For this first bonus episode, we’re doing a bit of everything. For starters, during our episode a few weeks back with The Cycling Gym, we recorded an analysis of some recent physiological research. Trevor hadn’t done a nerd bomb in a while and was feeling the need. But it didn’t really fit with the episode. So, we’ll start with Trevor’s summary of a few studies and what they say about how to structure your training. We’ll also answer listener questions on overtraining, laboratory testing, and much more.
Let’s make you fast!
Welcome to Fast Talk, developer news podcast and everything you need to know to write like a press.
Chris Case 00:10
Hello, and welcome to this bonus episode of Fast Talk. I’m your host, Chris case. And these new weekly bonus episodes we’re bringing to you may end up being a little shorter than our regular episodes, they may be more geared toward answering your questions or clearing up things that you’ve written to us about. But all in all, they’ll contain the same great content you’ve come to expect from Fast Talk Labs, from Coach Connor and from myself. We doing these shows every other week. So expect to see a new episode of Fast Talk in your feed every Thursday morning From now on, again, our regular full length episodes with multiple guests addressing the current science in training, and your requested topics will still continue on. Of course. Now I’m sitting in my parents house in southeastern Connecticut. Trevor is in the Great White north in a cabin, if I’m not mistaken. Is that right, Trevor?
Trevor Connor 01:06
Yeah. So I’m up in Northern Ontario in a cabin all by myself. And about an hour ago, I heard this really loud docking coming from the basement, which I can’t figure out what’s causing it. So yeah, there may be at x burger here. And this could be both our first and bodis episode and my episode ever?
Chris Case 01:32
Hopefully not. And, of course, if you do have a question for us, we’ve got a number set up for you to call. That number is 719-800-2112. You call that number, you leave us a thing called a voicemail. Do you remember those people have voicemail at 719-800-2112. If we can hear you loud and clear in the message, we may include the recording in the show. Of course, you can also send us one of those email things at Fast Talk at Fast Talk Labs.com as well. All right. For this first bonus episode, we’ve got a bit of everything for you. So first, during our episode a few weeks back with the cycling gym, we started with a talk about some recent physiological research. Trevor hadn’t done one of his famous nerd bombs in a while and he was feeling a burning need to drop one didn’t really fit in the episode, we took it out. But now we want to bring it to you. So we’re going to start with Trevor’s summary of a few studies and what they say about how to structure your training. Oh, yeah. Let’s make you fast. All right. So we’re talking about a period of the year when a lot of people want to be doing what’s traditionally known as base training, these longer, slower rides and things like that. But it’s hard to do, because we’ve got limited lights. So Trevor wants to kick things off with a bit of physiological context here. So
Trevor Connor 03:12
take it away, Trevor, I had put in my notes to start with a basically explaining the physiology behind why, even though you’re stuck in a trainer, you generally don’t want to do more than an hour, the whole idea of get on the train or do nothing but high intensity intervals, almost every day is still a bad idea. Even when you’re time crunched even when you don’t have the light even when you’re on a trainer. Then it occurred to me that I’m basically summarizing the last 88 episodes that we’ve done. Mm hmm. And you do it in 15 minutes. And that’s probably not the best strategy. So I started out of interest, just looked at what are some of the new research on this and found several studies that have come out in the last year that I found really fascinating. And I’m just going to quickly explain these. So the first one was a 2019 study in the journal or it’s called physiology and behavior. This is a study out of Spain. And they wanted to look at the difference between having a group do mostly high intensity, versus a group doing mostly volume work. And they were looking at amateur level triathlete, so even the high volume group was only doing about seven hours per week. Mm hmm. But doing no high intensity. Well, the high intensity group was lower volume but but doing I think it was to high intensity sessions per week. They actually didn’t give quite the specifics. But they did show the distribution on a on a three zone model. The researchers were very biased towards we think there are greater gains from high intensity work and made that pretty clear in the introduction and said that’s what they expected out of the results. They did TTS before and after they looked at a whole bunch of other markers for changes and improvement, including one of the things they looked at, in words, their quote on this, they looked at a lot of the markers in heart rate variability, making the point, because this tool can indicate negative and positive adaptations to volume or intensity endurance training and subsequent physical performance, and do prove the benefits of some periodization and training programs. So they did, they have a great chart showing all the different changes in heart rate variability. What they were surprised about in their study was they saw zero differences. improvements were the same, all their markers that they were looking at, were pretty much the same. It just seemed high intensity versus low volume versus high volume, you end up in the same place with two differences. And again, they were looking at triathletes. In the high intensity group, they saw a little more neuromuscular improvements. Mm hmm. So they saw improvements in stride length improvements and stride frequency. In that heart rate variability side as much as these researchers were trying to say, they think there’s better gains from the high intensity approach. You saw improvements in heart rate variability and low frequency to high frequency ratio. And I’m not going to go into the details of these in the group that was just doing volume. And they did say in their discussion, it seems that the changes of training characteristics for the volume group caused a better autonomic response and better adaptation to training. So that was the one study that showed really, in terms of performance, no difference, but they did in the study, kind of admit that the high intensity approach does have that risk of overtraining, where you’re seeing a better autonomic response in the volume group. Another study that was really fascinating was one that looked at the difference between a block periodization approach versus just standard same training every week. This is, this is not quite as recent as a 2017, study.
