Effective Two-A-Day Workout Strategies, with Neal Henderson

Can cycling twice in one day produce the same benefits as one long ride? Do "two-a-days" yield adaptations you can't get any other way? We explore.

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If you’ve ever been a competitive runner, swimmer, cross-country skier, or rower, you might be familiar with the concept of two-a-days—individual workouts separated by hours within a single day, most typically one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

In cycling, two-a-days have not had as much traction. However, that’s starting to change. The science is new, but many coaches, including our guest Neal Henderson, director of sport science at Wahoo Fitness, have been putting two-a-days into practice for years, with a lot of success.

It brings up two big questions: Are two-a-days as effective as one single long ride at generating adaptations? That is, can they serve as a substitute? The other, in some ways more interesting question, is whether two-a-days have benefits that you can’t get any other way—for example, through glycogen depletion.

Again, the science is rapidly evolving, and today we’ll refer to new research that opens the door to a new line of thinking. And we’ll also talk extensively with Henderson and a host of others about the practical ramifications of two-a-days.

Our other guests include WorldTour rider Petr Vakoc, racer and coach Jen Sharp, gravel racer Ted King, physiologist Jared Berg, and pro mountain biker Payson McElveen.

Let’s make you fast.

References

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  9. Nielsen J, Holmberg H, Schrøder HD, Saltin B, Ørtenblad N. Human skeletal muscle glycogen utilization in exhaustive exercise: role of subcellular localization and fibre type. J Physiology 2011;589:2871–85. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2010.204487.
  10. Duhamel TA, Green HJ, Perco JG, Ouyang J. Metabolic and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ cycling responses in human muscle 4 days following prolonged exercise. Can J Physiol Pharm 2005;83:643–55. https://doi.org/10.1139/y05-049.
  11. Abbiss CR, Laursen PB. Models to Explain Fatigue during Prolonged Endurance Cycling. Sports Med 2005;35:865–98. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200535100-00004.
  12. Green HJ, Duhamel TA, Smith IC, Rich SM, Thomas MM, Ouyang J, et al. Muscle fatigue and excitation–contraction coupling responses following a session of prolonged cycling. Acta Physiol 2011;203:441–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1716.2011.02335.x.
  13. Green HJ, Duhamel TA, Smith IC, Rich SM, Thomas MM, Ouyang J, et al. Muscle metabolic, enzymatic and transporter responses to a session of prolonged cycling. Eur J Appl Physiol 2011;111:827–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-010-1709-y.
  14. Hansen EA, Jensen K, Pedersen PK. Performance following prolonged sub-maximal cycling at optimal versus freely chosen pedal rate. Eur J Appl Physiol 2006;98:227–33. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-006-0266-x.
  15. Garcia-Roves PM, Huss J, Holloszy JO. Role of calcineurin in exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis. Am J Physiol-Endoc M 2006;290:E1172–9. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00633.2005.
  16. Yeo WK, Paton CD, Garnham AP, Burke LM, Carey AL, Hawley JA. Skeletal muscle adaptation and performance responses to once a day versus twice every second day endurance training regimens. J Appl Physiol 2008;105:1462–70. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.90882.2008.
  17. Hansen AK, Fischer C, Plomgaard P, Andersen JL, Saltin B, Pedersen BK. Skeletal muscle adaptation: training twice every second day versus training once daily. Scand J Med Sci Spor 2005;15:65–6. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2005.00443_2x.
  18. Bonen A. The expression of lactate transporters (MCT1 and MCT4) in heart and muscle. Eur J Appl Physiol 2001;86:6–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210100516.
  19. Laursen PB. Training for intense exercise performance: high‐intensity or high‐volume training? Scand J Med Sci Spor 2010;20:1–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01184.x.
  20. Hvid LG, Gejl K, Bech RD, Nygaard T, Jensen K, Frandsen U, et al. Transient impairments in single muscle fibre contractile function after prolonged cycling in elite endurance athletes. Acta Physiol 2013;208:265–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/apha.12095.
  21. Ghiarone T, Andrade-Souza VA, Learsi SK, Tomazini F, Ataide-Silva T, Sansonio A, et al. Twice-a-day training improves mitochondrial efficiency, but not mitochondrial biogenesis, compared with once-daily training. J Appl Physiol 2019;127:713–25. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00060.2019.
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Episode Transcript

Chris Case  00:12

Hey everyone, welcome to Fast Talk your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m your host Chris Case.

 

Introduction to the Science Behind Two-a-Days

Chris Case  00:18

If you ever been a runner, swimmer, rower, you might be familiar with the concept of two-a-days, individual workouts separated by hours within a single day, most typically one in the morning and another in the afternoon. In cycling, two-a-days have not had as much traction. However, that’s starting to change. The science is new, but many coaches including our guest today, Neal Henderson, who is the director of sports science at Wahoo Fitness, have been putting two-a-days into practice for years with a lot of success. It brings up two big questions, are two days as effective as one single long ride at generating adaptations? That is, can they serve as a substitute? The other question, in some ways a more interesting question, is whether two-a-days have benefits that you can’t get any other way. For example, through glycogen depletion. Again, the science is rapidly evolving, and today we will refer to new research that opens the door to a new line of thinking, and we’ll also talk extensively with Henderson and a host of others about the practical ramifications of two-a-days. Our other guests today include, World Tour Rider Petr Vakoc, racer and coach Jen Sharp, gravel racer Ted King, physiologist Jared Berg, and pro mountain biker Payson McElveen. Let’s make you fast.

 

Chris Case  01:52

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Chris Case  02:39

Well, Neal Henderson, great to have you back on Fast Talk today, welcome.

 

Neal Henderson  02:43

Thank you. Good to be here with you.

 

Trevor Connor  02:45

Yeah, I would say we have kind of two questions here that we’re trying to answer. So, one, which has been a fascination of mine for a long time is, is doing two workouts in a day, as effective as doing one long workout? So, do you get the same gains doing two three-hour workouts separated by a big gap, versus one six-hour ride? So, that’s the one question. The second question that we’d like to address is, if you look at the research, there has been more and more research on two-a-days, using them for particular manipulations. So, what are those types of workouts, and are there benefits to them? So, I think we’re going to tackle both of those questions. One is canvas replaced the long ride? And the second question is, are there two-a-day protocols that actually have unique games?

 

Chris Case  02:45

Got an episode today that we’ve been wanting to do for a really long time actually, we’ve touched upon this subject, I’d say many times, but we’ve never tackled it head-on. Today, we want to do that. Two-a-days are a thing you hear from maybe other sports way more than you do in cycling, there are reasons to do it from convenience, the other two reasons, but we also want to know if there are actual benefits to doing this, physiological benefits. So, that’s hopefully going to be the majority of what we talk about today, what can you gain from doing these things?

 

Chris Case  04:20

Yeah. Do we need to delineate what we actually mean by two-a-days a little bit further from that? Neal, are there other things that we should mention right at the top?

