Polarized Training Workouts & Experiences (80/20)

My season has been cut short by injury, travel, and work. Looking ahead, I’ve got another 2-3 weeks of travel before I start my annual base in late August. Thought about modifying TR’s traditional base (adding some vo2 work), and instead am going to try the 2014 Stöggl and Sperlich 9-week polarized intervention. I used the paper and Watt/Kg plan to create the 3-week block that is repeated 3 times:

Interestingly, that 9-week block delivers the virtually same training load as doing TR’s SSB1 high-volume followed by 3-weeks of SSB2 high-volume:

Polarized (2014 Stöggl and Sperlich) 9-week block:

SSB-1 HV and 3-weeks of SSB-2 HV:

Personally I love the TR calendar (versus TrainingPeaks). Would be nice if TR licensed CTL and used it, but comparing past results between

  • WKO’s CTL which is 6-week exponentially weighted average TSS
  • TR’s 6-week average TSS

The curves are very similar with similar values. TR’s proxy for CTL is more than good enough for planning IMHO.

One more comparison on ramping load, polarized first and then followed by SSB-HV:

Now I’m going to remove SSB-HV from calendar, and insert (some/all of) SSB-1 before the polarized block as I’m actually traveling a lot between now and the end of August.

Ended up with a nice 15 week base and then low-volume sustained with outside rides on the weekend:

Training load peaks around 81 and stays in the 70s all the way to February. I’ll need to do a little more rearranging, need to change SSB1 to 2/1 to accommodate work travel - that way I can plan out work travel every 3 weeks.


Love the research and interested to see how it works for you.


Work disrupting the 4 x 8 quest and screwing up my consistency. That’s fine, don’t get paid to ride a bike. Out today for a couple hours and had a nice surprise.

Been trying to get back over 500w for 60 seconds. Now and then I’ll give it a hard effort. Got 500w on the button today. Best five in a long time and my best ever is only 530w.

Toward the end of my rides there is a small roller and I usually give it full blast. Target is 1,000w max and got close today with a 970w max (930w for 5s).

Guess the block of short power work paid off. There might be something to this training stuff after all.

Back to the longer stuff this week unless work surprises…


Good post, I’m pleased you highlighted the point about “time above threshold”…yes the studies used 4 x 8 but it’s not the session to get fixated on, that one is 32 mins of work, 5 x 7 is usable, 6 x 6 even, so many variations.

At 53 years of age I’ve found that the very hard work is way more achievable after 3 or 4 days of LT1 work.

I’ve taken a polarized approach to prepping for ‘cross this year. I’m a low FRC guy, TTer profile, and wanted to try an approach that really worked the aerobic end of things until about 4 weeks or so before the season starts. With about a month to go, I’ll do 100’’ intervals at about 100-110% of pVO2 max to start working the top end. I’ve stuck to the 2 days of intensity and the other 5 days I’ve done endurance rides. Recovery has gotten better day to day and also between intervals. I’ve increased weekly training loads without feeling like I’m starting to buckle. I have to agree with Seiler when he talks about the endurance rides giving you “metabolic resiliency.” This works for me because I have July and August free, so finding the time is not an issue.

Ok, so im the poster who kinda started the whole discussion with the 4*8 question.

So after investigating this at length and taking in to conisderation other research, including that of periodiztion and other related research here is where I am at.

  • First point: sweet spot/tempo etc GONE! - Sweet spot in my mind goes against all the research on conditioning
  • I have massively simplified my TR workout selection to allow for better tracking and periodization
  • I train 8-10 hours a week depending on work and races etc.
  • 2 sessions a week are ‘intensity’ days.
  • The other sessions are social rides/recovery pace or Baxter (and variants of Baxter) where my HR peaks at 150 at absolute max.

In relation to periodization

  • Each week I will do San Joaquin - 1 (6*30 sec @ 130%)*3
  • These I do on a 3-up-1-down model, so starting 130% going up 2-5% each week
  • I also do 1 session of longer intervals but this is where the periodization really comes in.
  • Say I’m 4 weeks out, ill do
  • Week 1 3*15 ~100%FTP / 90% HR
  • Week 2 4*8 ~108% FTP
  • Week 3 4*8 +5% last week
  • Week 4: 8*4 at +5 of 8 minute intensity. (~115%FTP)

Just a note: I am still doing the 30 second efforts as I think you simply cant ignore the research on HIIT.

