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



Have your race results been different?


Last season i was finishing mid to high 20’s and now im low to mid teens. Just cant break that top 10 yet. Field of riders is usually about 70 in V40.
Too be honest i think that my technical ability compared to the top 10 guys is slight lacking and im burning too many matches to compensate.
My best results usually come in at the second half of the season which i think is because of two things. My technical ability is better due to the racing every weekend and also because of the amount of LT1 work i have done to keep my endurance up through the season when others drop off due to either lack of training or too much HITT.


Great thread!

I have entered into a Polarized program on my own since TR does not offer this plan. I am still attempting to figure out just how it will take shape.

After coming back from a 170 mile medical trek in the Nepal above 13000 feet I noted that my FTP had fallen rather a bit. I do feel that my time hiking will benefit me in the long run.

I understand that TR will be coming out with a discussion of their data analysis in the near future, but I’m not quite sure what can really be drawn from this data since it in no way can be determined to be the totality of anybody’s training.

Unclear why TR has not attempted to create a plan for POL.


My guess at this time is the typical statement that assumes you need 10+ hours of total training time to gethe “most” out of POL training. TR is focused on the “time-crunched” athlete, and aim to get as much benefit from as little as 3 hours up to 9 hours in the rare cases. The bulk of their customers are probably centered around the 5-7 hour range (my guess).

We are all wondering how well the POL idea scales down to these lower volume levels. It’s one of the repeat questions that has driven much of the discussion here.

So, I’d say the most likely reason TR doesn’t have direct POL offerings is pure time. They may well (and most likely so based on how much Coach Chad appears to do) have done their own research on this and any other training method, to arrive at their particular blend of training methodology.

I hope to learn some of that and more when they finally have the deep dive training show.


Probably because there isn’t a consistent or reliable way to establish training zones, as well as insufficient evidence in real world cyclists over the course of a whole season that a Polarized plan is a viable training system that makes you faster.


This, plus the best plan is the plan you actually follow. 3+ hour trainer rides are a hard sell for most folks.


This is a hard sell:



Have you read this thread?
How about any evidence to show that the plans that they have are superior?


Though they have other plans that are 10+ hours. And there is some data that shows that it works for 6-8 hours per week.


Yes, we know about both of those (TR’s High Vol plans & a few POL studies with shorter hours) and we have discussed them in detail here and the other POL threads.

However, to put it simply, the evidence in the less than 10 hour range is far from complete and directly applicable when comparing to the SST and Threshold options of similar time. There is not conclusive evidence of any system being superior to the other or specific points where one may be less successful.

Essentially, there are more unknowns than knowns.

A bit off topic, but I’d suggest that you reconsider questioning @stevemz like that. He’s more than knowledgeable in this and many other areas here. His points are quite valid, and again, already covered in detail here and elsewhere.


Pinot’s numbers are interesting in that his average over the year in 2013 is 18 hours per week. Whilst that’s a fair amount it’s much less than I was expecting at less than 4 hours a day. But then again most stage race days are at about the 4 hour mark.

Obviously there will be times when the volume is above that a times when it’s below.



Perhaps the tone in my post didn’t come across correctly (it was not meant in a snarky way).

Simply put TR has a responsibility to it’s customer base to provide training plans that are backed by enough experience to know that they should work well, as well as a testing and evaluation framework to make the plans simple to follow.

As evidenced by this current thread Chad is graciously experimenting, there is simply not enough information about Polarized training, from the testing to the plan structure for anyone to have reasonable confidence that the system will work…yet. He has had to come up with his own zone system based off an extremely broad set of guidelines that were mentioned in a podcast since none of us have access to regular lab testing to establish LT1.

My own personal experience with TR Sweetspot plans (along with private coaching which follows a similar ideology) over the past four years is that I’ve added nearly 100w to my threshold and dropped nearly 50 pounds. I don’t need scientific studies in this case, since I have a system that works well for me. Other systems may work well for others, but I’ve yet to see a full season’s worth of data from someone to evaluate.

I’m always curious about new training regimes, but as always, remain skeptical until it can be otherwise demonstrated over a long enough time scale (i.e. a full season) that the new method is worth investing in.


I assume you’re talking about reduced volume (just realised how much I hate the term time-crunched) polarized training because doing sweetspot 6 days a week is a much more recent development.



No, I’m talking about Polarized as a whole, even time crunched. Seiler specifically says that his research is descriptive, not perspective.