 

Neal Henderson  04:28

Yeah, I think you kind of consider the timeline of what are you separating with time between two rides? So, like, how long is it that you spend between two rides to truly counted as two different rides? Like if I ride out to say hygiene, and stop and grab a sandwich and a drink and hang out for like 30-minutes and then ride home, is that actually to a day session? I don’t think so. So, if I went to hygiene and back and then rested, then did it again in the afternoon, two or three hours later, yeah, I would consider that a two-a-day session.

 

Trevor Connor  05:05

Well, take your Shammi off?

 

Neal Henderson  05:08

I would absolutely hope so.

 

Trevor Connor  05:11

Don’t take the Shammi off, It’s one ride.

 

Chris Case  05:13

Right. Yeah.

 

Neal Henderson  05:16

Theoretically, I definitely would be changing Shammi, I think would be the best delineation of a two-a-day.

 

The Intensity of Two-a-Day Workouts

Chris Case  05:22

What about intensity? How does that play a role here, Neal?

 

Neal Henderson  05:26

Yeah, that’s I think one of the areas where there’s been some research that has some findings that may say that, well, two-a-days can have an impact, let’s just say, before going into a positive and negative to what those are, but there can be an impact of two different sessions completed on one day, depending on what you do in each of those sessions. So, there are a few different ideas of how that can be done. I’d say I’d almost have bucked the trend in terms of what some folks do and recommend in training with two-a-days incorporating them for athletes, where I actually encourage folks to do or plan out for folks to do their most intense training session first, and then a second session is done at a lower intensity. That’s kind of different than what you see in a lot of the studies that are looking at glycogen depletion, say, doing some sort of a depleting ride first, and then secondary, trying to do high intensity later, and for me, you know, from a practical perspective, I find that to be much more difficult, I’d rather have somebody do high-intensity training when they’re most rested and fueled, aka first thing in the morning, get that done, and then go ahead and do the endurance potentially in a more glycogen depleted state in the afternoon, and potentially get some of the possible benefits from that in that second session.

 

Trevor Connor  06:53

Petr Vakoc, a world tour pro with Alpecin–Fenix, uses two-a-days to avoid the bad weather. His approach is similar to Neal’s.

 

Petr Vakoc: Opinion on Two-a-Days

Petr Vakoc  07:02

I train twice a day sometimes, but mainly in the offseason, when I combine, let’s say maybe some mountain biking for volume and then for quality to train on the indoor trainer. It’s usually it’s a matter of just like, makes things easier. I very do often, the sessions twice a day just for the benefit of training twice a day, the only session, I do like that this would be to train high intensity in the morning, and then in the afternoon to do a training for, yeah, stimulating my fat metabolism, that’s also training that I don’t do very regularly, and if I do it, it’s usually in the beginning of the season, and as the big races are coming closer, I basically never train twice a day.

 

Chris Case  08:11

And you mentioned the work that you might do, specific work on a trainer, are you an athlete who thinks that the trainer is sometimes even better than being out on the road because you can be so specific?

 

Petr Vakoc  08:29

Oh, no, I don’t really enjoy the training indoors. Why I do it, usually the reason is because of the weather, if the weather outside is too cold or too bad, then it’s hard to do the quality outside. I still believe that, yeah, doing the efforts outside even though they might be less, less perfect, less perfect, less control, it’s beneficial because then it’s more like real. I always struggle like to say to keep the power on the indoor trainer, and it’s always much harder for me to do the same effort indoors than outdoors. So, I don’t particularly enjoy that.

 

Trevor Connor  09:23

I would say this is what delineates these two questions that we’re asking today the most. So, we’re talking about can two-a-days replace a long ride, if you’re doing a long four or five, six-hour ride, you’re doing that below the aerobic threshold, so that’s zone one, zone two rides, so if you’re talking about two-a-days replacing it, both of those rides would be the same intensity, they’d be low intensity. The second question about, are there unique gains to two-a-days is exactly what Neal’s talking about, where you would include some intensity to produce glycogen depletion. Get sort of different manipulations of your physiology, to see if you can get gains out of that second ride that you can’t get other ways.

 

Trevor Connor  10:07

Ex-World Tour pro turn gravel racer, Ted King, also uses two-a-days to deal with the bad weather in Vermont, but even mixes up his sports, let’s hear what he has to say.

 

Ted King: Two-a-Days and Bad Weather

Chris Case  10:17

I live in Vermont, which was a decision that’s much easier made in a post-World Tour career than pre. I’m answering this on Thursday, December 3rd, let’s throw a timestamp out there, we are having extraordinarily good weather. So, I rode for a handful of hours today, I rode for a handful of hours yesterday. But as I think about an event, early season, like Mid South, which comes first weekend in March or so, and I think, shoot, we’re blessed with good weather now, but I know that late December and January and February are gonna roll around, I’m gonna need like, volume is a really hard thing to mimic, and riding on a trainer for multiple hours is difficult in one fell swoop, and riding multiple hours outside is really difficult to, when it’s 15 degrees. So, I won’t often double up the same activity twice, I might do like we have a really rudimentary gym in our house, and so I can do some gym work, and then segue that into some riding and vice versa. It’s really nice at this point in my career that I can go out and really embrace other sports, instead of obsessing about I need to go ride my bike. So, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, climbing mountains, alpine skiing, alpine touring, these are all things that I can do now, and I might end up double day, so to speak, but they’re enjoyable. These are things that I think are very applicable to the real life athlete, as opposed to the World Tour athlete like, yeah, you’re allowed to go do double days, and you’re allowed to go do double days on the same discipline, but I would highly recommend mixing it up for your own entertainment, variety, and excitement. Like if you’re stuck in tough weather, you know, try to go skiing, try to go running, try to go do a different activity before you hop on the bike or after you hop on the bike, and don’t obsess with you need to do one before after the other, especially this time of year, it’s about that volume.

 

Biggest Uses for Two-a-Day Training Sessions

Neal Henderson  12:24

One of the biggest uses I’ve found for two-a-day sessions with just replacing a single long endurance ride is when that training is being done indoors, being able to go outside and ride four hours or five hours is much more tolerable than doing a single indoor four-or-five-hour session. I have done it, I will admit I’ve actually spent upwards of almost 12 hours on a trainer once in a day, continuously pretty much with a couple of minute breaks every hour or so, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not just because of the discomfort, but the mental strain associated with that. So, what we think about a lot of times, I’ve had training camps say with elite athletes I was in Gerona, with Rohan Dennis a couple of years ago getting ready for the Italia, and so we had a pretty big training block and there was horrific weather a couple of days, and we broke things up instead of trying to go out and muddle through four or five hours in horrible conditions and possibly getting them sick not too long before the start of the race, did a 90-minute session in the morning, and a 90-minute session in the afternoon, pretty much at the same general intensity that we would have done outside for what was planned to be at least a four-hour endurance ride.

 

Chris Case  13:45

So, Trevor, before we jump into the question of what are the benefits of two-a-days, and we want to compare them to the single long ride, let’s first go there, what are the benefits to doing that four-to-six hour ride?

 

Trevor Connor  13:58

So, this, as you know, is kind of an obsession of mine is what is the science showing any sort of benefits to a longer ride. I love long rides, I want to find proof that I’m actually doing something beneficial.

