Polarised training too easy

Hills? You don’t need to be a slave to z2…

I agree with everything you said.

This is the “exerciser’s fallacy”. If I lift weights I must be sore after, if I’m not I didn’t lift enough. If I do an interval workout I must feel dead after, if I don’t I didn’t go hard enough. If I feel fresh it must mean that I’m not doing enough work. I need more intensity and/or TSS. This mentality leads to burnout, injury or just general regression. But it’s been pounded into us with the “no pain no gain” mentality.

Personally, I love feeling fresher. So does my family.

Ever do a 4x5 VO2 session with an IF of .95 and then follow it up with 3-4 hours of endurance riding the following day? That’s a challenge. I think the problem is that there shouldn’t be a low-volume polarized plan. If TR is being honest, they wouldn’t have it. People will mis-apply the purpose of training polarized (so you can make your hard days, REALLY HARD), go low volume, find out there isn’t enough volume to drive real adaptation, and then write off polarized as ineffective.

If you can only ride 3 days (or 5 hours) per week you can do two 1 hour HIT sessions and then one 3 hour ride. A lot of people would get plenty fast on that schedule.

I wish my friends would ride low-intensity. All they want to do is get into a tempo/sweet spot/threshold grudge match. Every. F’ing. Ride.


Well, if you are not enjoying it - switch it. For training to be successful it also has to be enjoyable. For then it will be consistent (or more easily so). One has to be in it for the process - not the outcome.

Personally I guess you could be on two sides with a LV plan:

  • It’s either a total waste of time and effort to have one, just because any athlete will quickly outgrow out of it and because you can pretty much remember by yourself to do one harder session per week and then two easier ones.

But on the other hand:

  • it’s nice to have the structure and when firing up the TR app having the right workout sitting there to steer your smart trainer (it’s just convenient)
  • people new to the sport will still have a good training out of it and an entry into structured training.

It’s different with the sweetspot LV plans. These could very much be the most convenient way to build a sensible training week out of. Meaning - also these are not meant to be used just “as is”. But of course they can. So if you do it this way I’m not saying you should pad them if your situation doesn’t allow it.

Having said all this: I currently can’t align your implications here: LV plan on one hand and the mentioning of “too many” - Z1 and 2 sessions: as there are only 2 (out of 3) sessions each week. There is simply no component in a 3 session Plan which can be “too many”. With the exception of a plan with just 3 higher intensity interval workouts around threshold per week (oh wait - that would be Sweetspot Base LV I guess ;-))

I would also think if you are pondering a mtb marathon speciality plan, that you would have outgrown any plan with just 3 sessions per week and in addition to that: just around 4 hours per week. But again - if your situation doesn’t allow for more and you still feel you could make progress with that training - go for it!

Don’t change a training and the dose as long if you like it and you make progress with it. :slight_smile:
Also Polarized is no “special sauce”, as well as “just sweet spot” isn’t. I


And that’s what I like most with the new polarized plans: they are the new best way to adapt your own training with. I posted this here https://www.trainerroad.com/forum/t/polarized-training-plans-are-here/55844/338?u=huegelreiter.

I take the MV Plan, use the VO2-Max session as prescribed with the smart trainer, ride the endurance sessions outside and add Zone 3 (i.e. Tempo to Sweetspot) according to my needs. Would it be Winter still, I’d use the Threshold Long Interval sessions either also as prescribed or transform them on the fly towards a Sweetspot or Tempo Session (easily done with the difficulty setting in the app).

4 days per week from the plan leave enough space to add 2 strength training workouts per week.


This isn’t a criticism of the OP, but there is clearly a volume element to any plan, whether SS, HIIT, polarised, anything. If what you’re doing feels too easy, would it be too easy at double the mileage/hours? What I’m trying to say is that when people claim a plan has too much or too little intensity, what they are often really saying - even if they don’t know it - is ‘I’m doing too much or too little work for this intensity’. I doubt many of us would find 20 hours a week at just below LT1 too easy.

Work out how much time you have/want to spend first, and what you enjoy doing, and plan around that. Personally, I make the best gains from - relative to me, obviously- plenty of relatively easy miles with the odd short, sharp genuinely horrible session thrown in there. Hours of SS don’t really do it for me physically and mentally just feel like a bit of a slog. But it’s just the ticket for some people. YMMV.


i think this is the answer: that when you’re talking LV / training three times per week, super strict 80/20 is misapplied. definitely if you did one longer ride and two hard days, providd it was not a step down in overall training stress, you’d get faster and still be plenty fresh (one of the polarized benefits).

But then if you added more, you’d need it to be pretty easy. Could you do three hard days a week or two hard days and two medium, sure, sometimes, but week-in / week-out for months at a time? Maybe that’s not the best idea.


I don’t think I agree with the way that low volume polarized plans are implemented. Why not have the two days of intensity? It may look non polarized at first… but correct me if I’m wrong here: isn’t high intensity plus nothing even more polarized than high intensity plus endurance? All of the time spent at intensity in the high volume plan can easily fit into the low volume time constraint. I think it would make sense to start with that and add as much endurance as time allows until you reach the mid and high volume time constraints. In other TR plans, low volume is usually more challenging on a per minute basis.

