The Most Effective Endurance Training Method – The Science Explained

The Most Effective Endurance Training Method – The Science Explained

What training intensity distribution shows better results? This video discusses the current evidence surrounding threshold, polarised, and pyramidal training models commonly used by endurance athletes. The small evidence-base of this topic remains an issue with regards to establishing a confident consensus, and therefore future videos are planed once more evidence emerges.

To Know Sport is not a doctor or a medical professional. Before starting any new diet and/or exercise program please check with your doctor. Use of this information (in the video) is strictly at your own risk. Any recommendations made are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The content in the video is for educational and informational purposes regarding the scientific evidence base on exercise and nutritional topics for healthy adults. To Know Sport will not assume any liability for direct or indirect losses or damages that may result from the use of information contained in this video including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness, or death. Science is frequently based on average results, therefore due to person-to-person variability, individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.

Stöggl, T. and Sperlich, B., 2014. Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity, or high volume training. Frontiers in physiology, 5, p.33.
Hydren, J.R. and Cohen, B.S., 2015. Current scientific evidence for a polarized cardiovascular endurance training model. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 29(12), pp.3523-3530.
Stöggl, T.L. and Sperlich, B., 2015. The training intensity distribution among well-trained and elite endurance athletes. Frontiers in physiology, 6, p.295.
Gordon, D., Wightman, S., Basevitch, I., Johnstone, J., Espejo-Sanchez, C., Beckford, C., Boal, M., Scruton, A., Ferrandino, M. and Merzbach, V., 2017. Physiological and training characteristics of recreational marathon runners. Open access journal of sports medicine, 8, p.231.
Seiler, S., 2010. What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes?. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 5(3), pp.276-291.
Milanović, Z., Sporiš, G. and Weston, M., 2015. Effectiveness of high-intensity interval training (HIT) and continuous endurance training for VO 2max improvements: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials. Sports medicine, 45(10), pp.1469-1481.
Bacon, A.P., Carter, R.E., Ogle, E.A. and Joyner, M.J., 2013. VO 2 max trainability and high intensity interval training in humans: a meta-analysis. PloS one, 8(9), p.e73182.
Kenneally, M., Casado, A. and Santos-Concejero, J., 2018. The effect of periodization and training intensity distribution on middle-and long-distance running performance: a systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 13(9), pp.1114-1121.
Neal, C.M., 2011. Training intensity distribution, physiological adaptation and immune function in endurance athletes.
Kenneally, M., Casado, A., Gomez-Ezeiza, J. and Santos-Concejero, J., 2020. Training Intensity Distribution analysis by Race Pace vs. Physiological approach in World-Class middle-and long-distance runners. European Journal of Sport Science, (just-accepted), pp.1-23.
Plews, D., Polarised to Pyramidal Training Intensity Distribution: The Principle of Specificity is Key. Available at:


  1. DL405 on March 6, 2023 at 8:59 am

    What’s the source for your zones? I’ve traditionally seen it broken down into 5 zones

  2. Patrick Lyons on March 6, 2023 at 9:00 am

    Hey I absolutely loved this video! Did you ever end up posting that video about the relationship between training volume and endurance performance?

  3. Cheech on March 6, 2023 at 9:01 am

    Ok for endurance, not for performance.

  4. Dragon Of The West on March 6, 2023 at 9:01 am

    Thank you so much

  5. Nathaniel Roberts on March 6, 2023 at 9:02 am

    I’m just here for the music.

  6. Matthew on March 6, 2023 at 9:03 am

    I spent so long trying to do timed miles killing myself. Only recently i decided to focus more on time and distance. Did a timed mile again and got a time faster than I ever gotten. (note i’m a novice runner)

  7. Jesus Bianco on March 6, 2023 at 9:03 am

    I found the music extremely annoying, not easy to understand and distracting

  8. DLastOne2go on March 6, 2023 at 9:04 am

    Great video! I like how you simplified the whole thing.
    Around 2 months back I heard about the 80/20 easy runs split and HR training method. I tried it and it’s working magic for me. Infact all my life I was told that easy runs was for old people and those who can’t run so I actually never ran an easy run.

    I’m not a complete beginner but I’ve been very inconsistent. Only recently, I finally decided to be Consistent, fking Consistent! coz I got tired of sucking at it I guess 😉
    But I simply started without any research, mostly to avoid procrastinating again. Was a mess as I ran based on my mood from zone 2 to maxing out. Barely managed 4-6km and had to rest every other day due to burnout.

    When I finally tried out the so called easy runs that supposedly every elite endurance runner does, my distance increased to 8km immediately. That run was life changing as I never felt so nice after a run. I didn’t even need to rest so I went the whole week, then the next week too.
    Ran a half marathon the 3rd week for the first time in my life. After a day of rest got back to 8km for another week and then 14km for the next.