Trevor Connor 07:15
Explain block periodization. So block periodization is that approach of let’s really hit you with a hard block and then recover. So they were comparing that. So basically, they took, they were using Junior cross country skiers, they did a three a three week intervention. So the block group, tell me if this sounds exciting, did a week of just easy training, and then a week where they did nine high intensity sessions in that week. And then a lot a week of, again, just easy. The other group did three high intensity sessions a week. Mm hmm. So ultimately, when you looked at the three weeks as a whole, both groups did the same amount of high intensity work, same amount of low intensity work, it was a polarized distribution. So more time spent at low intensity than than high, you know, that kind of 8020 split. Sure. They fully expected to see greater gains in the block group. They also expected to see a little more fatigue in the block group. And they. So they again, they had a they did physiological testing before and after they did time trials, they were looking at the catecholamine response, they were looking at testosterone levels, they did a rescue evaluation to look at if there was any sort of change in mindset and mood. At the end of all of it, they found zero difference. Well, both ended up in some of that. It’s three weeks. It’s a short interview. Okay. Right, right. Sure. But what they were some of the things that they did find surprising were even though they did nine high intensity sessions in a week, the block group was still able to execute at the same quality as the group that spread it out. The only real difference I saw was in that rescue score was after that week of beating themselves up. They certainly saw signs of fatigue, Mm hmm. Signs of
Chris Case 09:18
Yeah, and this is in a pretty I would, I would argue, pretty resilient group, if we’re talking about juniors who can perhaps deal with this, physiologically, and maybe even mentally a little bit more than people that were older or had other stresses in their life.
Trevor Connor 09:35
Right. So, but that was still kind of a surprise. And they expected to see something different at the end of it, just like the previous study, they’re like, kind of ended up in the same place. Yeah,
Chris Case 09:46
interesting. Very interesting. Two other
Trevor Connor 09:48
quick ones to mention. I found a study that looked at. Again, we’ll we’ll put all these references up in the website. study that looked at a high intensity, low volume approach in amateur athletes and elderly athletes, so athletes over 60 years of age, and I’m not going to go too deep into that one. But what they did find was how easy it was, especially in the older group, and also in unfit athletes how easy it was to put them in an overreached state. Yep. So they had to be careful about that. And then finally, and you have the name, this really great case study of the top female cross country skier of all time. Yeah, Mara, at the Oregon region, they looked at her different training approaches, and found out that in some years, she used a very hot, you know, a lot more high intensity block training type approach. That was lower volume versus a more traditional, lots of volume, less high intensity. And, and for the most part, she ended up in the same place. The only thing they have at the very end of the study was some comments from her coach, which said that he found that that block approach of more high intensity produce gains much quicker and was good to use early in her career, but actually said they made a mistake sticking with that too long and and they found later on, they got a big bump in our form with the more traditional approach. So the reason I’m bringing all this up is I think back to an episode, we actually had Dr. Siler on the show, where he really just said, you know, it’s just about accumulating time, it’s about the distribution of that, that 8020, which a lot of people didn’t like. And there’s these questions of more high intensity versus more volume, there’s these questions of block periodization versus same thing every week. And now we’re having all the I just cited several studies that kind of went at the end of all this kind of in the same place. Right? That kind of backs this, maybe it’s just more about getting the time. And the only thing that we saw that I saw consistently in these is this, if you do lots and lots of high intensity, you start pushing overreach, you start risking overtraining. And that’s where you have to be careful. And there is an argument for you can kind of get to the same place without the risk of overtraining.
