My Polarized Training Experience (Chad McNeese & others)


Good job and thanks for sharing.

My feedback (FWIW) - you would benefit from more base training.


Out of curiosity, what leads you to that conclusion?

I agree and that’s where I will be starting my new season (SSB1, MV) end of Nov.

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Looking at your longer rides, even in third week, your HR decoupling on individual intervals. Not decoupling for the entire ride, but for specific intervals at constant power, later in a long workout. Again I only took a quick look, and didn’t run any calculations. I’d also hazard a guess that your LT1 is about 60% ftp (65% ftp absolute tops) - where you can do longer ~15-20 minute intervals at constant power without an increase in HR.

Source: page 159 of “Base Building for Cyclists” Thomas Chapple


Awesome. I appreciate the thoughts, comments and references. I will review that and see what I can learn. Thanks. :smiley:

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If I had your rocker plates and ability to nut out those long indoor rides, I’d not think twice and do at least phase 1 of traditional base before working on muscle endurance (SSB1). Or do a repeat of POL.


I have to consider that for the weeks leading into my SSB.

Might work well since I am doing a blood donation next Thursday. So I will be down on power for a bit.

Could be perfect time for some TB work… hmmm.
Thanks for the idea!!!


I really just can’t fully believe the Ramp-Test yet… I can’t believe that it is a good representation of a threshold test. But it could just be a good starting point for someone to figure out the rest on their own.


No test protocol is “perfect”. Not a single one, PERIOD.
Each one can work well or poorly for different individuals.

What matters is picking one that works for each person, using it, learning from it, and applying the info to set training targets. Anything else beyond that is academic and will probably not yield anything that alters training results, IMHO.

I’d like to keep this thread about training in the POL context and leave discussion about FTP testing in other threads.


So this was in regards to your polarized experiment. Wasn’t Wednesday your test day to gauge your results? I was peeking back in to see how it went. Based on results only, it looks like you gained 1w through your polarized training experiment. My comment about the Ramp-Test was fueled by my belief that it probably wasn’t the best kind of test to reflect your true growth — anecdotally from my own experience.

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POL is about raising the floor and ceiling. The ramp test doesn’t test the floor. Regardless, the only conclusions I’m able to draw from this experiment is about the floor. Using the metrics I’m familiar with, Chad could use a little more time working on aerobic base and keeping it around 40-60% to raise the floor and get a wider aerobic base.

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For the purposes of evaluating your results @mcneese.chad, have you previously had good agreement between the Ramp and 20 minute test? Put another way, did your FTP from Ramp match fluctuate along with your training and RPE for given power levels?

I think it’s less important the specific number produced by the test in this instance, but the delta and consistency of the yardstick. If the Ramp Test was previously a good measure in the difference between fitness from previous stages, I’m inclined to trust it.

More likely in all of this is that Chad got more aerobically efficient and has better anaerobic repeatability, but minimal gains in threshold power. Which would make sense given he has been training those specific energy systems and wouldn’t show in an FTP test. This would also match what most people see during the Speciality phase, which is a minimal or no gain in FTP but general sharpening for race fitness.


I really feel like if we want to get anywhere with this discussion we should push to use more precise language to describe the differences between POL and SST.

What exactly, physiologically speaking, do “floor” and “ceiling” mean? The term “wider aerobic base” sounds nice, but what are the actual physical differences between someone that has a “wide” aerobic base and someone that has a “narrow” aerobic base? What is it that makes an aerobic base “wide” in the first place?

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Improved use of fat for fuel, as shown in this thread:

you train that by riding a long time at or below your ventilatory threshold, which is approximately LT1 (lactate threshold 1), and can also be approximate as % HRmax or % FTP.

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Am I missing something here? His 2017 test showed much higher fat utilization rates and his main training blocks leading up to the test were SSB1 and SSB2.


Floor -> Power at or close to VT1. (aerobic threshold). “close to” is debatable. how “close to”? 10 watts? 20watts?
Aerobic endurance -> how long I can hold said power.
“Wide” -> long time at said power. or just not losing as much for longer (HR/Power less decoupled on per interval basis and also over course of the ride. two separate things)
“narrow” -> comparatively shorter time

Subjectively, with a wider aerobic base I don’t want to kill someone out of “hanger” after a 4 hr ride.

Granted, these aren’t really “physiologically speaking”, but I agree with you about precise language so maybe the above?

I’ve been going by @mcneese.chad chart for the purposes of this thread.


Yes, I tested last night. I did a short summary that I need to add into the OP. Here is what I have for now.

Essentially, the Ramp is only one part of how I plan to “loosely” evaluate my experience and possible gains (or losses). The other workouts coming this weekend are more of that evaluation.

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I get the feeling that most people aren’t using “wide” and “narrow” in the way you defined them. I don’t think many races are won based on how long you can maintain your power at VT1.


Sadly, I have not done a Ramp test and a 20-m test in close proximity, so I don’t have directly comparable results. What I do know is that I struggled with the 20-m test. I very rarely “nailed” one and instead either blew up or more commonly under-performed. I struggled with pacing and over analyzing my performance in the moment with “goal” power in mind, that only served to mess me up.

I have had more consistent and repeatable results since using the ramp. Perhaps I can con myself into trying a 20-m test for the sake of comparison, but I don’t love the idea :stuck_out_tongue:

I am hoping to get some measure of this with the hard Disaster-Half I have planned for Sat, and the Zwift Fondo on Sunday. Either way, I doubt that I will have any conclusive results and more likely some general feeling. But I hope to learn something along the way.

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No, it’s just gets you invited to the “I get to compete at the end of the race because I’m actually with the group” party. Also, ultras? Yes they are

Having said that, I’m happy to change how I’m using the terms. Ppl do use these terms differently (and vaguely, as you point out)

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One thought I have seen is that if you raise the LT1/VT1, you can potentially spend time at higher power output, with lower physical cost and possibly preserving glycogen stores.

So those longer events that may be commonly below threshold for much of the duration, could lead to a person with a higher LT1/VT1 having more “juice in the tank” when it comes to the more decisive moments of higher power output at or near the end of the race.

Mostly speculation in my part (from memory of articles I have read or skimmed), but I think there could be something to it.