 

Chris Case  14:10

Yeah,

 

Trevor Connor  14:11

So, I’m going to be summarizing some of what we talked about, but there’s actually some new stuff that I’m going to bring in, I’m going to try to cover this quickly. But I always love to go back to this review written by Dr. Larson, where he addresses a long ride and basically starts the review by showing all this evidence against long rides, and the benefits of short, high intensity, and then has kind of in the middle of this review a big but, and the but is all these pros are doing long rides, doing long workouts, even looked at runners and skiers doing these sessions that are much longer than the races and says, they’re all doing it and then goes into the review basically saying some of this is because it’s really hard to get people into a lab and have them do a six-hour ride for multiple months, and also said, you know, the gains are much longer. So really, it’s more just a lack of research, then be able to say there’s no benefit to this. So, what he theorized is, and again, I’ve covered this a lot, so I’m going to be really quick with this, the pathway that ultimately produces most of our aerobic games is (PGC)-1alpha, and we forgot to put on our cycling jerseys.

 

Chris Case  15:28

We did, but it’s in our hearts.

 

Trevor Connor  15:30

It is in our heart.

 

Trevor Connor  15:33

There are four ways to stimulate this pathway, high-intensity work does it one way, low intensity, big volume does it another way. So, I’m going to be butchering this term throughout this podcast because it’s going to come up a few times, Chris has already laughed at me off-mic for my horrible pronunciation, so I’m gonna apologize ahead of time. But the pathway used that they believe the long endurance work hits, is this calcium calmodulin Calcineurin, let’s see how many different ways I pronounced that today.

 

Chris Case  16:10

Calcineurin,

 

Research Behind the Benefits of Long Rides

Trevor Connor  16:11

Right. So, that is the pathway. So, basically what he theorized is that the high-intensity route produces rapid gains, but kind of plateaus, this calcium pathway takes longer but doesn’t seem to plateau as much. So, over time, you’re going to get greater and greater gains. So, it seems to promote slow-twitch muscle fiber development, it actually promotes the conversion of fast-twitch muscle fibers to slow-twitch muscle fibers. So, that’s kind of the theory, these longer rides really hit that. So, the question is how to longer rides do that? One of the ideas is, and we actually had an interview a long time ago with Dr. Holley, who brought this up, said that basically, when you do a long ride, yes, your slow-twitch muscle fibers do start to fatigue, so then you get into what’s called fiber cycling, where because the fibers are fatigued, you’re going to start recruiting other fibers and give some of the fibers have been working really hard to rest. So, what are the fibers you’re going to recruit? You’re going to start recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers and force them to work aerobically, which they don’t like. So, that was kind of his theory, we always had that interview with them, but actually, there was a study that came out that really kind of backed what Dr. Holley was saying, where they had athletes do these long rides, and then they did muscle biopsies on them to see the impact. What they found was, you certainly saw fatiguing of the muscle fibers, both the slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers, they just weren’t able to produce the same power, which back this idea that over time, you’re gonna have to recruit more and more muscle fibers to put out the same sort of power. But what was very interesting is you saw a decrease in calcium sensitivity in just the fast-twitch muscle fibers. So, here again, we’re talking about this calcium calmodulin calcineurin pathway, and you’re seeing desensitization to calcium. So, theoretically, they didn’t bring this up, you’re gonna have to release more calcium, you’re gonna actually have to hit that pathway harder in the fast-twitch muscle fibers. And again, that calcineurin pathway promotes fast twitch to slow twitch conversion. So, here’s a study that’s kind of backing this whole idea that over time, you’re going to hit those fast-twitch muscle fibers, and actually promote them to work more aerobically, work more like a slow-twitch muscle fiber. Really interesting in the studies, they showed that shorter rides at the same intensities are something under an hour, in the study that used a four-hour ride, something under an hour as almost the opposite effect. So, the explanation for why this happens is oxidative stress. So, you need that time to build up ross. And actually, what you saw on shorter rides, you didn’t have that time to build up ross, so you saw an increased sensitization to calcium. So, there’s your potentially an argument that doing a bunch of shorter rides and saying I’ve done the same volume actually isn’t gonna produce the same benefits as a longer ride where you’re generating some oxidative stress and hitting that particular pathway.

 

Trevor Connor  19:25

One other thing I’ll quickly mention as a potential benefit to long rides, and this is something that Dr. Inigo San Millan has talked to us about, and he really focuses on MCT1 and MCT4. MCT1 and MCT4 are transporters for lactate. So, MCT4 you tend to find on anaerobic cells that produce a lot of lactate, MCT4 pumps the lactate out of the cell. MCT1 you tend to find on the heart and in slow-twitch muscle fibers, and these are the transporters that take lactate up because slow-twitch muscle fibers can use lactate for fuel. So, good endurance athletes are gonna have a lot of MCT4 and a lot of MCT1. This is what helps them to manage lactate buildup, and in multiple studies on this, we will put the references up on the website, but MCT4 tends to be promoted by high-intensity work. So again, that’s the transporters that get the lactate out of your cells, MCT1 tends to be mostly promoted by long endurance work, again, the transporters allow the slow-twitch muscle fibers to take up lactate and use it as fuel. So, there’s another potential benefit of the long roads. There are other smaller things, but those are the two big ones that I really want to talk about, particularly that calcineurin pathway, because it’s going to come back up when we talk about the two-a-days.

 

Trevor Connor  20:59

We just explained the benefits of long rides, however, we still have the question of whether replacing a long ride with two easy rides has the same benefits. Let’s hear what physiologist Jared Berg has to say about this.

 

Jared Berg: Benefits of Two-a-Days

Chris Case  21:12

Two, two-and-a-half-hour rides to me, I feel like that’s getting fairly similar, right? Once you’re over sort of two hours, you’re sort of in a spot where you’re putting some nutritional demand and stress on your body, there’s a lot of endurance there, and then you take a little break and you repeat that you know, five hours later, yeah, you’re kind of that sort of to me, equals a five hour kind of ride, and those are going to be pretty similar. Not to say that there’s specific stress associated with being on the bike for five hours straight that you don’t need, but you could certainly supplement, you know, one of your long rides with two, two-and-a-half-hour rides every week or two.

 

Chris Case  21:58

Does two, 45 minute rides if you’re commuting 45 minutes in the morning, 45 minutes at night, is that the same as one good hour-and-a-half?

 

Chris Case  22:07

Yeah, I think you’re gonna improve more with the hour-and-a-half. You’re gonna see improvements, the 45-minute one, or like me, you’re 45-minutes from work, I’m 30-minutes from work, you know, this kind of thing, probably. I think we can maintain or just lose a little bit, you know?

 

Training Adaptation

Chris Case  22:24

Yeah.

 

Jared Berg  22:24

And then we need to tweak it out to gain, but yeah, I think the hour to hour-and-a-half, you’re going to get training adaptation where you get maintenance with my 30-minute commute or your 45.

 

Chris Case  22:39

Yeah, and that’s assuming the pace is the same.

 

Jared Berg  22:42

Yeah,

 

Chris Case  22:42

The other thing you can do, obviously, is 45 minutes in the morning is a workout in the 45 going home is super easy. It’s like a cool recovery.

 

Jared Berg  22:51

Yeah, so now you’re getting creative trying to, a stimulus that is you’re gonna adapt from.

 

Individual Variation

Neal Henderson  22:58

There’s a lot of aspects for sure at work, separating out what the benefits are, and what type of training will create a certain type of stimulus is really important. I think one thing that we still don’t have a great handle on yet is, what are some of these individual variations that you see relative to individuals with a preponderance of a certain fiber type to start with? So, is the same training performed by two individuals with different muscle fiber type, going to respond the same way in some of these fashions? So, I would say that probably not from some of the information that is out there, that looking at a cross-section and seeing certain types of responses, on average maybe definitely useful, though, I think when you start to look a little bit closer at one type of individual with, say, a higher percentage of fast-twitch muscle fiber versus an individual with a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fiber, you may see some differences in those same equal training types, with regard to their response and what actually may lead to best performance for those two individuals.

 

Trevor Connor  24:22

And just some thoughts there and I’m just thinking out loud, again, one of the biggest things that this calcineurin pathway promotes is the conversion of fast-twitch fibers to slow-twitch fibers. So, if you’re new to cycling, and you’d need to, and you don’t have a good ratio, and you want to improve your endurance, potentially this longer work and promoting some of that conversion could be good. If you’re a crit rider or a sprinter, here is the argument that may be going out and doing a ton of six-hour rides isn’t the best thing for you. Likewise, if you are somebody who’s all slow-twitch muscle fiber like me, and I hate to say this, maybe you’re not going to see the same gains out of these workouts because you don’t have much left to convert.

 

Fast-Twitch Fibers and Slow-Twitch Fibers

Neal Henderson  25:09

Definitely, there are for sure interactions there. One thing that’s also interesting, a paper that I was recently reading about, some of the glycogen depletion levels and differences between fiber type is, you’ll actually see some greater degree of depletion in slow-twitch fibers, whereas the fast-twitch fibers in the same muscle area are not depleted at the same degree, which is kind of an interesting thing, and whether that’s a protective mechanism going on, or I’m not sure exactly what the root cause there. But doing a fatiguing activity that did result in depletion of the slow-twitch fiber, did not in the same area, same muscle group, resulting in the same level of depletion within the fast-twitch fibers, which are, again, ones that are going to be using even more glucose, generally speaking, we would say for, for a given intensity.

 

Chris Case  26:03

To get back to the general question of what are the benefits of long rides? there’s the whole aspect of if, you know, say you’re about to race, or not about to race, but your target race is an approximately six-hour-long effort, if you are not ever riding six hours, then there’s a lot of things you’re not training specifically for, not to mention the fueling aspect of it. If you’re only doing one-and-a-half-hour rides leading up to a six-hour race, how do you feel that changes? How do you prepare psychologically, that changes? So, not having long rides or the benefits of long rides or the specificity to the types of races that people do in bike racing. Neal, any other thoughts there?

 

Neal Henderson  26:53

Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’s an aspect of the specificity of training, that if you’re not prepared to go the distance properly, you know, if you’re not properly prepared, it’s going to be, you know, you’re going into unchartered territory. Though, for some of the ultra-distance, like even longer distance, very rarely would we recommend training at the duration of your event, especially or longer. So, somebody who’s doing, you know, a road race that’s going to take three or four hours, for sure, it’s possible to exceed that duration in training, no problem. Potentially, you know, match the total demand in training with some frequency, whereas somebody who’s getting ready to do a 200-mile gravel race, that’s going to take them eight or 10 hours. Very rarely would you recommend somebody consistently go out and do 8 or 10-hour long training days or go even beyond 12 hour training days, and not have them show up just completely shattered, tired.

 

Trevor Connor  27:57

If you’re doing Race Across America.

 

Neal Henderson  27:58

Yeah, Race Across America, you don’t like go one way to warm up for it and train for it, and then go the other way to race it. At least I don’t think. I guarantee somebody probably will do that, or has done that, and probably has had success doing that, but probably not because they did that. It’s just, you know, there are some people who are capable of doing amazing things, but by and large, we wouldn’t recommend necessarily going way over your extra ultra-distance efforts In preparation.

 

Trevor Connor  28:27

I do love some of the work. I had a friend who races at Race Across America a couple of times. I remember one weekend, it was Thursday or Friday, and asked him, “What are you doing this weekend?” He says, “I’m training.” I go, “What are you doing?” He goes, “The weekend.”

 

Chris Case  28:42

Yes.

 

Neal Henderson  28:44

Yeah. I mean, I did 24-hours of Moab, many, many moons ago, when I was, you know, trying to figure out why people did those kinds of things, I still never figured it out, actually, and it took me over 25-hours to complete.

 

Chris Case  29:00

I’ve never heard of such a thing.

 

Trevor Connor  29:01

I mean, if you are doing a race, that’s five, six hours, which is doable, and the longest ride you’ve done leading up to that as an hour and a half, two hours, I think you’re in trouble. You do need to do some of those long rides. To flip it around, if your races are an hour-and-a-half, two hours, there is tons and tons of evidence of Olympic medalists who do shorter events, like the 1500-meter run, who still regularly do 20-mile runs as part of their training. So, I do think if your event is shorter, there are still benefits to be gained from doing longer workouts.

 

Neal Henderson  29:36

I would agree. There is another aspect that we haven’t even talked about, but you know, on the psychological side, those long endurance rides there’s a little bit of confidence that you can build with that, and time to experiment with your nutrition and things like that. In some cases, the psychological part of like being by yourself, like in your own had for, you know, four or five, six hours, not always relying on doing it with a group, especially if you’re on an event where you’re not going to be with lots of other people the whole time, if you’re doing like an ultra-distance mountain bike race or, you know, something like that, where you’re out by yourself for a large portion of the time, and you’ve only done group rides leading into that, I’d say you might not actually be specifically well prepared from the psychological perspective.

 

Chris Case  30:25

Then the next question, how do the two-a-days compare here? Can two-a-days give these same benefits? We have to break this down go one by one, I would say, but, Neal, turn it back to you. I know this is a big question. Let’s first take that physiological side of things. What do you see here in practice?

 

Neal Henderson  30:52

Big picture, there’s the goal that you’re trying to give for a training session, that’s really important. So, training itself isn’t just like the time that you put in and you get a result, it’s actually the time and the type of effort that you put in. So, in some cases, we can find that splitting up a given training session can lead to a little bit better output, and a higher training load accumulated than could have been done in a single training session. That’s one way that I tend to look at some of this aspect of two-a-day training, and can you find some additional benefit, and I’ve done this, in some cases more with running than in cycling, for building up someone’s endurance, because running itself is a little bit more stressful on the body and the mechanical perspective there. When we fatigue on a bike, our form can change a little bit, but our legs still kind of go in a circle, as we’re attached to the, you know, attached to the crank with our pedals. When we run, if we fatigue and break down our mechanics, we actually set an athlete up for more problems with injury. So, cycling again, there can be some overuse type of things of just continually stressing the same area, and if your mechanics break down to the point where you’re adding a lot of stress in a given area, then yes, you could also have the same thing on a bike, but probably a little bit more of an issue with running, and so for some folks, instead of having them do that, say 20-mile long run, they’re not capable of doing that without really breaking down after 10 or 12 miles, having them do two different 10 mile runs with some recovery period in between can lead to a little bit better output in that way.

