Sick of intensity, started hitting the gym, looking at doing traditional base

Care to explain why not, instead of saying I should refer to other discussions.

I guess it was: “Don’t be a cyclist who adds cross training, be an athlete who focuses on cycling.” and then something like … especially as we are no pros but in it for the fun.

So simple but still an eye-opener for me as well.

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Because it has been discussed absolutely ad nauseum in other threads, and I believe it might hijack the intent of this thread



In fact it’s been discussed so much that I gave up on trying to understand. The only thing black and white about Polarized is how polarizing people’s definitions of it are!


Again, see the other threads, but as I understand it, your basis for the 80/20 split should be based on time, not the number of workouts.

IOW, it should be 80% of your time is spent in Z1 and 20% of your time is spent doing intensity.

But again, the other threads have WAY more details (as well as other definitions, too).

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Fair enough, but I was replying to a specific post, which is relevant, so much so that I said l would send it by private message.

I’m not not going to debate this because it’s clearly pissing a few people off. Polarised is not time based. If you want to learn more, then send me a private message.

Nope…I have no interest in “debating” it and I don’t think anyone was pissed off. They were simply saying to use the other threads. You asked why people disagreed with your assessment, I gave you one possible reason.

Feel free to jump into the other threads if you want to discuss it.


I am in exactly the same boat. During lockdown last year I hit the trainer like crazy, experimenting with FTP tests, racing on Zwift, trying out block periodisation using TR High Volume plans and dug myself into a hole it took months to get out of.

This winter I am going to do low volume plans only and supplement it with plenty of long walks with my dog and a little bodyweight strength training. The intensity is too much and takes the enjoyment out of riding my bike for me. Agree with you also that I would be aching after some of the threshold/VO2 max sessions and it impacted my day to day life.

My plan at the moment looks like this:

Low Volume Traditional Base 1
Low Volume Traditional Base 2
Low Volume Traditional Base 3
Low Volume Sweet Spot Base 2
Low Volume 8wk Polarised

This brings me nicely into the Spring where I will be doing my local race league.


Nobody mad about anything, but rehashing what has been debated for years on other threads just doesn’t sound very fun.

Trying to simplify it or distill it down for a one-liner “Polarized is 80/20 based on workouts” or some other statement misses the whole intention. I’d encourage people to read the fine print and understand the back story if they want to incorporate the polarized training approach.

This is a good thread for hearing a lot of different perspectives.


I always assumed Seiler meant 20% of workouts should be hard, so after every 4 Z1 (3 zone model) workouts, you do one high intensity (Z3) workout. In other words, 1 in 5 workouts should be high intensity.


yep - he says over and over and over that if looking at TiZ its 90/10 or even 95/5. Otherwise 20% of a 20hr week is a killer amount of HIT.


To summarize as best as I can:

  • There is no single accepted definition of what polarized for the training volumes we are interested in here. At larger volumes the rules of thumb you hear (90-95 % time in zone should be easy) seems about right whereas “20 % of your workouts should be hard” is not.
  • A lot of discussion of polarized training is for athletes that spend a lot of time each week training. For those athletes no matter the zone distribution, you would have to add Z1 (out of 3)/Z1–Z2 (out of 7) work for otherwise even pros would dig themselves a hole that is too deep.
  • There is no universal agreement on which approach is “better”, nor is there clear conclusive scientific evidence that one approach is definitely superior to another. The studies that are bandied around on either side have their limitations, and it is not clear whether they apply to you and your style of riding.
  • This is especially true if you add time and other constraints. E. g. I‘d love to be able to spend 5-7 hours per day on the bike every weekend. It is just that I can‘t — if I want to stay married. Especially for smaller time budgets, I think the “optimal” intensity distribution is unknown. It is clear that the more training time you add, the more small-p polarized it must get.
  • It is not just TR, but a lot of reputable coaches that prescribe a lot of sweet spot workouts in the base phase. I think @bbarrera had a nice overview in a table.

