Rules, best practices, or concepts for building own workouts

Dear community I’ve a question regarding above topic. I’m trying to build my own workout plans based on the polarized training principles (80:20 rule).
Every time I begin to build the first blocks I’m asking myself how the workout should look like (number of blocks in the different zones, duration of each block, step size, block order or sequence)?!

Let’s make an example. I want to have 80% of the one hour work out in zone 1 (according to the pol training definition of three zones) and 20% in zone 3. Therefore, I can do the mathematical way and spend the first 48 minutes duration as a constant block of e.g. 65% FTP and a second block of 12 minutes e.g. with 105% of FTP to build the 60 minutes worklout. Yes, I know that’s not the best way to that, but when I look in many public workouts I couldn’t figure out on what rules the workout builder decided to make the duration, step sizes, order or sequence of the different blocks?!?

Is there a paper, blog or best practice available where there ist explained how to do that?

Thanks and best regards

Seriously… why?

Isnt this kind of like trying to reinvent the wheel. Just use the workout library and clone and edit a work out if you need too.

Really you only ever need about 20 workouts (maybe a few more for people with attention span disorders or get bored easily.)

For power output look at your power duration curve and use a precentage of your best for the intervals (if you have some good efforts showing in your curve)

Then just the classics
3x 4 min
4x 3 min
5x 5 min etc.

PS It is the distribution of workouts that is normally 80:20 not the makeup of the workout its self


Thanks for your comment. I know that’s possible to edit/clone a available workout. The question is still according to which rules you should manipulate the workout?

There are no ‘rules’ as such, it depends what you are targeting.

Maybe look up WKO Building Intervals, it is a good place to start.



80/20 is referring to workouts, meaning out of 5 workouts (100%), 4 workouts are easy (80%) and 1 workout is hard (20%).
In terms of time, that often is closer to 90/10 or 95/5 even.

You do not mix Zone 1 and Zone 3 (polarized) in the same workout generally speaking.

Another why…
What are you wanting to achieve by making your own workouts?

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Another why; what are the physiological changes you want your body to make…And what are your goals?
Chasing a pol plan shouldn’t be the end-goal. It should be a tool in your toolbox. Use it that way :slight_smile:

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Agree with the “reinventing the wheel” comments - TR already has hundreds of workouts, why make more, especially as you don’t seem to know what you’re after?

I think most people do not use the workout creator to make workouts according to principles or rules etc. They either modify an existing workout (add more intervals, make the brakes short/longer, etc), or they create a workout they have seen elsewhere, but want to be able to do it with the TR interface.

You could do a lot worse than either of these 2 resources…

  1. You’ll have to buy this one… The Cycling Physiology and Training Science Guide — High North Performance

  2. But this is spot on IMHO and free :wink:
    Sustainable Training – Spare Cycles

Edit - and as mentioned above, these 3 videos are also great


Thanks and one more question. Do you know, what is reason (physiological) to not mix Zone 1 and Zone 3 in one workout?

So far as I’ve understood from the benefits of the PO training is that is that it improves key performance metrics like VO2max more than other training approaches.

I agree and that is also my current approach. I’m still wondering how the have initially defined that specific workout. From that point comes mainly my questions.

Its not a rule, and many people DO it - long ride with some intervals thrown in…but, there is some speculation that the different adaption ‘signals’ created by HIT and LIT may cancel each other out to some degree if they occur close together. I haven’t seen conclusive research on this yet though.

The other, perhaps more practical, reason is just fatigue. Can you really nail HIT work after riding for a while first? Might you be better simply seperating both and nailing both better? Likewise, smashing some HIT and then going for a 3hr ride may simply dig far too big of a hole for many people to recover quickly and get on with a good session the next day.

The key benefit of Pol work is basically that you are fresh enough to do a great job of both types of work. Showing up to a HIT session already fatigued just misses the point.

But you have not answered yet, what are you trying to achieve by making your own workouts?
Why not use the polarized plan?

It’s a perfectly valid and interesting training question, don’t understand all the critique.

The cyclists training bible by joe friel and the training and racing with a power meter by Allen and Coggan books should give you a good place to start planning short and long term.

Polarized training plan ideas were well communicated in the book 80/20 triathlon by Fitzgerald. Don’t know of any cycling specific book.

The way I read your initial post is that you worry a lot about how individual Lego blocks (workouts) are made, but haven’t articulated what your training goals are or indicated that you have experience drawing up your own periodized training plans. You seem to want to learn from the bottom rather than the top, i. e. you worry about workouts when you should be worrying about the bigger picture.

If I were you here is what I would do: if I had no experience with polarized training, I’d do one of TR’s vanilla polarized plans. Gain experience with it, see how your body reacts and what kind of adaptations it makes. Importantly, are the gains you see consistent with your goals? The answer could be different for a triathlete or TTer than a crit racer.

If you already have experience with some form of polarized training, I’d take a polarized training plan (e. g. one of TR’s) and modify it. Make sure the modifications are following some specific goal of yours and aren’t just random. Ask yourself why before you make a change.

If you have done that already, then I’d build my own training plan with workouts from TR’s library. Again, make sure you understand why you are doing what.

And only then would I start worrying about individual workouts. I’d only build workouts that don’t already exist in TR’s library.


Asking questions is not critique (critique often has a negative feeling with it).
In order to give good answers, we need to know what md5sum is trying to achieve.

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