 

Trevor Connor  32:46

And that’s certainly what you see in other endurance sports, particularly the ones where there is that sort of impact that you have to be careful of, when they increase their volume, they don’t do it by making the workouts longer, they do it by adding more workouts.

 

Neal Henderson  32:59

Yep. And that’s, again, something that in cycling, I would say has been less common for endurance training. For somebody who’s a road racer, and that kind of perspective, you know, a single ride, you know, single race in a day, doing two different workouts is kind of a foreign concept for a lot of folks, especially from a more historical perspective, we’ll say. Nowadays, we’re seeing a lot more athletes that are used to, you know, doing multiple sessions in a day, whether they come from a track cycling background, which, by and large, you know, we have in many cases that competition, you know, to competitions each day, or sometimes even more, that you’re actually competing at different times within the same day, and so there’s automatically two-a-days just part of what you do in the competitive landscape, as well as then in training because even access to a velodrome is somewhat limited. So, you know, you might have a 90-minute window in the morning with your national team, and then another 90-minute window in the afternoon or evening, and you don’t have enough time to get everything done in one of those sessions. So, you split it up and do part in the morning and part in the afternoon.

 

Trevor Connor  34:06

Let’s hear from track racer and coach, Jen sharp, about how she uses two-a-days for track training.

 

Jen Sharp: Two-a-Days and Track Training

Jen Sharp  34:12

Yeah, sure. So, within a track, it’s very skill-specific, or very energy-specific. So, we would often do a really hard track session in the morning, or take a couple of hours of recovery, at least four hours and then go and do an endurance ride after. The purpose of that at the time felt like exhaustion. But, you know, and then I’m sure that there was some physiological advantage of doing that heavy load. The biggest piece that I got out of it was the mental game and being able to go, okay, I’m pushing as hard as you can because in track, it’s such intense intervals that you’re doing, and you have to be 100% focused on how hard you’re going. You’re going to that point of, I’m going to die, that very high discomfort feeling. Then to follow that up with an endurance ride, which you know, endurance after, after going that hard may not, on paper it looks easy, physically, you’re exhausted, and you’re mentally spent because you put so much time and energy into those intervals in the morning session. But then at the same time, it also gave you a break, because you didn’t have to push as hard in the afternoon.

 

Chris Case  35:29

And how often were you doing this?

 

Jen Sharp  35:33

During training camp, which would be probably a five-day training camp, we do it every day, basically. I would say they probably did it for three years.

 

Chris Case  35:42

And so just to be clear, you do a five-day block, with two-a-days each of those days, and then that would be it for that year? Or you would do it again?

 

Jen Sharp  35:54

Yeah, yeah. So, that would be it for that training session, so with the track, it’s usually a winter sport. But we would train in the summertime, like that leading up into nationals. Nationals used to be in August, back when I was competing, and we would do the two-a-days leading into nationals, and then get into the camp for national team preparation or development team and do them there as well. So, it would be during that race time frame, but it wouldn’t be offseason, like offseason, no way, we would not do two-a-days.

 

Ryan Kohler  36:38

Hey, I’m Ryan Kohler, head coach, and physiologist at Fast Talk Laboratories.

 

Trevor Connor  36:42

And I’m Trevor Connor, CEO of Fast Talk Labs, between the two of us, Ryan and I have over 40 years of coaching and clinical experience from juniors to masters, national-level athletes, to club riders.

 

Ryan Kohler  36:54

Our team at Fast Talk Laboratories is pleased to offer new solutions and services. Now, you can get the same guidance and testing available as athletes at national performance centers.

 

Trevor Connor  37:03

No matter where you live or train, our Virtual Performance Center, be Your support network, to get faster, to get answers, and to get more enjoyment from your sport.

 

Ryan Kohler  37:13

Schedule a free console, we’ll discuss your background and recommend a path forward.

 

Trevor Connor  37:17

Book a coach and health session, it will help you push your thinking and find new opportunities, we can troubleshoot challenges and find solutions. Even if you’re working with a coach, we can help support you and your coach, by bringing a neutral science-based perspective to your training,

 

Ryan Kohler  37:33

Schedule the INSCYD test and you can do it from anywhere in the world. We can reveal incredible insights into your personal physiology and strengths as an athlete, plus the next steps to improve your performance.

 

Trevor Connor  37:42

Prove your nutrition with a consultation tailored to your needs or create a personal race-day nutrition plan.

 

Ryan Kohler  37:49

We can even help you with workouts and skills. We offer in-person and virtual sessions to guide key workouts or improve techniques. Fast Talk Laboratories is here for you, wherever you are, see how we can help at fasttalklabs.com/solutions.

 

Chris Case  38:07

So, the one way to do a two-a-day is simple, take a long ride, cut it in half, put it in two parts of the day, that’s one way. There’s some other ways that people are incorporating two days into training, with a manipulation component, I guess you could say to that. Neal, I think here is where I’d like to hear from you on how you’ve put it into practice with some of the athletes you’re working with.

 

Manipulation Component of Training

Neal Henderson  38:33

The way that I typically will do this with athletes that I coach is to do a high-intensity training session in the morning, followed then by a lower intensity or even exclusively low-intensity session in the afternoon. So, the reason and the way we do this is that morning session is going to be done with an athlete who’s coming in pretty well-rested and properly fueled so that they can get the absolute most out of that session, they’re not going to be limited by having low fuel availability, so they have all the carbohydrate onboard, they’re able to push the intensity at that upper limit and kind of get that peripheral stress, and then have some bit of recovery. In some cases, we may manipulate and have a lower amount of fuel onboard after that session, and then for the afternoon session do either kind of a traditional low-intensity volume session that isn’t going to be as long as normal, it might only be two hours, two-and-a-half-hours, or something with a little bit of low intensity, even in their moderate-intensity which is kind of giving you two different types of intensity in a given day’s schedule. So, morning session might be, we’ll just call it like max aerobic power, VO2 max intervals, so something classic ten by two minutes on, two minutes off at power of VO2 max, something like that would be the morning session, and that might take a total with warmup and cooldown of, at most 90-minutes. Then the afternoon, a typical day might just be two hours of steady endurance and not adding anything hard, though, on occasion, we may throw in then a little bit of tempo work or some bigger work to get a little bit more of peripheral stress in the afternoon when there’s already some fatigue on board, but by and large, I would say, I don’t do a lot of double intensity days of morning and afternoon, except for those individuals who are preparing for events that require that like track cycling, or you know, some of those smaller niche activities where you have to do to maximal efforts in a day, morning and afternoon.

