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Polarized training (PT)...Good for low volume rider?

Old 01-04-21, 09:44 PM
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Wattsup
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Polarized training (PT)...Good for low volume rider?

I've been reading a lot about 90-10 or 80-20, and it seems that PT definitely has benefits for high volume riders. But what about for normal people. I'm looking to improve my FTP as much as I can. If I'm only a 6-8 hour a week rider, (5 days), will PT have the same advantages over sweet spot that it has for high volume riders?
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Old 01-04-21, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
I've been reading a lot about 90-10 or 80-20, and it seems that PT definitely has benefits for high volume riders. But what about for normal people. I'm looking to improve my FTP as much as I can. If I'm only a 6-8 hour a week rider, (5 days), will PT have the same advantages over sweet spot that it has for high volume riders?
Good question. I have often wondered if, for time strapped cyclists, there is a benefit to doing a hybrid, since generally there will be more rest days to recover from any efforts. I envision that there is some benefit to doing a 40/40/20, if you are going to have more rest days than normal, and need to tax the system more per effort.

But I will wait for coaches and more experienced individuals to chime in.
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Old 01-05-21, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
But what about for normal people.
I'm a "sweet spotter" (medium effort focused). I'm also time constrained (12 hrs / week). Sometimes, I combine HIIT with sweet spot.

https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/fit...spot-training/
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Old 01-05-21, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
I've been reading a lot about 90-10 or 80-20, and it seems that PT definitely has benefits for high volume riders. But what about for normal people. I'm looking to improve my FTP as much as I can. If I'm only a 6-8 hour a week rider, (5 days), will PT have the same advantages over sweet spot that it has for high volume riders?
If, in the past, you've consistently trained at 6-8 hours a week, then no. There's really no point to it as the stimulus is not likely to be enough to cause significant adaptations, and you'd get much more bang for the buck incorporating more intensity.

If you've never ridden before, then absolutely anything will help you improve.

If you're somewhere in the middle, it may help initially, but then you may find you need to have a higher percentage of time at a higher intensity to continue improvements.

In real life, hardly anyone actually does polarized (a true 4 easy sessions, one hard session plan) because in real life, so much time is spent in zone 2 of the 3 zones, which polarized training largely avoids. Which is kind of crazy, but people like to pretend otherwise.

Polarized only "works" for high volume people because the stimulus is still so great that it causes adaptations. Without a notable stimulus, there are no notable adaptations, which is the entire point of training to improve.
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Old 01-05-21, 09:34 AM
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I'll also add that if your goal is improving FTP on 6-8 hours a week, then polarized is definitely not the plan for that, as so much specific FPT training involves training in that dreaded zone 2 of the polarized 3 zone plan.

You can conceivably do 3-5 days a week of 20-60 minutes of tempo/sweetspot/threshold (depending on your experience and recovery) which is precisely the type of training that will most improve your FTP in a shorter time frame with shorter training durations.
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Old 01-05-21, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I'll also add that if your goal is improving FTP on 6-8 hours a week, then polarized is definitely not the plan for that, as so much specific FPT training involves training in that dreaded zone 2 of the polarized 3 zone plan.

You can conceivably do 3-5 days a week of 20-60 minutes of tempo/sweetspot/threshold (depending on your experience and recovery) which is precisely the type of training that will most improve your FTP in a shorter time frame with shorter training durations.
During the winter, I decided to focus on building up my aerobic base, and forget about FTP for now, and see if I can then use that starting in February to begin to really hit a harder regimen. I felt my aerobic base was in need of some work after this summer, and then once February hit, will begin to incorporate more targeted FTP efforts. I still will put in a solid 3 or 5 minutes of above threshold work, to keep my legs honest. At the end of the day, sa long as people are riding, it is better than the bike sitting in the garage all winter and doing nothing.
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Old 01-05-21, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I'll also add that if your goal is improving FTP on 6-8 hours a week, then polarized is definitely not the plan for that, as so much specific FPT training involves training in that dreaded zone 2 of the polarized 3 zone plan.

You can conceivably do 3-5 days a week of 20-60 minutes of tempo/sweetspot/threshold (depending on your experience and recovery) which is precisely the type of training that will most improve your FTP in a shorter time frame with shorter training durations.
That's the thing, I can't find one single internet reference that says that PT isn't effective on 6-8 hours week, but I have found several that say it can be effective. I was hoping to get a different perspective on the question here, maybe a pointer to a well-regarded source who has an answer to the question. Regarding your statement "FPT training involves training in that dreaded zone 2 of the polarized 3 zone plan", that's what the PT idea refutes. That's the whole idea as I understand it, that one doesn't need to spend a bunch of time at threshold in order to increase one's threshold power. The PT idea is just the opposite, that PT training with little or no riding at threshhold will produce greater gains in FTP than programs that have a significant portion of the riding at threshold. In other words, in order to increase one's FTP most effectively, toss the riding at FTP. No more threshold interval workouts.

