Strength training for women is important for all athletes—and in this show, top strength and conditioning coach Erin Carson highlights just how important it is for female endurance athletes. With a background working with athletes such as three-time Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae, Olympic marathon runner Kara Goucher, and former US national road racing champion, Carson knows a thing or two about how to ensure female endurance athletes stay fit, fast, durable, and resilient.
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In the show she talks about the importance not just of strength work, but all of the work that needs to come before it when it comes to strength training for women—activation, mobility, stability—and the impact that the combined program can have on hormonal profile.
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Dede Barry 00:05
Happy holidays to everyone at Fast Talk Femme as we embark on 2024. Julie and I are excited about all the new guests and themes we’ll explore. We plan to kick off the year with a discussion on the group effect the importance of training together in endurance sport, we’ll have Canadian national track endurance coach Jenny true along with her husband, Chris Reed, who’s the executive director of the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, Ontario.
Dede Barry 00:32
After that Savilia Blunk will join us and give us a behind the scenes look at training and racing in the life of a pro cyclist severe Lea shares her time between the United States and Europe and rides for the US National Team. We’ll also have the US National Team mountain bike skills coach give us advice on how to improve bike handling skills and overall performance. Julie and I will be capping off the year by replaying one of our favorite episodes of the year, but also one of the most fitting for winter release as it’s focused on strength training. The winter months are an ideal time to spend time in the gym and focus on developing better strength, mobility, and durability.
Dede Barry 01:11
Our guests on this episode is Erin Carson, a boulder based strength coach who has worked with some of the world’s best cyclists, triathletes and runners. In this episode, she talks about how female athletes can get the most from their time in the gym. She walks us through the fundamentals of strength training for endurance athletes, how to structure your training and improve mobility so you can optimize muscle recruitment. What I liked about this episode was that Erin just did such a great job of highlighting all the additional benefits of strength training, I mean, improves mood hormonal profile mobility, muscle recruitment, it even gives you better posture from only 20 minutes a day of dedicated strength workouts. Julie, what did you like best about this episode?
Julie Young 01:51
I love that too Dede and that is kind of one of my soap boxes in my coaching practice is trying to help my athletes understand something is better than nothing. And these small deposits over time really add up. So I think it’s hard oftentimes to break endurance athletes have this more is better mentality. But I think Aaron really brought that out in the conversation, I think she also really enlightened us that there is a nuance and finesse to the work, that it’s not just about slinging around heavy weights, that there’s an important kind of investment that goes on early in terms of creating a foundation based on mobility and stability and setting down good movement patterns. I think another thing that she really brought out, and again, I think this is a mindset that we need to break endurance athletes of is that if it’s not hurting me, it’s not helping me. And I think Aaron in this conversation really brings out that this work needs to be more thoughtful. And it may be less obvious work. You know, I think as endurance athletes were very singular and our movement patterns, and her thought was a big part of this work for endurance athletes is getting that body back in balance. And that’s not easy, you know, again, after a season of the singular movement. The other thing she brought out, which I thought was really interesting is the idea that if endurance athletes are making this investment, this time a year in the strength work, it’s really going to improve their durability, and that’s going to help them over the long haul of the season. You know, so at the point in the season, when the races that really count for them, like the championships, their durability is going to be so much higher.
Dede Barry 03:32
I completely agree with that. I feel like durability is what separates the best from the rest as the big race has come around in the peak season.
Rob Pickels 03:42
If you’re an endurance athlete, the status of your GI system stretches further than just your overall health. It directly impacts athletic performance. Tune in to fast talk bems episode 123 To listen as Dr. Alan Lim sheds light on groundbreaking gi information that every coach and athlete can benefit from to leverage and optimize their nutrition plan. Check it out at fast talk labs.com.
Dede Barry 04:09
We hope you enjoy this episode and are able to take away as many nuggets of knowledge and inspiration as we did. Hi Aaron. Welcome to Fast talk fam. I’m really pleased to have a fellow University of Colorado Boulder alum on the show. What years were you there?
Erin Carson 04:24
I played basketball at the University of Colorado from 1984 to 88. And then finished my fifth year in 89. And then went and played some professional basketball in France for a year and then coached college basketball at Tulane University in New Orleans and one year of college coaching at Nebraska. And then I came back to Boulder and I never left. So
Dede Barry 04:46
I know you studied Kinesiology at CU Boulder but tell me about your transition from basketball a power sport into coaching endurance athletes.
Erin Carson 04:56
You know my my passion for strength work when it came to performance really started at the University at probably at Tulane, I always knew I loved human performance. That’s my degree, the science of human movement. At the University of Nebraska, they had the biggest, most beautiful weight room you’ve ever seen. And I believe it was the first in the collegiate experience that had that kind of weight room in that strength experience. And in the back that up with national championships with college football, and the head strength and conditioning coach went on to start the national Strength and Conditioning Association. His name is Boyd Eppley. And so I would really surround it by people who are passionate about creating great athletes through strength and conditioning. And I was like, you know, I think that’s what I want to do. And coming back to Boulder watching professional runners, professional triathletes, professional cyclists, they really didn’t have a great relationship with with the weight room was interesting for me to follow. And I just watched for many years I didn’t get involved. They’re relatively intimidating group of people very strong in what they believe. And it was going to be probably 10 years into my career, when a professional triathlete came to me and said, I know you understand the body quite well. I believe that strength training is going to extend my career and maybe helped me do better in Kona. And his name was Timothy O’Donnell. And so Tim has podium several times in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, he married Marinda Carfrae three time Kona champion, I had the opportunity after two weeks of working with Tim, he felt really good. And Ronnie came to me and she goes, Okay, I want to work with you as well. And that was 10 years ago. So I’ve been working with them for 10 years, but the fact that they were healthy. The fact that they continued to thrive and win championships, really started adding credibility to the systematic approach that I was bringing to endurance athletes, and I’ve had the chance to work with Kara Boucher for a bunch of years right up until the pandemic, I’ve had a chance to work with the Olympic medalists, Florida Duffy, Taylor nip is currently one of my athletes. You mentioned Evie Stevens, who was in Rio, Mara Abbott, who was with Evie in Rio from the cycling realm, I’ve had the chance to work with Sepp coos who rides for yumbo visa. And he’s just a spectacular kid and just athlete that just believes that if we take the right approach, we can enhance endurance sports with strength work, and mobility work and tissue care, and maybe looking at the body from a little bit of a different perspective.
Dede Barry 07:34
Are you training mostly triathletes. Now? Like I know you’ve mentioned a few cyclists? And are there any runners in the mix? Yeah, I
Erin Carson 07:43
have some runners and they’re a little bit easier to work with because they don’t ride bikes. Pure runners or pure cyclists are a little bit easier than triathletes, because they only have one problem to solve this problem of running or the problem of cycling. But my biggest jam right now is triathlon, I was working with Ruth winder, US national champion, right up through the pandemic, and into Tokyo. So I work with her work with Tom screens. But the cyclists are very international, you know, as you know, because that’s your jam, you know, so they don’t really live here for very long. So when they’re in Boulder, they’re mostly writing, I have had a chance to work with them a little bit, but they’re not here as much as the triathletes. So yeah, the triathlon world is pretty much my world, but more problems to solve with triathlon, because when you’re trying to get somebody out of the cycling, especially a TT position into running, it’s even more interesting. Erin, can
Dede Barry 08:37
you walk us through why strength training is important for female endurance athletes, and whether you think it’s more important at different phases in their development,
Erin Carson 08:46
I think early and I train some very elite athletes who are in their 20s. The most important thing we can do and provide for them is to maintain balance, we now know that intensity is really important when it comes to overall high performance for world class athletes. So finding balance in the body and recognizing where there’s an inherent tightness that can happen in the body. So let’s just put it in the realm of cycling. When you put yourself into a time trial position, or even that forward lean position, you really do tend to get very tight hips, you tend to get very tight thoracic spine, you tend to not be really mobile down in your ankles, and one of my mentors and I have a whole group of mentors and I’ll name drop throughout because I think people should know who these people are because they’re great teachers. Greg Cook is a physical therapist. He looks at the body from many different perspectives. But the one takeaway for me was that in any kind of athletic endeavor, the ankles need to be mobile. The hips need to be mobile, and the thoracic spine needs to be mobile when there are tightness in the ankles, the hips or the T spine. The junctions above and below are at risk. So when people have have sore necks or they have sore low backs, or they have sore knees, I usually will look above it, or below it for the culprit or the origin, perhaps of the discomfort or the lack of engagement without those areas. So if somebody comes to me with this medial knee pain, I will look up the chain to the hips, or I’ll look down the chain to the ankle and help the feet move better. So when a young athlete we want to help head off these patterns of dysfunction early, and we can get them moving better. With a more mature athlete, let’s just go to the next decade in their 30s, they usually it especially if I’m just starting with them, they will adapt even quicker to getting the inherent tightness out of the way so that they have more access to the glutes, it’s so funny because I look at all these men’s health and women’s health magazines, oh, well, I want to find more glute activity was not that hard. It’s just a matter of looking at the body seeing where the tightness is on the anterior capsule of the hip. And I say the anterior capsule rather than the psoas muscle, most people have been told by a physical therapist or chiropractor that they have tight. So as are they to have tight hip flexors. But I’m going to look at the entire capsule, which includes that big muscle of the quad that rectus femoris. And if we can get those muscles flowing a little bit more and get people out of an anterior tilt and their pelvis, get more into neutral, we’re going to have more glute activation. So there’s this systematic approach of getting rid of tightness, taking care of tissue, and then enhancing muscle activation and function and strength. So that that will actually stay in place while the athlete is training. And so I try to as I like to say, stay in my lane, you know it my job is more of a technician to get the athlete in position to take on the training. And I think that’s where I’ve been able to build trust with high performance athletes. And I say that not only with the professionals, but even high high performance, age groupers. And anybody that’s willing to take the time to quote unquote, train and experience what progressive overload feels like. They want to go through that process, or through that journey, feeling good and not fighting their body and not feeling like the kind of I can only move a little bit better through my upper back as I climb on my bike. I think I could be better or maybe their expansion of their ribcage is not a big deal. You know, I’ve been challenged with somebody like an epi Stevens, we were talking a little bit earlier. Like, what do you do with that athlete? She’s already an Olympian. She’s one of the best in the world, how can I possibly engage her enough intellectually and physically, such that she wants to come back and do more training with me, we were able to make her feel better, like her body felt more freedom when she was riding her bike. And then she’s like, Can we do that again. And so my title is strength coach, but many times my work is more mobility and getting that athlete moving in a much more efficient, free way, so that they can go experience their sport and their training in a healthier, more open body. You
Julie Young 13:14
know, Aaron, as you’re talking as a few things came to my mind. And you know, one thing I you know, you said that triathletes are harder, because they, they have these different issues, but kind of in some ways, I feel like triathletes, the variety of sport they do kind of plays in their favor, versus like the cyclist, who they’re always in that very flexed position, making limited range of motion linear movement. And in my opinion, like having the opportunity to work with athletes in the gym, and having that like dedicated time of the year where they can really invest, it just kind of helps undo some of those less favorable sport specific adaptations, and help them remember what it is to move different ways laterally, rotationally horizontally. So for me like as just thinking of the pure cyclists, like I think that’s kind of an issue because they’re just so molded by that position.
Erin Carson 14:07
I couldn’t agree more. I actually, like him don’t like him agree, whatever I learned a lot from when Lance Armstrong decided to go back to become a triathlete. He described that journey when he went out to Santa Barbara to work with a trainer named Peter Park. And Peter Parker’s good friend was Dr. Eric Goodman, who invented foundation training. And the goal for Eric and Peter was to get Lance out of the cycling position and back up to the upright position where he could actually find his running form again, and there was a process to that. And his goal was to run with freedom and fast and he did really well for the one race he got to do before he got banned for life. But it was a process that I kind of followed quite closely. Cyclists are kind of fun. I mean, I’m a cyclist, so and I know a lot of cyclists here in Boulder, but they’re tough nuts to crack like they just want to ride their bike. They don’t Don’t leave the program that we create for them once they feel the benefit and feel the difference. So it’s always good. They’re like, Yeah, I do feel better on my bike since I started going to the gym. And it isn’t just a bunch of deadlifts and back squats, you know. So I’m with you, I, I think when you can show them the Holy Grail of mobility and strength outside of the bike and the well roundedness of athleticism, especially now, I think we know a lot about bone density in both men and women, that they need to get under load.
Julie Young 15:32
Yeah, I was gonna ask you to, and it’s you’ve kind of you’ve answered this. But sometimes it’s challenging to get these endurance athletes to buy into strength work. And I know when I was racing, it was like, some coaches really believed in it, others didn’t. But I think for me, just, you know, trying to educate and help them understand, like, why they’re doing it, how it will support them and reaching their goals. That’s helpful. But I also think, as you said, when they feel it, that’s the best hook.
Erin Carson 15:57
It’s my goal every time I just started with a female triathlete last week, and we’re into our fourth session, and I knew I had her when she’s like, we meet Friday. I’m like, Well, maybe just like next week, and she’s like, No Friday. And I was like, Why do you want to be Friday, she goes, because I haven’t hit 250 watts with so much ease in a long time. And all we’ve been doing is opening your hips. And it was all bike, like, you know, she hasn’t even really got into the season yet with hard running. But she was like, my, I feel so much better on my bike, you know, in getting into the position. So I was like that mission accomplished. Check, you know, so now we can kind of dial it back a little bit and really work on foundational strength stuff and keep her in position. So interesting,
Julie Young 16:42
like feedback during COVID. And when athletes couldn’t get to the gym, and just how different they felt on the bike, and I thought that’s really an eye opener for them. True,
Erin Carson 16:52
it’s difficult for people who do what we do with athletes, because when a typical, and I’m gonna get I’m just gonna say typical trainer or strength coach gets an elite athlete in front of them, they get really excited. And they might overdo the strength work in the gym, which might take away because this is the fear, right? This is the fear of the athlete, I’m going to be sore, I’m not going to be able to do my training, I’m going to put on muscle, you know, list all the fears and then dispel the myth by just showing them it doesn’t have to be that way. And then continuous strength coaches and and professionals who who want to take on these kinds of athletes and, and get the privilege to work with these kinds of athletes to keep your ego in check. And just recognize the goal isn’t how much weight they lift in the gym, is that they feel great on the bike, and they progress as an athlete.
Dede Barry 17:44
Aaron, I’ve heard you mentioned the effect that lifting has on the hormonal profile. Could you explain this?
Erin Carson 17:50
You know, there’s a lot of people a lot smarter than me that can dig on that on a big cellular level, and this nervous system level and whatnot. But I know that when you put enough stress into the body, there is a positive hormonal response to rebuild the tissue that you can break down. So when you’d go on a five or six hours zone to endurance building ride, that will suppress in most athletes, and there’s a bell curve of life. So not all, but most athletes will experience a suppression of good hormones. And that can lead to low testosterone in both men and women. And so when we look at how we can bring both mood, as well as hormone profiles of long course, endurance athletes into a more positive state, lifting weights has been proven scientifically to increase testosterone in both men and women. For me, I’m driven by that data. But I’m also patient enough to make sure that the athletes learn the correct form. And don’t rush into that process. If there’s a real issue with their health, when it comes to hormone profile, they should deal with their doctors, they shouldn’t deal with the strength coach, but at the same time when they come in, and they’re trashed, and their mood is low, and they might even tend towards a little bit of depression. I look at that, okay, I know I can get them into a position of lifting weights and feeling better. And usually that shift in mood tells me we’ve mission accomplished on that kind of training. So simply said, Yes, it will help but complicated to take each athlete as an individual and make sure that they’re in the correct they have the right skill to get under that kind of load. So sometimes it takes me up to a year to get an athlete into that really good position. Like if they’re a swimmer and they have super long arms. It takes me a lot longer to teach them to deadlift or to front squat or, you know, depending on what their background was strengthing conditioning has
Dede Barry 19:54
been and what’s the best way to elicit that response would it be through lower reps Oh, hi wait work?
