make progress because they could do literally anything and see progress.

But I also think if you’re going to ride 3.5 hrs per week (as on the LV plan) you’d be better off just doing SSBLV and changing out the 90-minute endurance ride to a 90-minute tempo/SST session. So it becomes a less effective version of a plan that already exists.

MV is kind of the same. If you’re going to commit to endurance-ride based training, like go do it effectively and make your endurance rides 3… 4… 5! hours long.

Otherwise, it’s a sub-optimal plan for the time you’re investing, in my opinion. The high volume plan is kinda OK, I guess, but the fundamental concept TR operates around is that people don’t like riding their trainers for longer than 2hrs or so. If that’s the constraint, then basing your plan on 2hr (max) endurance rides becomes a waste of time after not so long, IMO.

Well there’s definitely nothing magical about it except that it’s very simple and the endurance rides take a bit of work to complete outside if you are trying to stay in your zone. I took this plan on with curiosity to see how it compared to their other standard plans and with the intention of doing my own free form outside endurance ride on the weekend, and like you mentioned, making it a longer session. So far all of my outside endurance rides started at 3 hours and I progressed to 4.5 to 5 and even did a 7 hour ride a few weeks back.

I’ve got 4 more weeks on the MV Polarized Build - I do plan to switch up the VO2 sessions that they have planned (4x4 as opposed to 6x2) and execute them in the style that you suggest (high cadence, all out efforts) because the shorter ones seem a little too easy based on what I did in my plan earlier this year.

Thanks for your feedback, appreciate it!

1 Like