SSB2 LV vs Pol MV

Anyone done both. I added a single Z2 ride to my week when completing SSB LV1 and have just finished the 6 weeks. They went pretty well although i did feel pretty knackered by the final workout. Maybe that’s spot on.

Anyway, I’ve been eyeing SSB LV2 and just seen Pol Base as well.

Similar to what i was doing with SSB LV1 but instead of the SS session, there is a z2 ride. I cant get on the bike more than 4 days a week. I’m happy with this format, it fits my schedule and my family. And covers the things i like to do.

So this is really a comparison of SSB LV + 1x Z2 and Pol Base MV.

Would this be a step backwards? Has anyone gone from similar to the other, in either direction and what was your experience.

I’m in a similar situation. Just finished SSB LV1 and would add 1 (or 2 in my case) Z2 rides like Pettit or White -5 during the week. I was considering Pol Base MV as well but stayed with SSB LV2 + Z2 for 3 reasons.

  1. Given the short amount of hours ridden, I thought it more appropriate to have 3 days of intensity. No idea if this is correct or not.

  2. The workouts in SSB LV2 just looked to be more “fun” and engaging.

  3. Got a nice bump from doing SSB LV1 + Z2 so why not stick to a winning formula.

I’ll caveat this by saying that I’d also likely to switch Pol Base MV if there are any convincing arguments that come out of this thread.


If this is your first season of TR I would just follow a plan in plan builder so you can get a feel of what TR is about. The polarised plans are still experimental and the workouts are a bit monotonous, the ones in the regular program often feature a bit of instructions which can be helpful when you aren’t experienced with these structured indoor workouts. I tried both btw and in the end the results don’t really differ but I enjoy SSB more when it’s colder and polarised when the temperature rises (polarised workouts are definitely easier to do outside)

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Personally, I’d stick with the LV + Z2 approach. The workouts will have a bit more variety and are more completely supported by TR and Adaptive Training. And I think the progressions are better in the mainstream programs.


Thanks. Good feedback on experience.

The extra intensity is something I had considered but I hadn’t thought much about the integration with AT.

It may be best to at least start and finish SSB lv2 to see if I can manage the intensity & volume.

My reason for the consideration is:
With a little less intensity, cumulative fatigue may be lower and I csn push lifting a little more, which I enjoy too.

But the points are valid, it is my first time on TR properly so best to just see what all of SSB does for me

100% on your points. Especially the fun part.

Looking forward to 30/30s.

I will be transitioning to more track focused training at some point this year but I felt like aerobic abilities were seriously lacking.

Maybe that’s a better point to shift to 50% high intensity and 50% easy.

Curious to see how my legs hold up with lifting and SSB lv2. I think my Sunday z2 will need to be a little easier.

I am currently doing SSB lv2 which I got from plan builder. I also commute often and keep those as zone 1/2. When the weather or my attitude towards the weather is bad, I add Townsend or petit to my week. I do either 5 or 6 days per week on the bike. When it comes to managing fatigue I prioritize my commutes (90 minutes per day total) and protect my zone 2 work (some of it at high zone 2)

If fatigue is creeping up I will replace my threshold day with a high zone 2 90 minute session. or I will replace my SS day with a zone 2. This has worked great so far.

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I was curious about this myself…

I did a couple build progressions from September into January because short duration power has been a limiter. I had some time off the bike late summer but previously had done some racing and lots of base so it seemed like a good entry point to getting back on the trainer. My thoughts echoed yours exactly on the “engagement factor” of these indoor plans.

If I remember correct I did “Short Power Build” and then the “Criterium Plan” or maybe vice versa. Anyway, I kind of approached it as if it were a hard season of 'cross to get some off-season intensity in the legs. Both of these plans were MV +1x Z2 ride of 90-120 minutes, and 1x Z1-2 Recovery ride.

I then took a couple weeks of easier riding using Train Now and had to make the decision to try the Polarized Base or SSB. I decided to go right into SSB2, again MV with additional recovery ride and a Z2 ride. If the weather is decent, I swap a weekend ride outdoors and either try to replicate some of the intensity of the planned workout or a long Z2 ride. I also strength train 2x/week on the V02 and Threshold days (Tues/Thurs or Tues/Sat). Looks like this:

M. Z1-2 Recovery.
T. AM. V02/Anaerobic 90min. / PM. LowerBody&Core Strength 45-60min.
W. Z2-3 90min.
TH. AM. Threshold 90min. / PM. LowerBody&Core Strength 45-60min.
F. Z1-2 Recovery.
S. Threshold 120+min.
S. SweetSpot 120+min.

I’m through almost 5 weeks and it’s been really fatiguing! but I feel like I’m going to come out of it stronger than ever, after some well-deserved rest. The toughest part has been self-assessment and altering the plan when needed. So I would encourage you to go for it! and be really mindful of fueling and balancing recovery.

