Polarized training - what are the 3 zones

I’m struggling to find out what % of your FTP the 3 polarized training zones are. Does anyone know?

I’ve read different things on different websites.


They match with what I found the most. What sources did you find? Maybe we can discuss them.

Other sources I found used a RPE based approach but at the end of the day these two methods are not far off.


Thanks, but unless I’m just not seeing it, this doesn’t actually give you the 3 zones as %'s of FPT.

I’ve seen this post before and it just seems to be an Xert promotion.

The first chart shows the percentages. I don’t want to directly link to the image.

Of course it’s an Xert promotion, but that doesn’t make it incorrect. And zones are not an exact science anyway.

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Sorry I asked!!!

Don’t be, and if you got offended by my answer I’m sorry, that wasn’t not my intention. English is not my first language so I might have expressed myself to harsh.


here you go…if you know FTP zones you can find all the calcs in here https://www.evoq.bike/blog/2019/1/11/polarized-training-for-cyclists-in-2018


Where’s @mcneese.chad when you need a link to his awesome spreadsheet with all the zones.


I think he’s in a different time zone, but I’ve got it bookmarked:


So basically the same numbers as in the first answer to his question. .

Yup, with bonus spreadsheet magic! :slight_smile:


That’s the one. Thanks for getting it shared. :smiley:

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try this sheet from those fast.tips guys http://fft.tips/tiz (see cell a42).

The zone 2/3 boundary is MLSS - or FTP, assuming your FTP is not overestimated. This is a boundary most of us are familiar with.

The zone 1/2 boundary is the first lactate turn point - signifying when glycogen starts being used in higher quantities as fuel. This can vary significantly across athletes, and is also difficult to find via empirical (I.e. non lab) testing. So is a lot more of an uncertain boundary. Seiler suggests somewhere in the 70-75% range of max HR. In concept, that’s the same boundary Phil Maffetone recommends.

it’s always interesting to note how high this lower threshold actually is (according to Seiler or Maffetone). This does not correspond with FatMax but with the upper edge of the elevated fat burning zone. Right into tempo. And especially for aerobically very fit athletes this can be quite high.


Adding to that that MLSS puts your upper threshold probably significantly lower compared to the standard tests, there isn’t much left of zone 2. Tiny band of intensity.


I finally figured that out…pro polarized is more like a 2 zone model and amateur polarized is a 3 zone. The two don’t really translate.


I’m not sure if it isn’t a 2-zone model for amateurs as well. Let’s face it, most people overestimate their FTPs.

Looking at that lower threshold is one of the most remarkable developments in my personal “career”. And how much progress you can make there by simply doing volume. Started my 15-20h/week about 3-4 years ago.

In the beginning (I was already well trained), lab tested LT1 at a heart rate of 128 and 180W. This was pretty much at FatMax, not at the outer edge of fatmax-zone. My MAF-heart rate is ~138. I’d say this puts me nicely at the outer edge. At that time it was ~210W

3-4 years later, I’m in the final weeks of my Mark Allen-base-phase, a heart rate of 128 let’s me ride at 250-260W, MAF heart rate up to 290W (right into SST). My base rides are fast, “happy hard”. I basically follow the Mark Allen template: 2x tempo/week (~MAF heart rate), 2x long/week (~LT1 heart rate), 2x easy or running. Enjoy it.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen similar progress at the high end. Got up to 5W/kg for a short time but couldn’t keep it there: 1) weight (my weight at that time was not sustainable), 2) and probably too much intensity for my high training volume and age.

I believe the biggest mistake people can make when following a polarised approach is being scared of this lower tempo intensity.


I would guess without at least moderate volume (say 12h+/week), VT1 and VT2 will not get that close to each other. I would think that for this type of adaptations, one needs to push the VT1 from below, as in doing considerable amount of low intensity work. If cyclist is time limited and most (as in 50%+) of his work is tempo or higher, than I am skeptical if those adaptations will occur.

On a related note, with volume and time, lactate turnpoint and threshold can move way up. From Andrew Jones paper on Paula Radcclife (former world marathon record holder) “Notice the classical rightward shift of the [La]B-running speed relationship. To exemplify this shift, the running speed at an absolute [La]B of 3 mM was 16 km·h–1 in 1992 and 21 km · h–1 in 2003. Notice also that the point at which [La]B first rises above baseline values occurs at progressively higher speeds in later years. Indeed, the LT increased from 14–15 km · h–1 in 1992–1994 to 17.5–18.5 km · h–1 in 2000–2003; similarly,
the LTP increased in a step-wise fashion from 16 km · h–1 in 1992 to 20 km · h–1 in 2003 (data not shown).”.

Although, admittedly, there might be more space for improvement in running as movement economy plays bigger part than in cycling. I could not find it in my notes, but I think another study also contained more data on her training and HR zones used, and based on those numbers it appeared that her Z2 zone ends somewhere around 165bpm, which would be more than 82% of her HRmax.

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