    Found that I was pushing myself so dropped to 12km. And now, I’m comfortably doing 12 everyday without rest. My warm up and cool down session is strict so that might be what helped me adapt so quickly to my distance pretty much tripling in 2 months.

    That said, it’s just easy runs currently as I want to build my aerobic base and get my body used to running daily. Not to mention, my progress is probably too fast so don’t want to burden myself with anything else.
    After about 3 months which should be my 6th month of consistent running, I’m planning to incorporate some zone 3 again, likely going with the polarised split.

    Well, just wanted to say Thank you. There are many people who live under a rock their whole lives, some like myself are still in some prehistoric iceberg. So accidently coming across videos like these can often be life altering.
    Those that are well-researched and explained in simple terms, even moreso.

  9. GunsCarsBikesCigars on March 6, 2023 at 9:04 am

    max effort only training. every ride is a ftp test

  10. Slappy Fistwad on March 6, 2023 at 9:05 am

    What a JOKE! You do this, and you will ALWAYS be SLOW!!! Once you have your base conditioning down, it should all be interval training. 16×200, 8×400, 4×800, and slow recovery runs. THATS IT

  11. Ojo sambat on March 6, 2023 at 9:06 am

    zone 1 really? So long processing

  12. Nic Nic on March 6, 2023 at 9:11 am

    Bro that video is fire 🎉

  13. na on March 6, 2023 at 9:13 am

    Does running in zone 2 on the treadmill have any benefits ?? Or does each session on the treadmill have to be hard ??

  14. fg on March 6, 2023 at 9:15 am

    So it is your base cardio, because going any slower actually takes effort.

  15. naw dude on March 6, 2023 at 9:17 am

    Looks like a proprietary zone system as those percentages do not match what everyone else everywhere refers to as zones 1-5

  16. H PY on March 6, 2023 at 9:17 am

    well explained! thank you!

  17. Dagoth Ur on March 6, 2023 at 9:18 am

    Aerobic training is crucial, I didn’t train my aerobic most of time as weren’t paying attention and just running too hard (170bpm) so I was always training anaerobic as my anaerobic threshold is 159. I now started running between 139-149bpm to train my aerobics, it’s so bad I have to almost walk to keep my heart rate this low, quite eye opening. So most people just running for health probably aren’t training their aerobic health. I do slow easy runs now up to 8 miles most days, and then one harder threshold run/intervals.

  18. Patrick Bodenham on March 6, 2023 at 9:18 am

    that mellow piano music when he’s talking about pure pain and anguish. psychopath

  19. Top Of The Line Running on March 6, 2023 at 9:18 am

    i would be careful of taking an off day/non-runing day in between 2 workouts, that can come back and bite you. i would actually move that around a tiny bit or schedule a 2nd recovery day between workouts. long-time coaching here.

  20. Roberto R on March 6, 2023 at 9:19 am

    At the end of the day it is an alternation between steady runs and intervals, with a weekly increase of mileage.

  21. Paul Kk on March 6, 2023 at 9:20 am

    i see, this is the reason why the interval training method is proven to be efficient. Because interval training is a mixture of zone 1 and zone 3, with little or no zone 2.

  22. Fidaiy Tan on March 6, 2023 at 9:21 am

    i hate the fact that the zones that was mentioned here and in research books are not the same as what we use everyday , yes i am referring to HR monitor/sensors. its a shame that huge companies can speak the same language as sports professional. tend to confuse athletes don’t you think?

  23. spencerc32 on March 6, 2023 at 9:24 am

    I’m curious how my approach would be looked at in terms of effectiveness, my HR has improved so much in the past year it’s mind blowing, at the point now I’m doing 30 mins 5x a week with intervals of high intensity of about 5 minutes within the 30 mins. Am I over working my body? I’m eating decent, drinking a lot of water and electrolytes

  24. kivo33 on March 6, 2023 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for the clarity and quality of this video

  25. Adrian Tregoning on March 6, 2023 at 9:25 am

    This is very good advice! Great video. One thing: When in doubt, do less. Consistency is key, if you over do it and get injured, the consistency is gone and so are the results. I repeat, when in doubt, do less. I found this out the hard way, many times, sadly. It took a few years of ultra running and too many injuries to jog the brain into some sense.

  26. Quentin Awori on March 6, 2023 at 9:26 am

    This is an awesome digestion of the scientific evidence into something we can do – tomorrow. Great job!

  27. Benjamin Weser on March 6, 2023 at 9:30 am

    in which zone does 70-75% fall into based on your zone estimations, since zone 2 starts at 80% and your zone 1 finishes at 75% ?

  28. mark macfarlane on March 6, 2023 at 9:33 am

    How the hell does one train in zone 1? Even an elite will struggle to train below 115 bpm

  29. B.P Live on March 6, 2023 at 9:35 am

    Stamina motivation

  30. Nicolas Bauchet on March 6, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Background music is pretty anoying !

  31. Yash Khasnis on March 6, 2023 at 9:37 am

    This can only be done when you have decent weekly mileage. For someone just starting out and has never run let’s say a 5k before, it won’t work. My zone2 pace in the very beginning was 9:41min/km(15min/mile). There’s no way someone can jog that slow with horrible form and not get injured. Get your mileage up at first without worrying about all this and just run. Once your 5k pace drops to sub 8min/km or 7min/km start incorporating this. Saying this from my personal experience. Maybe it’ll help somebody. Also, your heart rate will spike very high when you starting running after a long time/break. It’s totally normal. Just keep at it you can do it!

  32. Don Lee on March 6, 2023 at 9:38 am

    my problem is that my cardio is not strong enough to do long runs at a natural pace without breaking into zone 2. I’ve been telling myself to forcefully lower my speed to a point that my heart rate doesn’t exceed 150, but the fact that I have to run so much slower that my natural rthymn becomes off and so does my form.

  33. Alexi Luffy on March 6, 2023 at 9:38 am

    Is it okay to do sprint intervals (12s sprint, 48s recover for 10 times) immediately after a 1 hour Zone 2 run?

  34. Ben Hadman on March 6, 2023 at 9:39 am

    Would love to see that video on training volume, intrigued by the non-linear relationship

  35. Embrace Synarchism TikTok: brjelhuk on March 6, 2023 at 9:40 am

    I didn’t understand the zones how am I supposed to gauge what zone I’m in?

  36. n k on March 6, 2023 at 9:41 am

    I’m not even sure if I’ll be jogging if I stay under 75% max heart rate lol

  37. Kurylko on March 6, 2023 at 9:42 am

    when i do intervals i should pause my heart rate monitor for the rest time?

  38. rinotz7 on March 6, 2023 at 9:42 am

    Always have to be careful on how to apply this to your specific case though. A beginner runner and sedentary person will have a very difficult time maintaining HR in Zone 1, unless they just walk for well over a month and then jog very slowly for a couple months after.

    I started running a few months ago and I doubt I would have ever progressed so much if I had followed this method. Following advice from somewhere else, I started running aiming to stay bellow 150 hr (max hr is 184). My easy runs were very slow, around 8:30-8:00/km in my first month.

    3 months after, my easy runs are around 6:30/km, and I can do over 20km at that pace. I did a full out 5k in my first week of running, which was about 34 minutes, 3 months later I’m running sub 23 in my latest parkrun, which I do every 3 weeks.

    Now that I have small race experience and a little more endurance, I base all of my runs on pace and projected pace, although still try to maintain my average HR for easy runs bellow 150 and still pay attention to it on all types of runs.

    All this to say that, you can definitely work with HR but not by itself, especially if you’re not already very fit and in good shape, this will probably slow your progress by a lot.

  39. Dragon Of The West on March 6, 2023 at 9:42 am

    This is so deep

  40. Newton Running Korea on March 6, 2023 at 9:42 am

    Liked and Subscribed.

  41. Pavlovskyy :P on March 6, 2023 at 9:45 am

    how do i know max heart rate? just run like fast af for few km and then check max heart rate on sport watch???

  42. Heinrich H. on March 6, 2023 at 9:45 am

    what about 78% hrmax, what zone is this?

  43. Mario Mirquis on March 6, 2023 at 9:47 am

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life John 3:16.

  44. Ninja Shoyo on March 6, 2023 at 9:49 am

    Love this! Thanks for explaining and giving a practical example of it.

  45. Mega Elite on March 6, 2023 at 9:50 am

    And then there’s me who gets on the treadmill with 20km/h and sees how long I can last…

  46. A Refrigerator on March 6, 2023 at 9:50 am

    I’ve always been an advocate of Dr Michael Greger’s quote "what does the say". That’s where you know what’s effective and what’s not. ✌️

  47. Will Swift on March 6, 2023 at 9:51 am

    Can be estimated with heartrate and other things

  48. Kingpkl on March 6, 2023 at 9:55 am

    Just getting back into running and hoping to do a half marathon next year at some point, I’ve never done one I get overwhelmed sometimes with all the detailed information about plans and aerobic base building etc as someone who normally used to just go out and try and beat my PB on 5ks and 10ks, I would like a slightly more sophisticated approach if I’m going to do a half but can I just do like a slow run a steady run and a fast run each week? Will that do lol, basically this is my second week running again after 3 years, I’ve been smoking in that 3 years too but stopped again now. So far this week I did a slow 8km a steady 10km last night and plan to do parkrun or just 5k on weekend at faster pace or close to what may be my current race pace? I’m I on the right path at least ?

  49. BH - Exercise as Medicine on March 6, 2023 at 9:55 am

    Some people just like to run… that has nothing to do with this … running itself is a magical experience..!

  50. Pendar Shahbazi on March 6, 2023 at 9:57 am

    Many thanks for this amazing video!
    Informative and out of assumptions. Purely based on research!