Polarized Training vs. Sweet Spot (Dylan Johnson video)

Now that’s just confusing, since Seiler has defined a threshold TID as one in which time (sessions, actually) in Z2 is >Z1 but <Z3. On the other hand, a pyramidal TID is Z1 > Z2 >Z3.

ETA. It’s also worth noting that contrary to Seiler’s original hypothesis, most elite endurance athletes train pyramidal, not polarized.

1 Like


A nice conclusion of the review:

Consequently, an “optimal” TID cannot be identified, and future prospective randomized investigations conducted over extended timeperiods will have to be designed to address this question.

1 Like

The code for setting the classifications in intervals.icu looks wrong to me. I raised it with @davidtinker over on the intervals.icu forum last month:


Where’s Z1, Z2, and Z3 on my HR Zones? Or my Power Zones? I’ve looked in Strava, Trainer Road and Training Peaks and I don’t see a 3 Zone model?

How would I know if I’m in either of those three zones?

As if the 6 or 7 zones we mostly use now were not confusing enough.

Analysis Paralysis.

I have an estimated comparison between the 7-Level and 3-Zone models, each including the related HR info (one based on HR Threshold, the other on HR Maximum).

This is far from perfect, but you can make a copy, enter your known data (FTP, HR Max, HR Threshold, Weight) and get the info shown for you. you can check out the “Simple Models” and “Full Models” tabs to see the info in different ways.


Wow, what a great resource. Thanks!

1 Like

Not sure if there is a study that addresses this, but I would be interesting to see if there is a difference in terms of what is most effective for different weekly training time.

If I get in a good week of training, I’m between 9-12 hours on the bike. Some are between 3-7 hours, others are 14+ hours …

Is the answer as to what is most effective, theoretically, the same for all hourly training ranges?


It’s Z2 in a 3 zone model.

Yes. A good conclusion to the review.

Thanks! This a great resource.

1 Like

One of the questions that this discussion on polarized training is raising for me is whether my two group rides/week are having me spend too much time at threshold and above. My legs are really cooked after each ride and I do a lot of high intensity work in each one. I think I should probably just do one hard group ride/week and spend more of my time at an endurance pace.

For me this video really muddy’s the water of training philosophy. Training muscular endurance with SS made sense to me but I kind of see the correlation to better performance with the 80/20 polarized method. How does taking a MV/LV SSB plan + a ton of Z2 riding look to eventually get that 80/20 split? (With the SSB workouts being the 20). Also was thinking about doing SSB in the winter since it’s hard to do those 4+ hour endurance rides on the trainer, and then switching to polarized the rest of the year with outdoor rides. Thoughts?

What i’m missing in the video is really how long the riders in the studies are riding per week.
If you’ve got like 20 hours per week, then yes maybe polarized is the better way to go. But if you have like 5 hours per week?


I don’t think the people training for the IM could be biking 20 hours per week. Also, it sounded like all three sports followed polarized vs SS

I don’t really see what the controversy is about.
He is simply comparing polarised (80:20), pyramidal and sweet spot based training.
The conclusions basically are: polarised=pyramidal > sweet spot.
He isn’t saying sweet spot based training is bad, it just seems to be inferior to the other two methods.
It’s like saying: which fruit is healthier? Apples, pears or oranges? One of them being the healthiest does not mean that the other two are unhealthy and should be avoided at all cost.
Of course, if one has plenty of time available, it’s better to use polarised or pyramidal method of training. But if one is time crunched, spending most of his (very little available) time doing easy rides simply won’t be effective and he has to dial up the intensity. That’s my takeaway.


Well, the first study had an average of 6.4hrs/week for the polarized (POL) group and 7.5hrs/week for the threshold/SS group, with better results for the POL group.


Yeah I think it still should be known that more training w/suboptimal plan >>> infrequent training w/“optimal” plan. I think people here are looking for that optimal plan though given that they adhere to their plans and want that extra bit of performance

THR group did no zone 3 training at all. Performance measures where differences were most significant are PPO and “time to fatigue at 95% PPO”. Both performance measures are strongly related to zone 3. Furthermore, THR trained at a point half way between LT1 and LT2. The way they determined LT2 was LTP which yields are somwhat lower intensity than most people would estimate for their FTP. THR was actually a tempo group.

Munoz et al (2014) studied time crunched runners. They had the THR group do zone 3 training. No statistically differences between POL and THR.


I am not buying all of it. The video seems ok and also the cited studies. But I think the TR training model is neither a sweetspot nor a treshold heavy intensity distribution. For me the last year looks more like pyramidal with loads of Z1 riding. I did SSB1 and 2, Sustained Power Build twice and parts of Specialty plan (I pushed a lot of workouts but stuck to the plan).