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The low plan works out about 25% is high intensity over the 8 wks, so despite its low hours over 8 wks it can be made Polarised.
Regarding the workout intensity, obviously most of the Low intensity workouts are just that, low intensity. To think they might be hard doesn’t make sense.
However, the High intensity ramps up over the 8 wks sharply. I did Withington today, ie, 4x16minutes at 100% FTP, and I’m stuffed. Even 4 hours later my legs still know they had a workout, when I climb stairs, they tell me! :slight_smile:
I’m doing a slightly modified Medium 8wk plan as the long was too long and medium too short, also some of the longer rides were too long, so I changed the low intensity workout to give me the same overall weekly total, eg, 2x1+1x4 I changed to 3x2, from the same pallet of workouts.
This desire to avoid low and very high intensity has been around for decades. The fun intensity is Zone 2, where you feel you are working hard, but not so hard you are going to bonk! Until GPS monitoring devices became cheap enough to be commonplace, even the professional football codes, who supposedly did their low zone running on trust, suddenly were caught out, when coaches realised that hardly any of their squads were staying in zone, they were all in Z2. GPS changed all that! The professional athletes don’t like it, it is too easy! The coaches aren’t popular, but in professional sport, you have to do as you’re told. Unfortunately in amateur sport, coaches often have to do the popular thing.

What if you can only fit 3-4 single hour sessions in during the week and one 2-4 hour ride on a sunday? I keep hearing that 1 hour at Z1 is not enough to create adaptions. So does that mean that a polarised plan would not work in this scenario either? :thinking: :slight_smile:

Hi :stuck_out_tongue:

Seiler spoke about this in some very early podcasts. The suggestion (if I remember rightly) was to cut down the number of sessions but extend the remaining ones. So if possible, instead of doing your 3-4 one hour sessions, try and do 2 x 90 mins, or 1 x 120 and 1 x 60 etc. Still might not fit your schedule but I do remember that being spoken about.

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Nope, trainer sessions must be 60 mins. So that doesn’t work. :thinking:

I would say that is far from ideal although it depends on your training history. If you do not plateau relatively soon or even start detraining, I would be surprised but you never know unless you try (depends on if you are happy to experiment).

If you are able to get a 3 – 4 hour Sunday ride in nearly every week it could work, really does depend on the training load you are accustom to and how you big your aerobic base already is. You might want to push those hour trainer sessions right up to LT1 even some bouts over into Z2 if you are already strong aerobically. It would be a bit of trial and error. Just make sure you can still hit the high quality Z3 sessions.

The other thing you could consider is inverse polarized training, I would suggest that to anyone doing LV POL or limited time for longer Z1 sessions.

Finally, maybe POL just is not a good fit given various restraints, threshold might work better.


Thanks for the reply. I’m not actually doing POL, was just interested in the LV fit, considering my constraints. So POL in my case sounds like it is not the way to go.

For reference, I am currently doing the “normal” LV plan, Tues/Thur/Fri and a 2-4 hr MTB (enduro style) ride most Sundays.

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Seiler zone 1 can be Cohan zone 2.

The key to your schedule is to only do two days of intensity like tues/thurs and all the rest of the rides at low intensity.


I think I understand that, I was trying to stick with the POL zoning in line with the thread.

This might sound stupid, but I’m new to the POL concept; 2 days VO2, no SS/Threshold and the rest endurance or below?

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SS/threshold would be considered intensity in a polarized model, doesn’t have to be only vo2max. But those sessions should be hard

That doesn’t seem true on any of what I have seen. Sweet Spot & Threshold per Coggan data, falls right into Z2, Moderate for POL Zones.

I know my model is not perfect, but it pretty clearly shows they basic comparison between the zone models. Keep in mind the basic boundaries that set up the 3 Zone POL model are LT1/VT1 & LT2/VT2. For proper POL training, you want to work in Z1 and Z3 mainly, and avoid Z2.

It is also most often recommended to work AWAY from the LT1/VT1 & LT2/VT2 borders, and get into the “meat” of Z1 or Z3. This is at least partly to avoid the difficulty that lies in trying to define those boundaries in the first place. So, by making the workout REALLY easy, or REALLY hard, you avoid the possible blurring that might lead into Z2 from either direction.

Again, that would place SS/Thr into Z2. Only when you push up and over Thres, even if you start talking the 103-105% for properly long intervals, like 8 mins and longer, do you really make that Z3 per POL>


In running certainly.

You can make valid arguement for being the case more generally as well.

Threshold is and always has been Z3 (at around or LT2, which varies daily anyway), high end SST is a bit of a grey area imo, purest can disagree but it is intensity most of the time dependant on the session.

“Intensity” on it’s own is nearly worthless. There is no frame of reference or context to what that means. People are presuming some level of effort in a range of Low to Medium to High. Without proper context, stating “intensity” on it’s own leaves the interpretation open, which doesn’t help in discussing the range of efforts here.

When considering POL, just calling SS “intense” doesn’t automatically put it into Z3. The Zones are defined by the marker above. It’s not appropriate to shoehorn SS into Z3 just because we see it as “intense”. It simply doesn’t match the definition via Dr. Seiler.


In seilers interval comparison paper 4x16s were done at SS/thr intensity. Seiler himself does SS and threshold as his intensity in his own training.

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