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That’s a really good shout.


Thanks very much for your input.

I’d love to be able to run two a days but family and life.

Maybe one day.

Good to hear opinions and consideration to help it work

It’s not easy. I have a full time job, a teenager, and have been slowly renovating a house on the side. My morning workouts are at 4:30am, and I’m just lucky to have a gym at work I can use.


Bloody h***. Fair enough. Hats off.

Keeps us sane eh lol.

I haven’t done SSB LV in a while, but I have done a Polarized MV block, followed up by a Sweet Spot MV block starting from last December (and this was my 3rd or 4th polarized block).

  • Polarized blocks are definitely harder for me. After finishing a polarized block, sweet spot blocks are a piece of cake, comparatively speaking. This might go against the common lore that “polarized is easier”, but this is my experience with them. (This is not a ding, polarized blocks are just bitter medicine to me.)
  • Polarized blocks toughen me up mentally and definitely improve my base. But they don’t lift my FTP as much. That’s why I employ polarized blocks deliberately whenever I want to place more emphasis on my base and my mental game.
  • If you have set your FTP correctly, you need to bring your A game to the intense workouts, especially the threshold workouts, which starts at 4x8 minutes and can ramp up to 3x16 minutes. (If your FTP is set too low, then you’ll be doing threshold and sweet spot rather than top end of threshold and threshold.)
  • To have the desired impact, you need to have set your FTP correctly. Riding at 98 % FTP is very different from riding at 100 % or 103 % FTP.
  • Workouts made for the polarized plan feel very clinical: they always have the same warm-up and seem quite artificial. That is because the TR team stuck very closely to time-in-zone ratios. E. g. some workouts are a few minutes longer for no discernible reason. I hope that they will be more relaxed in the future and move away from such a rigid understanding of polarized.

Personally, I would not consider SSB LV and Polarized MV to be equivalent, the latter is definitely a step up. I’d only go to a mid-volume plan if you’d feel comfortable with a Sweet Spot-based mid-volume plan. On the other hand, I encourage you to try: ultimately, the proof is in the pudding, all the theoretical discussions won’t help you. This is not a theological debate. You are an individual, and see how a polarized block feels and what kind of improvements you see. E. g. personally, I don’t see as much improvement in my FTP, so make sure to measure other aspects of your fitness, too. Otherwise you might miss relative benefits and demerits.

And lastly, consider combining polarized and sweet spot blocks after you understand what benefits they bring and what your goals are. That’s my approach: I have been using both, and I like the results.


Cheers for your input.

It’s interesting to hear just how tough POL can be. It’s easy to think intensity = intensity but it’s obviously not the case.

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No, in my experience it is more complicated. To me there are two main factors at play:

  • Polarized training plans are also polarized in their difficulty. So yes, you have fewer days of intensity, but the hard workouts can be HARD. That is especially true if my FTP is set FTP correctly.
  • With a sweet spot based plan, I find I have a lot more leeway. Is my FTP set 5 W too high? That doesn’t really matter, 92 % FTP becomes 94 % FTP, and that is still doable. Being safely below FTP gives you a buffer zone that you lose when you are supposed to be right at the knife’s edge. Plus, I really like sweet spot efforts.
  • Polarized plans have some 2-hour endurance workouts during the week. This is at the very edge of what is possible for me and my schedule.

That being said, polarized blocks really make me stronger, and I recommend you give them a try. E. g. sometimes when I have a bad day (mentally speaking), and I think “Can I and do I want to do 15 more minutes of this?” Polarized blocks help me, not least because I know I did 3 or 4 times x minutes at threshold, which is way easier than spending the same time at sweet spot.

The difficulty with sweet spot, though, is to adjust my progression of the sweet spot workouts properly. I’m sometimes too ambitious(*) during the first two sweet spot workouts, and I run out of steam on the over/under threshold day (third workout with intensity on a MV plan).

Also, I found out that for me TR works best when I do the following:

  • I pick the “volume” by the number of intense days. If I want/need two days of intensity, I usually go for low-volume and then pad the plan so that the actual training time is the same.
  • I replace the weekend sweet spot workout with an endurance ride. (I wish I could ask Plan Builder to do this automatically. TR is aware of this feature request and according to @Nate_Pearson they are at least thinking about implementing it.)
  • Rather than thinking in terms of “days of intensity”, I think in terms of hard workouts (= workouts that take me more than 1 day to recover from) and easy workouts (= workouts I can recover from within 24 hours). E. g. a very long endurance ride is a hard ride, too.

(*) Too ambitious means I override AT’s suggestions, because they feel too easy — and they are too easy in isolation.