Erin Carson 20:01
Yes, Dr. Stacey Sims is a friend. She’s brilliant, like she’s the one that can really talk about the deep cellular science on this kind of stuff. But she’s like write up three to five repetitions. But those are maximal efforts to when you start doing three to five repetitions maximal effort, you elevate the risk profile for these athletes, and I get to knock on wood really quick, I’ve had a really, really good track record of being patient, and not ever hurting anyone in the weight room. So I just want to caution, like somebody who does come directly off the bicycle, who has perhaps a little bit stuck in flexion, that there’s a lot of postural exercises and movements that we want to get you into, even just from opening the chest. I don’t even back squat cyclists unless they were soccer players or basketball players in a former life and, and did back squatting. A big issue with cyclists is that forward head position, so putting the bar on the back, I feel and actually structurally I know, that’s just a compromised position for most of them. So although you can’t lift more weight, you can actually go under load in a much safer position when you front squat than when you back squat. dead lifting with a hex bar is much safer on the low back than dead lifting with a straight bar, it doesn’t mean either one of them isn’t good. It just means safety. First, in my book, I’m very, very risk averse. And you know, when you’re working with elite athletes, and they make their money from their sport, you have to be just risk averse.
Julie Young 21:39
A couple of follow up questions to that with the back squat like or front squat, or is that biasing different muscle groups,
Erin Carson 21:47
when you put a person in a back squat, I think they can lift more weight than they’re actually should be lifting because the core activation is much, much less with a back squat. Because you’re usually structurally you’re holding that up with your skeleton, not your musculature. When you go into a front squat, your core activation elevates tremendously. So your spine is way more supported for when you’re doing in front squat than you are from a back squat. And it’ll
Julie Young 22:16
work equally glutes and quads in both positions,
Erin Carson 22:20
I think it’s probably going to work more glutes less quads, okay? When you’re in your front squat, because the weight is in front of you. So if you look at that vector, it’s going to be the load is here. So everything has to fire up so you don’t fall forward. So you get a lot more posterior chain from a front squat.
Julie Young 22:35
Interesting. Do you feel like you should be separating the endurance work and the strength work? How do you do that in a day?
Erin Carson 22:43
Well, it’s different for every athlete, it’s interesting, because some of them really enjoy doing the strength work first, because the activation, it’s it puts them in a better position before they get on the bike to do the work. And now that so many people are doing so much more of the cycling, especially indoors, they they’re not out of the saddle that much or that, you know, the body terrain asks us to change body position, it’s more interesting for our body. But if we’re just going home to ride and do the work inside on the trainer, having the body more mobile before you get on the bike and doing a full like multi planar to your point warmup can just bring so many more muscles into the game to do the session. So some athletes prefer to do strength before the work. And if they do, I make sure that my that they’re not fatigued, you know. So higher loads, lower reps, decrease his fatigue. So I’m either three to six, or 15 to 20. And I’m only doing 15 to 20, typically to teach technique, or do a warm up before we get under heavier load. So once somebody has been with me for a few months, I tend to really customize what they need. I feel like the timing
Julie Young 23:59
is kind of based on priorities to like, if you’re at the point of the season, where strength is really the priority, and like you’re doing more just based training, I think the strength work should come first. If you’ve kind of switched and you’re then in the maintenance, I feel like every kind of more the energy should be on the bike and the workouts become harder. So maybe those should be prioritized. Yeah,
Erin Carson 24:21
no, I agree completely. I actually have two phases or three phases of training. So sometimes I’ll give an athlete a 15 minute, I call it a pre flight routine, which is movement prep. And so they’ll do a 15 minute movement prep, get on the bike, and then come to the gym and do more of the traditional strength.
Julie Young 24:40
I liked I heard you say that in a previous podcast of the analogy with the flight
Erin Carson 24:45
Yeah, onto and climb and cruise in the lounge. I got Europe she was like you should make the recovery stuff that lounge and I’m like, yeah. Oh man.
Julie Young 24:57
Hey, can you tell us a little bit about the importance of strength training as female endurance athletes age.
Erin Carson 25:03
Yeah, I mean, the bottom line is if you’re not actively doing something to get stronger, you’re getting weaker. And I’m a cyclist, primarily this year, I’m not, I’m not going to swim, I want to run because I do like running like it feels good to my body. But there is a postural component to my life. I do a lot of presentations. I like to stand tall, I am tall, I’m six feet tall. So I think as we get older, we are constantly dealing with gravity and ground. So if you want to sit well on the bicycle and sit confidently and strongly on the bicycle, then a well designed strength program will only enhance your comfort as you sit on the bicycle. And there’s so many different activities that we can do. Now, 100 milers, you know here in Colorado, we have the triple bypass. And so spending time on the bike, you need much more than lower body strength. To turn the pedals you need to sit very comfortably and strong on your handlebars, you need to be able to change position on the handlebars, you need to be able to have a core musculature that can support your spine even though you there’s not the compressive forces that maybe we experienced with running. So posture and expansion of the ribcage and decompression is really important for me with my cyclists, head position is really important, I can’t tell you if I got paid $1 For every time I said chin into throat, like just that is strength. So I use a lot of techniques from Dr. Eric Goodman with foundation training just for head position as it relates to the body because gravity and ground as soon as you start looking down. So posture number one, core support and sitting on the bicycle number two, in order to get strong in the bike, you have to ride the bike. And that’s one of the things that I think in the strength world, we might be overplaying the relationship between deadlifting and strength on the bike, I don’t think they play as much as people think they do. If you want to get up a 20 degree little hitch in the mountains, when you’re riding your gravel bike, you need to be able to just do that on your bike over and over again to be good at it. But how you hold yourself and how strong you are, and how muscles can recover really does matter. So there’s, you know, I’ve created a few gravel programs lately, because most people are at least you know, you got a road bike and gravel bike, and then maybe a mountain bike. I’m not a mountain biker, because I’m scared of running into a tree. But the gravel is really coming really strong for people these days. And it’s hard. So standing up and grabbing the handlebars, we mean our poll and you know, I’m not a technique person, you are much better at cycling than I am. But I know what I feel when I’m on the bike, and I want to be strong, I want strong grip, like even just descending for long dissents and feeling confident to be able to go hard and fast. And
Dede Barry 28:02
yeah, so much of that power in the legs definitely emanates from the core, right?
Erin Carson 28:06
And pelvic position. Yeah,
Julie Young 28:09
along those lines, I do bike fitting and posture has become kind of my soapbox, because you know, I think people fixate so much on their bike equipment, and yet their bodies are not functioning optimally. And, you know, people come in, I know you’d said trying to get people out to anterior tilt. But I feel like it’s more trying to get people out of posterior tilt when I see him in the bike fit and how that posterior tilt turns off the big muscle groups, and then they’re leveraging back hamstring and that sort of thing. So I agree with you 100%. Yeah,
Erin Carson 28:40
and it’s neutral. You know, it’s like I’ve talked to a lot of Pilates people. And I have so much respect for all the people trying to help all of us have fun in the mountains and do things but you know, sometimes taking somebody who, who sits at a desk all day and gets into that anterior tilt, and then overcorrect into a posterior tilt, and then trying to get comfortable even on the saddle, when I first started riding bikes, and like if women have to go through this on this saddle, the nobody’s riding the bike, like I get, I need a new saddle. So as a bike fitter, I can imagine when you even just get them onto a saddle where they’re comfortable in neutral is a big, so it’s worth exploring for anybody that’s listening.
Julie Young 29:19
Yeah. And I also think it’s just, I think about this a lot when I’m writing training plans of putting in like trunk stability consistently through the week. But then I’m thinking to myself, as I’m writing the plan, I’m slumped in that really poor posture. And so trying to help people think about how they hold their posture throughout the day. And then reinforcing it with like what you do in the gym, but that, you know, whatever an hour, 45 minutes three times a week isn’t going to do the trick if they’re trying to overcome eight hours of how they sit. So I think it’s you know, trying to make that that good posture, their default posture. Yep.
Erin Carson 29:55
And just to the point of the 45 to an hour. I think we can do it in much less time. I I think most of us have full lives, families, things we want to do other than just go to the gym. And through the pandemic, I think a lot of people put little home gyms in and there’s things that you can do daily that are like 15 to 2025 minutes that are worth every moment, you know, I’m very thankful to have been just I have a platform to share good information. And if you’re only have 20 minutes, you better make do the right things, you know, and focus on the right things.
