Minimum Time Needed To Make Polarized Better Than SS

So at the moment I do a MV plan + some z2 to supplement. This usually takes me to 10 hours per week. From what I can figure out, a Polarized approach seems to be more beneficial, assuming I have the hours to commit to it. My question is; at what time commitment of training hours does the benefits of Polarized start to outweigh supplemented SS?

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What makes you think that polarized is better? I thought the science on the matter is not conclusive. :face_with_monocle:

Just on the basis that more hours generally means more gains!? And, I hear plenty of good results from others. I’m not fully sold on it by any means, but with the extra time to train at the moment, I’d love to make the most of the time whilst I can.

We have a long post on the forum about the pros and cons of both concepts. Both, do have their fair share of supporters. Most quite rigorous. Kind of like people and their diets. :sweat_smile:

Anyway, I guess it all comes down to your strengths and weaknesses as well as your goals. Perhaps it would help to answer your question if you would provide us with more details on that.

There are better POL experts than myself, but some people (Dr. Seiler in fact) that claim it can work down to 6 hours per week. As mentioned, results and opinions vary, and there are no conclusive answers.

You may just have to hop in, try it and see what you think of it. As mentioned, there are several lengthy threads with great info worth review:


Not sure about the minimum time. There probably aren’t many peer reviewed studies on this matter though. It’s all about how you implement each style

I would just use the MV plan as you are, keeping the non-SS workouts. Then switch out the SS workouts for longer z2 rides instead, while also added z2 to the end or beginning (depending on which phase you are in) of your non-SS workouts. This is pretty close to a polarized and more “generic” training approach and can give you some more riding time. See how you feel after a week or two and could go from there

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I’ll make sure to have a read at the post, thanks for the guidance. I guess I’m a bit of an all rounder and dont really excel at any one thing. I’m 30yo, 77kg (down from 83kg, bf around 11%) and have been cycling for 1 year now, but started TR 8 months ago. I’m more interested in Crits/Circuit racing but would throw a few sub 50 mile RR’s in too. My current FTP is 276w and more short goal is to hit 300w (just a round number that most like to aim for) and then hit 4wkg.

My power Profile (indoors)

5s: 1149w

60s: 565w

5m: 353w

20m: 290w

Thanks for that!

If I recall correctly I saw people arguing that it would make sense to follow the sweetspot approach for the first years until you plateau and then eventually transition to a more polarized approach. @Captain_Doughnutman Didn’t you state something similar? Apologies if I mixed it up.

Anyway, based on your sportive I personally would stay with the sweetspot approach. Guess it would be the most bang for your time.

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I have read some material which states just that. It’s certainly not a bad idea, esp if you are starting in your later years…will save you a lot of time gaining fitness and strength vs going POL. Polarized is kind of a lifelong plan, so thinking about it in terms of seasons isn’t really on point.

You just have to pick something and commit to it and pay attention to what and how you respond.


Nobody knows if there is a tipping point. Ten hours though sounds like a good amount of time to get benefits.

Why not try it for 6 or 8 weeks as an experiment? We all seem to have a lot of time now.

Here is my story. I was constantly fatigued. It felt like I needed a rest week every other week. A 3 hour group ride would bury me and I didn’t want to do anything the rest of the day. After listening to various podcasts with Seiler and Trevor Connor (Fast Talk) I decided to try a polarized base. That would be 8-13 hours per week of riding at 70% of HRmax and I would keep my Saturday group ride which contains some threshold, tempo, and SS. I probably averaged 10 hours during this period but did hit 12-13 hours a couple of times.

At week 6-7 I was breaking all my Strava PRs left and right, FTP had went up 20 points, and I had a new level of endurance and stamina. I did that polarized base for 12 weeks but I don’t think I saw much more dramatic performance improvements after the 8th week. My conclusion is that I experienced the lactate shift that Seiler talks about. I was putting out way more watts at lower heart rates.

Since then I’ve experimented with various interval strategies but unfortunately covid19 put a big dent in my plans. I’ve played around with blocks of SS as my intervals. I’ve done the Seiler 4x8s and lately I’ve been doing sets of 20/10s.


You never know until you try!

I have a semi-similar story. For 2 years in a row I basically did nothing but SS and higher workouts w/ not a lot of rest. Even though I felt fine, my body was paying the price. Medical results showed my heart to be pretty fried. Spent a year doing a lot of Z2 or nothing at all. It really sucked at first but was also like magic, I was doing 4-5hr rides w/o incurring any SS/HIIT-type stress; my HRV readings improved massively. I also raised my FTP 10% but it took about twice as long as with SS.

From all this I can kind of surmise that I respond well to both high intensity and high volume, but not high volume high intensity – I require more rest. A polarized route seems to be the way to go for me, personally, as it has lots of low intensity which allows my body to recuperate from, and get ready to smash, the high intensity sessions.

Different things to consider when you’re trying to figure out what to do.

I don’t think a single day of intensity per week is enough to trigger adaptation. Coach Chad has mentioned two as being a good number to shoot for.

So 2 x 60-90min of intensity, and the rest endurance. Working backwards to hit 80:20, that’s about 8-12 hours of endurance.

I don’t think the ratio needs to be exactly 80:20. Mine’s closer to 75:25.

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I’m also plugging in 5% Polarized Z2.

80% Z1 — 16hr Endurance (4 sessions)
5% Z2 — 1hr Threshold (2 sessions w/ Z1)
15% Z3 — 3hr VO2max (2 sessions)

4-5 weeks.

Will keep/omit Z2 based on fatigue levels.
Will probably jump to Sus Power Build when I return to work. Build up the FTP before winter training.

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serious hours!

Is that your power profile, or your 4DP results?

This is my indoor power profile all taken from this season.

Jeez that’s some strong hours put in right there. When I did sus build a few months back, I did get huge gains (11% or so). I cant figure out if it was the the Vo2 stuff as ssb has it but its mostly at low intensity or the mixture if threshold and o/u.

How long have you taken this approach for and has your profile developed much?

I mean I’d like to say that intensity isnt really an issue for me, but I have no actual evidence other that my general, day to day feeling. I know on sus power build I saw an 11% increase before, but I guess it’s just figuring out what my body best responds to.

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Only strong cuz I’m WFH right now and have time to burn.

Once back at work I’ll chop the hours in half and raise the intensity — couple long rides and the rest Threshold. Time and place for everything.