Is polarised training effective without volume?

Polarised training, or 80/20, is where you do 80% of your training focusing on aerobic pathways and 20% of your training at threshold or above. For a lot of practitioners, the belief is this is not effective without significant volume, otherwise the 20% is minimal in terms of training time. In fact, below a certain number of weekly training hours (4?, 6?, 8?) all training should be of high(er) intensity.

For this athlete they trained, on average, 7-8 hrs per week in the six months leading up to the Australian Master's Championships, and became Australian Champion in the Road Race (along with some other medals along the way, all in the 8 weeks prior).

Of that six month period, 69% of training was aerobic and 17% threshold or above (leaving 14% in the grey zone).  However, this still needed to be programmed in a way to be effective, with the following being observed:

  • One long ride a week (>3hrs)
  • HR based training zones, with power targets only used for intensity work
  • Discipline and consistency
  • Development of durability and repeatability within the available training times
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