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Old 01-05-21, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I'll also add that if your goal is improving FTP on 6-8 hours a week, then polarized is definitely not the plan for that, as so much specific FPT training involves training in that dreaded zone 2 of the polarized 3 zone plan.

You can conceivably do 3-5 days a week of 20-60 minutes of tempo/sweetspot/threshold (depending on your experience and recovery) which is precisely the type of training that will most improve your FTP in a shorter time frame with shorter training durations.
I can vouch for this approach. I had coach who put me on a diet of 2 (and later 3) sessions of 2x20's at sweet spot per week. I thought that there was no way it was going to do much good (mostly because I never felt wiped out, like I thought I was supposed to). But it did. And that's the beauty, enough stress to adapt up, not so much to wipe you out.
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Old 01-05-21, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
That's the thing, I can't find one single internet reference that says that PT isn't effective on 6-8 hours week, but I have found several that say it can be effective. I was hoping to get a different perspective on the question here, maybe a pointer to a well-regarded source who has an answer to the question. Regarding your statement "FPT training involves training in that dreaded zone 2 of the polarized 3 zone plan", that's what the PT idea refutes. That's the whole idea as I understand it, that one doesn't need to spend a bunch of time at threshold in order to increase one's threshold power. The PT idea is just the opposite, that PT training with little or no riding at threshhold will produce greater gains in FTP than programs that have a significant portion of the riding at threshold. In other words, in order to increase one's FTP most effectively, toss the riding at FTP. No more threshold interval workouts.
As I mentioned, IF the training stimulus is sufficient, then adaptation and improvement can still happen. So it's not so much a question of whether PT can be effective (again, nearly anything can be effective), it's a question of whether it is more effective than another methodology.

Are you familiar with the training concept of specificity? This is why I said hardly anyone does polarized training, because it lacks that specificity that so many are seeking to improve upon. To suggest that someone train for a 20-75 minute hill climb or time trial or similar without doing any efforts in the intensity range they're expecting to do is a really odd methodology and not one that is realistically done by anyone seeking to maximize performance.

But this is something easily tried in your own training. I did when I was ~21 or so. Did massive amounts of z1 training (15-25 hours week, with a peak at 28 hours). It wasn't called polarized then. I got it from Rick Crawford, Tom Danielson's coach at the time. He failed to mention the massive amount of doping that was included in Danielson's program, of course...

Then when I was 29 I tried the opposite. Only 7-9 hours a week with sweetspot or threshold work 4-6 times during that week. The former got me a peak estimated FTP of 325ish, The latter an estimated FTP of 345ish. Off of 1/3-1/2 the hours. Sometimes it's best to just try it yourself.

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Old 01-05-21, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I'll also add that if your goal is improving FTP on 6-8 hours a week, then polarized is definitely not the plan for that, as so much specific FPT training involves training in that dreaded zone 2 of the polarized 3 zone plan.

You can conceivably do 3-5 days a week of 20-60 minutes of tempo/sweetspot/threshold (depending on your experience and recovery) which is precisely the type of training that will most improve your FTP in a shorter time frame with shorter training durations.
Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
As I mentioned, IF the training stimulus is sufficient, then adaptation and improvement can still happen. So it's not so much a question of whether PT can be effective (again, nearly anything can be effective), it's a question of whether it is more effective than another methodology.

Are you familiar with the training concept of specificity? This is why I said hardly anyone does polarized training, because it lacks that specificity that so many are seeking to improve upon. To suggest that someone train for a 20-75 minute hill climb or time trial or similar without doing any efforts in the intensity range they're expecting to do is a really odd methodology and not one that is realistically done by anyone seeking to maximize performance.
Yes, I am familiar with specificity, and again, that's what the idea of PT purports to refute, e.g. one does not need to do a lot of threshhold work in order to increase threshold most effectively, as paradoxical as that may seem. As far as hill climbing and which zone that falls into, I guess it depends on the hill. You seem to be simply saying "No, PT does not work" and "riders don't implement PT because it doesn't work." Those are two statements. Can you direct me to a reputable source that backs those statements? A couple of sources I found state that the reason some don't do PT is that it isn't fun...no more club tempo rides.
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Old 01-05-21, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
Yes, I am familiar with specificity, and again, that's what the idea of PT purports to refute, e.g. one does not need to do a lot of threshhold work in order to increase threshold most effectively, as paradoxical as that may seem. As far as hill climbing and which zone that falls into, I guess it depends on the hill. You seem to be simply saying "No, PT does not work" and "riders don't implement PT because it doesn't work." Those are two statements. Can you direct me to a reputable source that backs those statements?
That's not what I said.

