Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

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ItsDank
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Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

Postby ItsDank » Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:52 am

I've hit an unwitting plateau of performance and have decided to change things up and try Polarized Training.

If you've never heard about this type of training then it is exactly how it sounds, you make your hard rides super hard and your easy rides super easy with very little in between. It's like taking the concept of HIIT and turning it up to 11. If you've read this far, you're probably thinking this approach is extreme but when you train with maximal polarized bouts, your training just naturally becomes polarized and indeed, this training method was one born through looking at what elite athletes actually do, research just gave it a name.

The current plateau:
In the last three months I've increased my training hours by 50% and my average weekly Training Stress Score has increased by 40% along with my hours (around 8 to 10 a week). Critical power figures have only really gone up 1 or 2 percent with my watts per kg increasing after losing 2 kg's moving from C to B grade crits. 1 or 2 percent increases over 3 months with almost double the hours on the bike, these are the "junk" miles people often talk about I guess.

Except they're not, I've been doing time trials, 150km rides and plenty of hard efforts in between. The power figures don't lie though and they aren't showing improvement to any statistically significant degree. Everyone responds different to training so I'll try something new.

POL Training Plan
So here's the plan, I'm shifting out my regular Z2 through to Z5 and replacing it almost entirely with Z6 and Z7 with Z1 rest in between. There will be Z2 through Z5 naturally through my club rides but unlike my previous three months, I won't be specifically training these power zones.

Monday:
Z1 rest ride Zwift: https://www.strava.com/activities/644980177

Tuesday:
POL Intervals: https://www.strava.com/activities/646047933/analysis

Wednesday:
Z2/ Rest Ride Zwift

Thursday:
Z1 Recovery Ride Zwift

Friday:
Completely off the bike

Saturday:
B Grade Crit Race (Heffron)

Sunday:
Long 150km club ride and POL Intervals

Until I finish this week I won't know what TSS to expect. I think my body can take a max of around 800 TSS a week so if the plan needs adjusting I'll do just that. Three weeks hard, one week recovery.

We'll see how we go. As I have a power meter and a lot of historical data I'll be able to see any improvements pretty quick. I also did an FTP test prior (261w) to starting and will do another after I'm finished.

Cul
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Re: Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

Postby Cul » Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:58 pm

A few questions, comments, thoughts.

1) To fully understand the plateau what were you doing previously (more specifically), also were you resting enough?.. It's easy to do a bucket load of riding and see little improvement, often a break or a paradigm shift will see quite a jump in performance. :shock:

2) Plan above looks OK, but I would consider doing some longer (power Z5) intervals up to 4-5mins (AT) >115-120% FTP as this still falls within the >VT2 (Zone 3) range. Vomit territory! :oops:

3) You will find it very hard to reach anywhere near 800tss per week using this approach. :oops:

I have used this approach in the past and found it worked well for me at the time, I was riding less but still saw good gains in both numbers and fitness, it seemed to work for me much better than the SST/FTP approach. If nothing else changing up what you are doing in training will likely introduce enough change to make a break through in fitness/performance. 8)

Be sure to keep us updated!
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ItsDank
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Re: Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

Postby ItsDank » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:28 pm

Cul wrote:A few questions, comments, thoughts.

1) To fully understand the plateau what were you doing previously (more specifically), also were you resting enough?.. It's easy to do a bucket load of riding and see little improvement, often a break or a paradigm shift will see quite a jump in performance. :shock:

2) Plan above looks OK, but I would consider doing some longer (power Z5) intervals up to 4-5mins (AT) >115-120% FTP as this still falls within the >VT2 (Zone 3) range. Vomit territory! :oops:

3) You will find it very hard to reach anywhere near 800tss per week using this approach. :oops:

I have used this approach in the past and found it worked well for me at the time, I was riding less but still saw good gains in both numbers and fitness, it seemed to work for me much better than the SST/FTP approach. If nothing else changing up what you are doing in training will likely introduce enough change to make a break through in fitness/performance. 8)

Be sure to keep us updated!



1. Yeah I always had a rest week with only one hard interval session and generally z2 for the other rides. This was 350TSS as opposed to the 700-800TSS I usually do.

2. After doing the POL sessions I'll try doing Z5 till failure/exhaustion. 4 sets.

3. I'm already at almost 400TSS and I've still got a 100km ride (royal national park) Saturday and a B Grade race on the same day along with a 150km+ club ride on Sunday. This week may be well into 900TSS even as a conservative measure.

Will be interesting to see what the improvements are in 4 weeks with a FTP test on Zwift.

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Alex Simmons/RST
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Re: Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:12 pm

Polarised training as described for instance by Seiler is often misunderstood.

You will likely benefit from a change of focus if nothing else. Everyone stagnates if their training remains the same. All the best and look forward to hearing about your progress.

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ItsDank
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Re: Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

Postby ItsDank » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:31 pm

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Polarised training as described for instance by Seiler is often misunderstood.

You will likely benefit from a change of focus if nothing else. Everyone stagnates if their training remains the same. All the best and look forward to hearing about your progress.


I think the major take away is training above FTP for improvements as it's basically impossible to avoid z2,3,4 and 5 in everyday group rides and races. I'm not a trained or elite athlete like those mentioned in the various studies and I'll no doubt see some improvements just being on the bike, the same goes for anyone not cycling professionally.

It's only 8 weeks and as you mention, it's a change of focus in my training. Worst case scenario is that my peak power figures increase and that's never a bad thing really as there's no such thing as having too much of a powerful sprint at the end of a crit!

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Alex Simmons/RST
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Re: Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:26 am

Well the polarised distinction was based on:
i. elite cross country skiers' training, not cyclists
ii. heart rate as the intensity measure
iii. number of sessions, not duration of effort
iv. a very narrow gap between "low" and "high" intensity.

IMO "polarised training" is just another training fad.

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ItsDank
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Re: Trying Polarized Training for 8 weeks

Postby ItsDank » Mon Jul 25, 2016 9:59 am

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Well the polarised distinction was based on:
i. elite cross country skiers' training, not cyclists
ii. heart rate as the intensity measure
iii. number of sessions, not duration of effort
iv. a very narrow gap between "low" and "high" intensity.

IMO "polarised training" is just another training fad.


Well as I mentioned, I have no problems testing it out for 8 weeks, especially if the only real gains I get is in my maximal power at the top end.

Hit 885TSS with the POL intervals and training rides so if anything, I think I'll need to reduce my intensity.

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