AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

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PaulG
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AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by PaulG » September 16th, 2020, 11:04 am

I've been following the research of Seiler and others and it seems like they are not recommending training in the AT heart rate zone. Their guidelines are 80% long distance aerobic training (UT1 and UT2) and 20% anaerobic training (TR and AN). A large part of the Interactive Plan (no longer available on line) involves training in the the AT zone, presumably the "black hole" of training according to Seiler where you are neither effectively training your aerobic or anaerobic systems.

I've been modifying my AT intervals so that I blast through the UT2 through AT heart rate zones relatively quickly so I can reach the TR and AN zones. For example in a recent 2x10 min session I reached the TR zone with 6 mins remaining in the first interval and 8 mins remaining in the second interval. In both intervals I ended up near my maximum heart rate (AN zone) with a few minutes to go. If you are familiar with heart rate training you know these were very difficult sessions.

So, am I beating myself up unecessarily? I believe my heart rate training zones are correct and I know my maximum heart rate is. I'm usually recovered by the next day. I've asked similar questions like this before but I still would be interested in responses.

Paul G (64 year old LWT)

Tobias Stoehr
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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by Tobias Stoehr » September 16th, 2020, 11:29 am

Treat "science" with caution. Keep in mind Seiler's science is just observation and interpretation of elite athlete training schedules. It is science as in looking what the successful elite athletes do and describing it in statistical ways (by simplification and categorizing into "zones").

AT training is very valuable aerobic training.

Seiler contradicts himself:

He quotes Olaf Tufte as an example of polarized training. However, Olaf (and the Norwegian national team) does quite a lot of AT training (6x10min with 3min rest, stroke rate 24-26, 12x4min with 1min rest). Seiler quotes the 6x10min as "High Intensity". It is however done at AT, or even slightly sub-AT (the blackest of the black holes ;-)).

Also famous Norwegian runners (Ingebrigtsen brothers) do two days a week with a two threshold interval trainings, also done at slightly sub-AT (slower than AT pace), and one day High Intensity (race pace, or hill runs).

The German national rowing team also uses a pyramidical intensity distribution.

US rowing uses 2x6k at about 10k pace.

GB rowing 2x20min.

...

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ampire
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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by ampire » September 16th, 2020, 11:36 am

I used to train in that zone a lot and enjoyed it but after reading a few articles on the "black hole", I stopped training in the AT zone (I've seen that defined as 80-85% MHR) for about 8 months time to focus on a lot of volume in UT2 (80KM-100KM/weekly) and found my fitness greatly regressed, my resting heart rate increased, my typical steady state wattage relative to heart rate decreased, and I regressed in strength on weights . Started training mostly in UT1 and AT a month ago but limiting my weekly mileage around 35-45KM, and since that time my fitness improved greatly, resting heart rate decreased and wattage relative to heart rate increased, and started making progress again on weights. So for me personally, I seem to get better results in upper UT1 and AT zone than I did from training UT2, and with half the weekly km. I've been doing training mostly around 155-165 BPM lately.

Also I think that data from how elite athletes train does might not suggest the best way for recreational athletes to train.
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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by mict450 » September 16th, 2020, 2:43 pm

ampire wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 11:36 am

I think that data from how elite athletes train does might not suggest the best way for recreational athletes to train.
This, in spades!! Everyone is an experiment of one. No sense in doing something that your favorite athlete does, but isn't giving you the results you're seeking. Experiment, assess, analyze, continue or make changes as necessary. Sure, there may be general principles to follow, but how you specifically apply it to your situation will need some tweaking.
Last edited by mict450 on September 16th, 2020, 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tony Cook
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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by Tony Cook » September 16th, 2020, 3:21 pm

I’m following the C2 2k race plan and just did a 4x8’ AT session. I creep over my AT threshold slightly because my ego tells me to average no slower than 1:50 pace. That aside I will know if the plan is effective in 8 weeks.
I knocked 7 secs off my PB after the first 8 weeks of a lot of mileage - 123k metres one week. The second 8 weeks puts a lot more AT, TR and AN sessions in.
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PBs only from 2020 - 100m 15.7s - 1min 355m - 500m 1:30.0 - 2k 6:47.6 - 5k 17:59.4 - 6k 22:06.7 - 30min @ 20SPM 8,132m - 10k 39:47.3 - 1 hour 15,691m - HM 1:24:37.0

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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by Allan Olesen » September 16th, 2020, 3:46 pm

ampire wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 11:36 am
I used to train in that zone a lot and enjoyed it but after reading a few articles on the "black hole", I stopped training in the AT zone (I've seen that defined as 80-85% MHR) for about 8 months time to focus on a lot of volume in UT2 (80KM-100KM/weekly) and found my fitness greatly regressed
So you stayed 100% below the black hole?

The term "black hole" sort of indicates that there is something non-black on both sides of it.