I said:

So it's not so much a question of whether PT can be effective (again, nearly anything can be effective), it's a question of whether it is more effective than another methodology.

This is why I said hardly anyone does polarized training
In real life, hardly anyone actually does polarized
You can search slowtwitch for polarized and Seiler and all that. Other forums have it, too. Hundreds of pages of reading.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:08 PM
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My assumption was that a) PT can increase cycling fitness "most effectively", (regardless of specificity is implied,) and my question was b) is it also true for those who do low hour training like 6-8 hours. I was looking for more than just "search for answers, seek and thee shall find." I was looking more for sources like the study I link to below, or better yet, "respected experts" who can give an opinion by referencing a few studies.

These subjects did 7-10 hrs a week.

https://www.tradewindsports.net/wp-co...-polarized.pdf
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Old 01-05-21, 12:08 PM
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I'm going to concur with the guys above regarding sweet spot. I personally cannot imagine getting as much out of 6-8hours of polarized training, or even 10-12hrs like I do now, versus doing sweet spot. I know it's become a bit fashionable lately to talk about polarized training and it's alleged superiority to a sweet spot approach, but frankly the studies I've seen have been limited and not very convincing as far as their research design.

I can only speak for my own results, but I got a smart trainer and really fully committed to TrainerRoad as part of my training in January 2017 and at the time my FTP was 230 (I had gotten my FTP up to 265 in October 2016 but had a winter of other commitments and dropped big time). Currently I have an FTP of 300, and I may be up to 305 at some point in the next few weeks, and a lot of it is built on doing the sweet spot base high volume programs designed by Trainerroad. There's a lot of bang for the buck with sweet spot, I'm currently doing 75-90mins of time in zone each day 5 days a week (one easy endurance day, so 6 days total) and it works well for me, and personally feel I get more out of this than I would doing a few endurance sessions and one vo2 max workout.

But as far as research to prove either point, I don't think there's going to be anything compelling in either camp, you just have to find the right balance and consistency for you that results in growth
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Old 01-05-21, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post

These subjects did 7-10 hrs a week.
Let me add a very pertinent detail:

These 12 subjects did 7-10 hours a week.

Which is sort of a common issue regarding the literature of a lot of these concepts. There's a reason why they say coaching is an "art" just as much as a "science." There's tons of data out there, but it may not be peer-reviewed literature, though it's certainly possible to find research that backs up most any point you're trying to make.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
I

But as far as research to prove either point, I don't think there's going to be anything compelling in either camp, you just have to find the right balance and consistency for you that results in growth
That's what I'm trying to determine, whether there's any compelling evidence either way. BTW, regarding the "hard" effort in PT, I did find one source that stated that the most effective hard efforts were at 90% of VO2 max power, specifically, a 4x8 minute workout at 90% of VO2max. That's a helluva of workout. And a couple of sources said we're talking 90-10 or 80-20 in terms of workouts for PT, not time spent in zone.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Let me add a very pertinent detail:

These 12 subjects did 7-10 hours a week.

Which is sort of a common issue regarding the literature of a lot of these concepts. There's a reason why they say coaching is an "art" just as much as a "science." There's tons of data out there, but it may not be peer-reviewed literature, though it's certainly possible to find research that backs up most any point you're trying to make.
Well, I could squeak in an extra hour if I needed to. Regarding the "art", in many cases, what is now science was just an art ....before it became a science. It may be that those who claim that their instruction is an "art", just aren't familiar with the best science.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
Well, I could squeak in an extra hour if I needed to. Regarding the "art", in many cases, what is now science was just an art ....before it became a science. It may be that those who claim that their instruction is an "art", just aren't familiar with the best science.
Or they are, but they just don't publish it as research.

How many world champion coaches are published? Though some of them have freely given their insights on public forums or the press. I have/had pages of discussions and articles saved from coaches of 2:03 marathoners, world champion time trialists and road racers, tour de france winners, up and coming pro tour riders, etc., etc. But I'm pretty sure none of them are published in peer-reviewed journals.

You can employ the scientific process quite easily, and people that have done that over years with dozens, if not hundreds of athletes, generally have a pretty good sense of what works and what doesn't. You can apply that to nearly any profession: book smart versus application smart.

