Polarized Training Workouts & Experiences (80/20)

This thread is a home for discussing specific Polarized training workouts and experiences with them.


Workouts

Here are a few TrainerRoad workouts that may work for this context. Many are not exact matches to the Dr. Seiler info, but they may be useful for this method.

  • 4x4-minute workouts:

    • Ainslie -4: intervals at 105% FTP with 4-minute recoveries.
    • Mount Alyeska -1: intervals at 105-109% FTP with 4-minute recoveries.
    • Vandever -1: intervals at 112-114% FTP with 4-minute recoveries.
  • 4x6-minute workouts:

    • Elephants -2: intervals at 108% FTP with 3-minute recoveries.
    • Jobs -1: intervals at 105% FTP with with 4-minute recoveries.
      • This also has several more variations with different recovery duration.
    • Denali +1: intervals at 110-112% FTP with 6-minute recoveries.
  • 4x7-minute workouts:

    • Washington: intervals at 105% FTP with 3-minute recoveries.
      • This also has several more variations with different interval count and recovery duration.
    • Elephants -1: intervals at 108% FTP with 5-minute recoveries.
  • 4x8-minute workouts:

    • Dicks -2: intervals at 105% FTP with 3-minute recoveries.
    • Jacks +1: intervals at 105% FTP with 4-minute recoveries.
    • Raymond +6: intervals at 108% FTP with 5-minute recoveries.
  • 4x10-minute workouts:

    • Black Hawk -4: intervals at 105% FTP with 5-minute recoveries.
      • This also has several more variations with different recovery duration.

References

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Don’t forget the thread where we’re desperately trying to solve the 4x8min workout conundrum.

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Thanks. I missed it while searching because it lacked “Polarized” in the thread name and tag (both of which I just added). I added it as a link to the references above.

For workouts, I think on the thread linked above, we worked out that Dicks -2 was probably the closest to a Seiler 4x8 session in the workout library.

105% of ramp test FTP for the intervals is almost certainly tougher than Seiler’s prescription (more like 105% of 60min power), but to compensate, you get a 3 minutes rest between them instead of Seiler’s 2.

To create an even closer approximation of Seiler’s session, I would open Dicks -2 in workout creator, reduce the rest intervals to 2 minutes, but also reduce the work interval intensity to 103% (of ramp test FTP).

(The ultimate aim is to end interval 1 at about 88-9% maxHR, interval 2 at 90-91, interval 3 at 92-93, and interval 4 at 94-95, so you might need to do some on-the-fly intensity adjusting to get there.)

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If you’ve listened to the 3 Fast Talk, the The Triathlon Show and the Flo podcasts like I have over and over and over there a few major points to take from them.

  1. You have to have an idea of your HRpeak for cycling to properly gauge the sessions
  2. You have to realize that he [Dr. Seiler] does not prescribe sessions at a precise intensity. Moreover he gives guidance and is keen to let the individual discover how to pitch their own sessions.

4x8-minutes is not set in stone. It could easily be 5x7, 6x7, 5x8, etc. It’s very much about Duration x Intensity with an ideal LT3 [Zone 3, POL?] session between 30 and 40 minutes, possibly as much as 50 minutes eventually.

It’s great that this sub-section has been created by the way.

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Don’t forget the micro intervals: 30/30, 30/15 etc , Example would be: 3 series 10-13x 30/15
Rønnestad promote it, but Seiler seem not so much convinced.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259556129_Short_intervals_induce_superior_training_adaptations_compared_with_long_intervals_in_cyclists_-_An_effort-matched_approach

For me is my bread and butter workout most of the year, but I’m a CX guy

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Having read a lot here and elsewhere and listened to a few of Seiler’s interviews, I’m still left with a question:

At what point of the training “cycle” (base, build etc) should we do polarized? Or is it the whole time?

Since I don’t have a racing season and my goal is a gran fondo in May next year, I was thinking of doing it until September and then start the whole TR program again. Does it make sense?

