My Polarized Training Experience (Chad McNeese & others)

I would like to try HV, but it scares me. It is a massive jump compared to MV.

I plan to supplement my MV by selecting some Plus variants when I can and possibly adding in the LONG ride option for Sunday at least 2x’s a month.

I do kind of wish TR would have a blend between MV-HV, but it’s probably best that we can manually build our own. It just takes bit of work, which gets easier with each new trick and tool they add. Being able to grab a variant right from the app when loading the default is really handy for that at least.


it is, however its not so bad given the series of “zero to hero” events following one dumb decision in Dec 2015 :wink:

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The hardest part about the jump for me is not the training volume but the time demands on weekdays. It is very hard to find 90-120 minutes a day on four weeknights for me with working 8-5 most days. Your results will vary obviously - but the actual rides themselves aren’t as hard as making time for them



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Hi Chad,

Going back to your upcoming TR base and using it for comparison to POL… In addition to the large time commit for SSB1-HV, not sure the goals are aligned with POL. Compared to -HV, maybe SSB1-MV is better aligned with POL. Just thinking out loud, nothing concrete.


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Interesting thought, @bbarrera.

My POL and SSB both follow a 5-day plan (full rest on Mon & Fri). I am likely planning to do a longer “Endurance” ride for the Sunday option rather than the SST version.

The MV intensity and time are much lower by default, than the POL I did.

  • The Weekly TSS in SSB1 is about 2/3 of my POL test.
  • The Weekly Time in SSB1 is lower by default too (around 6 hours), but till grow 1-2 hours (for around 7-8) if I stretch the Sun rides. That compares to the over 9 hours per week in my POL test.

Some interesting differences and overall lower Time and TSS. But the type of stress is different. And that is one of the small things I hope to learn by comparing them as best as I can. I seem to remember having more fatigue in SSB of the past compared to what I felt in the 3 weeks of my POL work.

One big difference this year (as learned in the POL) is that I am altering the loading for the SSB plan. I am following Nate’s recommendation (that you shared) about shifting rest weeks to not have the default 5 week load. I am very curious to see how that feels this time around.

This SSB obviously is lower intensity than the VO2 work I did in the POL test, but there is more of it, so I don’t know what to expect. The big (and likely unsurprising?) takeaway from the POL testing is how much I think the long and easy ride can really stress the body. I really like the 3-4 hour range on the trainer because it is such a good way to condense the loading on the body. Pedaling at that intensity with minimal coasting is great. I like that I can get a pretty big “light” stress, with less time than outside (especially with winter coming).

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Without quickly referencing several of the studies, it seems to me that POL is about lifting both the floor (aerobic base) and VO2max at the same time. At least that was my walk-away from reading a couple key studies. And by doing that, everything in between comes up too. To my eyes SSB-MV is about lifting the floor and improving muscle strength with sweet spot work. And of course a sprinkling of VO2max in SSB2 to start to warm up the top-end.

But I’m not a coach, just my interpretation. With either approach you are building base fitness (endurance, strength, efficiency), but in different ways.

My goal for SSB-HV is clear - focus on building muscle/aerobic endurance to support long/fast club rides that kickoff in January (apologies to y’all that are still snowbound). The platform for SSB-HV was some early base work (outside + SSB1-MV and traditional 1), not sure if that actually resulted in a wider aerobic base (raising LT1) as its hard to measure without a lab. However my aerobic decoupling numbers look really good and that has been my traditional signal (ala Joe Friel) that early base is mission accomplished.

On paper POL looks really promising for early base in late 2019, before repeating the muscle/aerobic endurance work as lead up to the new year.

Appreciate this discussion, and thanks for sharing your experiences.


Your progression and ability to take on the SSB-HV is very cool. I may well end up adding in some Plus variants along with my long Sunday adjustments. I want to see if I can handle a bit more stress than pure MV, but I don’t think a jump to HV is appropriate for me.

Maybe with the shorter work/recovery week pattern, it could be possible. But we will see.

I like your idea of pulling POL in late in the season for a pre-preseason base. I might have to play with that next season too. Or possibly as a step in the restart of my season after completing my first Base > Build > Specialty.

