Quality over Quantity vs. 80/20 (or Chad vs. Matt ;))



“Intensity” is a generic term and open to interpretation without more context.

It can be overly relative and subjective unless properly framed with more quantitative references.

(That’s probably the reason the Seiler model uses Low, Moderate, and High Intensity to define and label his 3-Zone model).

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@mcneese.chad I meant greater than aerobic theshold by the term “intensity”. Not “hard” or “difficult”

Coaches and scientists often say “intensity” to mean > AeT. That’s all I meant. It also wasn’t precise and seemingly snide. Not my intention.

Seiler does what I think most scientists do: base their models or zones on actual physiological phenomena, like the lactate curve or respiration, and not field tests like FTP or “hour power”. It makes it confusing sometimes. You’re chart does a good job reconciling his with TR zones


i haven’t read about this before. He suggested doing three long runs at your maximum steady state. The goal of those workouts is if you can’t maintain the pace you did for the first half during the second half you went too hard. Then shorter easy runs.


There is a schedule in the latter half of the paper, the only intensity in the offseason is a 3 to 5k time trial every other week. So some intensity, but much less than 20%.


Intensity thoughout the year, a lot of LIT, but also quite some “no man’s zone/zone to avoid/bad zone” training.

The Road to Gold: Training and Peaking Characteristics in the Year Prior to a Gold Medal Endurance Performance

Eleven elite XC skiers and biathletes


Annual training characteristics.

A: Total training time (h) distributed into endurance training (zones 1–5), strength and sprint (bars, y-axis), and total training frequency (sessions) (line, z-axis) during each month and divided into phases. B: HIT frequency (sessions) distributed into zones 3, 4 and 5 (bars, y-axis) during each month and divided in phases. There was a statistically significant difference (P<.05) in total HIT sessions and zones 3, 4 and 5 respectively across the GP, SP and CP. Pairwise post-hoc tests showed: * Difference in total HIT sessions across phases (P<.01). # Difference between zone 5 sessions vs. GP (P<.01).

Exactly the same as for the eltie Swedish XC Skiers, posted here before. Significant amount of training in Seiler-zone2/5-Zone-model-zone3&4


So during general prep, the xc skiers did < 10% of their total time in zones 3,4,5. And this is for a low impact sport. They don’t approach 20% until late in their training cycle while still being below 15% of their total time at intensity.


I have done 6 weeks of zone 1 training together with base running. Managed to increase power at same heart rate. Doing this on a turbo is extremely boring, I think I will go on like this for another month before starting a TR plan. Perhaps will add VO2 max workouts once per week for the remaining month.


I think ‘intensity’ and ‘high intensity’ are being used interchangeably.


@themagicspanner Exactly, and I think that’s causing some confusion.


I assume you mean Zone 1 Seiler not Zone 1 Coggan/TR? How much did power increase? If you don’t want to say that’s fine, but would you consider it non-trivial? Like, if you would’ve gotten the same boost in watts for your FTP would you feel it was worth the 6 weeks? Also (sorry, but come on, this is fun!) :slight_smile: why add Vo2 max workouts? Why not add a single Sweet Spot session or sprinkle in some mid-level intensity before jumping to build?



Just pointing to Fig 2 of the paper, endurance training in gen prep is 50% running or cycling.


Starting late August I did an early base consisting of SSB1-MV and a bunch of longer outside rides. Then did 4 weeks of Traditional Base 1 on the trainer, to reinforce the power and feeling of riding at low intensity. My butt can’t handle those 2+ hours workouts on the Kickr, so I switched back to SSB1-HV last week.

I did SSB1-HV last December, a year ago my ftp was 236 and now it’s 240. So basically the same power year over year at the beginning of sweet spot base.

Comparing workouts to a year ago (e.g. Antelope, Hunter, Wright Peak -2), my HR this year on long intervals is 5-10bpm lower at essentially the same power. And the pain cave is warmer as afternoons are still in the 70s this time of year.

Lots of caveats, but year over year the numbers are clearly showing a drop in HR at same power.

My Polarized Training Experience (Chad McNeese & others)

I didn’t listen to all of it but that sounded like a very high volume of training across the three sports.

He had some interesting comments on periodization in that he doesn’t believe in it, but in variation or he might have said variety. There’s some truth in that I think depending on what you’re training for.


From the notes during winter, they would do 3 bike sessions, 1 easy and 2 threshold workouts consisting of 75 minutes at threshold.


Threshold isn’t POL as defined by Dr Seiler.


The coach admits that in the notes, but says that they still emphasize a lot of low intensity work.


And every coach and book always says you can never get too much base. I do a lot of long outside rides, anecdotally they help.


You are correct, it is Seiler zone 1. As for increase in power - should about 10 watts or so. More than that - 10 beats drop of HR at the same intensity and feeling much fresher at the end of a 2 hour workout. There is no reason not to add some SS as you suggest, but I figure I will do plenty of that once my TR plan starts.


It seems that the common denominator in all these successful pros is that they’re all spending a large % of training at low intensity (and been disciplined enough to stick to a low intensity), rather than exactly how the remaining 20% (ish) is spent.


the other common denominators is they ride more than 10 hours a week, have a lot of experience, and are genetically gifted with higher VO2max than average. While I generally agree that even during races they can spend a lot of time at low intensity (riding in peloton), it would be interesting to see more data.

There is absolutely no doubt that more riding at low intensity will increase aerobic base. That has never been up for debate as far as I know.


My point was more that maybe it’s not worth stressing exactly how to spend the 20%. People on this forum are debating tiny differences in zones etc., when perhaps none of those tiny details really matter at all.

Stephen Seiler says spend the 20% at high intensity, Matt Fitzgerald says spend the 20% at either threshold or high intensity, Arild Tveiten says spend the 20% at race pace… and so on.

Maybe this could all be simplified… easy days easy, hard days hard, train consistently - from there your genetics will dictate how good you get :slight_smile: