How much weekly training Intensity? 20%

Coach Gale Bernhardt and I have been in a detailed discussion recently about the right amount of training Intensity to include each week to steadily improve fitness and performance, without getting injured, over-trained or sick

High Intensity Training (HIT) means Zone 3 or above… ‘Moderately Hard’ in our summary chart from an earlier post. 

She wrote a very interesting summary of our discussions, in her blog post yesterday…worth reading in its entirety:

How much intensity should you include in your weekly training to improve?

and her followup today with more details: Part 2: It’s Complicated

…here are a few highlights and conclusions:

There is reasonable evidence that an ~80:20 ratio of low to high intensity training gives excellent long-term results among endurance athletes that train daily.

This means that about 20 percent of your training volume should be at high intensity.

After all that research, I came to the conclusion that my previous guidelines are still valid:

  • You should have 2 and no more than 4 key/breakthrough/stressful workouts each week. This includes big volume days, high intensity days or the combination of both.
  • The volume of weekly intensity should be about 20 percent of your total weekly training volume.

…so there it is…an nice hard number, which numbers guys like myself love.

Not all coaches are open-minded, nor willing to keep up to date with new ideas, or re-examine their own long-held beliefs…Coach Gale is like that though…a comment that I added to her blog post yesterday is worth repeating here:

Gale, I’ve certainly enjoyed working with you all these years, and through the intensity discussion and research this past few weeks

 …and thank you so much for your patience and detail in answering my persistent ‘why’ and ‘where did that come from’…and ‘who says’

 It’s terrific that you’ll always take the time to look at things from a new/fresh perspective, and keep an open mind to new ideas…it’s a great, and rare quality that I value a lot

…many sources and a lot of research that support the 80-20 view…it was nicely summarized in a paper that Coach Gale found…although a rather _detailed_ read:

Here’s the link: http://www.sportsci.org/2009/ss.htm

It’s almost too funny that this is in line with the Pareto Principle…widely known as the 80-20 rule which states that:

for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes

Part of this discussion came about because of my interest this season with the training approach promoted by the folks at Endurance Nation, that espouse a significantly higher percentage of Intensity each week…particularly on the bike…with a significant mix of even higher HIT Zone 4-5…so if you weight that into the ‘training stress’ equation…a LOT more Intensity.

So my next task (homework) is going to be to chart my training this season beginning on January 1st to see how much Intensity I actually was able to accomplish each week…and if I broke something or got sick, is the Intensity level a precursor to that…and also chart the volume of the different levels of Intensity…since there’s a lot more training ‘stress’ in time at Z4-5 than in Z3

…so stay tuned to see how that all shakes out…

…and having said all that, I’m reminded that we’re all just a science experiment of one…a snowflake…so what really matters is not what works on average…but what works for only us…and as we get older a moving target of capacity, so a lifetime project

…and big part of the fun of the sport of triathlon

BTW, I now have more ice packs…so ready to go again 🙂

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3 Responses to How much weekly training Intensity? 20%

  1. Daughter says:

    Great to hear I’m on track too using your 80-20 rule per week:
    80% recovery – 20% effort

    Given that 80% of effect come from 20% of effort, I think I can conclude that I am a solid A-minus in my training .. good enough for me!

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