Chris Case 12:12
Yeah. Well, yeah, that’s that goes to the the point where these, these studies are not looking at a 12 month time period, they’re, they’re shorter. And they were sort of showing some marginal signs of burnout, or indications of people heading in that direction, even after in a short amount of time. So if you extrapolate that to a year long calendar, or even a six month time period, you might see some different conclusions there. He might see that, while for a while, they will get you to the same place. At some point, the people that are just focused on high intensity, kind of go over the edge.
Trevor Connor 12:59
We are growing, we’re expanding, we are no longer fast, just Fast Talk, we are now Fast Talk Labs. That’s the new business. And part of the reason for the this different name is we want to offer camps here in Colorado here in Boulder. And we are partnering with a sports center. That is one of the top facilities in the world when it comes to bike fit, physiological testing, coaching, all these different services that are normally just reserved for the best of the best, the elite.
Chris Case 13:31
So if you’re as excited about these camps as we are, go to our website, www dot Fast Talk Labs.com. Check us out. We have three camps in 2021. The last few days of April 1 few days of May, one in June, and one in August, check out Fast Talk Labs.com enter Fast Talk Labs 2020 as the discount code and receive $500 off a purchase at this performance experience training camp. Let’s jump into a few of our recent questions from listeners out there. This first one comes from a listener in California. Here’s his question.
Hi, Chris. My name is john Borscht Belt, Auburn California. I have a quick question about it specifically relates to physiology and about body tingles as it pertains to overtraining. So I’m fascinated by all the really kind of mystery and mysterious things that occur when you overtrain and, and it’s kind of like a dark art, lot of varying symptoms, things like that. So in a little side note is another weird one is why does your body gain three, four or five pounds during certain scenarios, what’s happening physiologically speaking in the body and why you’re holding on to that excess excess water. So anyway, I’ll keep that short. Thank you, sir.
Trevor Connor 15:02
I really glad we got this question. We’re actually planning on doing a full episode this year on burnout and overtraining. I actually very rightfully got chastised by none other than Dr. Seiler about a month ago because I have been using the terms overreach overtraining and burnout pretty much interchangeably. And I shouldn’t be doing that. Dr. Seiler, actually, he was telling me he started his career, researching burnout and overtraining. So these are very particular to him, they are different. And we need to recognize that. So I get to try to be more careful in the future, describing these. And as I said, I’m really looking forward to this we’re going to do, I’m going to try to do a ton of research in this and we’ll do a full episode. But I do just want to touch on it. And this is a great question about why there’s all these different sensations. So I just want to take a couple minutes to answer this question and also use as an opportunity to explain the differences between these terms. So I said, there’s overreach, there’s overtraining, there’s burnout, let’s start with overreach. And that can actually be defined, it can be divided into functional and non functional. So we’ve talked a lot about the fundamental principle of training, which is you need to throw a level of stress at your body that your body can’t handle. And then you need to recover to allow your body to adapt. If the stress was big enough, if you do enough damage to your body, your body will overcompensate in the repair process and build you back bigger and stronger. So functional overreach is exactly that. It’s when do you push the damage, it’s when you push training, to a point that you can’t quite handle it with the the stress and the recovery are out of balance. But you can still recover and adapt and come back stronger. Hence the term functional. So it’s very short term, it’s just a few days and only takes a few days to recover. Non functional overreaching is when you go deeper into that cave, and now you need longer time to recover. It could be a week, a couple weeks, and you may not see an adaptation from it. So this is what you want to avoid. I bred in sub literature where they say that non functional overreaching and overtraining are kind of the same thing. I’ve seen places where they’re differentiated. But in this case, this is where you’re just going deeper deeper into the cave. And whether non functional, overreaching, and overtraining are different or not. overtraining is that point where you’ve gone so deep with pushing that stress, pushing that damage with insufficient recovery, you’re so out of balance, that you’ve taken your body to a point where now you are no longer performing. Now you are truly, truly fatigued and damaged. And we’re talking weeks, two months before you’re back to your normal self. This is something you really want to avoid. burnout is different. And actually, in Dr. Silence email to me, he pointed out the burnout is more mental. So this is when you are just doing the same thing. It’s repetitive. You’re you’re training hard, and you’re not really enjoying it. And there’s just something you just lose that enjoyment. You lose that motivation. You stop wanting to ride the bike, you stop wanting to train you stop wanting to race. I think there is relations here. I do think you start to mentally burn out when you are over trade because that’s a defense mechanism. But burnout and overtraining are not the same thing. And that’s important. So, going back to that question of why are there all these different sensations? Well, one of the reasons is because overreach, overtraining and burnout are different. So they’re all going to have very different symptoms. Like I said, we’ll do an episode later we’ll really dive into this. But just to give the quick brief overview. When you are overreached.