 

Chris Case  40:47

Can I ask for clarification, you know, you’re saying this is the protocol that you use most often. What caliber of riders are we talking about here, are these grand tour riders?

 

Neal Henderson  40:57

This type of high intensity in the morning and endurance in the afternoon, something for sure, we do a lot more with elite athletes, though, for some of the Master’s athletes, time-crunched athletes that work full-time, this is also a thing that we do in some days where, again, they can’t carve out a full two-hour session, that will have them do a 45-minute higher intensity session in the morning, and then after work add just an hour general endurance session to give them a little bit more volume than they could have done in doing just a single session, either before work or after work, because we often find, especially with our folks who work full-time, is you know, doing the high-intensity work late in the day in the evening, after a full day of work and stress is often much harder to hit those high-intensity values. So, getting that done before work first thing in the day typically works better,

 

Training in a Glycogen Depleted State

Trevor Connor  41:57

You are hitting on something that has become really popular in the research. If you go to PubMed right now and look up two-a-days, you’re actually going to get a lot of results, because what has become popular is this whole concept of training in a glycogen-depleted state. So, we actually had Dr. Jeukendrup the show, I can’t remember what episode that was, but it was relatively recent, talking about some of the protocols to do that, and the most popular one is the do a high-intensity session in the evening, then sleep in a glycogen depleted sleep state, and then do a workout in the morning. Another way to do this is exactly what you’re talking about, which is do the hard workout, again in the morning or earlier in the day, get the glycogen depletion, then get a little bit of recovery, and then do a second workout again in that glycogen depleted state. Interestingly, so this was a study I found just a couple nights ago that I found fascinating. This is why I was telling you about this whole Calcineurin, did I get that right?

 

Trevor Connor  43:01

This was a study found a couple of nights ago, but I found a couple of other studies and they’re all very recent, showing something similar. So, this study was a 2020 study, written by, there’s a whole huge team, but the first author is Victor A., where they wanted to say, is it really the glycogen depletion that’s causing all these potential gains that they’re seeing? So, they created a very interesting protocol. They use that overnight fast idea, so they hit yourself hard with a workout in the evening, stay in a glycogen-depleted state, and then they had the athletes do another workout in the morning. So, there are 15 hours between the workouts, but the second workout was in a glycogen-depleted state. Then they had the athletes do a two-a-day, where they did a glycogen-depleting workout, waited two hours, then did another workout. Now, they demonstrate in both cases, the athletes were in a similar depleted state going into that second workout, but what they found was the group that took the 15-hour rest, didn’t see a ton of gains over the control group. The two-a-days saw a tenfold increase in the genes that are regulated by Calcineurin. So, (PGC)1-alpha was like nine-fold increased, and their explanation, so basically, they said, we don’t actually think it’s a glycogen depletion that’s causing these gains, we actually think it’s the proximity of the workouts. Their explanation is you do that hard workout first, that starts to ramp up these genes, and then you do the second workout while those jeans are ramped up, and you get a multiplication effect that really kind of hype stimulates those genes when you do that second workout while they’re elevated. Unfortunately, they didn’t do any sort of markers of oxidative stress. I’m hoping this study comes out where somebody does that, which says, yeah, with that first workout, you’re producing some oxidative stress, and then that second workout, you’re hitting the muscles with already genes, and you’re basically then exaggerating the effect. So, I hate to say we got a question a couple of years ago from one of our listeners who said, basically, I heard your whole thing about long rides, the benefit of long rides, and in the explanation I just gave you, I basically said, most of the gains in the long ride come late in that long ride, that’s why you have to go for so long. So, he said, “Fully get it, understand the gains are at the end of the long ride, I have to do a long ride. Just one question. Is there any way I can skip those first four hours and get all the gains?”

 

Chris Case  46:00

Right. Yes.

 

Trevor Connor  46:02

And I hate to say it, at least this study, and I’ll keep reading the research this is all very new research is saying here’s kind of a way of doing that. Do that hard workout, then take a rest, but don’t wait too long. So, these genes will stay upregulated six-to-eight-hours.

 

Chris Case  46:20

There’s a window of opportunity.

 

Trevor Connor  46:21

A window of opportunity, then do that second workout, and then you’re essentially doing the last five, six hours of a six-hour ride.

 

Neal Henderson  46:30

There you go. So, you can’t work a 10-hour day though, between those sessions, so you got to have that flexible schedule and that six or eight hours on your limit, to stay within the limit.

 

Trevor Connor  46:42

Be crappy at your job, don’t work a full day.

 

Chris Case  46:47

When you first introduced this concept to me, Trevor, I was like, oh, sweet, I can just work shorter days. I have to get my commute in the morning, and then six hours, oh, I got to get my second ride, yep, time to go.

 

Trevor Connor  46:59

Wait till we have that conversation off-air.

 

Neal Henderson  47:02

Another interesting study that I remember this from, I think it was the ACSM conference years ago, and the title of the talk was train low compete high. I was like, got another altitude study. I was like, oh, it was actually about training low glycogen content, and then compete with high glycogen content, and this came out of I think it was Peterson’s lab, where they were doing twice, daily training every second day, versus a group that did the same, the single session each day consecutively. There were a couple of issues with study A, it was relatively untrained folks, and it was using just like a knee extensor exercise. But they were looking at some of the changes and responses to those two different training cycles, and they found that the individuals who did again, the twice daily, every other day, had more significant responses to that stimulus than doing the single training session day consecutive days. There’s been some follow-up from that with more endurance-trained athletes, including one with, I think it was John Holley and Louisa Burke in like 2009, they found that they didn’t see an amplification of performance in one of the measures they looked at with again, a twice daily versus consecutive days of training, but they did see potential markers that might yield improvement over time was kind of the takeaway from that. So, some interesting things to consider there.

 

Trevor Connor  48:44

It is very interesting, because this is a sort of stuff that flies a little in the face of how we have traditionally trained. I can’t think of a lot of athletes who have tried this approach of I’m going to train every other day, but I’m going to train twice on the days that they train and take the other day off. I don’t know any athlete that’s done that yet. I’ve seen that research to that they’ve shown you seem to get greater gains from doing that.

 

Neal Henderson  49:09

Definitely. Here’s something that I would surmise or throw in there on that day off, like what Chris does, riding to work and then from work, a short hopefully recovery intensity ride in the morning going into work, and then as you go home to help speed the recovery process potentially has some recovery benefits regarding kind of some of the endocrine and hormone responses to exercise. So, if you think about something like growth hormone at a low intensity, you actually get a little bit of a stimulus and increase in growth hormone. After exercise, even low-intensity exercise for 20-minutes, you’ll also see a decrease in some of the stress hormones during that 20-minute recovery ride, and if you do that twice in a day, you get basically double the benefit than in terms of some of that additional anabolic hormone production with growth hormone and decreasing some of those catabolic hormones.

 

Chris Case  50:10

On the practical side again, Neal, how are the athletes you’re working with tolerating two-a-days? Just from a practical point of view, I guess most of them have the luxury of a very flexible schedule.