So far I have increased my FTP by 10% in about 8 weeks (it sat pretty still on TR programs). Ill also note; my last XC race I was leading my bunch right up to the point where I binned it on a rock and broke myself :stuck_out_tongue:

In relation to the future; Ill be adding more XC rides in on weekends now the weather is improving in Australia (we’re currently at the back end of Winter). These sessions will be aimed at technique.

Also my next race is a 6-hour XC, so there will be 1 or 2 long road rides (5-6 hours), more just to give myself the mental confidence I can pedal a cycle for 6 hours.


Indoor 4 x 8 @ 105% So close!! 240-240-240-234 but was flogging the last one for sure.

Current training plan is not so much a plan as enjoying summer. Like several of y’all above I’m shooting for two quality training sessions a week. One is 4 x 8 or similar and the other is VO2max oriented both on weekdays. Other trainer rides are Z2 and then on the weekends I have fun. Mountain bike, calm group ride or long solo. Also hitting upper body weights (maintenance) a couple times a week, core as time permits, etc etc.

Am finding that mix is definitely driving the type of fitness I’m after. Getting stronger on bike, enjoying summer season. Come fall am going to hit the weights hard and double down on periodized with two hard efforts per week.


Hi all,

I’ve been trying to polarize my training as of late. I’ve noticed that it is actually hard to find endurance workouts at 1:30 to 3 hours length that stick my effort into the Z1 (out of 3) HR zones. i’ve even found baxter to consistently throw me into Z2 due to the tempo efforts mixed in. Any recommendations for some TR workouts of a longer length or should I just build my own?

I like Boarstone and Koip. See if those meet your requirements.

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I’ve used koip but I’ve noticed that anything in the 70% range is a bit too high for me. Boarstone is similarly a bit too hard. Anything in the 55-65% range that you’ve tried?

Conness and Gibbs does come to mind. There is also a -1 version of Boarstone. You could do a search of endurence workouts and sort by intensity, that will give you some alternatives. You can also knock down the intensity some if needed.

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Thanks for that. I’ve searched through and I have these on hand as well. I wanted a bit of a sanity check as it feels like there isn’t really truly easy rides on hand.

Agreed, but I dont see any harm in touching z2 slightly as long as recovery isn’t affected.

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Agree but just keep an eye on your heart rate to check it doesn’t go to high

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You know, its funny. I thought some of these rides that touch 70% should be fine. However, looking at my rides with golden cheetah, I’m finding that such spikes in intensity really push my HR into Z2 for the remainder of the ride. So much so that what I think is only Z1 turns out to be a split of HR at both Z1 and Z2 levels. Kinda started validating why I was feeling so fatigued a day later.

Just use the plus or minus and adjust as needed :grin:

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Ive found keeping my HR down in Z1 takes an awful lot of discipline particularly if I’m feeling quite good. I use my power target to try and ensure I don’t go over it and watch my HR to check it doesn’t drift up into Z2. Mostly unsuccessfully I might add

Have you looked in to decoupling? If you have a insufficent aerobic capacity the slightly higher intensity in the second half of Boarstone could be to much. Adding volume should help. There are some articles over at TrainingPeaks that describe the topic if it isn’t familiar.
Are You Fit? Aerobic Endurance and Decoupling

I’m currently performing with a negative decoupling (if that’s a good thing…) so the second half of Boarstone gives me roughly the same average HR as the first.

Thanks for this! I’ll read more into it.

Funny enough, looking at GC, it appears that I have negative decoupling during my interval training but positive decoupling during my endurance rides. This is all still under 5% so that should be good.

My focus now is very much on endurance and base building using more of a polarized approach. The main thing i’m doing is adding stress through more volume but over time. Hoping to build from 8 hours to something around 12-14 in the future.

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Fractured my right hip in Early April. Decided to do nothing but zone 1 of 3 in recovery. Was able to ride the trainer 7 days a week because no intensity. After 3 or 4 weeks I started doing 2 hours per day on Zwift, same route every day so I could benchmark my times at certain waypoints. July I went outdoors for the first time for group rides or sometimes indoors on Zwift events (Audax 100 km rides, about 2:30 hours in duration). This was the only intensity I added. Feel great and riding strong and recovering well.