Trevor Connor 19:17
You are going to have some mental symptoms you are it’s going to be harder to train you’re going to wake up fatigued, you’re going to wake up possibly a little less motivated. I read a great study where they they looked at athletes who are functionally overreach versus athletes who are non functionally overreached and where they used a palms test on them, which is a test of their mental states. Both are shown similar signs of fatigue. The difference between functional overreach and non functional overreaching, or overtraining, is the people who are functionally overreach could still put out the numbers meaning if they went out to do intervals, they could still hit the numbers they hit when they’re fresh. The people who are non functionally overreached and people who are overtrained could no longer hit the numbers. So that’s a key indicator. One of the really early warning signs is especially your short duration power, if you go do a five second sprint, and you just can’t hit your normal peak wattage is, that’s an indicator that you might be starting to get into that nonfunctional overreach or into overtraining, and you should back down and rest. Another indicator that you’ve gone pretty deep into this cave, and you might be getting into non functional overreach or starting to get into overtraining is heart rate depression. So that’s where if you go out, you look down at your power numbers and your heart rate seems five to 10 beats below where it should be, it seems really hard to get your heart rate up. That’s a clear sign of fatigue. A little bit of that. So if you’re at a training camp, and you experience at the end of the training camp, that’s okay. But you don’t want to keep pushing that. Certainly athletes when they’re the Tour de France, they experienced that that heart rate depression, probably within the first week and get all the way through the tour was a pretty extreme heart rate depression, but it’s an extreme event, that’s not a state you normally want to have yourself in. The other reason that you might be experiencing all sorts of different symptoms, with overreach, overtraining, and burnout is there is a lot of individuality. So it’s really important to keep a log and let’s see what your signs are. For me personally, when I’m starting to overtrain, my forearms get sore. I haven’t seen a single study for that. I haven’t seen a single other athlete that has that experience doesn’t really matter, because I know that when my forearms get sore, I need to back down, I need to rest.
Chris Case 21:54
So Trevor, why do you sometimes see a rapid weight gain in individuals.
Trevor Connor 22:01
So we’re talking about rapid weight gain or even rapid weight loss, for example, four, or five, six pounds in a matter of a day or two. This is just water loss or water gain. That’s it. Now what causes this, there’s a lot of different reasons, I’m going to quickly explain just a few that are pretty common with cyclists. One is just an increase in blood volume. So one of our major adaptations, when we train when we do endurance training, is an increase in what’s called stroke volume, this is how much blood your heart can pump per beat, there’s two ways your heart can do this one is actually remodeling of the heart where the left ventricle gets bigger, so they can fill up with more water or more blood and push out more blood per beat. The other way is to simply increase blood volume. And it does this by adding water to the blood. So at times, if you’re training really hard, or you’re racing, you might actually see a bit of a weight gain because you’re your body’s trying to produce rapid adaptations. And one of the ways of doing that is just increasing blood volume. Another thing that can cause a rapid increase in weight is just increased sodium consumption, which is often common when you’re training really hard, and you’re eating a lot specially because endurance athletes are encouraged to make sure they’re getting enough sodium in their diet. If you’re getting too much sodium, you might find that you’re adding a little bit of water and retaining it. The last one for similar reasons, is increased glycogen. So again, if you’re training really hard, or if you’re tapering for an event and you decide to do some glycogen loading, you’re going to be consuming a lot more glucose. glycogen is just sip is storage form of glucose, and simply the way glycogen is formed, is it binds water to glucose. So for every one mole of glucose, you bind four moles of water. So there’s a bit of a simplification, but think of it this way for you to store one pound of glucose and glycogen, you need to bind to it four pounds of water. So when you carb load, when you try to restock that glycogen, you’re going to put on a fair amount of weight. Don’t be concerned about that. The way I always mentally handle it before a race is just saying hey, I’m I’m storing an extra water bottle here because when I start burning that glucose, that water is made available to my system. Okay, this next set of questions is related to Episode 89 or episode and physiological testing. It comes from Ernest boscovich. I apologize if I mispronounced that. You Is emailing us all the way from Holland. So he had a few questions from us the first one. Regarding the lactate profile testing, I was asking myself before already, should one not look closer at the cadence during the test and not only at power, as we know the muscle types are recruited by force. And we also know that type two muscles are real big lactate producers, then we can conclude that the lactate profile and determination of the mlss in particular would be greatly influenced by the by the cadence. I have done a vo two max test a few times I’ve been instructed to keep the cadence above 85 rpm. That was all. I’ve never done lactate testing, and do not know if one takes that into account. And if one does take that into account, how it’d be interesting to know what what force the type two are getting engaged?
