My Polarized Training Experience (Chad McNeese & others)


Perhaps there was an issue with HR data on the Mt Deborah ride. To do a session after a rest day and be “smoked”, but only just reach 90% of peak HR, does sound a little odd.

Don’t worry btw - if you say you gave it your all, I definitely believe you!

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I don’t usually get too close to my max HR on the turbo either, even when doing hard VO2 max efforts. My highest HR is always when I’m running.

Looks like this is pretty common:

"It’s very normal to have a higher heart rate (HR) when running compared to biking, despite feeling no greater effort. It’s the muscles pushing the heart to pump faster due to more muscles being used when you run. Similarly, HR when riding a stationary bike or turbo trainer is less than on rollers or road riding because the latter two take more muscular effort to balance and steer. "


To restate the obvious, HR is variable. There are many, many reasons it could have responded the way it did. Again, regardless of the HR, my legs and lungs were toast upon completion of the hard days. In particular, the ones in the last “work” week were particularly taxing.

I resorted to “cheating” with backpedals and extended rest (in the final 3 recovery intervals of each workout) just to complete all of the work intervals at full length and power. I don’t know what more I should have done to get my HR up to where it was “supposed” to be. Likely, if I was doing a different workout with longer work intervals, that might happen, but who knows?

Have a look at my Boarstone workout yesterday. Right on the heals of the Longfellow mishap, and my HR was just a bit below the horizontal equivalent to power in nearly every case. I watched it more closely yesterday because of how poorly Longfellow went.

I also have been working on some breathing techniques / tricks. I am using them in the Z1 and Z3 workouts. I can seemingly drop my hr 3-5 bpm with focused attention and a new pattern I am testing. I employed it throughout yesterdays 2-hour easy ride and was able to keep it extra low for the indicated power. Quite the opposite of what we saw from the 4-hour bruiser I did the day before.

That key difference is one reason I feel my power was corrupted on the Longfellow ride.


During my ramp test, I hit 183 bpm. This is close to my estimated max.

I have hit 186 in the past outside (about 2 years ago) so I may or may not even have my max correct as listed at 185 bpm right now. Since that drives the POL data, I could have some incorrect HR zones as a result.

That, among all the other reasons, is why HR has been secondary for all of my POL training.

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Wow, my ramp tests don’t get me that close to my max - think I peaked at 175 last test and my 2018 max is 184


Yeah, and one reason I am not entirely certain I have my max correct.

I didn’t bother to adjust because anything more is just guessing right now.

I have had different “failures” in Ramp tests. Early ones were more muscular in the legs. But I am spinning faster lately, and that leads to HR and respiration being my “ceiling”, not the legs.

This test was 100 rpm avg, and I popped at 87 rpm this time (when I have been down to 70 rpm in other Ramps).


Absolutely understandable, especially when it does seem to vary from ride to ride (175 max for Mt Aleskya and 167 max for Mt Deborah at the exact same intensity and fairly similar interval lengths is quite a variation).

In my experience though, I’ve found % of maxHR to be a fairly reliable indicator of the effect of training on my body. VO2 intervals take me to 90%+, but if I hit 95%, it’s a sure sign I’m about to hit a wall.

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I only go over 180 in mass start races - going outside on my own or with friends I peak in the high 170’s. Heart rate is such a variable beast though…compare these two efforts

This is from a ride with friends - a 10 minute hill climb that came about 2.5 hours into the ride. Nothing too intense ahead of it, so relatively fresh at the start. Huge effort for me, and still only got to 178 BPM


This is an attack at the end of a 3 hour race, so heavy fatigue from racing hard beforehand - theoretically should be harder to get a very high HR when that much fatigue is in play - yet somehow in race conditions I pushed it higher. Granted - profile of the power here is VERY different (spike to get away then a TT level effort to maintain a gap) as opposed to a more even effort


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Great example. I could see at least 2 reason for that (everything else being equal)

  1. Mt Deborah was the 1st ride of the week, after a full rest day. Mt Aleskya was the 3rd ride in the week, so pure fatigue could be a factor.
  2. Mt Deborah was 3 min intervals vs Mt Aleskya that was 4 min intervals. That increase in duration (even at the same power intensity) could account for the increase.

So, that relation ship seems quite reasonable, no matter the exact cause(s).

Interestingly, I was way over on Longfellow and had likely way more power than what was prescribed. The RPE and HR were over the top. But I felt very good in RPE and HR was WAAAAY lower for Boarstone that was similar intensity.



I set to a similar time-frame and duration (1:45 total after the warm-up, to rule out fatigue in the longer ride).

Avg HR is 16 bpm lower on the ride the day after. If anything, this would likely increase due to lingering fatigue from the longer ride the day before.

