BEYOND TRAINING: 24 Week "Polarized" Ironman Training Plan

Average Weekly Training Hours 09:16
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 09:16
Training Load By Week

This "Polarized Ironman Training" plan is based on the healthy training concepts that Ben Greenfield teaches in his book "Beyond Training" and also in the article at http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2013/03/best-ways-to-build-endurance/

It relies on the 80/20 principle, Maffetone style training, and an emphasis on high quality aerobic efficiency and economy to allow for optimum endurance building and Ironman triathlon preparation without doing lasting damage to the body.

This 24 week (6 month) plan is perfect if you are a beginner to advanced triathlete who has ample amounts of time to train (15-30 hours per week), would rather focus on long distance training rather than high intensity intervals, and also want to ensure you stay completely healthy in the process of pursuing your endurance goals.

Sample Day 1
0:19:59
IMPORTANT - PROGRAM GUIDELINES

This is a 24 week program comprised of 3x 8 week training blocks intended to get you in peak shape for an Ironman Triathlon.

Block 1 is base building in which ALL volume will be done at a pace below Lactate Threshold (LT).

Bike and run will be done at MAF HR.

Swim will be done 15-25 sec slower than your per your CSS pace. (See below on how to calcuate your MAF pace and CSS pace)

Blocks 2-3 will be done at 80% aerobic (low-moderate intensity) and 20% anaerobic (high intensity) volume. Your goal is to achieve peak fitness 3 weeks before race day and taper down volume.

Program Instructions:

Rule 1) Find your MAF HR Zone (bike/run)

To find your maximum aerobic training heart rate, there are two important steps. First, subtract your age from 180. Next, find the best category for your present state of fitness and health, and make the appropriate adjustments:

1. Subtract your age from 180.
2. Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile:
a. If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.
b. If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
c. If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same.
d. If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

For example, if you are thirty years old and fit into category (b), you get the following:
180–30=150. Then 150–5=145 beats per minute (bpm).

In this example, 145 will be the highest heart rate for all training. This is highly aerobic, allowing you to most efficiently build an aerobic base. Training above this heart rate rapidly incorporates anaerobic function, exemplified by a shift to burning more sugar and less fat for fuel.

If it is difficult to decide which of two groups best fits you, choose the group or outcome that results in the lower heart rate. In athletes who are taking medication that may affect their heart rate, those who wear a pacemaker, or those who have special circumstances not discussed here, further individualization with the help of a healthcare practitioner or other specialist familiar with your circumstance and knowledgeable in endurance sports may be necessary.

Two situations may be exceptions to the above calculations:
• The 180 Formula may need to be further individualized for people over the age of sixty-five. For some of these athletes, up to 10 beats may have to be added for those in category (d) in the 180 Formula, and depending on individual levels of fitness and health. This does not mean 10 should automatically be added, but that an honest self-assessment is important.
• For athletes sixteen years of age and under, the formula is not applicable; rather, a heart rate of 165 may be best.

Once a maximum aerobic heart rate is found, a training range from this heart rate to 10 beats below could be used as a training range. For example, if an athlete’s maximum aerobic heart rate is determined to be 155, that person’s aerobic training zone would be 145 to 155 bpm. However, the more training at 155, the quicker an optimal aerobic base will be developed.

Initially, training at this relatively low rate may be stressful for many athletes. “I just can’t train that slowly!” is a common comment. But after a short time, you will feel better and your pace will quicken at that same heart rate. You will not be stuck training at that relatively slow pace for too long. Still, for many athletes it is difficult to change bad habits.


Rule 2) Find your swim CSS pace:

The CSS test involves two timetrial swims - a 400m and a 200m. Before attempting these swims perform a thorough warmup and a small build set to get you used to swimming fast.
Do the 400m timetrial first, it's less likely to effect the 200m than the other way around. Recover completely between each timetrial with some easy swimming. Perform both timetrials from a push off from the wall, not a dive.
Try and pace the trials as evenly as possible, don't start too fast and slow down. If you're not sure get someone to take your 100m splits - they can be very revealing.
Click here to calculate your CSS speed http://www.swimsmooth.com/training.html

Rule 3) Don’t skip your strength workouts!

Research has shown strength training to help improve efficiency and decrease rate of injury when done properly. You will have 2 strength sessions each week. The first block will be focused on stability, second on strength, and third on maintenance.

Rule 4) Make recovery a priority!

Fitness is achieved during the recovery from your workouts. Be sure to make these a priority to stay injury free throughout your season.

