How to get the most from a polarized training approach - and avoid the common pitfalls

To train effectively you need to include both high- and low-intensity rides, but has the 80/20 model had its day?

Male cyclist completing a hard ride as part of his polarized training plan
(Image credit: Future)

Over the past decade, it became widely accepted that polarized training is the best formula for endurance cyclists. According to this model, training is divided between intensities at polar opposite ends of the spectrum: very easy and very hard, in a roughly 80/20 split. 

Recently, however, polarized training has become the subject of heated debate among sports scientists who disagree over what constitutes the optimum intensity distribution. Some researchers have begun arguing against conventional polarisation, instead favouring schedules that incorporate more middle-intensity riding. The debate raises the question of whether we need to rethink – or at least think more carefully about – how we define and implement polarized training.

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