 

Tolerating Two-a-Days

Neal Henderson  50:25

Yeah. So, there’s a little bit of a mix, again, I still do coach some amateur athletes who work full-time, and so for them that two-a-day is something that we do more like once a week, at most twice a week, and during kind of a building up phase, where we’re trying to get a little bit of additional stimulus. So, it’s not something that we’re doing year-round consistently all the time. For the high end, elite athlete, a lot of times we use that to ensure that that quality work is being done with a high degree of specificity in many cases, which often means we’re going to do that high-intensity first training session actually on a trainer, stationary, and then do the endurance ride outdoors. I’ve even had sometimes where it’s, you know, have an athlete who’s a little bit trainer averse, I’ll say go ahead and warm up outside ride, then come in, you know, put your bike on the trainer, this one hour for these specific efforts, and then go back out and continue on with your outdoor ride, just incorporate that specific high intensity, but lots of others now, understand the value. It’s not just I don’t like to do it, it’s like well, I do like to win, so I’m going to try to do the things that, you know, will help me win, if this is one of those things that give me a better response in training, then they’re on board. So, I don’t have to twist too many arms, whereas, years ago I had to twist arms a little bit with some folks.

 

Trevor Connor  51:56

There are many ways in which doing two-a-days can make training more manageable and enjoyable. Pro mountain biker, Payson McElveen, shares with us how he uses two-a-days to get his volume in while avoiding too much abuse on the trails.

 

Payson McElveen: Two-a-Days and Volume

Payson McElveen  52:08

For one, being predominantly a mountain biker, it’s hard to put in huge, huge weeks exclusively on the mountain bike because it just beats you up so much. It’s not like on the road where you can do, you know, five-hour days in a row, and obviously, you’re super tired, but your upper body isn’t like incapable of holding a toothbrush, which definitely happens if you were to do five, five-hour mountain bike days in a row. With that being said, oftentimes, I’ll do a pretty hard session of road riding in the morning, whether that’s structured intervals or whatever, and then in the evening, I’ll go out and do a mountain bike ride that’s less structured, maybe a little bit more bike handling centric, and end up with a five hour day that way, and kind of accomplish both where I get quality in regards to, you know, engine building, and then also quality in regards to bike handling, and I only spent two hours on the mountain bike, so the next day, I’m not completely crushed to go do another big day of training.

 

Chris Case  53:13

Right.

 

Payson McElveen  53:13

Other times, we’ll do the local Durango Tuesday night group ride, which is a race group ride. It’s completely insane, last year or two years ago, all three of the mountain bike national titles, professional mountain bike national titles are on the ride, we had world champions, etc, very competitive ride, and in that scenario, sometimes I’ll do two-ish hour road ride in the morning, that involves a good amount of tempo, or sometimes even interval workouts and motor pacing, whatever in the morning, and then we’ll do the group ride in the evening. We found that even that extra like four-to-six-hours of recovery between the two allows for a much more quality group ride, I’m able to compete a little better than if we were able to just combine the two and have one big four-to-five-hour ride. I also think that there’s, just intuitively, I have nothing to back this up but it seems like when you’re really trying to, you know, optimize weight, body composition, all that sort of thing, it seems like when you exercise twice in a day like that, your metabolism just kind of stays elevated all day, I feel like it’s more beneficial for that reason, rather than your body just totally shutting off, say you finish riding at 1 pm, and then the rest of the day just gradually kind of shuts off. When you hit it twice in a day like that, to me sort of has an added effect. Then almost always, not almost always, I’d say three times a week we’re doing some sort of gym component also, so obviously, that’s a two-a-day situation too. Yesterday, I sort of had a triple where I did some time on the rollers inside pretty early in the morning, got into the gym did a hard session, and then had a sounds crazy to say now but had a four-and-a-half, close to a five-hour ride in the afternoon. So, yesterday was just like, on all day. But even those little breaks between, maybe they gave me a little something physically, but also psychologically, it can go a long way to just get a lunch break.

 

Chris Case  55:37

So, let’s go back to the beginning, where we pitted once-a-day long rides versus two-a-days and these different protocols. Neal tell us, which wins? I guess there are certain situations where one wins out over the other but give us a scorecard of what you see here in practice.

 

Long Rides vs. Two-a-Days

Neal Henderson  55:59

In my opinion and experience, I would say that there is absolutely clear advantages to incorporating two-a-day sessions into your training, and in some cases, doing it one to substitute for a single long training session, and secondary, primary reason to do that to be able to create a greater stimulus for training with performing a high-intensity session in the morning, and then a lower intensity training session in the afternoon. Those are the two ways that I would do that, recommend folks do that whether you’re an amateur rider or World Tour Pro.

 

Chris Case  56:49

Trevor, what have you seen both in yourself and maybe some athletes you’ve coached?

 

Trevor Connor  56:55

So, I am going to start with the bitter pill that I don’t want to swallow, and then I’ll finish it up with a little bit of defense of the long ride. If I am reading this science right, and I’m very excited about the science, I’m going to keep reading it, I just gave an explanation of how these two-a-days can produce a lot of the gains that you get from long rides, and actually kind of hyper-activate this whole pathway. So, there’s potentially a lot of good gains from these two-a-days. The other thing to add to that, you go back to that Larson review, where he talked about the science behind the short, high intensity versus the long ride, where he concluded his review was to say that long slow hits this calcium calmodulin Calcineurin pathway. High intensity, remember hits the AMPK pathway. He basically said, if all you’re ever doing is hitting one of those pathways, you’re going to be limited, you really have to hit both. So, he actually made the argument for a polarized approach to training because of that. If you do the two-a-days, the way that Neal just described, you’re getting that high intensity in the first workout. So, you’re hitting that AMPK pathway. But in that second low-intensity workout, you’re hitting more than calcium calmodulin calcineurin pathway. So, you’re getting the sort of gains that you would get from a long ride, plus, as I said, you are kind of supercharging it. So, here’s a way of actually hitting both pathways on the same day. So, if I’m reading the science right, if that’s correct, there’s a real benefit to this, so yeah, I’m trying to swallow this pill. The one thing I will say in defense is, Larson brought this up as well, high-Intensity work causes autonomic stress, and too much autonomic stress is what leads to overtraining. If you are constantly replacing your long rides with two-a-days, you run that risk of really fatiguing yourself. So, I think my answer would be, I think it would be good to periodically replace a long ride with this, I would not be doing it all the time.

 

Chris Case  59:10

Yeah, I think that there’s certain situations here. For example, what Neal started the story of Rohan, and if it’s nasty weather out there, and you risk getting sick and you think you want to do that six-hour ride, but man, it’s better to just try to break it up and do two Zwift sessions or something like that, that’s a great application. We also talked about some of the things that I don’t think two-a-days can ever replace, which is that specificity of race distance, the psychological aspect, the fueling, all of that. So, but certainly it can be a convenience if you can work it effectively into your program. For example, people that do commute, but you can’t just do the same thing every day or you’re going to get stale or you’re going to get overworked, you have to think a little bit more about it. So, there are definite ways to incorporate two-a-days ineffectively, and I think at the same time, there are things that it just cannot replace.

 

Chris Case  1:00:13

Yeah, that’s what I would say. But I would ask a follow-up question of you, Neal, do I have it right? Do you think that there are certain things that you just cannot replace when it comes to that one long ride? Or are there times when you’re just like, I don’t see the benefit all the time?

 

Neal Henderson  1:00:31

Yeah, I still do find the value in having a long ride as part of your training schedule, it’s something that needs to be done. Now, how long that is, again, relative to the time of year and what you’re getting ready for. So, in some cases, for somebody who’s doing you know, shorter races, a criterium, a 30-45- minute race, a long ride, you know, three hours is long, relatively speaking, and you’re going to get a lot of appropriate training stress from that, relatively speaking. But you don’t have to do whatever you consider that long ride relative to your training history and demands every single week, and so that’s where I see for a lot of amateur riders, they kind of get stuck in a rut of Saturday’s always my long ride or Sunday, or whatever day it is, they do the same thing week in and week out, most of the year round. For me, replacing some of those sessions and varying things is really where we see some of those, those benefits. So, changing things up in most cases is, is going to provide value as long as there’s a purpose to it, you know, if you just do the same thing, week in and week out without ever-changing, you’re going to get stale, you’re not going to get the adaptations that are truly possible. So, in most cases, I would say for those long rides for a lot of amateur riders, maybe you do two weeks, you know, consecutively with that long ride on the weekend, that might be normal, if you’re working and whatnot, and family, you get that long ride Saturday or Sunday, couple weeks in a row, then the third week, you don’t do that same long ride, you maybe do a shorter, intense session in the morning, get things done that you wouldn’t have otherwise done, because you would normally be doing that long ride, and then in the afternoon, go out and do a little bit of a shorter endurance ride, maybe an hour-and-a-half or two hours, and see how your body is responding and adapting to that. As well as you know, maybe how much more tranquil your home life might be.

 

Chris Case  1:02:30

Yeah, I mean, I was going to say too, there is the convenience factor, but I got to say sometimes just getting the one long ride in might actually be more convenient than the two rides, where you’re having to prep, and having to shower afterwards and all that sort of stuff. So, context matters and situation matters.

 

Neal Henderson  1:02:50

Absolutely, yeah, your laundry is clearly a part of that. That’s your non-training stressor in some cases.

 

Chris Case  1:02:56

All right. So, Neal, you’ve been on the program before you know how we like to close out. We have been recapping things here at the tail end of the episode, but we do like to close with 60-second take home from each of the guests. What would you say Neal is the most important message here from this episode?

 

Neal Henderson Takeaway Message

Neal Henderson  1:03:15

Yeah, my big takeaway would be number one, don’t be afraid to change up some of your training and replace an occasional long ride with a double session, where you do a little bit more of an intense session in the morning, and then in the afternoon, several hours later, three, four hours, at least, go out and do then a slightly shorter than normal endurance ride, maybe two hours or so, and keep the intensity on that second session, then do your normal low-intensity session. Also, don’t be afraid to mix things up and have rest and recovery built-in, and potentially even doing those double recovery sessions might be beneficial for those of you who work full-time, and if you do a really heavy session on a Wednesday, then Thursday, doing a short 15-20 minutes spin in the morning, and then again in the evening, the following day might help you recover a little bit faster, and leave you ready for your next more intense day. But don’t forget a long ride, maybe just not every single week.

 

Chris Case  1:04:21

Trevor, what would you add there? Pretty comprehensive by Neal, he stole all the good ideas, didn’t he?

 

Trevor Connor  1:04:27

He did take all the good stuff, and as the guy who absolutely loves the six-hour rides, I feel like my take home should be to plead the fifth.

 

Trevor Connor  1:04:35

So, reading the research, there does seem to be benefits to the two-a-days, and Neal just summarized it really well. So, really the only thing I have to add is, and we might have to have a follow-up on this because there is more research coming out on it and I’m going to track that research, but their focus has really been on glycogen depletion. I always worry about that, even Dr. Jeukendrup brought that up, that trying to train in a glycogen-depleted state can be really fatiguing.

 

Chris Case  1:05:11

To get it right,

 

Trevor Connor Takeaway Message

Trevor Connor  1:05:12

Right. I like the fact that I’ve now seen two studies that are saying, actually, the glycogen depletion might not be as important as we thought. It’s the proximity of the workouts to one another. So, I really like Neal’s protocol of do something hard in the morning, then do something easy later in the day. So, the only thing I would add to that, and obviously, if you have work, this makes it hard. There’s a window, there’s a window where those genes are upregulated, and you want to do that second workout while they’re upregulated to get that additive effect.

 

Chris Case  1:05:48

I think I have the answer for you, Trevor. I mean, once a days you love them, long rides, two-a-days, shown to have some positive benefits. There you go, two six-hour rides in a day.

 

Trevor Connor  1:06:01

I like this.

 

Chris Case  1:06:02

Yes. See?

 

Trevor Connor  1:06:03

Six-hour rest in between?

 

Chris Case  1:06:05

Exactly. There you go.

 

Trevor Connor  1:06:06

I’ve got my day.

 

Chris Case  1:06:08

Yes.

 

Neal Henderson  1:06:09

I’m doing that this August.

 

Chris Case  1:06:11

Nice. Yeah, very good.

 

Neal Henderson  1:06:14

Except it’ll be more than six hours, if I did either day in six hours, that would be hero level.

 

Chris Case Takeaway Message

Chris Case  1:06:20

I’ll close out speaking as someone who has commuted for years. Again, my commute is 10 miles, 12 miles, I can make it whatever I want, but at a minimum, it’s 10 miles. I have used it effectively for years, I didn’t necessarily know why I was getting benefits from it, I just took that approach that I was going to do this. I was racing, you know, pretty complete cyclocross season, and I think that’s where it really is a great way to get your two-a-days in, and still be effective come race day, because those are short races. So, you don’t need massive volume, you don’t need some of this specificity from a really long ride that you can only get from a really long ride, and you can practice on the trails around here that I have between my home and work, to practice skills sessions one day in the morning, or some intervals in the morning on the way in and take it easy on the way home. So, get creative. Now that we have some more science to back some of this stuff up, it helps convince people probably that they can effectively work this into their program, and not get overtrained or not get stale.

 

Chris Case  1:07:35

Always a pleasure Neal Henderson, thanks again for joining us on Fast Talk. It’s been great.

 

Neal Henderson  1:07:40

Thank you, guys. Happy riding.

 

Trevor Connor  1:07:43

Neal, always a pleasure. Thank you.

 

Chris Case  1:07:46

That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast and be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. As always, we love your feedback, join the conversation at forums.fasttalklabs.com to discuss each and every episode. Become a member of Fast Talk Laboratories at fasttalklabs.com/join and become a part of our education and coaching community. For Neal Henderson, Petr Vakoc, Jen sharp, Ted King, Jared Berg, Payson McElveen, and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris Case. Thanks for listening.

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