Training Intensity Distribution (TID)

Training intensity distribution (TID) is a strategy used in endurance sports training that involves distributing of training sessions across different intensity zones. This approach ensures that athletes train optimally for their desired event by balancing low, moderate, and high-intensity training.

In general, endurance athletes should train at a low intensity for most of their training time, with a smaller proportion of time spent at moderate and high intensities. This approach is known as polarized training, and research has shown that it can lead to better performance gains compared to training at a moderate intensity all the time.

To implement TID, athletes use heart rate, power, and/or pace to determine the appropriate intensity for each training session. For example, a long, slow distance run would be considered a low-intensity session, while intervals or hill repeats would be considered high-intensity sessions.

By using TID, athletes can improve their endurance, speed, and overall performance while minimizing the risk of overtraining or injury. It’s an effective training strategy that’s widely used in endurance sports, and as an athlete, understanding TID can help you optimize your training and achieve your goals.

Categories of training intensity distribution

There are several different categories of training intensity distribution that athletes and coaches use to structure their training.

Polarized Training

This approach involves training at low intensity for the majority (around 80% or more) of training time, with the remaining time spent at high intensity (around 10-20%) and very little time spent in the moderate intensity range. The idea behind polarized training is that low-intensity training builds aerobic endurance and enables athletes to recover between high-intensity sessions, while high-intensity sessions improve anaerobic capacity and maximal power output. This approach has been shown to be effective in improving endurance performance in sports such as running, cycling, and rowing.

Pyramidal Training

This approach involves training in all three intensity zones, with a greater emphasis on low-intensity training (around 70-80%), followed by lower amounts of medium-intensity (around 20%) and high-intensity (around 10%) training. This approach is more evenly distributed across intensity zones compared to polarized training.

It’s worth noting that there are other TID approaches, such as threshold training (emphasizing training around the lactate threshold), high-intensity, and base (over 95% of time spent in the low-intensity zone). The best approach for an individual athlete will depend on their goals, training history, and personal preferences.


The theoretical basis for specifying TIV on MATS is the work of Seiler:

5-zone model

  • LIT = Z1+Z2
  • MIT = Z3
  • HIT = Z4+Z5

3-zone model

  • LIT = Z1
  • MIT = Z2
  • HIT = Z3

Custom zone model

If you change the zone model suggested by MATS (for example, to 4 zones or 6 zones), the TIV specification will still follow the default 5 zone model.
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