Polarized Training Deep Dive and TrainerRoad’s Training Plans – Ask a Cycling Coach 299

Polarized Training is a hot topic of conversation and has been a central part of recent criticism toward TrainerRoad’s training plans. In this episode, we cover the basics of endurance training, go in-depth into the ten studies that have been used to criticize TrainerRoad, comprehensively review the current Polarized Training research, and take a deeper look at how TrainerRoad’s training plans are structured, then address the most common questions about them.

Tune in live on YouTube, today at 12:00pm Pacific, or catch the archive on your favorite podcast app!

YouTube Video:

Topics Covered In This Episode

-Intro 0:00

-How to Critically Analyze Scientific Research 9:53

-The Basics of Endurance Training and Periodization 15:00

-What is Training Intensity Distribution? 19:30

-What is Polarized Training and How Is It Measured? 25:22

-What Are the Five Main Training Intensity Distribution Models? 29:51

-Can You Compare Sweet Spot vs. Polarized? 33:49

-How Do TrainerRoad’s Plan Compare to These Periodization Models? 37:05

-What Does the Current Research Say About Polarized Training? 41:33

-What Conclusions About Polarized Can Be Made Based on the Research? 1:28:32

-Adaptive Training and New TrainerRoad Training Plans 1:31:30

-Who Should Do Sweet Spot Base High Volume 1:34:22

-Adaptive Training Closed Beta Update 1:38:36

Studies Mentioned in This Episode (in order of appearance and discussion)

  1. Six weeks of a polarized training-intensity distribution leads to greater physiological and performance adaptations than a threshold model in trained cyclists. Neal et al, 2013.
  2. Does Polarized Training Improve Performance in Recreation Runners. Munoz et al, 2014.
  3. Training-Intensity Distribution During an Ironman Season: Relationship With Competition Performance. Munoz et al, 2013.
  4. Polarized and Pyramidal Training Intensity Distribution: Relationship with a Half-Ironman Distance Triathlon Competition. Selles-Perez et al, 2019.
  5. Polarized vs Threshold training intensity distribution on endurance sport performance a systematic review and meta-analysis randomized controlled trials. Rosenblat et al, 2018.
  6. Current Scientific Evidence for a Polarized Cardiovascular Endurance Training Model. Hydren, Cohen, 2015.
  7. Autonomic Recovery after Exercise in Trained Athletes. Seiler et al, 2007.
  8. Training for intense exercise performance: high‐intensity or high‐volume training? Laursen, 2010.
  9. What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes? Seiler, 2010.
  10. The Effect of Periodisation and Training Intensity Distribution on Middle- and Long-Distance Running Performance: A Systematic Review. Kenneally et al, 2017.
  11. The training intensity distribution among well-trained and elite endurance athletes. Stöggl, et al, 2015

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We’ll be in the live chat today since we aren’t recording live, so we look forward to chatting with y’all!


Visual aids from this episode:



1 Like

That Polarization Index is quite the eye chart! Am I blind or is there is no love for TR’s traditional base? Of course you didn’t include the TT plans either, that would really make it hard to read :joy:

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TB 1 has no Z2 or Z3 and doesn’t work in that formula. We also didn’t include tri because we don’t have a good way to measure swim/run TIZ with all the stuff that goes with that.

The bigger point here is that TR plans aren’t just “Sweet Spot” as people have painted us.


Yes, completely agree.

Only had time for the first 40 minutes, very good for those of us that appreciate deep dives. :+1:


Exactly. This is per Treff et al. Frontiers | The Polarization-Index: A Simple Calculation to Distinguish Polarized From Non-polarized Training Intensity Distributions



EDIT: Updated with recolored version based on corrected TR version.

For fun and maybe quicker analysis, I took the chart above,

  • moved the labels right next to the bars
  • added colors (Low Vol = Blue, Mid Vol = Yellow, High Vol = Red)


v Jamaican vibes. :palm_tree:


Capital P = noun
Lowercase p = verb


(that’s how I remember the difference, good that you pointed this out. Lots of folks confuse the two)


I am the wrong person to ask :slight_smile: I don’t have access to the source info.

I just stole the one Jon shared and adjusted it.

I missed this and feel this is a stupid question, what’s the definition of where the borders of the zones are? (I.e. how do you calculate where that number is?)

uhhh… should we start another privacy protection discussion??? nooooo :slight_smile: :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :slight_smile:


MS Paint is my (terrible) tool of choice (just because I don’t have a better one :wink: )


I haven’t been able to watch since I am at work. I’m guessing this one would be better to watch instead of just listening?

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Don’t try and watch and follow the chat and ride the trainer at Sweet Spot with Chad’s instructions on and…