Polarized training

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by BrianMacDonald, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. BrianMacDonald

    BrianMacDonald New Member

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    I have been reading a lot about polarized training lately, as I'm sure a lot of folks have been as well. I am wondering if anyone has started incorporating these concepts into their training programs.

    As I understand it, polarized training, in its purest form (i.e. the form that is the subject of the studies) involves short, high intensity sessions mixed in with longer, low-intensity sessions. There is virtually no in-between (meaning threshold level intensity) in the mix. Here are links to a few studies in case anyone needs a place to start:
    - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3912323/#!po=46.4286 - two high intensity sessions per week (consisting of 4x4min @95% of HRpeak) per week were better than the other training methods studied.
    - http://jap.physiology.org/content/114/4/461 - polarized training is better than threshold
    - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21812820 - suggests that 4x8 min intervals produces better results than 4x4 or 4x16.

    I am certainly not looking to ditch my threshold training but I am thinking about incorporating some of what is here into my training - to provide a mental break if nothing else. I suppose the most obvious way would be to replace one or more of my weekly L4 sessions with a 4 x 4-to-8 min L5 session while decreasing the intensity of the other L4 sessions but increasing the time.

    I am just wondering what others make of these studies in light of the success that a lot of us (including myself) have had with threshold training and what, if any, alterations in your training you have made.


    PS. ...and please don't boot me off this forum for this the way weight weenies would -- [​IMG]
     
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  2. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    I've read a bit about it lately as well since it has been popping up a lot in discussions.

    I have adopted the 4 x 8's, but have to admit that I have not followed the remainder where one does 80% at an L1 type of intensity.

    In the following link they mention when you think you are going easy enough you probably need to go easier. That is for the 80% portion. For most of us this goes against what we naturally think in training. We tend to want to train hard because it seems naturally like the thing to do and because that is what we are often taught or told.

    http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/train-at-the-right-intensity-ratio

    I am pretty sure I won't follow polarized because I despise sitting at L1 inside or outside. I cannot imagine me doing 80% of my cycling time at an intensity that I don't enjoy and I want to enjoy training. I love those 4 x 8's though and wouldn't mind doing those every day if my body could hold up.

    Let us know if you jump into polarized and give it a shot.
     
  3. BrianMacDonald

    BrianMacDonald New Member

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    Quote: I am pretty sure I won't follow polarized because I despise sitting at L1 inside or outside.

    This is entirely the reason that I don't want to give up threshold work entirely. It provides a bang-for-buck that works for me. Even before I came across this I had planned to incorporate some shorter higher intensity intervals into my training this winter to provide a break from the steady diet of 2x20's. This just served to further convince me of the benefits.
     
  4. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I think a lot of the discussion about "the best training plan" for a given segment of time (1 month, 6 months, 12 months, or whatever) must start with two questions:
    1. What are my objectives for this time segment?
    2. What is my training constraint?

    For example, let's say that my first target event is 6 months out (which is about right at this time of year, at least above the equator). My primary training objective would be to maximize my 120MP. Depending on the nature of my target events, I would not add a focus on AWC until about 6 weeks from the first target event. In my case, my training constraint is total hours per week and, depending on my work schedule, that's in the range of 12-18 hours/week. If my available training time was unlimited, my training constraint would be total TSS per week.

    So, the central question is, "How do I allocate my training constraint resource to achieve my objective?" In my case, I would structure my plan to maximize L4-L7 as a percentage of total time per week. My real target would be L4, but most of my routes have a bunch of short climbs (3-10 mins), and I do them at L5+. And, I like to throw in 3-5 5s L7 efforts at the end of my outdoor rides (it's at the end of the ride, so who cares about recovery). So, I end up with a significant chunk of L5-L7 time even when I am focusing on L4. Why do I allocate my time this way? Because I think it is the best structure to achieve my objective in consideration of my training constraint. But, it's difficult for me to get a base case for pure threshold work because of the nature of my courses.
     
  5. bing181

    bing181 New Member

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    Much discussion - and dispute - around this on the Wattage group.

    Hard to know what to make of it to be honest. I've done VO2Max work as a way of bringing on a peak, but would be nervous about building all of my training just around Polarised work.
     
  6. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    The results of training are more dependent on nature (genes) than nurture (training).

    I am a believer that high intensity for long enough to get my heart rate up near LT is beneficial. The longer I can keep it up the better. In light of that:

    L4 is a bit too easy. As long as I get enough food everyday I can do 30 minutes twice a day at 95-100% FTP with my heart rarte getting to LT for a couple minutes at the end. That is poor benefit for the time. But is is good enough on vacations where I am expected to function most of the day.

    L5 seems reasonable. At 110-120% FTP about half of an interval can be spent at LT.

    But that is me. You need to find what works for you. (I never do a ride in L1.)
     
  7. jiberish2014

    jiberish2014 New Member

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    The key in the first two studies is that they were tested on well trained endurance athletes. At a high level of fitness it's generally accepted that L5/6/7 work is beneficial, and that it's a matter of balancing the extra recovery from those efforts with total training volume. The third study only had the recreational cyclists do 2 hours a week of L4, which ignores its strength, namely that it's easy enough to recover from to do way more than two hours a week.

    In Tyson's thread it was suggested to add in L5+6 intervals on 1-2 days once FTP is high enough. They were 110% FTP for 3 minutes, 120% FTP for 1 minute, 5 minute rest, repeatx5. It seemed like a great way to do L5 and 6 on the same day and not draw out the suffering with extended vo2 intervals. I intend to add this to my training once L4 only gains start to slow, however for many riders it seems like increasing the total L4 time per week will probably give the gains they are looking for. If it's for mental reasons, then by all means. Swampy also made a great suggestion to do that L1 work and practice riding on the drops or aerobars.
     
  8. BrianMacDonald

    BrianMacDonald New Member

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    Its difficult to pin down exactly what these papers mean by "high intensity" but in the first one they suggest its 90% - 95% of peak heart rate which is higher than where I usually do my threshold work but not that much higher.

    I suppose that my own takeaway from this discussion is that incorporating some high L4/low L5 or higher into my winter training might be a good thing. As I mentioned upthread I have typically not done much of this and was planning to anyway this winter. I am not going to even try to entertain the idea of 2 - 3 hours low intensity session on the trainer. For me those are the types of sessions that contribute to mental fatigue, not the high intensity. The application of this during the season (i.e outdoors) , where 2-3 hour low intensity rides are something to look forward to, might be different.

    I'll try to post periodically with any observations or learnings. I invite others to do the same.
     
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