Dede Barry 30:30
So many of our listeners are definitely time crunched with jobs and school. And I’d like to hear you expound a little bit more on how they can best fit the strength training in and 20 minutes.
Erin Carson 30:42
So it depends on everybody’s day, right? I know, I am not a big advocate of exercise after 4pm Because I values people’s rest time and their wind downtime. I’m an aura ring person. And my aura ring sends me a, you know, Aaron, you go to bed at 715 Like I am such a loser that I am in 715. So my aura ring reminds me around 4pm to start winding down, and I think we now know and I want I’m a high performance person, like I want to do well I’m, I’m doing this toward the Zwift. And I want to finish in the top 20. And I’m trying as hard as I can on these rides. And, you know, in order for me to keep doing that I need really good sleep. So if I have to get in the gym, I get up early. I’m up at 430 or 5am. And I think I’m still getting my seven to eight and a half hours of sleep a night. So building your gym time, I would still prioritize sleep over gym, but not to 10 hours like you need your seven and a half to eight and a half hours. I think that’s what we’re finding is really a sweet spot for high performance older athlete for recovery. So I’m going to get up early and do my gym two or three times a week if need be. Or the nice thing about Zwift now or in the training the trainer’s and our ability to ride our bikes and train at four o’clock in the morning or five o’clock in the morning and then get the gym work done as quickly as possible after when I’m still sweaty. So I don’t have to leave work and I work in a gym. So it’s a little easier to me for me sometimes. But you know if people have to leave work and go to the gym at lunchtime, that’s not always that realistic. You know. So I do try to tag my gym work on to my harder rides. Because I’m inside most of the time here in the winter. It is my priority in the winter to do gym. So hard bike ride, hit the gym, kettlebells vipers, dumbbells, I don’t have a bar here at the house. But I do have a hex bar. So I have minimal equipment, small home gym, and I try to get all of my athletes. I love it when they come to the gym. But I want them to have stuff that when they get off the bike, they can do 15 to 20 minutes of lifting. While they’re still sweaty. Take a shower, go on with your day.
Dede Barry 33:00
Yeah, that totally makes sense. Are you specifying the workouts for specific sports?
Erin Carson 33:08
Yeah, but you know, it’s funny, because I gotta tell you that a healthy athlete, no matter what the sport is, is a strong global athlete. I mean, I think the specificity I try to leave that to the coaches. And I’m really lucky I work with some really, really talented triathlon coaches, running coaches and cycling coaches, and they just leave the health of their athletes and the position of their athletes to me, and I love that relationship. Because if they’re performing and ticking all the boxes that the sport coach wants them to tick and they’re hitting their thresholds and they’re, they’re nailing their sessions and that that coach can just keep progressing that athlete without injury or worry or health issues, then we’re collaborating on a really fun level and the athlete is healthier. So not gonna lie, like most of my job is to keep these athletes balanced and healthy. And then the high performance really comes from the Sport Coach and the elevation. So I wish I could say they’re all so strong, and they’re all so best and they’re also that but I’m just like they bring in tight hips, I get their hips moving, they come in with tight thoracic spines, I get it moving. And the stronger it is, the more the longer it keeps moving. You know they don’t go back to their their patterns
Julie Young 34:26
when you’re talking about keeping them healthy. And it’s funny because I’ve worked with this PT Chris powers down at USC and he’s ended biomechanics, especially with runners and most of his focuses returned to sport or injury prevention. And he was so hesitant to say that his injury prevention was also performance enhancing. But to me they go hand in hand because like if you’re keeping the athlete injury free, they’re not going into the depths due to injury and they’re not having to pull themselves out of that they’re staying on a trajectory. So I I mean, I think people don’t want to talk about it. It’s not as much fun as performance, but injury prevention, it’s that you’re keeping your athlete on the trajectory.
Erin Carson 35:08
Yeah, well said, I like that I’m gonna, I’m gonna repeat that one, keep them on a trajectory, because that’s what they want. And that’s what the coach, that’s what the coach’s job is, you know, but when you have to deal with somebody with a sore Achilles tendon, or they’re just stuck, and they’re not progressing anymore, you know, if I can get a ribcage moving, and I can get somebody breathing into the bottom of their lungs, and creating the kind of intra abdominal pressure that allows them to produce more force, like putting them in position, so everybody looks good, then it’s terrific. Like, that’s exciting. And it does, it wasn’t because they lifted more weight.
Julie Young 35:45
When again, I think that goes back to our conversation about how do you engage people in the process. And it to me, it really is this education, and it’s the, you know, the athlete being willing to buy into the attention to detail, because it isn’t just slinging around heavy weights. And I know some people I know in endurance, I’m sure DD has seen this too. It’s like, if it’s not hurting, it’s not helping and trying to break people of that mentality. Yes.
Erin Carson 36:11
That drives me crazy. It is. Yeah, oh, I had the most amazing workout, I haven’t been able to sit down for three days. And I’m like, that is absolutely horrible. That is absolutely wrong, you should be able to get on your bike the next day, and train, you know, that’s the process orientation of what we do. You can’t get it all on a Tuesday, you know, it needs to come over time. So the nice thing is, it’s just not that hard to open up somebody’s hips. And then they think because it’s not hard, they don’t need to do it all the time. And then they just get back into their pattern of tightness. And so I am kind of fun to be around. So people like coming to my Monday mobility on YouTube. And you know, I’ve got a good story, usually, and by the end of the week, they like showing up, you know, I’m very proud of the fact that I show up, I have showed up for 80 Mondays, there’s only 52 weeks in a year. And I’ve showed up for over a year, every Monday to help people move better. And they’re like I do it on Wednesday and Friday. And like that’s the beauty of YouTube, they if all they did was Monday mobility, five days a week, it’s only 20 minutes, it’s usually pretty, pretty effective. And it’s simple. You just got to show up,
Julie Young 37:20
when like you said it’s much more effective as opposed to one long session, small deposits through the week. Yeah, I know, there’s lots of factors that go into decision making and in terms of you’re developing programs for athletes, and lots of ways to get from point A to point B, but could you give us a brief overview of an offseason. So at a competition strength program for let’s say, an amateur athlete who may not have tons of experience in the gym, I’m
Erin Carson 37:48
gonna set it up as a six day program, Sunday’s are always going to be kind of a recovery activity. And I chose the foundation training because it was much more geared towards my personality. So for any kind of athlete who wants long term success, looking at six days, so I’m going to have two days. And let’s say it’s Sundays and Wednesdays and those are my days. For foundation training. It’s just you’re going to do a foundation training class on Sundays. And Wednesdays, Monday is for mobility. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are going to be strength days, Friday can be an optional off day. And yeah, Sunday’s are, are kind of recovery. So the Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays, rotate, usually a two week build. So two weeks in a row, you’re going to hit Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the third week, you’re not going to do strength on Saturday, we’re going to then go into kind of a build where we do use those categories of launch, which are my strength, endurance and skill development, muscular endurance, that’s I call that phase or that category launch, because when you’re in the plane, and it’s ready to go, that’s your launch. Climb is the next one that I described for strength and hypertrophy. So my over 40 crowd is definitely gonna do more hypertrophy to make sure that we’re actually increasing the size of the muscle because as we age, we’re losing muscle size. And even my cyclists who want to be very lean and want to climb in the offseason, I want them to hopefully gain three to five pounds of muscle. It’s kind of just this range that I use. There’s so many scales. Well, I like the Garmin scale because it’s not perfect, but it does give us a some accountability that we’re actually putting on muscle. And I’ve talked to more and more of my cyclists that as they get older, both men and women who when they were in their 20s and 30s. They didn’t want upper body muscle because they didn’t want to carry it around. But now aesthetically, structurally postural They, they feel better with more upper body muscle. So in the offseason, I try to just get their buy in for that because they’re not so scared to put on muscle. And then they typically want to keep it in, though in the summer. So I like that in the winter, we can play a little bit with the body and see what we can actually accomplish, not only aesthetically, but also from a health perspective that they just feel better. And if they can acknowledge that they feel better, because they’re lifting more weights, and they’re more willing to do it because they’re not sacrificing time on the road, then that has been a good story it for the offseason stuff. The other thing is, is really because they’re just not as tired because they’re not putting in the hours. And I think that the healthiest athletes, I think that we could all talk about over time, do decrease their training hours on the bike or in the pool or on the roads in the offseason, no matter what hemisphere they’re in. But here in the US or in North America, you know, our typical offseason is around November, and we start ramping up. We’re gonna ramp up here mid February for some June and April, April May kind of races so our offseason is about putting on that three to five pounds of muscle getting a little bit closer to the risk. We’ll take a few more risks with the heavier weights knowing that we can we can recover from it. There might be a little bit more soreness in the offseason. More muscle damage to come back from maybe a little bit higher volume, maybe we will take it up to 10 to 12 repetitions where in the in season. We’re going to keep it three to six so there’s not so much fatigue. So offseason is kind of fun. It’s a time to experiment a little bit, take some risks, but not spine risks, like not structural risks. It scares me a lot to watch people whole heavyweight with bad form who want to then go play like go do stuff to just so sad when people get hurt. Yeah,
Julie Young 41:56
it’s kind of shocking to me how easy it is for people to get hurt, especially their backs in the gym and for example with deadlifts, but it’s pretty easy. That hip hinge is sometimes hard for folks to master but so
Erin Carson 42:08
necessary right and that is one of the primary principles of foundation training. If you can get a great hip hinge and decompress your spine you can get under a lot of load and get a lot of good stuff from that but you got to be patient.