Cross? Well, it’s
Chris Case 25:57
a great question. And cadence actually is a big factor. And usually in a well conducted test, we have athletes maintain a fairly tight cadence range. dropping below that range is actually one of the criteria for stopping the test in itself. There’s a lot of arguments about or for what is the best cadence to use, and certainly in the research, tests have been conducted and a variety of cadences to see which are most efficient. Personally, Trevor, I know uses criteria with his athletes, has them use a cadence somewhere in the 90 to 100 RPM range, which tends to be close to race cadence for most people. He lets them settle into that cadence. They find what’s most comfortable in that range. And then they’re asked to hold it. So great question from Ernest.
Trevor Connor 26:52
Okay, so our second question, and I’m going to paraphrase this because I do not believe that English is our our listeners first language. So this question is a little difficult. But basically, he’s asking in a lactate test, if each stage has a 25 watt jump, how do you determine your lactate threshold? If, for example, your threshold is actually in between two of those stages?
Chris Case 27:18
Well, Ernest, you’re you’re hitting on one of the issues or concerns with lactate testing. That is, that’s part of why there is no one set protocol, you want the steps to be small enough that you can find the exact threshold, but if they’re too small, the athlete will fatigue before reaching that level. So a really good test for someone like our guest on episode 989. Jared Berg, he can see in the results when the threshold is in between two stages, the metabolic response above threshold looks a little different than the response below. There’s also tools that help you look at the shape of the lactate curve. And finding a pretty accurate threshold can be done with an experienced tester like Jared. But when it’s critical to find the exact number for an athlete, there is a testing procedure that’s used. It’s just very tough. So it isn’t, you know, employed all that often unless you’re really after that specific number. So in that test, first, a standard lactate test is conducted to find the approximate threshold. So for example, 300 watts plus or minus 15 watts. Then over the next seven to 10 days, the athlete does a 30 minute time trial at 285 watts, 295 watts, 305 watts, etc, defined, which is the actual threshold. So you know, doing that many tests in that short amount of time is just not for everyone. That’s many tests, that’s really challenging tests. So only for those looking for that exact number.
Trevor Connor 28:58
so our third question from Ernest is about approximating a Robic threshold or Lt. One. He said, If you don’t do a lactate test, and you know, have a pretty good idea of your lt to or FTP or anaerobic threshold, can you just approximate your aerobic threshold at 85%? He also asked if in that case, it’s better to use heart rate than to use power. Chris.
Chris Case 29:30
Well, that’s a great question. One we’ve gotten many times before. I know, Trevor, you’re going to have something to say about this because I know with your athletes, when you have no other option, you use something like that. It’s a decent estimate, but it’s still highly individual for some athletes. 90% is correct for others. 80% is correct. And maybe you could jump in with some more thoughts here.
