Polarised Vs Threshold Training on Twitter

24 Jan

On 22nd January @ITUonline tweeted ‘Got a tri question? Olympic & World Champ coaches are in the office now. Tweet the question & top 5 will be answered @ http://triathlon.org !’

I thought that sounded pretty awesome so I asked… @ITUonline thoughts on polarised vs threshold training for working age groupers training under 15 hours a week’

Then I got another tweet from @ITUonline – ‘Thanks to everyone who asked questions & congrats to @alan_dixon @DarrylA11en @BlackDogCoach & @Aimee_4_Reece for getting yours answered!’

Awesome, before I show the repsonses from the coaches I should quickly explain the differences between polarised and threshold based training.

Polarised – 80% of training is done at or below a steady pace, something like 65- 75% of max heart rate and 55-65% of max aerobic power. This is below or at what can be called VT1, where exercise intensity causes an increase in the ventilation rate and depth due an increase in expired carbon dioxide and a increase in lactate production from normal rates. Then 10-15% of training is done at a high intensity above what is known as VT2.

VT2 is the  point beyond which further energy production becomes increasingly more anaerobic and breathing rate increases markedly. Lactate production increases even though exercise intensity can remain the same. This can be called ‘the red zone’ as athletes tire quickly. VT2 is also referred to as Critical Power, FTP (functional threshold power), Threshold, and MLSS (maximal lactate steady state) From extensive ramp test data VT2 occurs most often between 75% and 80% of maximal aerobic power and around 90% of a rider’s maximal heart rate. Many pro and experienced Athletes train like this. Polarised Training Distribution

Threshold Training – Is done between VT1 and VT2. 75-85% max heart rate & 65-75% of max aerobic power. It’s common for many age groupers to train at this level for many of their sessions. It can be described as comfortably hard. The motive for this is probably to try and maximise the training effect from limited time availability.

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There’s a fair bit of research going on at the moment to see what is the most effective approach.So I thought I would ask the question. The response from the coaches is on the triathlon.org website.


“I wouldn’t do polarized training with age-groupers. It’s an extreme kind of training. Depending on the athlete, but it is likely age-group athletes have families and jobs and not much time to dedicate for training like a high performance athlete, who trains three or four times a day. It would be better to do threshold training, which is more common. Polarized training is very new and there is still a lot of discussion about what is best. A lot of athletes do polarized training, but as it’s a very thin line, I wouldn’t use it for amateur athletes. It is very good, but only for a certain type of athlete.” – Rodrigo Milazzo

“I have two groups of age-groupers, one of which does polarized training. They have seen very good results, much better than normal training. But the thing is they need to be in a very, very good physical condition before they start polarized training. You need a very good muscular and skeletal condition first. They also need to do strength training. I think it’s maybe the future, especially for age-groupers, but only those are experienced athletes working with experienced coaches. It is not for self-training.” – Andreu Alfonso

Interesting responses. Opinions differ in the research I’ve done online and opinions differ in the answers above. Personally I fall in Andreu Alfonso’s camp. Works for some people, would be dangerous for others. The safest place to try polarised training would be on the bike as you would be least likely to get injured. Safer to do it indoors as well. I mentor a few athletes and they do strength training and visit bio-mechanic specialists as well as getting regular massage.

Want to know more try these links



Thanks for reading and remember

There’s an old adage that many people do their easy training too hard and their hard training too easy!


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