Questions for Stephen Seiler interview (Polarized Training)

But according to Seiler there is only little evidence for any sort of periodisation (see his hierachy).

But of course, he’s a pure scientist and has no coaching experience. And I assume studying periodisation is fairly difficult because of the time scale. It is sort of interesting to note the differences between the scienctists’ camp (Seiler, Skiba) and the coaches’ camp (Lorang, Filliol). And those sort of in between (Tveiten).

Skiba is a coach as much as a scientist I would say. But to be honest, he hasn’t published that much, so perhaps exercise physiologist as much as scientist. Doing more of the practical application of science.

Seiler also coaches a bit and has coached more in the past I believe, but he is in the scientists’ camp for sure. So maybe not classified as a coach, but he probably still has more coaching experience than 98% of this forum for example.

Lorang similarly to Tveiten is an exercise physiologist as well as a coach. He is VERY knowledgeable about physiology, and uses it a ton in his coaching.

When Seiler says little evidence for periodisation, I take it to mean e.g. very rigid traditional linear periodisation or block periodisation or reverse periodisation. But he is also very strongly against training monotony, so depending on how you define various terms he could be seen as agreeing with how the coaches mentioned plan their training “periodisation” or I guess yearly structure.

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Spot on. What’s also important to understand is that large parts of Stephen Seiler’s work is not lab based but actually quantifying what coaches are doing.

Mike

Nothing wrong with threshold when training polarized. Also i don’t think there is as much if a “never” recommendation as it is not a focus of a majority of training. Calling the middle zone a trap for eventual plateau had been around for a while, since i started training. Although its always been with the statement that the middle zone work does make you fitter, but if you spend too much time there the fatigue is not worth the fitness benefit.

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Don’t get me wrong, I see massive benefit in all the Z1 (Seiler Z1) training. After reading/listening about POL at the start of last season I started training with a HR monitor for the first time and it’s been a real eye-opener about intensity control. I’ve trained more consistently and have been generally healthier since I got my easy workouts under control.

I definitely think POL has been over-hyped though. I don’t think it scales down to age-groupers training 6-10 hours a week. I’ve also listened to plenty of podcast interviews with some of the top triathlon coaches and I genuinely haven’t heard about any of the top athletes training like this. The approach that Joel Filliol spoke about in his interview with Mikael resonates with me more.

I would also like to see Nates comments regarding SS training addressed specifically. When I have heard Seiler interviewed in the past I feel like the interviewers often try to slant things so that SS fits into definition of Polarized in some sense. It doesn’t. A lot of people get faster doing SS. I would love to hear hard questions around SS vs Polarized. Nates comment and supporting data sums things up nicely and deserves a direct response.

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@Bioteknik - I’ve been curious about this comment (didn’t have enough time to discuss this one the other day). Could you expand a bit… how much threshold training do you think is acceptable with POL? From the podcasts/articles I’ve listened to/read I’d got the impression that with POL you were training under AeT ~80% of the time, then doing high intensity intervals above AnT for ~20% of the time, with very little time spent between AeT and AnT.

I’ve heard Matt Fitzgerald talk about doing some threshold training as part of the 20% with regards to his 80/20 approach, but I thought the POL approach was more strict in terms of avoiding threshold? Maybe I’ve misunderstood it?

I’m not an expert on the subject, but there are discussions about repeatable 16 minute intervals. I would consider those right around threshold pace.

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Has Seiler ever shared what type of workouts make up the 20% that are high intensity? In addition, is the aerobic work that makes up 80% always the same? (I.e. always do 2-4 hrs a Z2 heart rates) or does that vary from week to week as well?

I would be curious to see a 6 week block that hits on his 80/20 approach and what workouts make up that block.

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zone 3 was defined as above your 60-min power (ftp) and 6-min power (vo2max). Here is my transcription of that particular podcast: Polarized Training Discussion (Fast Talk podcast & Flo Cycling podcast) - #84 by bbarrera

and the guy at wattkg dot com worked up a plan that I downloaded months ago. It derives from the

and more recently updated with low/mid/high volume versions, for example the low-volume starts like this:
54%20PM

with two HIIT sessions that week. And then second week is 30/15 sec basically its Brasted except 8 of the 30/15s in each set (instead of 13).

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Thanks. Totally forgot about Seiler’s 3 zone system.

When I initally wrote “threshold” I was more thinking about the ~30 min run efforts around threshold that I do when training towards 10k distance.

I take your point though :+1: I could definitely have worded my post better.

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The 4x6 @ 102-106% is super relatable to Stevens which is a demanding workout in and of itself. I just rode it yesterday—by my calculations I was at vO2max for a total of 25 minutes if, in general, 90% of HRmax correlates to VO2max (It doesn’t for everyone).

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I have been fascinated with Dr. Seiler’s work and always enjoy when he is a guest on a podcast. My question - are there any thoughts, studies, or theories on a minimum effective dose for a recreational (and in this case aging - 55 y/o) athlete who would like to gain and maintain a respectable amount of fitness?
And 2, how much, if any might that change if one decided to occasionally race for fun.
In my case I am specifically talking XC mountain biking from 1-3 hours. If you are gracious enough to choose this question then by all means answer in the context of triathlon if need be.

I’d be very interested in this question as well

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Thanks for all the questions guys! We did the interview on Wednesday, and it will go live tomorrow Monday. A lot of the general questions (applicability for time-crunched athletes, the evidence against polarised training etc.) are covered, but as I should have expected, covering the most important, fundamental aspects of it basically lasted the entire interview. dr. Seiler tentatively agreed to do a follow-up podcast later, though, and also, I will do a solo episode just one week later where I’ll go into a lot of these questions myself, from the perspective of what I know of dr. Seiler’s opinions and research and my own perspectives of course.

As a teaser of my personal perspective, I think @sryke hit the nail on the head in saying that maybe it should be called High Low-Intensity Training rather than polarised training. The early research in POL was often done in rowers and cross-country skiers, where a more polarised approach seems to be working really well. As work was done in e.g. cycling and running, we started to see a more pyramidal approach, but not in the sense that a large amount was done in the mid-zone, but just a larger amount than above lactate threshold (e.g. 80% Z1, 15% Z2, 5% Z3).

This to me makes a lot of sense. There’s nothing magical about 80% low-intensity, but evidence indicates that the amount of LIT should be high. Maybe 70% might be ok for really time-crunched athletes (pure speculation…) but I don’t think 60%, for example, is going to give any better results than 70-80%, at least not long term.

However, how to use the rest of the training time depends a lot on various factors - athletic profile (VO2max/VLaMax balance), goal events, age, personal preference, etc.

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And here it is: ​Polarised training with Stephen Seiler, PhD | EP#177

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Great interview Mikael. Thanks for that.

I made a dedicated thread for follow-up discussion about the interview:

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