Trevor Connor 29:54
Yeah, I personally do not think it is something that you can estimate accurate. It’s also where it’s easy to go out and do a on the road test to get a pretty good estimate of your anaerobic threshold. It’s very hard to do an on the road test to determine your aerobic threshold. And actually, this is something Dr. Seiler is conducting a research study right now to see if there is a way to figure this out. So short of getting in the lab, it is an estimate and it is a rough estimate. So this is one of the places where I really like to get my athletes in the lab because I think training anaerobic threshold is critical. And it is very easy to find it when you have a good lactate curve. And, you know, shameless plug for Fast Talk Labs camps, this is a great opportunity to say this is the type of thing you would learn at a camp like this or you know, at a facility near your your home where you could actually get into a reputable lab, have this test done and get that accurate number at the finish answering his question. Heart rate versus power. I think whenever you’re doing workouts at these lower intensities, heart rate is more valuable because your aerobic threshold heart rate is always going to be your aerobic threshold heart rate. But your aerobic threshold power at the start of a ride is going to be different than five hours into a ride. Though one of the ways of estimating aerobic threshold is below Robic threshold, you see minimal cardiac drift where above it, you’ll start seeing significant
Chris Case 31:29
Yep. And we’ve we’ve we’ve discussed why that is cardiac drift and things like that multiple times before so check out our other episodes on that issue. We have one other thing we’d like to discuss today. And that’s from a listener who wrote in with a concern. His name’s Andrew loving. This pertains to Episode 87, where we talked about strength training for four common overuse issues in cyclists. We’re going to paraphrase here, Andrew wrote, strengthen conditioning is distinctly different than treating injuries. As an example, anyone with a patellar tendonitis from riding who is treated with primarily essentrics as encouraged would easily be worsened. With such loading essentrics and plyometrics are easily the most forceful contractions made by the contractual unit. My background is as an orthopedic physical therapist with 15 years of experience. I’m a spine specialist as well. These conditions you discussed today are non operative and fit squarely into the practice of a physical therapist, not a strength and conditioning coach.
Trevor Connor 32:32
We really appreciated this one and actually had a good email back and forth with with Andrew. And I’m going to start by saying what I said to him, which is to apologize. This was something that was lost in editing. And that was completely my mistake. But we did that episode, we were completely talking about prevention, we were not trying to give exercises to do once you are injured. And we want to emphasize that because that would be a mistake, we agree with him completely. If you are injured if you have one of these issues, the first thing you should be doing is seen an orthopedic physical therapist to help you and to do the exercises they give you when your body is ready to do them. As he pointed out, if you have patellar tendinitis going and doing a bunch of plyometrics isn’t going to make you feel better. In terms of the exercises we picked, there’s a bit of a conversation about whether these were appropriate exercises. But the thing that we completely agreed on as well. There are a lot of philosophies some older, some newer, what we were really trying to do with this episode is get away from that mindset that off the bike work for cyclists. So just be about going and doing a bunch of squats and leg presses, we really want to push you as the listeners to when you get off the bike to do some functional work. So work for health so you can avoid these injuries. And we felt giving you a list of exercises that for a lot of you might be unfamiliar exercises that can expand your repertoire and help keep you functional, help keep you on balance, and help you avoid injuries was only a good thing. I think
Chris Case 34:18
it’s also worth saying that we have full confidence in Jess Elliot as an expert in this in this realm. She’s got a extremely varied background and a whole lot of experience in this area. So we do have full confidence in the the expertise she brings to the field to that episode. And speaking from a prevention point of view all the things she was suggesting were, you know, in line with the latest in you know, research in philosophy when it comes to strength and conditioning.
Trevor Connor 34:54
Yeah, that was actually brought up with was what was her medical background. She’s just a strength. A conditioning coach. And that’s not the case at all just actually spent a decade as an EMT, and she actually even taught emergency medical courses at a few universities in Colorado, so I made some mistakes in the editing of this episode. But yeah, Jess just knows what she’s talking about.
Chris Case 35:23
That was our first bi weekly bonus episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk at Fast Talk Labs.com or call us and leave us a very awesome voicemail at 719-800-2112 Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, or Google Play or anywhere where you get your podcasts Leave Leave us a reading and a comment. Become a fan of Fast Talk on email@example.com slash real fast dot labs. On Twitter. Our handle is fast underscore labs underscore real and on Instagram find our profile at fast dot labs fast doc is a joint production between velonews and Fast Talk Labs. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for Trevor Connor, the axe murderer in his basement. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening