TR Polarized Plans - Easy Days still too Hard?

I just finished TR 6 Week Base Polarized Plan (High Volume) and my impression is that easy days, Wed, Thu are still too hard. Usually those workouts have a power target between 50-75% FTP, with most being between 65-75%.

I found that if I followed up doing those after a hard Tue workout, my legs were still very sore on Fri, making it difficult to complete the 2nd hard workout. After a couple weeks, I decided to reduce the target power on those rides to something between 50-60% FTP.

I also reduced the target power on the Sat workout since it would also be going upwards of 75% FTP, which too me it also seemed too much after a hard day on Friday.

I remember listening Fast Talk podcasts and coach Trevor usually says that easy days should be easy, that Z2 rides done at VT1 (LT1), around 75-80% FTP, are very powerful and must be done in moderation (once a week max) since they do cause a lot of fatigue.

Has anyone felt the same way? What are your thoughts and how have you adjusted?

Also, one of the side effects of Adaptive Training is that when you reduce the power, it usually thinks you have struggled and tends to adjust the following hard workout by adding more rest time between intervals.

Cheers!

I don’t have answers but have some questions that others may need to know in order to address your issue.

  1. What method did you use to establish your FTP, and how confident in that result are you?

  2. How was your experience in the ‘Hard’ workouts and what might have been a typical Intensity Survey rating for them?

  • Yes, this is exactly as intended. If you reduced the power, and aligned with your comments, you DID “struggle” and weren’t able to complete the workouts at prescribed at the 100% Workout Intensity setting.

  • In the future, if you know you are wanting a different workout intensity, it’s best to use the Alternates tool, and swap to a more desired workout of your choice. Doing that, and completing the workout at 100% WI should work better. But noting that, if you drop the workout to a low enough Level, it may still have the end result of AT dropping pending workouts. But that depends on more factors than we know at this time.

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  1. What method did you use to establish your FTP, and how confident in that result are you?

Ramp Test done on first day. FTP seemed to be right, even when looking at my eFTP on intervals.icu

  1. How was your experience in the ‘Hard’ workouts and what might have been a typical Intensity Survey rating for them?

Tuesday’s usually felt like I could do an extra or even a few more intervals at the end . Thursday’s were more challenging in a way that I usually felt like the right amount at the end. Both were never All out efforts, as they shouldn’t be at this phase of training.

  • Yes, this is exactly as intended. If you reduced the power, and aligned with your comments, you DID “struggle” and weren’t able to complete the workouts at prescribed at the 100% Workout Intensity setting.

I understand it is working as intended but if the workout intensity is too high in the first place then you are not “struggling” but riding at a more “polarized” intensity.

  • In the future, if you know you are wanting a different workout intensity, it’s best to use the Alternates tool, and swap to a more desired workout of your choice. Doing that, and completing the workout at 100% WI should work better. But noting that, if you drop the workout to a low enough Level, it may still have the end result of AT dropping pending workouts. But that depends on more factors than we know at this time.

Got it, I kind did this as well, replace the ride with more appropriate intensity ones. I also did some “free” rides on Zwift and matched then with the ride on that day.

I agree with Chad, if your FTP is set correctly (and it sounds like it is) then just use alternates to choose lower level Endurance rides for your “Easy” days. That will set your PL to the right level for what you want. You are “struggling” the current level workouts in that it’s not how hard you want to ride, that’s no slight. Just get the system to find the right level for you. Or choose alternate at the right level.

From my understanding it shouldn’t have any affect on your Hard day workouts as they are a different training zone.

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  • I think that is the crux and is why I asked the two initial questions. From reading the main experience topic, I have not seen too many others with comments like yours. It’s possible there is an issue with your test and/or how that relates to the functional ranges of your POL 3 Zone splits.
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TLDR: Don’t worry about reducing the intensity of your recovery days. I would strive for the long endurance ride to be around 70-75%, though.

I did POL Base MV back-to-back (so 12 weeks) but extended most workouts to 2 hours and added a 2-hour endurance day in the middle, so I was riding 10-12 hours per week. I found the endurance days at 70-75% FTP to be about right, even on the long weekend ride. I got a 3% FTP bump after the first base period and a 2% increase after the second. I never felt totally wiped after any of the VO2 or threshold days.

How is your recovery? Mine is not very good, which is one of the reasons I opted for POL Base instead of SSB this season. I rarely get more than six hours of sleep and know that my lack of recovery limits my ability to adapt more / faster. POL Base MV struck that perfect balance for me.

Related to your comment about reducing the intensity of the easy days, there was a podcast a while ago (maybe FasCat) that talked about one of their athlete’s successes following a POL plan. Some of his recovery days each week kept power below HR - that’s an easy ride for sure!

In the end, as I understand it, POL plans force adaptations by working the threshold and VO2 “systems” and through the long ride. The easy days should exist to get the blood flowing, flush out the muscles, and force some adaptations, but not like the “big three.”

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I’m not doing the polarized plans, but it sounds like the volume is too high for you and you’re not acclimated. In other words, I think you are lacking base to be tackling this volume.