Nice to have options and try some different stuff sometimes. Maybe this is all a bit early considering I still need to see how my Ramp and Disaster-Half go next week :wink:

Wish I could be that optimistic about my trainer time

I’m curious do you end up with aerobic decoupling variations throughout the year? If so - how many years have you been cycling and how many years have you been following a training plan?

I typically see very consistent drift over the course of a race or workout, regardless of my comparative trained state. That said - I don’t often become significantly de-trained. Just curious if that is a typical experience or not.

As a quick reference point last night I did 5 8 minute threshold intervals (102%) and saw the same thing I always see which was:

  • Interval 1 Average 155, Max 161
  • Interval 2 Average 159, Max 164
  • Interval 3 Average 160, Max 166
  • Interval 4 Average 162, Max 167
  • Interval 5 Average 162, Max 167

Ride link for reference:

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@trpnhntr My road bike turns 3 years old next month. Rode a lot as teenager in the 70s, and then after college inconsistently on mtn bike in 80s and 90s. My aerobic capacity is middle of the road, when fitness is high VO2max of 44 and clydesdale 3W/kg. Right now about 41 aerobic capacity and 2.5W/kg.

First year I went from new bike to completing the DeathRide in 7 months, using Strava/CTS plans and series of club century rides. Last year focused on raising power and double century. Twelve months ago bought trainer and joined TR. Not a lot of training experience, however in that short time I have largely followed periodized plans outside with focus on sweet spot and threshold intervals work (all Strava/CTS plans). And of course prior to TR made the beginner mistake of making easy days too hard.

Aerobic decoupling was all over the place initially, as expected, but improved quickly. When I take a 1-3 week break from cycling (unfortunately a lot this year), the lack of years cycling is evident and decoupling jumps up to around ~8-10%. A week or two of consistent training and it quickly comes down below 5%. Right now seeing 1-3% for low intensity efforts, and 3-5% on longer sweet spot intervals. I’ve done four 10 mile TTs in last two years, in 2017 had ~9% decoupling (both rides) and improving to 4% this year (both rides). I’ve always had an easy time with pacing these efforts (and 20 min ftp test). It seems aerobic engine continues to improve year over year.

Here is my last threshold ride (Kaweah) for comparison, it was 9 days ago:

Not a good comparison - shouldn’t have gotten on the bike as I had a touch of the flu and ended up abandoning. The first interval was 99% and HRavg was 152bpm and TP shows 6% decoupling for that 10 minute interval. I was too stubborn to get off the bike, even though I knew something was wrong.

At my age and lack of experience, its still easy to get detrained.


Just curious. At 145 lbs, how tall are you?

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5’ 10", and about 6% BF on Tanita Athlete setting (13% BF on Normal).

Pretty much a carbon copy of Coach Jonathan.

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Wow nice. If you are at 145, I am only 5-8, I should aim for it as well. I am at 184 though. But no a lot of muscle. lol

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Thanks for all the detail. Definitely something that improves with time, but I wouldn’t stress too much about it in your shoes - your %'s are all well within what you expect just from the extra heat your body starts to carry after multiple intervals

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and the interesting bit for my analytical mind is that with Erg mode on these longer intervals, I can drop HR 5bpm by simply lowering cadence from 90rpm to 85rpm.


Oh yeah, I see similar results, but my avg is 97 rpm, so a drop to 92 rpm is my goto.

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Ride on!

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I’ve finally been able to get some longer trainer rides in (Vogelsang this morning) and I agree with you, felt like a really solid workout and someone more time efficient than a comparable ~6 hour outdoor ride.

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Very cool. No small task on a trainer. Well done.

What did your decoupling look like for Vogelsang? I can’t quite tell if the sign of an appropriate endurance ride (not too hard / not too easy) is a modest amount of decoupling, this was what my intervals looked like:

60% FTP intervals: HR 132, 130, 132, 135 (4% decoupling)
65% FTP intervals: HR 134, 139 (4%)
70% FTP intervals: HR 138, 136, 137, 141, 143 (5%)

I feel like zero decoupling means you didn’t push yourself hard enough, and too much means you went too deep into the red, I was pretty pleased to hit ~4% - 5% for this ride.

What do you think in your trials / research so far - some modest amount of decoupling is ideal?