So my advice is:

  • Make sure you get enough rest and lower your training plan volume if necessary. The more you up the volume, the more important rest is. And make sure to take time off the bike regularly (e. g. every 6-8 months).
  • Experiment and don‘t be too dogmatic. You want to try polarized? Then try a polarized plan. But don‘t expect this to be a panacea. Especially if you haven‘t gotten enough rest, then any training plan will dig a hole. Plus, it is ok to take a middle ground approach by e. g. padding a low-volume TR plan with Z2 workouts.
  • Circumstances can change, so be flexible. Life stress can really lower your tolerance for intensity. My mom died of cancer this year and we are still dealing with the fallout. Training got a lot tougher.
  • Distinguish between “must do” workouts and extra credit workouts. What has worked for me is to do take TR plans and then tack on some extra credit workouts the Sunday before each new training week. I don‘t get upset when I can‘t do extra credit workout, they are entirely optional. Extra credit workouts are almost always endurance workouts (Z2 out of 7).

Hope to not get blasted here (as a Zwift customer as well), but want to share my quick story. I picked up TR 3 years ago and was hooked instantly. I became healthier, stopped smoking, ate much better, lost weight, but most importantly, I was getting fitter for my ice hockey games. I was training to perform better on the bike, yes, but wasn’t a “cyclist” yet. I was driven to complete the workouts and then see the results while playing hockey.
Fast forward a year, and having relocated, I am not playing hockey, but I have picked up Zwift as that competitive, “friendly”, weekly event that I cherish. I do continue to do some RPE TR workouts outside with the intention of getting me faster on Zwift, take longer pulls when with other cyclists, or go further on weekend rides.
In the end, for me TR has given me a lot, but I do need to have the reason (the why) for training, and not just tick-the-box on having done a workout. So before it was hockey, and now it is Zwfit races and cyclist events. That was the key for me for continuing to get on TR and put in the work. And when it’s time to take a break, I just take a break. Or if I know I went hard for two days, I’ll simply take it easy.
I have locked myself into thinking that I needed to complete everything as prescribed, but I’ve actually seen great gains also by adjusting mentally to load/motivation/rest/nutrition and that has also helped with consistency. When, and if, I feel that I can squeeze in 3 TR events, and also go out for long rides, and also participate in Zwift races, then I will. Until then, I know that Zwift races = V02 Max, long rides = threshold, and I need to put in some recovery for balance.


I am in a similar boat to the OP. I have enjoyed TR structured workouts over the last four years but have found the intensity too much as I age (57yrs old). I liked the question about “what’s your why?” I’m primarily a gravel rider and bikepacker (non-racing in both) who also enjoys strength training for long term health. I finally decided earlier this year that it’s okay not to follow the programs 100%. It was a relief to be fine with swapping out the third planned session in the LV plans every week with either long endurance or tempo rides on the trainer or outdoors I still made gains in my ability to keep a relatively high speed (for me) on long rides. In short, I’d rather keep the enjoyment of riding and training than lose my interest due to too much intensity.


That table was for Build plans. I have plans from 3 different reputable coaches, and base plans are heavily weighted to zone2 endurance rides. About 60-80% of weekly time, at 8-12 hours/week, is budgeted to zone2 endurance rides.

@dragan I’m a fan of TR’s traditional base. although I believe they should be updated. After having done traditional base twice, I’d be more inclined to start with the Full Distance Triathlon Base. However I prefer Velocious and FasCat plans, based on actual results versus TR SSB/build. But traditional base 1 is particular good for combing with off-season gym work.


I’m in the same boat, been using TR for the last 8/9 years on and off, have a group of friends that I get with on a mid week ride, average 24mph for 30 miles, love that ride … of about 16 of us (not all turn up each week), I’m near the lower half of the group … and I am the only one who does the whole TR / Structured training thing … looking at the difference between me and them, they are just keen to get out and ride, whilst I worry about what workout I have to do next, there has to be a lesson in there somewhere


One of the best ways to get faster remains riding with people who are faster than you…and you have to hang on for grim death.

No structured interval can ever match that.


I’m seriously thinking about focusing on Base/Gym work this winter. Which volume (Full distance tri and TB1) are you saying you had good experience with for off season gym work?

The Full Distance Triathlon Base looks interesting on paper, and I used TR Traditional Base 1 and 2 with gym work, to some success. Even more success with FasCat off-season resistance training plan. Then used a similar approach as ScientificTriathlon’s Strength Training plan during my on-season while working with a coach.

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