What kind of volume were you doing before? What CTL do you normally build on? It also sounds like the hard days are too hard for you, if you’re sore for 3+ days. That is really abnormal, and is the most abnormal part of your problem description.

You can definitely try turning down the Z2 days, but the question is why are you sore for 3+ days. .8IF workouts in 90 minutes with 16-24 minutes of intensity, and the rest in Z1, shouldn’t feel anything the day after. I think that’s really not that hard at all. Also the overall IF on these Z2 days are pretty low. They look more like recovery than anything else. The power ranges seem fine to me. I target well above this for Z2 days, but my base fitness may be higher, and have more depth (capability to do work after high intensity…which is what base building tries to do).

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What kind of volume were you doing before?

I was doing 9-13hrs back in Dec and Jan, but I did take 8 days OFF the bike before starting the Base POL HV. I don’t think the Hard days were too hard for me, once I reduced the intensity on the easy days, I was able to go along fine.

My recovery is OK I guess, for someone working in a desk for 8hrs a day + family and house chores, but I do try to get 8hrs of sleep a night, some days I get less others a get more, really depends on the week.

Personally I’ve been doing a lot of z2 and generally keep it around 65% although I’ll do workouts with stretches at 70%. From my understanding from guys like Kolie Moore, there really isn’t a benefit in doing upper level z2. That said if I’m riding outside I’m likely to do 75-80% for long rides but if I’m inside on erg I try to stay disciplined in a mid z2 range

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I wonder if AT is being constrained by the plan. Say your plan has scheduled a 90 min endurance workout, once your PL reaches a certain level it starts pushing up near to tempo in order to maintain progression for you. Whereas really you might benefit more from increasing the volume/ length of the ride while maintaining intensity.

Choosing an alternate of equal PL but longer duration might help.

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I think the problem here is volume, and the lack of recovery that is inherent in High Volume plans.

TR are pretty clear that HV plans are suitable for only a relative few cyclists, and most should go with the LV or MV plans.

A mistake that many people make is to take their outside rides (I can ride 10 hours outside, so I can do a 10 hour plan inside as well), while forgetting that the constant effort required on the indoor trainer (no micro-coasting for traffic or corners, etc) is considerably harder on the body than riding outside.

My suggestion would be to go with the MV polarized plans, and add some recovery rides if you want. This is not far off what you are doing anyway (50-60% of FTP), but it is better to hit all the key workouts of a properly structured MV plan, than being unable to complete workouts on the HV plan.

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It seems a limitation of AT is that there is a cap on volume, so as you progress through the PL’s it has no option but to increase intensity of the easy days, where perhaps a normal coach might increase volume. I find long hours at 75% incredibly fatiguing when done day after day. For me riding around 60-65% is far more sustainable.

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65-75 %, that is the intended zone, endurance. Most endurance workouts vary power so that you have small recovery valleys in between intervals where you are at 70–75 % FTP. Endurance rides below 2 hours should not be physically very taxing, so if you cannot recover for the next hard workout, you need to reduce volume.

I think the likely issue is that your body cannot handle the volume. I’d drop to mid-volume, perhaps even low-volume and then manually add rides if you can handle it. The margin for error with high-volume plans is razor thin: you must mostly nail things like sleep, nutrition and recovery. If you have too much stress, you can’t recover, which means you are (non-functionally) overloading like you are now.

For example, I noticed that I need two days off per week. I tried adding an endurance ride on Fridays, but I basically dug a hole for myself. Funnily enough I was able to handle quite a bit of additional training volume, provided that I took two days off.

Agreed.
(For the record, I initially did the same mistake when I started structured training. Before we had kids, I would often spend one day of the weekend on the bike, 8–10 hours. So how hard can 10 hours of training be?!? :wink: )

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This

I think your legs are telling you that your limiter is your muscular endurance. The Tuesday workout is a bit too hard if it takes until Friday to recover. The endurance workouts in between are hard enough that you aren’t recovering.

Alex, I think your solution is to recover before your 2nd hard workout. You could do a bit less on the hard workout. You could try lowering your FTP 10%. Make sure to have a full day off between hard workouts. Try the MV plan. There are a ton of ways to skin this cat.

I think after month or two you would eventually build up your muscular endurance such that you could complete the plan and probably be a lot fitter!

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Or not.

Bit of a sweeping statement, they are equal for some or the oppsite of what you said. Personally I don’t find any difference, in fact 10 hours inside is normally easier and slightly less TSS than outside due to the higher NP outside.

Having said that it might be harder for some depending on where they are riding outside and on their setup and cooling inside.

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Nail and head.

Yeap. 65% was the cap I was given for Z1 when I was coached. It seemed ridiculously easy even though I was doing 10 - 12 hours a week but to keep the quality sessions, Z3, quality it needed to be. It was only a few months of this and then the Z1 could go up to 70%, I finish the POL often with the Z1 sessions with a IF of 0.72 / 0.73.

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I agree with you. I currently use the mid volume polarized plan as well and have modified it so that I workout five days and have two days off. The days off are always before my hard workouts. So I can do the hard workouts fresh and adjust the easy days to get to my desired volume.

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