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Old 01-05-21, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
And a couple of sources said we're talking 90-10 or 80-20 in terms of workouts for PT, not time spent in zone.
Not just a couple, the actual source says it's workout sessions.

I said in another thread polarized training is the most misconstrued training concept going specifically because most people touting it don't have any idea of what the actual methodology entails. It's deliciously ironic.
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Old 01-05-21, 12:53 PM
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Just found this from Dr. Andy Coggan (a published exercise physiologist) while searching about topics of short-duration power. It's fairly germane to the discussion (at least one side of it).

Originally Posted by Andrew Coggan
Andrewmc wrote:
what has been the most effective way for you to raise your FTP?


Training in the "sweetspot."

(At the 1st-ever power-based training seminar in Philadelphia in 2001, I ended my talk with a Lettermanesque top 10 list of things I'd learned by using a powermeter. The last three were: 3) specificity, 2) specificity!, 1) SPECIFICITY!)
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Old 01-05-21, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Just found this from Dr. Andy Coggan (a published exercise physiologist) while searching about topics of short-duration power. It's fairly germane to the discussion (at least one side of it).

Link? The context would be nice! There are sure to be some who disagree, maybe an expert or two. I am familiar with Coggan, and I do remember seeing lots of long threads on slowtwitch.,, sweet spot vs PT. Specificity seems like a third pillar to the question. I do tend to remember that specificity is more important as you approach your specific race. I'd have to see what science Coggan cites to support his assertion.
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Old 01-05-21, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Not just a couple, the actual source says it's workout sessions.

I said in another thread polarized training is the most misconstrued training concept going specifically because most people touting it don't have any idea of what the actual methodology entails. It's deliciously ironic.
The "source" isn't always the all to end all. There may be others who have added to that science. I do agree with you regarding "most people". I'm a contrarian at heart. When a politician says, " I think the American public is smart enough to...(fill in the blank), I translate that as "The American public is mostly stupid (or misguided, ignorant etc) and...."
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Old 01-05-21, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Het Volk View Post
During the winter, I decided to focus on building up my aerobic base, and forget about FTP for now, ...
And what would the difference be?
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Old 01-05-21, 01:31 PM
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I have nothing other than my opinion.....but I think Polarized Training and limited time as in 6-8 hours a week don't go together. I believe it is too short of a duration to surpass the adaptations that 6-8 hours of sweet spot (plus a threshold+ session thrown in) would. See bell curve below.

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Old 01-05-21, 02:14 PM
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It's common knowledge that everybody's different. The question is, how might the OP be different? They don't know, we don't know. I can tell the OP one thing for sure, that if he can ride 4-5 two hour solid zone 1 rides in the 3-zone system per week and no other rides, week after week say for 3 weeks, it'll make a difference. What sort of difference? There's that individual thing again. It's a long life. Taking a few weeks to experiment won't be a mistake. Of course we are supposed to be done with that by now, having started our base training in October. But here we are anyway. My guess is that the OP will find that challenging, IOW it'll cause adaptation.

The numb of the matter is that "raising FTP" is a goal, but what does that mean? If one is doing a 8-20 minute test, a lot of that FTP can be made up of anaerobic power. If by FTP we mean an hour test, which I see more and more riders going by, then that's another story, because that's going to have to have a huge aerobic component and doing a lot of aerobic work will improve that particular test, though maybe not the 8-20 minutes tests so much.

As above, "specificity." Does the OP have any desire to do anything other than to change that one measure of performance and if so for how many minutes? And why? I frankly don't understand why increasing FTP should even be a goal. It's not sensible. Maybe the performance improvement desired by the OP is in 1 minute power or 5 hour power or what?

For sure, the OP's conjecture in post 7 is incorrect. Low volume, low effort training won't raise your FTP, that's for sure. OTOH, trying to ride one's maximum attainable effort/week at the low end will have results, they just might or might no show up in FTP, depending on how it's defined. Training is all about maximum attainable effort and raising same.

One thing's for sure about PT and it's that doing 6 X 8 X 4 Z5 once a week will make you faster. Done that. There's no question. The second thing one can be sure of is that if one did that once a week and a competitive 4000' group ride once a week, one won't have the energy to do anything else but Z2 for the rest of the week or one would risk overtraining. Done that. It's interesting to me that the high end of PT is also high volume, doing just 105%, no more.
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Old 01-06-21, 11:30 PM
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Wattsup
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I found this interesting article. https://www.bikepartsreview.com/Pola...l#.X_PVBC9h3OQ
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