Thanks

S

I am interested to see someone take this on for up to 6 months and see how they improved over the start of it. I am still not convinced this would be better than training to what your needs are for your style of racing. I can only relate to mtb but the needs for a marathon racer with big climbs is different for the XC racer that needs short punchy bursts. Different engines. I am sure road racers have the same issue here as well as triathletes. I am not knocking it at all because I have very limited knowledge in all this but would love to see someone take this on…For all our sakes🤯

They’re probably not as different as you think which is basically what Seiler said in the last Fast Talk podcast.

Look at those competing at the pointy end in events like Cape Epic - Christoph Sauser, Nino Schurter, Jaroslav Kulhavy, Manuel Fumic, Henrique Avancini, etc and you can see one thing that they all have in common - they’re all exceptional XCO racers.

It’s also worth noting that this year’s winner of DK200, Colin Strickland, is a guy who ‘specialises in Criteriums and Gravel’ and has also been a Texas State CX champion.

Mike

But Colin’s training in preparation for DK200 was far from crit specific. Lots of tempo grinding over many hours.

No man’s land, grey zone, happy hard. Hardcore polarists would shudder.

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LOL, nah. Proper event prep leads to peppering and even more dramatic shifts in workouts that differ from the main 80/20 direction, and are far more tailored to the demands of the event.

So 80/20 throughout the year and once an event is approaching shake it up to make it event specific? How many weeks out or months out?

Mike

That leads to the “Periodizing” discussion. There is a lot of discussion around that in the threads linked above, and I don’t feel confident enough to offer an opinion on specifics for others.

Seiler considers periodisation as overrated.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/310725768_Seiler’s_Hierarchy_of_Endurance_Training_Needs

However, as he says himself the polarized model has taken a life of it’s own, don’t know what purists would prescribe.

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I’ve now doubt.

I wasn’t really trying to make the point that he was training polarized or otherwise, more that you can be good at lots of supposedly very different disaplines.

Mike

At least to is an option to us this model over years, while others train towards the main events more polarized. Sometimes a periodisation follow naturally the race schedule or social or seasonal constraints.
I linked here a case study

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I’ve started on 3 months of an 80/20 plan. I’m using one group ride and Coach Chad’s VO2 max progression on my intensity days. Using the FTP from my most recent ramp test. . Once I finish the VO2 max progression, I will do a 1 hr test and use it going forward for the Zone 3 4 and 8 min intervals. My non intensity days are 2 hrs at an IF of .6 on the trainer. Power level is governed by pulse. I’m using Chad’s spreadsheet as a guide. Just finished week 2, and I’ve already noticed an increase in power for a given pulse.

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Can you upload a screen shot of your calendar? Just curious to see what it looks like. I am very interested in the model mainly because I want to minimize my intensity days, but the days I do it make it really count.

Mike

Not much on the calendar. I’ll describe what I’m doing and if you still want to see it, I can up load it. I started back riding in April 2018 after 9 years off. Rode about 3 days/week through the summer and did a 130 mi Grand Fondo in September which caused a Knee problem.
Started Traditional Base in November. Have gone through Traditional Base LV 1 and 2 and SSB LV 1 and 2. FTP when I started was < 100 per the ramp test and currently sits at 184 after SSB2. I’ve chosen to proceed with at least 3 months of 80/20 due to my impression that I don’t have a very good aerobic base, and as a result, doing SSB felt sort of like building a house on sand. My typical week looks like this:
Mon 2 hr zone 1 on the trainer
Tue VO2 max w/o approx 1 hr
Wed 2 hr zone 1 on the trainer
Thurs2 hr zone 1 on the trainer
Sat Group Ride 2-4 hrs ( this weekend I’m doing a sponsored ride 75 miles, and will stick to Zone 1 as much as possible .
My long term goal is a cross country ride next summer.

Ok. That lays it out.