I would expect that even if I had done Longfellow at the proper intensity. I was expecting Boarstone to fully beat me since I over did the other ride. But quite the opposite, for some reason. I think the power data is fully in question simple from comparing those data points.

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OP is updated with the Z1 workouts from the weekend.

I am starting on a data sheet pulling info together to review my zone distributions. It is in the same Google Sheet as the Power Zones, but give me some time to develop the data and figure out how to summarize it all.


If that portion of the interview actually translated the percentages into bpm for a particular person and discounted resting heart rate, I would be convinced that I was mistaken in what he meant. But it doesn’t, he never clarifies the context of that percentage. But suffice to say that I am neither invested in training by heart rate, nor in the polarized training approach, so take that for what you will. I was just trying to help.


For the benefit of anyone who IS interested in the polarised system, Seiler is crystal clear in the Velonews podcast about how to set rough heart rate zones. Quote:

“Percentages of percentages tend to get tricky, so I tend to reference anything to heart rate peak… heart rate peak is the highest heart rate that you see during cycling, ever. [Q: What percentages would you have LT1 and LT2 at?] Based on that, I would say LT1 is somewhere around 70% of heart rate peak… they shouldn’t go above 75% of heart rate peak.”

I’ve found this a very useful rule of thumb for long steady rides - go to power for the first couple of hours, and then just ride at 70-75% max HR.


@martinheadon and @matthew.weigel

Aerobic threshold (“LT1”) is tested in a lab. Your lactate levels are tested, the intensity at which your lactate levels rise ( = you start burning more carbs for fuel) is called your aerobic threshold. Its also the point at which your breathing picks up, versus being at rest.

Everything else is an approximation of LT1 - % HRmax, % VO2max, % ftp, % LTHR, etc. Here are Joe Friel’s approximations:

  • 60% VO2max
  • 70% HRmax
  • 80% LTHR
  • LT HR in bpm - 30bpm


Using the last formula, when my cycling fitness is high my LTHR is about 165. So 165-30 = 135 and low and behold, that roughly holds true as I call it “I could ride all day HR” and what I use to pace long climbs and long rides while chatting with someone.

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Absolutely - the section of the Velonews podcast I’ve been quoting was very much along the lines of “how do we approximate LT1 and LT2 if we don’t have access to this kind of testing?”


Absolutely. Some of the confusion here seems to be getting familiar with new terminology, expecting precision when there isn’t any, and getting overwhelmed by the alphabets soup of terms and abbreviations. Self coaching isn’t easy :smile:

Ride on!


I think part of the confusion is that Seiler has at different times used different formulas. He has said both 75% of max HR but also that range formula. The important difference is that in the range version it’s 65% not 75%. For me the 65% range and 75% max HR values are pretty similar.


Hi Guys!

Brilliantly informative, Chad (sorry don’t know how to tag)
For what it’s worth I’ve trawled the literature, Podcasts, Twitter feeds etc and I found the Flo Cycling Podcast with Stephen Seiler to be the most informative ( Episode 13 - under, Nate) The questions put to Dr Seiler really do dig to the salient points - Proper HRR calculations and numerous others.

The guy is a scientist and is basing his findings on Laboratory research. To me, he seems a little uncomfortable when trying to put an estimation to an individual’s unique physiology. Which just makes sense - a percentage of a variable, anyone…

I found that training at Low intensity has to be done by HR, power can be good to maintain that avg if the intent is to keep the rate at LT1. I tried the TR workouts, but got frustrated with either dialing the intensity down all the time. I tend to use a modified Trainerroad workout of Recess (not sexy and very flat - helps monitoring decoupling)) and increase the power to 60% of my FTP and then extend the workout to 3, 4, 5 hours.

First hour may see me increase the intensity of power to hit the LT1, at 3 hours (maybe) decoupling occurs and I’m dialing the power down to meet the LT1 again. Of course this is variable, and I might not be able to dial it up due to fatigue or whatever. But that really is the purpose of the easy ride. Naturally, these can be boring rides, I therefore tend to use a mixture of Zwift and Netflix. And because TR is controlling via erg my prescription of LT1 is always on the button. Well, as long as I keep an eye on my HR.

For the High intensity, power only and that’s based on the brilliant Ramp test. Thus far, I’ve dabbled with 30/30, 40/20 - but I think Dr Seiler prefers the 4, 6, 8 and 16 with 2 minutes rest - which I will be giving a go at a lower Vo2 max rate

Episode 13


How are you measuring that? Curious to try myself.


Just weigh the turbo trainer mat before and after the session.

(or yourself, whichever is easiest)


Yourself will be the better option, as long as you discount the fluids you took in during the workout. Once it is out of your body it will evaporate so you lose some on the measurement if its on the mat I believe.

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