Intervals and polarized planning

Hi, I’ve been listening to your podcasts for a long time and really appreciated them. Finally I have also become a paying member!
I am a master cyclist (58) who has had a coach but has now decided to take care of it myself. I have listened and read about polarized training and realize what benefits it has. Now to my thoughts.
When I plan the year, I have five periods: Preparation, Basic training, Special training, Competition, Recovery. What I have not really understood from your discussions with Stephen Seiler is whether one should have the same intensity at the intervals in all periods? In my plan, I think that in the preparation period I focus on Endurance, speed play and general strength. In the Basic period, I plan for intervals around the threshold and high and low cadence on any workout. During the Special Training period, I plan to have a higher intensity at the intervals, ie Vo2max. If I understood correctly, these are the intervals that Stephen Seiler runs 4-5x8 min as hard as you can. During the competition period, I keep Vo2max but add group ride, HIT and maxpower. Long question but looking forward to @trevor answer! Regards Robert

Hi @RobbanJ,

Thanks for the message and welcome to the platform! Really hope it helps with your training! And sorry for the slow reply. I was on vacation when you messaged and I’m still digging out of the work waiting for me when I got back.

But great question! Here’s how I look at it. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the intensity the intervals (i.e. the more anaerobic,) the less time it takes to see full adaptations. So, sprint intervals see changes in as little as 2 weeks. VO2max work and Tabata’s will see most of their improvements in 6-8 sessions. More threshold style work (which is where I put the 4x8s and 5x5s,) take upwards of 12 weeks to see improvements.

So, I personally tend to do the lower intensity interval work in the Preparation and Basic Training phases, since they take so long to see the gains. I save the higher intensity work for much closer to the race season.

That said, at our age, the thing we lose fastest and struggle the most with is big anaerobic power. So, while I still do threshold work in the base season, it’s good to work in periodic high intensity sessions (such as sprints or some Tabata work.)

Hope that helps!


Thanks for the reply @trevor and the good work with the platform! The plan this winter is to follow that pattern and I hope to se progress. My long term goal is to qualify to Masters Worlds when Im 60 :wink:

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@RobbanJ, that’s a great goal! Keep us updated…