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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by ampire » September 17th, 2020, 11:18 am

@allan oleson
Initially when I switched away from UT1+AT, I did polarized for about 2 months and found the nerve pain I experience in my upper back (lingering issues from a removed spinal cord cavernous malformation T4-5) severely increased after doing intervals which was unacceptable to me so I switched to high volume (80-100K/Week) low intensity, not much HIIT, and that eroded my fitness a lot. So maybe if I was capable of doing the HIIT component it would have been more successful, either way I am someone doing AT heart rate training and having good results, just to answer the original poster. Lately I've just been doing 4 10k per week to keep it simple.
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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by PaulG » September 17th, 2020, 2:37 pm

mict450 wrote:
September 16th, 2020, 2:43 pm
ampire wrote: ↑September 16th, 2020, 10:36 am

I think that data from how elite athletes train does might not suggest the best way for recreational athletes to train.
This, in spades!! Everyone is an experiment of one. No sense in doing something that your favorite athlete does, but isn't giving you the results you're seeking. Experiment, assess, analyze, continue or make changes as necessary. Sure, there may be general principles to follow, but how you specifically apply it to your situation will need some tweaking.
Elite athletes are clearly different from recreational athletes. Elites have done an enormous volume of aerobic work that may have trained their aerobic systems up to their genetic potential. Maybe the 80% aerobic work is needed to maintain that level of aerobic fitness. Newbies can also benefit from a lot of aerobic work as they develop good technique and the aerobic base necessary to complete long hard intervals.

Does the 80% - 20% guidlines apply to recreational athletes? The results of Munoz, Seiler, et al. (2014) Int J of Sports Physiology and Performance 9:265-272 "Does Polarized Training Improve Performance in Recreational Runners?" indicates it does. However, it is hard for me to calibrate the intensities used in that study to the HR zones in the Interactive Plan, specifically the AT zone. Also, they had to subset their data to runners that performed the most training in each group to show that the runners using polarized training improved the most.

One of the problems I am having in using myself as an experiment of 1 is that at age 64 I am racing the clock and the calendar and comparisons to previous years may indicate changes in age as well as training. After another 2x10 mins last night mostly in the TR and AN zones, today is a rest day. Tomorrow about an hour OTW.

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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by PaulG » September 19th, 2020, 11:36 am

Going through my literature I found another study: Stoggl and Sperlich 2015. The training intentsity distribution among well-trained and elite endurance athletes. Frontiers in physiology 6:295. doi 10.3389/fphys.2015.00295.

This is a review paper that also includes randomized control studies as well as descriptive studies. There are also a few studies of recreational athletes included. The conclusions are ambivalent but they do say " experimental studeis lasting 6 weeks to 5 months demonstrate superior responses to polarized TID" (Training Intensity Durations) especially when compared to training that emphasizes Threshold (THR) or High Volume Low Intensity Training (HVLIT).

They also say that "an optimal TID cannot be identified".

So what's best? IMHO the best training for recreationbal athletes is the one that you enjoy and will do. Yesterday I saw that I had another 2x10 mins coming up this week and reacted with dread at the thought of trying to do it at mostly TR and AN paces as I decribed in my first post. That's not the reaction you want to an upcoming session and I may back off a little and spend more time in the AT zone.

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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by flatbread » September 19th, 2020, 1:56 pm

Above the aerobic threshold (AeT -- for me, a HR of about 127), I prefer power to HR. Below, AeT, HR (Ferrari was sketchy as all get out, but he's advocated this for about 20 years).

Training at/near MLSS* is needed, if you are competing in events longer than 15-20 minutes. It's also a needed transition step in the training program between easy endurance training and fast glycolytic (transport, or for cyclists, "VO2 intervals") efforts. For some, it's a 4-8 week bridge to higher intensity. For others, it's the focus of hard days for more of the season (Seiler's daughter, a 10k-half marathon runner, has most of her "hard" days in zone 4 -- she responds better to that than to zone 5/transport).

I don't like to do that kind of work indoors -- I wouldn't do it on the erg, because I'm not a competitive rower, or a competitive erger. On the bike, I wait until it's warm and light enough outdoors for that kind of thing. I used to do 2 x 20, 3 x 20, 1 x 45, 1 x 60 on the rollers or the trainer, but around age 50 (four years ago) I just decided I'd had enough of that mess. I'll do some sub-threshold work about 12 weeks before racing starts, but then 4 weeks before the season starts I'll shift to zone 5 on the hard days and stay there -- in bicycle road racing, the key moments are 3-8 minute bursts on hills or crosswinds, so zone 5/transport is much more meaningful to race efforts than doing 40-60 minute time trials.

If you're not racing, I would ask why you want to put yourself through the fatigue cost of threshold work -- and I'd add that the cardiac effects of threshold training are particularly problematic for athletes past 45-50. Blood pressure raises significantly during long threshold efforts, and that kind of work also appears to have a more significant impact on sinus node remodeling.




*maximal lactate steady state -- and there's some disagreement as to whether this really exists...there's actually quite the academic crapfight about whether CP (critical power), Anaerobic Threshold, or MLSS is the best, valid measure of the upper intensity level of aerobic training/racing.
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Re: AT Heat Rate Training: Does anyone do it?

Post by Allan Olesen » September 19th, 2020, 2:30 pm

PaulG wrote:
September 19th, 2020, 11:36 am
The conclusions are ambivalent but they do say " experimental studeis lasting 6 weeks to 5 months demonstrate superior responses to polarized TID" (Training Intensity Durations) especially when compared to training that emphasizes Threshold (THR) or High Volume Low Intensity Training (HVLIT).
It always worries me when scientists compare training methodologies and come to the conclusion that some kind of intensive or polarized training is superior to pure high volume low intensity training.

In most training plans, which have a period of of pure high volume low intensity, the intent is to first build a foundation with a lot of low intensity training, and then build something on top of that foundation with more intensive and/or polarized training.

If you make an experiment, where one group only builds the foundation without ever trying to build something on top of that foundation, few people will be surprised that this group ends up with lower VO2Max or power output or whatever metric is used to measure training response. That is in my opinion a scientific strawman, since that was never the purpose of the HVLIT training.

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