Dylan Johnson hammers TrainerRoad

I really like the guys at TrainerRoad and feel they have a very good platform. I do have to agree with Dylan on this one though.

Looking at the TR forum, there are a lot of TR users that even agree (and many that do not). There is also the notition that this is just CTS (biggest Coaching organization in the US) marketing against TrainerRoad and Zwift marketing. I actually think that is a valid and likely real point. There is a lot of real science and even though TR comes from the Coggan belief system which is connected to TP and Joe Friel, they go against many of Joe’s recommendations.

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He didn’t even scratch the surface about the ineffectiveness of the ramp test and how the majority of people end up with a higher FTP that becomes unmanageable.
Good video though, I agree with most of it. I feel bad for TR because they’ve done some good in getting people on the bike but it’s good to see that TR forum is generally okay with it. We’ll see about the TR leadership.

Btw, Dylan Johnson isn’t with CTS anymore as of about 1 year ago.

Also, I’m not completely sold on the “only polorized” approach that Dylan Johnson says is most effective. Lots of polorized studies are for cross country skiiers and they are not the same sports… while he is a top athlete, the athletes he coaches don’t really have the results yet to give him a great track record. That’s not to say it doesn’t work. He seems to really like friel which is good for what it is but there’s more to training than Friel and then Seiler try and share. On a different note, even seiler doesn’t follow full polorized training in his own training. I prefer an approach that differs slightly, but obviously z2 and endurance rides prevail.

San Millan has his athletes train in the higher “grey zone” that Seiler says to not mess with. It highly depends on the period though, for example base training is more polarized in nature because of higher volume z2 and less intensity. Then as the season and builds progress, the intensity and Threshold need to come into account so it becomes more pyramidal in nature naturally (less super hard days). Then towards the peak period we see a lot of polarized again as the days are either really hard or really easy in the final pre-race period. 1 interval session every 5 days just isn’t enough for most people and Seiler’s own training and programs even show this, as he doesn’t do this year round.

I’m not 100% using this graph but find it helps give a better general idea for a self-coached athlete than doing strictly polarized

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Hi Jeremy, actually one thing you have to realize is this is CTS not just Dylan, and this view is predominant at there as well as most of the non-Coggan following, pro-cycling world, so this is not just one kids voice, this is hundreds of years and hundreds of thousands of cyclists being trained at CTS. I am not anti-coggan, and just like you I appreciate what he, TP and TR have done. It’s just time to move on to modern science and going with what has been proven more effective to date.

As I am sure you know, Polarized and pyramidal are just modern terms for what the elites and pros have been doing forever so it is very proven at the top levels, definitely less proven at lower levels. At this point the ONLY studies that have been done, show that what works for the pros and elites also works for the 4+ hour a week crowd. So Dylan’s very valid point is that until shown otherwise there is no reason to try to claim something else is superior. With lack of evidence go with current scientific evidence. If you look at Seiler’s studies some are cyclists as well, he is a cyclist. The main point is do more easy miles. He says Polarized and Pyramidal are similar results and this just means more easy riding, 2 or rarely in some individuals, 3-hard rides a week. According to Selier, true polarized is more like 1-hard interval day per 5 training sessions 80/20). So while you may not agree, the only science we have at this point and as well as the pros, are showing this works. Do you have other studies showing something else?

I don’t think my point came across right. I’ll blame it on being on mobile after a long day. Note CTS is not pro-polorized as they have plenty of sweet spot or similar in their time crunched plans. The note about seiler was just saying that he himself doesn’t train purely polorized and training is more complex than just 1 set training method for all time and training periods. To say training is as simple as one training methodology would be missing a big picture as well as a whole lot of individuality and ignores what the majority of cyclists do or need to do in order to get to their potential given the time they have.

I’ll possibly try again while on a computer

Great video and i agree with everything he said, i tried to do their plans for many years, and never managed to get all the way through, in the end i was just using the app to create my own workouts and plans.

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Jeremy, I am saying something very simple here and I am sure you and I both believe that a single model does work for everyone. Ride your bike, recover and repeat. The question becomes how far can you take a single model that works for most people?

Times have changed since time-crunched was written. Time-crunched was not based on proven studies it was based on Coggan theory. It’s not that it won’t work. I am 100% sure it can improve peoples fitness… “hey my time crunched atheletes are now faster after doing an SS plan it must work…” Look at the TR forums we know it can work for some.

The point is that new studies have shown that what works for the pros also works for those on a small number of hours. CTL is now more focused on this then they were in the past. Also, in an A/B test it appears 80/20 beats 60/40. Could 70/30 be best for YOU sure but start at science “proven” of 80/20 and then adjust.

