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



The first three are the Seiler workout durations that he studied, of which he found that 8 mins with 2 minutes rest to be most effective. I don’t believe that 108% of FTP was actually specified or even remotely achievable for most people with that little rest.

40/20s are pretty standard and you can do them at a variety of different intensities depending on what you are after.

Depends on what you are after in terms of adaptation. Here are a few names to get you started, and make sure to check out the +1 through +6 variants.


  • Mount Deborah
  • Sierra


  • Baird
  • Nunburnholme
  • Denali


  • Abbot
  • Bashful

You can use the workout filters to get pretty much anything that suits your needs.


I’ve created my own sessions using the workout creator but have started with 3 x 8 instead of 4 x 8. Seiler recommends getting the cyclist to work out the intensity so I didn’t use Erg mode. Went far too hard on the first interval, reduced the power on the second and suffered on the third. I think 107% ftp will be a happy medium for me.


I forgot to add that the 2 min rest intervals were too short for me. I’m going to try the session again this week with erg and then adjust to 3 mins if I find it too hard again.


And straight from Seiler (FWIW) don’t hesitate to adjust to 3min. According to him, ppl pull there hair out about insignificant time differences in the rest interval. For those types of intervals 2 mins and 3 mins are essentially the same. The seemingly magic 2 mins comes from his study of ppl who self-selected their recovery time from one work bout to the next.

Granted, don’t rest for 5 or 10. But you want to actually be ready for the next one

(Source: ultra running podcast)


@tshortt @lebowskii98 tried 4*8 min today with 2 min rest @ 108% ftp.
That was a hard session! Really hard.
Like you said, will probably adjust to 3 min rest next time. Will have to see if that’s enough.


I was looking on the HRV4Training blog and came across a great analysis of the relation between training intensity and running performance in HRV4Training users:

Many of the studies mentioned by Matt (see Seiler’s work) start by observing what elite athletes were doing to try to capture underlying patterns (e.g. what’s the optimal ratio of low and high intensity training). Following the same principle, we thought it would be interesting to look at similar relationships on our data as well. Similarly to our recent posts covering the relation between VO2max and running performance as well as HR, HRV at rest and running performance, we can use actual workouts data to analyze training intensity and how it relates to performance on our userbase.

Well worth a read. It analyses a relatively large amount of athletes (389 in total) and only uses a trustworthy sample of users data.

Conclusion from the analysis:

Quite some research in the past 15 years showed how elite runners (and not only runners) spend much of their time training at low intensities (see Seiler et al.). We highlighted the same relations on our userbase, for both runners and triathletes (about 400 users in total). Faster runners consistently train at lower relative heart rate and pace with respect to slower runners, according to the data analyzed above.


Just been listening to this recent podcast regarding 80/20 for time crunched athletes. It’s a discussion based on a question submitted by a decent age-group athlete (who has apparently featured on the AACC podcast in the past). It covers all the stuff we’ve been talking about in this thread. IMO it contains some of the most sensible advice I’ve heard regarding intensity distribution.

There are plenty of references to TR and the sweet spot plans. He’s very complimentary about the effectiveness of these.

There aren’t any show notes online by the looks, but this is the episode if you’re interested:


This is a very good episode. I like very much how he dissects the available studies which are always referenced when it comes to polarized. Many issues with these have been mentioned here as well (for example that in all those intervention studies threshold was never really threshold but somethin like low tempo. Just to name one.)


Polarized to Pyramidal Training

I thought this was interesting, he makes some good points on specificity and how time in certain zones might shift over a season.


I listened to that podcast over a couple of days as I kept falling asleep. So “on average” shorter more intense intervals illicit great adaptations than longer lower intensity ones. Unless they don’t! The key thing for me was that it actually depends on the individual so that trying the shorter ones first is a good idea to see if they work for you, if not try some longer ones. I also like the way that these academics always seem to measure intensities against a standard (ie VO2max) which outside the rarified atmosphere of sports science establishments is a difficult standard to pin down with any real accuracy.


Yeah, Dan Plews knows what he’s talking about. He set the AG course record at Kona this year (in 08:24:36!), plus has got a PhD in HRV. Impressive stuff :sunglasses:


Yes, I think I’ll keep tabs on the blog posts there. Seems like quality stuff, guy likes to stay busy, with the training load he was talking about, family and the rest, impressive.


My main takeaway, from this video, and other articles is that the most important thing is that you are doing VO2max intervals (of any kind), and a secondary consideration is what kind of VO2max intervals.

I mix them up between shorter ones e.g. 20-60 seconds, mid length intervals e.g. 2-3 mins, and longer ones e.g. 5-6 mins. Keeps thinks interesting this way. One think I might try at some point next year is a block of VO2max, and see how that goes for me.


I did this last year and I won my A Race.
It was my first time doing structured training and had no idea what I was doing (or what I was supposed to do!), but all my reading lead me to VO2max (3 5x4min) and Over/Under (2 2x20min) intervals per week for 3 months. As this was my first real training in many years, I have no reference point to the benefits/detriments vs other types of training. I will say that even though it gave me a lot of high end fitness, it failed to develop my lower zones to the same degree and when I stopped the VO2 work my over-all fitness declined noticeably (but not before I poached a good few KOMs with my new engine!).

Coach Chad mentions in the recent podcast about the German 4k Olympic track team not doing any high end work until 8 weeks(?) out from their race.


My plan for this year is to do polarized for the first ~half of the season, maybe more, and then transition to more sweet spot, threshold and VO2 max work ie the TR plans.

I have yet to decide when I’ll make the transition.

My goal with the POL approach is to improve my fat metabolism by doing a lot of lower intensity rides. This is a weakness of mine that I’m looking to improve.

My goal with transitioning to SS/THR later is for specificity, as my target races next year will be XC marathons usually with a lot of sustained climbing.

Hopefully this will give me the best of both worlds.


Totally agree. Great podcast. In particular I related to his “stimulus vs output” comments about distribution, roughly around 32:20-33:20 mins, as well as around 12:00 minutes in.


Thanks for that. An interesting listen.


Yep. Very good podcast.

The title to the podcast is misleading however. Based on the inconclusive evidence he cites (and if anything, the evidence he cites skews towards favoring 80/20), The podcast could equally be titled “why 80/20 training is the best way to train for time crunched age group triathletes”.


Biggest take away for me was that planning should be structured by looking at the training stimulus you need as an individual, rather than simply trying to hit any specific intensity distribution. He makes a very good point that calculation of intensity distribution should be done AFTER the training block, as a tool to see how you’re responding to the given load, rather than something you’d do to structure all your training.

It’s been a good thread this. I must admit I’ve changed my outlook on 80/20 a bit since it started.



And to take it one step further my takeaway was the radical thought of tailoring your training appropriately to the event you are targeting rather than to any particular training methodology.