Sample Day 1
0:30:00
Swim Field Test

Swim Field Test:

The CSS test involves two timetrial swims - a 400m and a 200m. Before attempting these swims perform a thorough warmup and a small build set to get you used to swimming fast.
Do the 400m timetrial first, it's less likely to effect the 200m than the other way around. Recover completely between each timetrial with some easy swimming. Perform both timetrials from a push off from the wall, not a dive.
Try and pace the trials as evenly as possible, don't start too fast and slow down. If you're not sure get someone to take your 100m splits - they can be very revealing.
Click here to calculate your CSS speed http://www.swimsmooth.com/training.html
Please note your CSS time before moving on.

Sample Day 2
1:00:00
MAF 30 Min Run Field Test

Once you have found your MAF HR Zone -

Warm Up 5-10 min - slowly increase run speed until achieving MAF Zone

Run 30 min at a track while staying within your MAF zone. Track your distance during the 30 min and do not exceed your HR zone as noted. i.e if you go 3.2 miles in 30 min while keeping your MAF HR pace, that is what you will record.

Over time you should see your speed increase at while keeping your MAF pace constant.

Cool Down - 5 min until HR back below 120 BPM

Sample Day 3
1:00:00
RECOVERY DAY #1

Recovery Day! Do 1 of these 2 Options: 1) Get a Massage - Find a local sports massage therapist who understands the demands that marathon training takes on the body. 2) Foam Roll and Mobility Protocol: How to foam roll: Lay on a soft surface with your foam roller and apply pressure to each tender area of the body for 20-30 seconds or until you feel a "release" of about 70% of the discomfort. On a scale from 1-10 (1 being easy and 10 being excruciating pain) you should feel about 6-7. Most foam rollers are not hard enough, so be sure to get one with appropriate stiffness for your level. I recommend "the grid" or "rumble roller". Quality foam rollers can be found at www.performbetter.com Foam Roll the following areas: Thoracic Spine Latissimus Dorsi Pectorals Quadriceps IT Band Adductors Calves Peroneals Dynamic Stretching Mobility Routine: Complete 2-3 rounds through: Front Leg Swings x 20 each Side Leg Swings x 20 each Walking Lunge with Side Reach x 5 each Lateral Lunge x 5 each Walking Cradle Stretch x 5 each side Inchworms x 5 Worlds Greatest Stretch x 5 each side

Sample Day 4
1:30:00
Bike - MAF Time Trial 60 Min

Bike - MAF Time Trial

Use an indoor bike trainer or a flat course outside without traffic, stoplights or other distractions

Warm Up 5-10 min - slowly increase run speed until achieving MAF Zone

Spin at 85-92 RPM for 60 min at a while staying within your MAF zone as found during your run test. Track your distance during the 60 min and do not exceed your HR zone as noted. i.e if you go 14 miles in 60 min while keeping your MAF HR pace, that is what you will record.

Over time you should see your speed increase at while keeping your MAF pace constant.

Cool Down - 5 min until HR back below 120 BPM

Sample Day 5
0:45:00
Strength - Test Day

Today we will set a baseline for strength levels:

Warm Up for 5-10 min with light dynamic stretching:

1) Pushups - Do as many pushups as you can while utilizing good form and full range of motion. Record total reps.

2) Squats - Squat down to a box or step until you are past 90 degree angle at the hip, then stand up. Do as many as you can in 60 seconds. Record total reps

3) Single Leg Touch - Balance on 1 leg. Reach down with your opposite hand and touch the ground in front of the foot that you are balancing on, then stand back up tall. Do as many as you can on one side for 60 seconds without losing balance. Once done on one side, rest for 3 minutes then switch sides.

4) Plank - Hold a front plank for as long as possible. Engage your abs, glutes, and quads. If your back starts to hurt, end the test. Record total time.

5) Side Plank - Hold a side plank for as long as possible. Engage your abs, glutes, and quads. If your back starts to hurt, end the test. Do both sides. Record time for each side.

6) Superman - Lay flat on your stomach. Engage the glutes and low back as you lift your head, arms, and legs off the ground. Hold as long as you can. If your back hurts, end the test. Record total time.

Cooldown 5-10 minutes light stretching

Sample Day 5
1500m
Swim - 1500m Aerobic

Swim #1 - Total Volume 1500m Warm Up - 250m Freestyle easy 10 x 100m @ 15-25 seconds slower than CSS (moderate pace) Cooldown - 250m Freestyle easy

Ben Greenfield
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Ben Greenfield

I coach groups, teams and individuals from around the world for triathlon, cycling, swimming, running, obstacle racing, adventure racing, bodybuilding, muscle gain, fat loss, anti-aging and cognitive performance.

A full list of my consultation, coaching and training services is at http://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com, where you can see my concierge Ultimate coaching , and also 20 and 60 minute consultation and pre-written training and nutrition plans.