Trevor Connor 42:24
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Julie Young 43:04
I’ve actually heard it’s hard for endurance athletes to gain that hypertrophy, especially because you know, they are combining it with their endurance work. So there’s some people, whatever, there’s a lot of talk about this interference effect. And whether it’s true or not, like people will say that that combination of doing strength and the endurance work will curtail the amount of hypertrophy. Have you experienced that?
Erin Carson 43:29
It’s true. It’s scientifically proven concurrent training is almost in, it’s very, very difficult for most people to gain muscle and build endurance at the same time. I’ve got one triathlete who was like we in the offseason, this year, we need to improve the size of my legs. I’m like, but he’s a he’s a triathlete. He’s a runner, he’s one of the best in the world. And I’m like, we can try, I promise you, we will do everything we can do to improve the size of your legs. But as soon as you start riding again, he’s an Ironman, but they’re gonna just shrink. They’re going right back to where they are right now. Hey,
Julie Young 44:05
back to this example of, you know, an offseason strength program. So once that athlete, that amateur athlete completes that main phase, and I’m just kind of assuming that they’re kind of dedicating, offseason because they don’t have that luxury of time throughout the year. What does their in season maintenance program look like?
Erin Carson 44:23
We definitely want to keep them on the same schedule, but we’re going to change what they do on those days. So it’s still at same Tuesday, Thursday or Tuesday, Saturday, you know, so we can play down we’re gonna pull that maybe back to two times a week from two to three, or we can just shorten the sets, especially if they’re finishing and starting at a gym, whether it’s their home gym or not. We want to maintain mobility for sure a lot of harder work is being done on the bike or on the road. So there are days when they maybe should skip the gym and get right into recovering a little bit quicker. But we don’t want them to get too far from the gym because we really the emphasis is to reset the body into good position, going away for two weeks and not hitting the gym as I would design the program would be a detriment to the training program, you know, so most athletes don’t fight me on that, because it’s low energy ask the stuff that I’m asking them to do in the gym. Just because it’s in the gym doesn’t mean it’s heavy weights or it’s energy expensive, they want to spend the 20 minutes of the reset position. So, you know, the title of strength coach, sometimes it’s just inaccurate, it’s just more about being a human engineer, sometimes than it is getting them under load.
Dede Barry 45:34
So for an elite athlete like Miranda Carfrae, or Abby Stevens, or SEP GQueues, how would their approach to strength training differ from that of a time crunch cyclist or runner, or triathlete?
Erin Carson 45:47
You know, because those, those athletes will have key performances that they want to be ready for the timing throughout the year becomes really, really important. And it should be for an amateur athlete as well. So if you have a raises, and B raises, like people that are just like, well, these are my races, you can’t just perform at a high level forever, you know, so you want to designate my most important races. And then we’re going to come back a set time out from those races, whether it’s the Olympics, or whether it’s a world championship. And we know that in that 12 week lead up to that performance goal. We’re going to customize and know exactly what that athletes should be doing each day going into that performance objective. So, you know, I’ve got Olympians who need to make the team for Paris. So that’s in August 19, you’re in the US to make the US Olympic team in triathlon, you need to secure your spot early, you need to make a podium in the test event. So that means June, July, the kids that I work with, and I work with three of them, who hopefully will make the team, they will be in the gym twice a week minimum leading up to that event. And each one of them will have the week of like their lead in their 10 day lead into that competition. One of them I just started working with. So it’ll be interesting to see how she takes the work, because her coach will see her ability to perform based on what we did in the gym. And he’ll make the decision, he’ll tell me, Aaron, she needs to work out Wednesday before the Sunday competition, or he’ll say, Erin, she’s not going to see you two weeks before the competition, because he’s paying attention and we’re collaborating. And that when when the Sport Coach and the strength coach are on the same page that the athlete benefits so in such a cool way, because I’m not gonna sit there and look at her power files. I’m not designing the training, I’m not watching her on the track. I mean, I do watch the kids on the track because I want to see them and perform and be part of their world. But you know, the coach is really the the quarterback that will tell me what happens. And for amateur athletes, it’s the same way, like between Tim and Rennie really loves doing like in the gym strength work the week of Kona, and that works for her to he gets to Kona and he’s like, hey, I’ll see after the race. I don’t eat and that’s 10 days out unless he has something going on. And he goes, Can you help me move better. So that’s his story with Evie. We were in the gym right up until Rio. And it was mostly mobility. I was just helping her feel free in her body. So she could just go do what she’s the best that ride her bike. So breathing, the relaxing. I’m a breathwork person, I believe in meditation, I believe in relaxation. I believe that that elevates performance. And that works for a lot of athletes. So they want to spend time together. I want to go see Aaron and do my thing.
Dede Barry 48:42
And on average, if they’re doing their strength work, like three days a week, how much time are they spending per day? No
Erin Carson 48:49
more than 45 minutes in the gym? No more. Like, even if we’re not done what I had designed, they’re done. And they that way, it decreases a lot of anxiety for them. Like I had a kid yesterday, Morgan Pearson, sorry to be talking about so much of the guys. But they’re they’re very verbal, I guess in some ways, like why am I done yet? And so as soon as an athlete says, Am I done yet? You know, he’s done. Yeah. Like I’m like, do one more thing. And then you’re out of here. And he’s like, Oh, thank you. That’s great. Because these, I mean, they use their bodies for a living. It’s, it’s a lot. So I listen to them. Their humanity is more important than their athleticism. And I want them to come back. So we always try to leave them wanting a little bit more, if possible. Yeah,
Julie Young 49:31
listening to you. I feel like that title of strength coach is misleading. Because it’s so it seems like that’s a very, I mean, a big part but a small part of what you do.
Erin Carson 49:41
Yeah, it’s evolved over time. And maybe it’s because I’m a little bit older, and maybe it’s because I just think that when an athlete is happy and relaxed, the performances are exquisite. Like it’s just, I mean, anybody who’s a fan of sport in whatever sport when you see an F They just hit the sweet spot that flow and you know you had something small to do with it. It’s really fun. Like I freakin love what we do.
Julie Young 50:09
When it’s cool to listening to you today and hearing you on previous podcasts. Just that sense of team and collaboration, I think is really stimulating and exciting. Thanks. So do you like when you’re, you know, just working with an athlete? Do you do some sort of an assessment like a functional movement screen to kind of get get an idea of like the strengths and weaknesses and then how to best tailor that athletes program is such an
Erin Carson 50:36
interesting topic. It’s such a, you could put a bunch of movement people, physical therapist, strength coaches, we could argue about that for hours about physical assessment. You know, one of the credentials that I got early was from Dr. Mike Clark with the NASM the overhead squat assessment, and I disrespect Dr. Clark so much anecdotal are not effective or not, that is a good screen, the overhead squat assessment, just even looking at a cyclist who can’t even put a dowel over their head because they are so tight on the front side, like just to watch how they go into extension just because their hands went over their head, that speaks to me. And then when they try to squat and their knees flare out to the side and their back bows or or their knees dive in, you know, that matters to me, I also I probably assessed daily, because once you get to know an athlete, you can see when something’s not quite right. And rhythm, and timing is another thing. So I use a lot of movement. And I’m like, if there’s not sequencing, with movement and flow with movement, I know we’re going to spend a little more time on the foam roller, and we’re going to spend a little bit more time just playing catch, I do a lot of really weird non traditional things, to loosen people up and get them relaxed. So I like the overhead squat from the NSM. I like the single leg squat. You know, it makes sense to me, it doesn’t make sense to everybody. I like watching somebody stand and just see am I looking at the back of your hands. If I’m looking at the back your hands, I know we’ve got internally rotated shoulders, if you stand sci fi, go walk sideways and your heads jetting out. And I’m gonna try and get it back. And I can’t stop it sometimes like it’s like I’m in a restaurant, and I’ll watch him. And you know, you just watch how a human, a beautiful athlete will move with flow, an athlete who in hit is inhibited and was a little bit Herky jerky, you want to get them flowing as smoothly as you can using the tools in your toolbox that you’ve been trained to use, and that you have experts who have taught you and and that you can go back and ask more questions if you have more questions. But I do know that if an athlete that moves with freedom is a happier effort. So even if my assessments are not the same assessment that someone else would use, I have proven results that what I’m doing is kind of working. And so it works for me, it might not work for everybody. But those are my go twos from the NASM. And I’m an NSCA person, like that’s what I keep current. And I
Julie Young 53:04
mean, I think what’s most important is you can like have these functional movement screens and you’re ticking off the box. But if it’s not informing your decision making, and to me, that’s the most important thing. It’s you know, what you’re seeing, you know, how to back out of it, you know, then to take that information to create a corrective plan or strength plan. I mean, to me, that’s the most important part of an assessment. Yeah,
Erin Carson 53:27
I took the FMS, the functional movement screen a couple of times, and I’m pretty I have a pretty good eye, but everybody passed it like all the time. So I was like there’s, I like need the advanced FMS because I’m in Boulder, and I’m looking for like little things that I can pull out. And when there’s big global tightness and big things, just looking you in the face, why not just start with the low hanging fruit. And it’s amazing how the little things kind of get taken care of if you take care of the big you know, and then if there’s a one of my mentors at lifting just a straight up gym guy from Florida who’s just like, sometimes you just need to lift, you know, and I’m like, yeah, sometimes I’m just a strength coalition put you under load, like maybe everything will fall into place, and sometimes it does. You
Julie Young 54:15
mentioned this earlier, thoracic mobility, as well as the ankles and the hips. And I think for most people like ankles and hips, they get that like they can kind of it’s more relatable in terms of motion. But can you explain to us like the importance of thoracic mobility?
Erin Carson 54:30
Well, your body is a big shock absorber, right? And so if you look at fascial systems, the work of Thomas Meyers and a book called Anatomy Trains, that was kind of a big aha moment we train movement, we don’t train muscle. And so when you start to look at how the body accepts force, the thoracic spine and even the sternoclavicular joint is a shock absorber and if this is stiff and rigid, the shock absorption stops and it will If you’re going to run, and you’re not going to move through your T spine, then that shock absorption is going to stop in your lower back, your hips will move better when your T spine is moving. And so it starts actually, even somebody with plantar fasciitis and so many people have experienced, it’s a horrible thing, nobody wants it. But your foot should be stable. But your foot can only be stable. If your ankle is mobile, your ankle should be mobile, and your knee is more of a hinge joint, it can rotate a little bit but but primarily it does this. If your ankle is not moving, your knee will want to move more because of the shock absorption. Your hips are this beautiful big ball and socket joint that when it’s stuck, you’re just under utilizing it and if your hips are moving this way, when you’re running or cycling, we’ve all I live right on Leigh Hill Road in Boulder, Colorado, one of the most ridden stretches of highway in the world is 36, out of Boulder on to highway 36, to Lyons, and I drive it daily, and you’re a bike fitter. So you would be like so distracted, because there’s so many cyclists and they, when you see them moving like this or like this, you’re like, oh, that that QL is going to be on fire later, right, you just can see a great bike fit. So I see it daily. But hip decoupling, like when you just see this person with a beautiful bike fit, and their hips are just rolling like you don’t even see their sacrum moving, it’s beautiful. And that will be more beautiful and can be stable. Your lumbar region can be stable if you’re mobile with your thoracic spine. But as soon as your thoracic spine gets stuck, which if you ride a bike, it’s probably going to get stuck a little bit, you will get most of movement down into the lumbar region that that isn’t helpful and can actually be harmful and painful. Same thing with the head. So bottom of the foot should be stable. Ankles should be mobile, knees should be stable, hips should be mobile, lumbar, spine, stable, thoracic, spine, mobile, cervical spine stable. If you remember one thing, just remember plantar fasciitis sucks, and it shouldn’t be stable. So that’s great cook and, and a lot of times, all I try to do in my daily job is try to get mobile, stable, mobile, stable, mobile stable going so that everybody can do their job and the body can function optimally. He would hopefully would be really proud of what I just
Dede Barry 57:37
said, Can you discuss the different effects of low weight high rep work versus heavy weight fewer rep work. I mean, I know we talked a little bit about how the heavier weights affect the hormonal profile. It’s a
Erin Carson 57:52
very simple concept of tension and what the adaptation is. And I don’t even really think about muscle anymore. I’d be really honest, I think about connective tissue, I’m thinking about tendons. And I’m thinking about fascia. So if I pull this pen as hard as I can, this pen has to have a reaction to how hard I’m pulling on it. Actually, a pen is probably a bad example, because it doesn’t move, you know, an elastic band, we’re trying to build resiliency and connective tissue, the sport will create strength within the performance for the performance. If I can get the tissue, the connective tissue more resilient by applying force in different vectors, then the athlete will be safer in the sport performance. I much prefer performance to aesthetic training. And I’m not you know, if somebody wants to be a bodybuilder or a power lifter, I’m not the person because it scares the crap out of me to watch people lift stuff that they cannot and should not be lifting. So my view of strength and conditioning is really performance related. And so the heavier the load, the lower the reps, the higher the weight, the more resiliency we can create in connective tissue. And it’s just got to be done little by little by little to get that adaptation and the matrix within the connective tissue stronger. So patients is a really big part of it. Just because someone can lift a certain amount of weight doesn’t mean they should higher reps, I only use higher reps, muscular endurance is important. And that’s traditional strength and conditioning like higher reps lower weight, I’m going to build up endurance, but in my opinion, most of that endurance is going to come through the sport. Like there’s no sense training a runner to do this. They’re gonna do it 25,000 times and a 10 mile run. So I don’t need to load this more is more than anything like I would probably do more reverse flyes because if I can hold their posture stronger and taller, then they’re going to be able to do it the 25,000 times that they need to do it. So when when I met Kara Gaucho at the end of her career, so she had moved back to Boulder from Oregon and she was in the weight room with two pound weights. I’m standing there doing this and I’m like, what? Why are you doing? Like, you’re gonna go for a run, aren’t you like, and with Kara i, we just went straight to strong stuff, you know, let’s build your hamstrings up a little bit more because she had had some hamstring issues, let’s create a little bit better of a wrapping motion, she had had some lower leg surgeries. So just even getting her better on one leg and single leg exercises and foot function was probably more important than putting her in a leg press. And it was plenty strong. You know, a lot of athletes that I see they’re strong enough, we just need to get them balanced. Get them balanced first two weeks.
Dede Barry 1:00:37
So earlier, you spoke about how you like your athletes to gain three to five pounds through the winter months. I mean, obviously cyclists, runners and triathletes their power to weight sports. And I know for sure with cyclists, it’s it’s a major focus all the time, right? So how do you work them around that idea of gaining three to five pounds and sort of the psychological fear behind it, this
Erin Carson 1:01:03
science will tell us that that muscle size will go away. And we can show it time and time again. So it becomes anecdotal for each athlete because they’re going to respond differently. And there’s times I have never had to back off from an athlete because we just run out of time, you know, so we’re lifting like a bodybuilder in December, January. And then all of a sudden, we’re starting to gear up for their first performance of the year in April, or early March, like the first main triathlon is Oceanside, usually in in the US, and that’s in March or early April. So we have to shift the program more into a performance rate before they actually ever gain the weight. But it’s my goal to get them to eat more protein, eat more food, and no offseason. Don’t be afraid to gain a little bit of weight. It’ll help you be healthier. And then when they go into the season, and they realize that there is ripped as they always want to be and they’re as lean as they want to be in their their race weight, that they determined that they can be strong, I think there’s been a lot of great conversation around what is a good race weight. So sometimes if you gain a little bit of weight, your power weight ratio actually gets better. Because you produce more force, and you recover better at a certain race. Like there’s, there’s a lot of people, I think we’re coming into a really exciting time with endurance sports, where being this skinny athlete is not a healthy athlete. And it’s proving They’re fragile. You have to be able to show them with data. Yeah,
Dede Barry 1:02:31
the power meters are good for that. Right. Yeah. And just knowing
Erin Carson 1:02:35
that Andy Pruitt is a local guy here from Colorado, and he’s likely world and he’s amazing. And I if Andy was speaking, Andy and Neil Henderson, were speaking, I was listening. And, you know, I didn’t want to be a cycling coach, I wanted to be the strength coach. And all the championships are at the end of the season. And I can remember Andy saying the strongest athletes will win those championships because they’ve had the durability to weather the storm of an entire season. And that’s an interesting concept. And that’s when we started talking about durability. And so durability and resiliency matters. You know, do you want to win the race in April? Or do you want to win the race in October, most athletes that the championships are in September and October, so Outlast, you know, and be strong when you need to be strong. So that’s typically not going to be a fragile athlete.
Dede Barry 1:03:27
Yeah, I completely agree with that.
Julie Young 1:03:29
It to me, Erin, I mean, I’d be interested to hear what you think about this. But I think one of the goals for endurance athletes getting in the gym is to place them under that external load that they’re not going to get like on their bike, or, you know, because there’s a ceiling of what they can put themselves like a ceiling of load based on like bike equipment, whether they’re pedaling up a gradient, you know, going into the wind, same with runners, right, there’s a, they can only put so much external load on their bodies in the sports they’re doing. So getting in the gym is putting that external load. So the forcing that brain to recruit more of the fibers that are there that just aren’t being used. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that the muscle fibers are getting bigger, and they’re gaining weight, but they’re getting better at recruiting what they have on board. So when they are in their events, like their their brain has more functional fibers available. I mean, I guess that’s the way I explain it to my athletes like it’s not necessarily getting bulky. Yeah,
Erin Carson 1:04:31
no, I agree with you. I think that the thing that is important, as a side note to that is that your deadlift weight will not correspond to wattage, so just because you can lift in most sports the person who excels in the weight room is typically not the best soccer player. That person who excels in the weight room is typically not the best cyclist. Like we can make a case very easily for some of the best cyclists in the room or in the world. Don’t lift weights. Now, the argument is like we have these two Norwegian guys right now in triathlon, Gustaf Eaton and Christian Blumenfeld, and their coach proudly says that they do not lift weights or do any mobility. Well, they’re the current gold medal winner in triathlon, the current kind of champion, and the current world champion, the current 70.3 World Champions. So then we have to look at most people, we look at that bell curve. So if you happen to be the two Norwegian boys, who can get away with not lifting weights, but still be the best in the world, that’s good for them. Same thing with Daniella reef who’s won Kona, like six times, she supposedly doesn’t lift weights, but she’s a sixth time Kona champion, I would just make the argument that says, if you’re not out of the gate, like if you’re not 22, and winning a gold medal, then you should lift weights, because maybe you’ll have a chance at 26. You know, because there’s always going to be these exceptions to the rule of people who are the naysayers or they’re, they’re going to poopoo? What with the work that we do, because the best in the world doesn’t do it. You know, does Chris Froome lift weights? Hell yeah, he does. Does Lance Armstrong lift weights? Yes, he does, like we can say, and some people just take a lot of pride in saying they don’t. So I would say everybody’s different. I like more motor unit recruitment. I’m with you on that you won’t get an argument at all. But I will say that they won’t necessarily correspond to better, faster, stronger biking against the competition, maybe I can make me better, for sure. Maybe it’ll make me worse, I doubt it’ll make me worse.
Julie Young 1:06:42
I think you also have to make it specific to the bike too, you know, because it’s the timings different around a circle. Versus just, you know, like you said, deadlift, there’s not much timing to that in some ways. And I think it’s just then making it specific to the pedal stroke,
Erin Carson 1:06:57
or staying away from the pedal stroke. So that and leaving it for the pedal stroke, like a lot of the lateral work and multiplanar work that we talked about earlier, can complement that, you know, so like, do they need a bunch of leg extensions? Maybe Maybe not, like very few people, but maybe they do, maybe those are, I don’t know, like, it depends on the person, I can say, I’ve actually added in some more leg extensions with some of my triathletes, you know, so, I don’t know, it’s so individual, but it’s worth giving it a go. Because going back to what we first talked about, it will make them healthier, because it will make them more well rounded. So throughout the year, we’ll shift how much time and what the expectations are. And ultimately, the athlete will tell us, I feel better when a speaking
Julie Young 1:07:44
of the team of people you work with, do you, yourself give nutritional guidance? Or do you work in tandem with a performance nutritionist to help the athletes kind of maximize those intended training adaptations in your strength program,
Erin Carson 1:07:59
I have so much respect for the depth of knowledge of nutritionists that I definitely you know, I will look at the macros just to say, let’s look at your macros. And if their macros are off their their fats, proteins and carbohydrates, they’re off because their energy levels are low or they’re not repairing and they’re not recovering, then we will immediately pull in an expert for sure. Because that whole I mean, I’m our my club is right next to scratch labs. So there’s Dr. Alan Lim right next to us. And Alan is brilliant, and he’s accessible, like he’s really around for athletes. So Alan works with a lot of people who are doing some long course stuff in Boulder, but now with Zoom and we are so you know it’s global. One of my favorite nutritionist right now who has just shown up for a lot of my athletes is is Marni sambol, she lives in North Carolina, she’s just a brilliant woman. And she’s an endurance athlete herself. People like her like they want to work with her. She’s not all science, she’s a little bit. Well, that’s not realistic. Like there’s a lot of really strong scientists doing nutrition, and they don’t acknowledge that there’s a person who has to eat and live and you know, so there’s a lot of people very brilliant people about
Julie Young 1:09:16
that. Yeah, I’d like or appreciate the concept of like fueling for the work required and just thinking about, you know, going into that strength session having those nutrients available. So you’re, you’re getting that, that adaptation that you’re after, and then post post workout, just making sure you have that recovery, that protein that you need, just so you’re you’re really maximizing that time in the gym, the athletes
Erin Carson 1:09:40
that I have that were actively trying to put on a little bit of muscle, I make sure they hit their windows for sure. The
Julie Young 1:09:47
other thing I think that I’ve found very interesting is just for that aging athlete, you know, the idea of course, like upping the protein but helping that protein get into the muscles you know, there’s that idea of the anabolic was The stents and, you know, using like, I think there’s really good science with like vitamin D and omega threes to overcome that anabolic resistance. And I think that’s exciting, you know, for that for that aging athlete?
Erin Carson 1:10:12
Well, absolutely. I mean, we’ve they’ve done so much work around vitamin D, and the fact that we think because we’re outside in the winter, and in Colorado, Colorado, at least, we’re not getting the vitamin D, we think we are. That’s why the blood work in the consistency in the blood work. Going into the offseason is so important. I think that’s why companies like insidetracker, and I insidetracker person one way or the other, but they’re having a lot of success because people, people shouldn’t be doing blood work. If you care about your athletic performance, whether you’re a pro or not a pro, just your health. Going back to what we were just talking about, you know, if you’re, you’re not absorbing or experiencing deficiencies, you’re not going to be at your best. I’m a big blood work advocate, for sure.
