Polarized Training vs. Sweet Spot (Dylan Johnson video)

I think they meant never faster compared to the athlete theirself (i.e. never improving)

How I interpreted it as well.

Fair enough, I was just pointing out a various times of year they might be fast compared with others that aren’t yet at their peak.

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Most of the “summer zeros” I’ve encountered are people who got fat and lazy in the off-season.

ABT. Always be training.


i agree… had commented on the video but i’ll comment again,
I think that pyramidal is the long term sustainable approach… Polarized has a place for use during vO2 max blocks when you need to really push hard a few times a week and balance it out with plenty of easy volume for maximal recovery…

for example:
4x8’ seiler seems like a vO2 workout to me… shrugs

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Probably. Does not seem to be as popular a topic as polarized or sweet spot though - 10 posts in this thread vs. 100s in this one :man_shrugging:

That’s because most people are just looking for a shortcut, and haven’t really thought things through on their own.


Yaaasss! All ditto for me. Pre-2019 I never did any real aerobic development rides; full send only. :crazy_face: Started doing long Z2s in 2019…ugly. And now, esp after my last big slow-n-low block…brings a tear to eye.

How it started (15% Pw:Hr) :

How it’s going (0.5% Pw:Hr) :

I finally did it! :partying_face: :rofl:


Very agree. Maybe part of it might be that a lot of TR users are new to cycling/structured training so the first couple of years of THRS+VO2 heavy plans will be well received. After that…? As well, perhaps not all users do a full 3-part plan. Many reasons for lack of burn-out, but just as many reasons for burn-out.


Totes. Once I stopped following the TR “SS” Smashfest and doing more easy volume and less “entertaining” intervals, I could do much higher quality intensity sessions when they came around (vs slogging through 4x week). I too also saw better performance on less intensity/more recovery. I’m probably kinda sorta a Couzen Quick Responder.

Wondering for how many TR users that 4th “hard day” is more detrimental than beneficial?


It should be obvious by now you can get positive results with SSB, SST, POL, or PYR or some combination.
Which plan works best for you might not work best for someone else. Even if you had years to test each variant, this year’s plan may not produce the same results next year. That is especially true if you’re new to training (any age) or a younger rider with evolving fitness or an older rider whose numbers and ability to recover are in decline. The controlling factors are how many hours can you train and how much strain can you handle within those hours. Most important is that you pick a plan, any plan, with goals in mind and execute the plan to the best of your abilities. Then judge the results.
Oh, and that plan could be very flexible as @TheBandit explains in his approach:
Polarized Training vs. Sweet Spot (Dylan Johnson video) - Training - TrainerRoad
So you can take the red pill or you can take the blue pill. Or swallow both if you have the time and inclination.
If you find you like one approach more than another that is the plan you should follow. That is until you change your mind by reading too many forum posts, n=1 opinions, or another study comes along that contradicts what you think you thought you knew.

Extra credit reading: Spurious Correlations (tylervigen.com)

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Maybe so, but they are never fast, and that was not what we were talking about. The subject was Zwift racing 3 times a week year around (no true peak.)

Remember Seiler says that you can totally do sweetspot and threshold work in a polarized training model. Just you have to go deep. So 3x20 with 2 minute rests @ftp would count for an intensity day.

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Others have said this, but just to be clear, I meant never faster as in never progressing, not as in never faster than anyone else.

Or, maybe, always have a purpose.

This is, I think, where the dogmatic interpretation of Polarized does it more harm than good. There are lessons to be learned from Polarized that can apply to Pyramidal or any other ‘model’. You could, for instance, build yourself a very robust plan that maintains some benefits of a Polarized model while getting very close to the Pyramidal distribution - essentially, a sustainable, robust Polarized plan. 1x Threshold, 1x VO2, as much base as you can schedule. Your zone distribution will be more base heavy than pyramidal strictly wants, more Seiler Z2 heavy than polarized wants, but maintaining some of the benefits of both. Not to say an approach like this is perfect, or would work for anyone (myself included) - I lay it out only to highlight that you don’t need to take the exact prescription of any of these models to have success

Crushing it! I’m around 1.9 power/HR right now - not sure I follow the % you have laid out, but going from 0.15 to 0.5 is massive

Is there a cut off on polarized? Say I have 10 hours a week to train, which is the best option to get the highest ftp or could both work

Seiler calls for doing the 4x8’ at 110% of your 40min TT power…yes that is a VO2 workout. I think anything over 106% of your FTP is considered a VO2 workout.

What if doing 3x20/2 SS isn’t “going deep”? Last week I did 1x60 @ 90% at my MAF HR.

Perhaps why POL athletes were observed doing only minimal work in Z2, it contributed mostly fatigue than anything else (upper threshold is part of Z3). Doing mostly Z1 work can give the same results as doing Z2, but with far less stress & fatigue, which would only interfere with truly “going deep” Z3 work.

What’s to follow? :man_shrugging:t2:
And 15.0 to 0.5 :wink: …I even had a few 25%! :tired_face:
Yeah, my heart def loves the long Z2 buffet!

Limiting days of intensity to 2/week made me recalibrate what I thought was a “hard” day. Previously, I was absolutely falling apart at 28-32 mins @ VO2 max per workout (GBHV). With less frequent days of intensity, I am now doing 45+ mins at VO2 max with higher power, same HR, and lower RPE, which I didn’t think was possible 8 months ago.

To give some TR-specific examples, I did Bashful +6 barely hanging on and puking at the end of the intervals 8 months ago, then was down for the count for nearly a week afterward. Switching to polarized, I’m doing Elephants +2 with another 7 min interval tagged onto the end for nearly 50 mins @ VO2 max intensity in a single workout, and I’m able to to do it twice/week for a month straight. In another phase, I’m doing Galena +3 twice a week, whereas previously in SSBHV, I would be falling apart after the third (or fourth or fifth) day in a week with intensity.

This may seem somewhat arbitrary, but I have been able to rack up more time-in-zone with this approach than smaller, more frequent intensity days, with more hours/week on the bike sustainably. To say that a polarized approach requires an 4:1 workout distribution and only VO2 max intervals demonstrates at best an incomplete and at worst a generally poor understanding of the approach.


One might not need to do any Z1 rides if the main purpose of Z1 is ‘recovery from hard days’…just sleep more! However, it’s probably a good bet that a decent amount of Z1 is required to stress the aerobic system enough to cause adaptations.

As for Z3 being “only” VO2 intervals…well, Z3 is technically ~100% FTP and above, and technically VO2max zone is ~105%-120%, so…most of Z3 work will be of the VO2max variety.

Yup. POL isn’t as easy as it looks on paper, esp with larger hours/week. Those hard days are hard - e.g. 2hrs of VO2 intervals. As you stated, it’s possible a lot of riders don’t quite nail a proper approach and/or distribution (I didn’t in my first attempt). Your experience seems to be inline with common POL experimenters.

But that’s precisely Seiler’s published definition??

See above for the numerous times these circular statements have been countered, including in the middle of the quote you used there.

I’m just going by the published literature. Since polarized training is supposed to be science-y and all, I figure that’s the only valid way to approach things. Otherwise, it becomes a religious discussion.

ETA. :arrow_down_small: :arrow_down_small: :arrow_down_small: