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



FTP and LT2 are the same thing. The different ways of estimating FTP all give varying degrees of accuracy with the ramp test probably being the poorest (but easiest to carry out, and that counts for a lot).

If you’re holding 277W for a 40km TT then that is probably going to be your best estimate of FTP otherwise you’re shooting too high when doing sweetspot and threshold efforts.

Ask yourself this, could I hold the result of my ramp test for about 60 minutes. If the answer’s no then your ftp is set too high.



WRT my post and the specific question of the rider named. Good friend. He is also a mutant (in many ways - LoL) and he does a crap ton of really long, hard rides. Usually with a couple hammer heads who shall not be named. Patrick can get low 52 min for 40km. In a different life he’d be an elite athlete, easy a cat 1 guy, likely race at the national level. If he actually trained specificlly for 40km I bet he’d go under 50 min. But he is getting older so time is gaining on him. Great guy, seriously good rider.

If we look at some of the other top guys, you are right, they are 4.5 - 5.0. But I don’t consider them to be average guys. But fair is fair “average” needs a definition and probably anyone doing the series seriously is not average. When I’m talking average, am thinking about the guys hanging out in the 3-6 place positions any given week and I should specify mostly in the masters groups as thats the majority of data I’ve looked at. That’s where I sit and I’ve never been much over 4 w/kg.

w/kg is tough also because different power meters can be drastically different and body weights are estimates.

In any case, I’m not fixated on w/kg so don’t let that distract to much. Mostly I’m interested in why riders (self included) plateau over time, what that plateau is vs potential and what it would really take to pop up to another level. I don’t think there is a magic program, but it takes time and dedication.

Pop over and say hello at the races!


(oops, not used to this forum and didn’t link the post properly to keep it in thread. Next time !!)




I don’t see how that is even possible but I can agree they’re going to be close and probably not significantly different.

I think you’re right as there is no way I could do 290 for an hour…or at least haven’t done it for a few years now in competition. Can anybody hold their ramp power for ~ 60 minutes? If not then why is that what is used for establishing the zones??


Last year was my first attempt at structured training (my own plan). I did 3 months of 3xThreshold + 2xVO2 sessions per week (~5hrs/wk). So not polarized OR sweet spot, just ALL high end – I really didn’t know what I was doing!

Anyway, this approach, along with diet, took me to 4.6w/kg; I’m shooting for 5.5 this season. Pretty sure it’s mostly genetics at play but hopefully actual structured training a la TR will help me get there.

Question is, would another 5-10 hours/week of low intensity riding have lifted my power etc. even further or, as has been said, was it just a matter of big newbie gains via structure, no matter what type of training was employed?


I’d question if you could have handled that extra training load? I of course don’t know, but if you were just beginning structured training then another 5-10 hours might have been too much. Doesn’t mean that will be the case in the future…


POL can work for athletes on less than 10 hrs a week.


Previous to that I had just done the Festive 500 which took me 21 hours in 1 week which left me feeling not the best but it was all outside riding in the winter which exacts a different toll than trainer rides (and vice versa). Most of those hours were spent above Coggan Z2 so I probably could add 10-15 low intensity hours without any seriously negative effects (assuming I had that kind of time in the first place).

The one glaring thing I did notice was that once I stopped doing the high intensity training and doing more SS efforts my over-all fitness dropped fairly rapidly. I can only assume a bunch of early season low intensity hours would have supported higher fitness for longer.


Whilst you may be correct that the amount of power that you can produce for an hour may just be above LT2 that is not the point - testing, by whichever method you choose, is an attempt to estimate as closely as possible the power at which LT2 or Maximum Lactate Steady State occurs. That is the modern definition of FTP.



Can you share the Excel file that produced those tables?



Sweet spot works. Polarized works. No doubt one works better for a given athlete than another. And maybe one works better in building fitness for a certain kind of event vs. another e.g. crit vs. endurance MTB. And maybe even a mix of both over a season or multiple seasons.

The only way to tell which works best for you is the try both and see. I understand there is a challenge in doing the experiment, as you have to dedicate a lot of time (maybe even a season or more) to either to know what works better for you. But I don’t think there is any other approach.

I’d be really interested to see TR add some polarized plans. They already give athletes choice when it comes to picking plans, so why not add more choice? And I do believe that despite TR focus to date being more SS oriented, they really are agnostic to plan philosophy, as long as it makes people faster. Adding POL plans to their library would allow us users who decide to try polarized to do so easily within the TR plans, vs creating our own.


Go to 29:30 in this video. There is a very good reminder about how individual responses to different training protocols vary:


I must say, I’m thoroughly enjoying this conversation - highly educational.



Not sure if I understand the context of your training, but a year ago I did SSB1-HV after a back injury. I did one long 4+ hour outside ride (IF=79%) on 27 Dec 2017, otherwise all trainer rides. At the end of week 5 I did an 18 mile climb at 5% grade, and it was my best HC climb yet. At the end of week 6 (recovery week) I did a 3+ hour / 84% intensity group ride (over 1 hour solo riding to/from) and was off the front pushing the pace. My perceived fitness was high, and next ftp test showed a 4% ftp bump. Sure felt like I had a strong aerobic base, no data to back that up everything I know about my body tells me a) a wider aerobic base was firmly in place, and b) muscular endurance and power was up.

The only drop in fitness I’ve seen at the end of a structured training block was with recently completed traditional base 1 (that first block has no intensity). If I was going to do it again, I would do those rides outside, paying close attention to power meter to keep them easy, and naturally throw in some intensity coming back into town to prevent drop in fitness.


agree with everything you said, and I too would like to see some polarized plans. The closest we have right now is Trad Base 2. Actually I think if you throw in an outside ride with some intensity, Trad Base 1 is also a good starting point for polarized.


I’ve been trying to follow a home brew polarized plan since coming back from illness over the summer (to see if it can work for me) and I used Traditional Base 1 as the basis for that. Now that we have the calendar it’s easy to chop and change things to suit.



Yep - augment trad base with some VO2 max interval workouts. Also give people guidance on how to incorporate outside rides to either augment or replace trainer rides.

I’d also like to see different VO2max interval regimens to augment the base rides e.g. block periodization vs spread evenly each week; Tabata-style 20/10 or 40/20 intervals, “longer” 108-110% interval workouts, “shorter” 120% interval workouts. Not endless variety, but enough to capture varieties of interval workouts that are distinctly different from each other (at least in terms of how it feels to do them).


Couldn’t agree with you more - there is not a silver bullet solution.

I tend to think of the plateau you describe as the limit of a given rider at their current training volume and life stresses. We all have a theoretical genetic cap (which, lets be honest, varies greatly) but very few of us are close to it. Things like work, family, diet, and time all lower that cap by some non-zero amount.

I think where we all get mixed up is considering the difference between our genetic/physical cap and our practical one (that includes all of our other stresses and time sinks).

Which training plan will work for you will depend a lot on how much time you have available, but also how dedicated and focused you are willing to be with that time. We all could be 100% driven and training focused with all of our rides…theoretically. But many people are not willing to give up their Saturday club ride, or going to hit their local training crit, or whatever else they find fun on the bike. This isn’t a problem, but it does change the effectiveness of their allotted time for riding and training.

Someone who is willing to put all of their time into productive work (be that polarized, sweet spot, whatever) will see more significant gains than someone who still hits that coffee shop ride with township line sprints every Saturday - but they might not have as much fun.

Long way of saying - the more structure the better for fitness improvements - but do what works for you. If you’re serious about pushing past wherever your current plateau exists you should be evaluating a lot more than just the topic of this thread (quality vs quantity)


I was doing ONLY high intensity workouts so I had a high level of fitness but no large aerobic base to support it. Once I stopped doing HIIT and doing only SS my fitness dropped; once I stopped all riding all together it plummeted – over -15% FTP in 1 month!

In line with what @DarthShivious posted, I too believe that doing a large base of low intensity will serve you well but will take years to build that strong base. However, I also believe that if you want to get in shape just for the season, HIIT sessions will take care of this for you, but you’ll have to repeat the process every year and it may only bring you back to the same plateau as the previous year, unlike building a large Z1/2 base which may raise your plateau and eventual potential max.

Just my n=1 guess.


Gotcha. I’ve never done that over my first 3 seasons, always managed to lay down base with mostly sweet spot intervals outside plus a century every 4 weeks or so. Its flat here, but A LOT of wind, so the outdoor sweet spot work often crosses into threshold intervals. And partly because of the wind, my power graph for weekly group rides is polarized with a lot of efforts well above 110% (e.g. 125-140% efforts when taking a turn pulling into a 10-25mph gusty wind).