Julie Young 1:10:56
Hey, Aaron, I’ve heard you say in just some previous podcasts that you feel effective training as you evolve, like from the more is better mentality, like I think you’d mentioned when you’re a basketball player, your your mentality was all just out train my competitors. And this really reminded me of time that I spent at Exos. And for folks that aren’t familiar with Exos. It’s an organization that has training centers around the country. And when I was there, they had the contracts to train the players in the NFL, Major League baseball and soccer for strength and conditioning. But their mantra was, how little can we do to reach peak performance and this has really guided my coaching practice, but I’d love to hear you talk about that and just the evolution you see in training and you know why you feel it’s valuable and why you feel it might be more effective?
Erin Carson 1:11:44
Well, first of all, I’m a massive Exos fan and and and Mark Versteeg and fan. And so the minimum effective dosage is something that I think we all need to keep talking about. Because if when you interview athletes, you say would you rather show up to an event overtrained or undertrained, most of them will say under because we know the downside of being overtrained. And I had an athlete that I knew could handle high volume of training and his coach would give him a ton of training. And he goes I know you think I’m overtrained. And I said actually, I don’t think you’re overtrained. I think you’re under recovered when you’re going into competition, because he was not performing in the back half of the races. So when we have whoop bands and or rings, and we have data now around recovery, and how we’re going to spend our time, should that time be spent training or should that time be spent resting? I think we’re going to start to recognize that a relaxed, recovered happy athlete does matter. Like we’re talking so much about mood. We’re talking so much about the pressure of performance. These are all indicators of overtraining, when you’re not sleeping, your mood is not as good. So a happy athlete is a well adjusted rested athlete typically, you know, show me an overtrained athlete that is just bouncing around happy. And I I would challenge that. So I’m with you. I think figuring out, you know, we shouldn’t be trying these Norwegian boys that I’m talking about are really in the heads of a lot of people because they do high volume training. But they started doing that when they were 12 pre pubescent longevity, I mean, they they train a lot. And these guys that are trying to change the way that they’re training and ladies that are trying to change the way they’re training, the best coaches in the world can get you ready for competition. And your competition will tell you if it worked. It’s all experiment for each one of us. So we have to take personal responsibility to you know, we stay with coaches sometimes because we like them, not because they’re they’re working well for us. And I really think the athletes and you know, when we get these kind of platforms, with yells, podcasts and whatnot, you should be getting better. If you go into a race and you don’t feel good once, you could probably go back in time in the weeks going into the race and figure out maybe what had happened, it’s your coach’s job to help you in that journey. There should be that post performance post competition evaluation of how it went. But when you nail it, you should do the same thing. And then you learn from it and it gets more and more succinct. So these coaching relationships should be long term. And even including the strength coach because I don’t know, you know, I I don’t unless you’ve had really specific training and coaching and strength and conditioning like you’re an Exos person and a cycling coach. Like that’s a magic combination. But you and I both know, people like you don’t exist very much. There’s so many cycling coaches who think they can just say oh, go do some kettlebell work. And it’s it’s a shame but there’s a few coaches that have put time in both areas and you know, then then you don’t need people like me, it’s my journal except for just maybe like, hey, what do you think about this? You know, it’s talked about like we are right now, which is super fun. You
Julie Young 1:15:02
mentioned the Norwegian boys, it reminds me of in the women’s cycling Annemieke. And, you know, people are just applauding her. I mean, she’s, in my opinion is such an outlier in terms of the load she can do. And then other people like striving to simulate what she’s doing. And it just seems like it just seems like such a bad example to me. And I’ve heard the commentators say it like in the tour coverage, like oh my gosh, the other women are just gonna have to step it up and start falling anime training program and just like, oh, gosh, and then I think about the young girls that I coach, and just to me, not a great example. Yeah,
Erin Carson 1:15:39
it’s scary, because they’re, they’re outliers. I mean, let’s give them all their props. And then we’ll go try and beat you the way we know we can. Like I love winning, I love when my athletes and define winning, is just progressing and feeling amazing. Like my best triathlon ever. I came 25th in the world in nice, but it was one of my best races ever. Because that’s how I defined winning, I was able to pass people in the final 5k, I felt strong in the run, my coach did an amazing job preparing me I just just made some critical errors. And I’m just maybe not that maybe I’m not podium material. But a lot of the kids that I work like watching Taylor nibin 70.3 worlds, destroy the competition, and primarily on the bike, she won by five minutes. And the other two girls on the podium, also were my athletes, and I they had amazing days, too. But that was so fun. And they all were happy. They all performed excellent on the day, you know, so sometimes our jobs are just to help people with their dreams, right? That’s
Dede Barry 1:16:41
awesome. Aaron, we really appreciate everything that you’ve shared with us today, it’s really great to get your insight, we’d like to wrap up our show by asking you your top three actionable pieces of advice for female endurance athletes who are new to strength training.
Erin Carson 1:16:59
Number one, prioritize your sleep, really get your sleep schedule, to where your sleep hygiene is good, you’re resting well, you’ve got a good environment to sleep, you turn the lights down, and you’ve prioritized sleep because all the work that you do during the day or in your strength training sessions will only become real, if you recover well. So sleep first. Second, don’t seek out physical discomfort as a defining your success in the weight room, be patient and take a long term approach. And recognize it’s not always going to be hard. Some days, it’s going to feel easy. And that’s okay. The third one is you’re an endurance athlete. So your performance goals are ultimately going to be in your running or your cycling. And you need to work with your coach to figure out how you know that you are progressing in your sport. So your strength program should support your sport, your sport shouldn’t support your strength program. So holding your coach to have those conversations, how did we do this year, What’s better is my functional threshold power better. That’s how I would define it. I look at you know my performance in Zwift. I’m right now being coached by Zwift. So I don’t have a coach. So I’m just like, I’m doing the build me up program FTP. And it’s actually working like my FTP is getting better. I’m moving up in the field. So I that’s how I define that my program that I’ve got myself on right now is working. But if I was paying a coach, you know, anywhere from two to six or $800 a month, I want to know that I’m getting better. And so the strength program supports the training and you need to be able to access the training and the coach. Sometimes Sometimes coaches look at me and said that that athlete needs to be stronger. That’s my job to make them stronger. That’s
Dede Barry 1:18:54
great advice. Aaron, if athletes want to reach out to you for strength training advice, what’s the best way for them to find you and your app,
Erin Carson 1:19:02
The best place to find me I mean, I’m just easy fit strength. So if you search anywhere, you’re going to find me. I love Instagram, I don’t post a lot as much as I should. But it’s only because I’m so busy. But evidently, when people are checking you out, they go check out your feed, so feel free to check out my feed on Instagram, my grid, but you can also send me a message on Instagram. I am very accessible on social media through messaging. I have a website you see fit strength, and that’s where all my programs live. But a lot of times people just email me and they’re like, it’s Aaron at EC fits training. Which program should I do? You know, a lot of times people get into one program and they don’t like the format and they want the different format and I just switch it so my primary motivation is people’s success and living their dreams is not financial, you know, my stuff’s not expensive. The best thing anyone can do, in my opinion with me is be part of my premium group for today. Three months, because you’ll get so much information. I lay out the strength training in training peaks each week on Sundays. And it’s the same schedule, you know, you’re you’re going to do different, you’re doing a variety, but it’s progressive. It goes into training peaks, the sport coaches sometimes go in and delete certain things, because they don’t want them to do that at certain times. But for the most part, most of my sport coaches, just leave it in there and say, do Aaron stuff. And so the premium group, two to three months, 69 bucks a month, and you will know exactly where you should be after those three months, you might just stay with premium, but you know, it just gives me a chance to get you fundamentally set up. And it’s fun. There’s live sessions. I mean, I’m I’m lifting right along with you. And I’ve got doc Helma teaching foundation training, I bring in guest coaches for workouts that I designed that they facilitate. So you get a lot of variety. It’s fun. Should be fun. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thanks, you guys. Thanks for the opportunity.
Julie Young 1:21:01
Thank you so much.
Dede Barry 1:21:03
That was another episode of Fast Talk Femme. Subscribe to Fasst Talk Femme wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk Femme are those of the individual. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback and any thoughts you might have on topics or guests that might be of interest for you. Get in touch via social. You can find Fast Talk Labs on Twitter and Instagram at Fast Talk Labs where you’ll also find all the episodes. You can also check them out on the web at fasttalklabs.com for Erin Carson and Julie Young. I’m Dede Barry. Thanks for listening!