Most polarized “plans” that I’ve seen are very much in experimental phases right now and very few people I’m aware of have completed entire seasons following the regime. Happy to look at any data anyone has available!

If you ignore SSBHV 1+2 (which most people shouldn’t be doing), most of TR’s other plans are well established in cycling orthodoxy and you get a wide mix of stimulus across most energy systems. “Sweetspot” is a newer terminology for an existing energy system that had specific workouts targeting it for many decades.


@robdoc1love Trust me man, we’re all interested in this.

This thread as well as @mcneese.chad Polarized Experience thread (which I see you’ve found) are great reads all the way through IMO (if you have time). I’ve learned a ton. I’ve challenged both sides and come away pretty much where @mcneese.chad lands:

I’ve even changed my mind a couple of times. And who ever admits to changing their mind on the internet! I have a Masters Degree in Exercise Science. I even had two undergrad classes under Dudley, G. A. (google it). And I was a division III XC runner in college (30:00 for 10k). So I’m not a total noob. Yet, I’ve gotten so much from these guys.

One the one hand, I agree with @themagicspanner, that SSB-HV screen grab above is a hard sell for me. Likewise, I’m not going to piddle around at VT1 all day and then do 8x4mins 105% w/ 2min rest year round either. Of course I’m oversimplifying what both systems propose but that’s just my point. This stuff is nuanced and there’s just as much science (and lack thereof) on what might turn out to be a false dichotomy. There’s clearly conflicts, not the least of which is the sweet spot interval itself, which drives me nuts. But, I guess I still like riding my bike.

I emailed Matt Fitzgerald the other day. He got back with me and said he does have plans for an 80/20 Cycling. He’s convinced there’s enough evidence to support an 80/20 intensity distribution for cycling (on low volume) but that he has some other projects lined up first. I wanted to write back and say “but what could be more important than THIS, dude…come on!”

So I wouldn’t hold my breath that we’ll see it any time soon.


With more than 40 years since a number of endurance sports started to gravitate to a polarized approach I’d hardly say that it was new or unproven.

Anyway, I’m not trying to argue for one side or the other I’m just interested in understanding the systems. I’m really enjoying the conversation and have learned so much. Just a shame I don’t have the legs to back it up…



Agreed! I wouldn’t participate in the discussion if I wasn’t interested. I’m just the village skeptic, don’t mind me :slight_smile:


Going to be super naive here, so bear with me!

  1. has there ever been a training ideology which simply follows the Z1 --> Z5/6 trajectory/“pyramid”?
    As in, first you do a lot of Z1 work, then progress into doing Z2 work, finishing with Z6 work prior to A Race, etc. Doing 100% of the work ONLY in that particular zone before advancing; decreasing time spent in zone as intensity increases.

  2. A lot of these studies and papers refer to world class athletes and their training regiments (POL, et al etc). Do any of these same studies show how these same athletes trained when they were just entering the sport or within the first few years?

Just some thoughts from the sidelines…


@Captain_Doughnutman You’re second question is fairly straightforward. The answer is yes. They will usually refer to them on the literature as “moderately trained athletes/cyclists/runners/etc”. There’s one example (a skier or runner Ingrid Kristiansen, can’t remember which) where they have logs from early years. And sure enough there was a lot of mid-intensity. But they weren’t “elite” yet. So did they just train that way naively? Lots more racing? Or coached that way?

Seiler, for example, does both experimental work and population studies. The population studies tend to focus on elites, and that’s where all the intensity distribution findings come from. But then he will run controlled experiments on a group of non-elite athletes (interval duration and intensity work). This isn’t unique to him.

As for the first one, I’m not really sure. There is such a thing as a “pyramidal” distribution and many elites supposedly fall into this. But it’s not the thing you’re talking about. Most current endurance approaches are evolutions of the work of Arthur Lydiard, a coach.


Hey guys.
Didn’t mean for it to be personal. And didn’t mean to be derogatory in response to @stevemz .

I appreciate your discussion.
Didn’t mean to be snarky either…I just feel like Chad nails it with:

“There is not conclusive evidence of any system being superior to the other or specific points where one may be less successful.”

And thusly…why not let the cyclist chose?
As a cyclist who also is a cross country skier (for which there is a ton of evidence for POL) I’m interested in giving it a go.

It seems that TR isn’t going to be bringing this about anytime soon.