So the Coggan theory of CTL=Fitness has now been shown inaccurate (one of the strongest argments for SS plans). CTL is not the most important thing to focus on. Yes, it matters, but which I am sure you agree with only when used in conjunction with the right training / recovery / intensity models. 80/20 gets people thinking differently, not such a CTL / TSS focus.

The single model of poloarized addresses the biggest problem in the industry, amplified in the last few years by the indoor platforms. Too much hard training. The simplest way to help people is to give them a simple formla on how not to do too much. 80/20 addresses that. If you have a great coach then 80/20 does not need to be the focus, but if you have a tendency to do too much then it is a good place to start.

Jeremy I agree with you that a ramp test can be problematic for sweetspot training and especially if you are trying to precisely follow an ERG based training plan such as TR’s. This is exagerated if you have more of a sprinter profile. I also see your point from before, if you are a coach trying to keep your athletes following the same plans then you might need to adjust their FTP (frequently down to a 20-min FTP test intensity).

Seiler, Friel and Dylan all seem to have the common belief that your training intensity should be more by feel and power/erg just get’s you in the ballpark. This is my belief of what they are saying, I have only heard Seiler say this. So as a starting point for training working with 8-min intervals at 95% is close enough to ~6-min at 105% for training benefit so you just go to your comforable failure level and just keep increasing it as you get stronger. So if your FTP is a bit exaggerated it’s not the end of the world you just end a bit earlier.

As I have stated in many other posts and told to me by my top coach friends the ramp test is superior due to it’s simplisity, repeatability and consistency. In thousands of lab tests my friend takes the last minute average and multiplies between 70-80% it will almost align with an LT mask test (which is also not 100% accurate). So to your point many riders should be that 70% mark rather than the 75% that TR and Zwift give them. I have more of a sprint profile and should use 70% but I like 75% a lot more :slight_smile:

TrainerRoad now announces their Adaptive Training Adaptive Training: The Right Workout. Every Time. - TrainerRoad

Yeah I saw that. So far I don’t think their is much real info, it will be interesting to see where that goes.

Agreed. As with most adaptive training solutions, I’m really interested to see where it goes and what they’ll bring to the table. TR has the advantage of lots of data points, but there is always the question on where to define “success”. Even then, YouTube and Netflix are billion dollars worth of “adaptive” feeds, but you wouldn’t really trust them to make a movie decision for you. I’m sure you have much more of an opinion on this than I do, though

Some support and criticism on Reddit/Velo: https://www.reddit.com/r/Velo/comments/lsafjj/introducing_adaptive_training_trainerroad/

Agree with the fact that this isn’t really addressing any of Dylan Johnson’s criticisms from his video (not that they were necessarily trying to, he just put them in the hot seat).

Also somewhat ruins the announcement that they are only “opening” this to a closed beta group

Yes I agree with this 100%. I love that TR is moving forward and this gives them an opportunity to significantly improve. I also love how they do everything dead simple. I still feel the entire market (other than the self-coached and coached) struggle from being too prescriptive. I believe there needs to be a stronger focus on doing what you enjoy, or at least taking that into account. As we know fun is an incredible performance booster.


Trainerroad (Nate and Amber) discuss Polarized Training today

Their conclusion is that science cant say that Polarized training is the best type of training. They will add Polarized Training plans to their platform so their customers have the option to follow a polarized plan if they wish.

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Wow I got to watch this…

Thanks for sharing, figured they’d come back with something sooner or later.

As I still see it, there is a time for high volume and low intensity, there is a time for threshold training. Furthermore there is a time for pyramidal distribution and a time for polarized distribution. As Tim Cusick says, it’s not about what is the best but when is what the best. You see a lot of these patterns in pro’s training depending on the phase they are in (see Iñigo San Millán ie Brandon McNulty and Tadej Pogacar)

That being said, I don’t think TrainerRoad has the best approach… Far too much intensity imo and I deal with a lot of athletes burnt out or not finishing their workouts coming from TR (overestimated FTP or too much intensity, usually the culprits)

Jeremy I definitly have been thinking about this. You inspired me to do a video in response to this. :slight_smile: You are helping me clarify my standpoint. I do agree with you that when you are a coach “It depends” is usually the right answer to generic high level questions. I think when you are a self-coached athlete that is not an expert it needs to be more simple. I am working on my perspective and a evidence based but simple perspective answer. I also may sound like I am really pushing Polarized training but the reality is I agree with “It depends.” I hope my video will help simplify peoples decision process on what to do.