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Lets Talk about Polarized & Periodization

Polarized training and Periodization:

I want to talk about two well known modes of training that you might have heard from either me, or other sources. Now one doesn't beat the other as they go and and hand for me.

as a coach, I am always seeking best ways to help train you all including myself.. there is always a wealth of knowledge out there and lots of science.

There are also a lot of opinions from others who either hear about it or have not simply learned enough or applied it to their own training and expertise. It can get pretty muddy and confusing right? hearing that one or the other method is either the best or the worst.

Well gaining understanding of exactly what method is all about and the true science of how each one works gives you a better sense of direction

Also having me (a coach) here to guide you along is a huge help.

Now there is no method that is better than the other and each one should not have priority over the other as far as just doing one for the rest of your training.

These two methods have a time and place.. it is crucial to do a bit of both depending on where you are with your training as well as your goals.

I usually start most people with a good periodization plan. this allows for more finite growth and better focus on certain targeted areas, but also allows for the body to really maximize the period and be able to soak it in with optimal recovery

What is polarized training?

Polarized training is one specific type of training intensity distribution, a way of organizing and distributing intensity within a training plan

The fundamental principal of polarized training is that hard (“workout”) days should be quite difficult and easy (“recovery”) days should be easy

In a typical polarized training schedule, 80% or more of endurance training is categorized as “easy”, with the remainder being moderate or hard.

A very common mistake athletes make is to “hammer” recovery runs, performing them too fast. This layers on fatigue without any additional training benefit. The extra fatigue from non-recovery-recovery runs then can prevent you from training your “hard” days to your full capacity, muting the training effect. This is called training in the “grey” zone, where training efforts just don’t translate into the most optimal fitness gains.

The verb polarize is commonly used by cyclists to imply a shift in emphasis away from moderate intensity, towards more high- and low-intensity training. Many studies have found that it can result in certain performance improvements equal to or greater than some other training intensity distributions, especially over the short term. So this is great to know that polarized training is great to do leading up to an even or a goal that you have a specific date on. I will begin to cater more towards polarized training a month or so before a big even to really enable the body to be prepared for those event specific efforts.

Polarized training can be effective, but it’s not clear whether it is best for all athletes in all circumstances. It can be very Specific and this is where having a coach is incredibly helpful ;)

yes a plug for myself, but its more than just that....

having a coach will not only relieve the stress of you asking yourself "what should I do"

but you also dont have to be a serious racer to have a coach and polarized training can be implemented in a timely manner. But again, having the expertise and the teamwork of a coach with you can really help you grow and know how each training method will fit for you and your need, but also be adjusted along the way because yes its fun to train, but I also make it important to keep the fun with non structured rides.

What is Periodization?

Now I do like this method, but I do have to say its best to use in a timely manner with the right guidance and emphasis on those HARD and EASY days. Not done properly, it wont be effective.

This is where I like to use periodization for the main work and foundation to all training.

Im not saying that one os better than the other. There is a time and place for both to be BEST effective, but its knowing when and where to implement it to make it best for you.. thats where a coach like me helps so much because i can see when its a good time.

Now again, you dont have to be a racer to have a coach or a specific training plan. you might just want to-either train for personal goals or some events, or even to stay fit and healthy.

and THATs A- OK! a lot of my coaching is focused not on just the numbers, but the whole picture and this is why i like periodization for working on specific areas to build whilst getting in good recovery but also getting stronger

Good training plans productively balance training stress with recovery over time, using a technique called periodization. Plans can be periodized in different ways, dividing the overall structure of stress and recovery into annual, monthly, weekly, or block-by-block cycles, for instance.

I always like to note..periodized and progressive.

To get faster, your hard work needs to stimulate specific, physiological adaptations.

Training periodization divides your season into distinct phases so that your hard work pays off.

and this is the method that is used the most.. prior to a big goal or event, polarization will be used, but periodization is a superb way to work on fitness and ftp power goals.. getting stronger...

Key Takeaways of periodization...

1- Training Periodization divides your training into phases to manage training stress and promote key adaptations.

2- There are certain expansion of the duration of periodization that can be asses by the help of me *a coach to best maximize each period for you. This can be a period of 2 weeks on and one week easy up to 4 or 5 weeks on with progressive building and one week easy.. its all based on where you are with training.

3- These plans are progressive so they build over time.. ending with a big heavy week of lots of quality structure-and and even non structures work... all based on building that TSS- Training stress score and load towards the end. Then having a week easy and low intensity and i always like to highlight, fun and a break from structure that will enable you to reset and recover.. enables the training load to soak in and the body to be ready for the next build. now these periods can have multiple focuses.. base, sweet spot, threshold, Hiit, build, specialty phases.. and so on

there is always a nice theme I like to give each period and we focus on building that area through that period to where at the end, you are really feeling it that last week, but it invites that good stress load to keep your strength building.


In periodized training, there are three cycles, macro, meso, and micro

— Each one corresponding to a shorter timeframe. Let’s get into those cycles...


is your seasonal training plan. You can think of this as the 30,000 FT view of all the training that you are planning. It begins with the start of your training and ends with your goal event.

Throughout a macrocycle, you will see the progressive addition of training stimulus and the necessary recovery to drive aerobic adaptations.

Base, Build, and Speciality

There is more to it than just adding training stress. Macrocycles need to include different phases that address base fitness and then drive towards more specific fitness. This is where help from me * a coach is crucial as far as planning out that best strategy and having someone to help guide you

By following a logical pattern, each phase ultimately leads to a particular set of adaptations upon which peak fitness is balanced. These progressive phases are Base, Build, and Specialty phases.

there is always a method to my workouts.


Mesocycles are four to six-week blocks within the macrocycle and are typically referred to as blocks. these are the ones I was talking about earlier. In a typical four week block, the first three weeks progressively overload your body, while the fourth week focuses on recovery.

again, the week durations can very depending on where you are with your training

Each new week within a mesocycle sees a slight increase in the overall amount of stress (TSS), while each workout sees a similar bump in the amount of work demanded.


The simplest of the three training cycles. A microcycle is a single week within a training plan.

these can be great if you have a schedule that changes by the week or want to maintain fitness

I have used this cycle method many times and almost use it within the mesocycles because life happens. And when life happens, that OK. we adjust and take a new path, but the best part is that we will keep moving forward and onward. Sometimes you have to take it week by week and sometimes based on your goals, you might just want to get fir first than building to a big ideal or event.

Thats what I focus on as a coach... life.. adjusting with the flow and its meant for everyone. its not just for serious racers. i emphasize each individual because yes we are all different and thats OK!

workouts will vary from day to day, the microcycle includes the rhythm and cadence of a training plan.

to conclude...

polarized training is good within periodized training right before a specific event, goal, or race... it specifically trains you on what you will be doing for that event.

Periodized training is how you can build fitness over time and there are three cycles that you will take on.. one that captures the full year, one s that take it by chunks of weeks focusing on certain themes. And ones that go week by week

So to that, I hope you all learned something new this week!

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