Favorite Workouts of Fast Talk All-Stars

We hear from Fast Talk all-star guests like Joe Friel, Neal Henderson, and Amos Brumble about what their favorite workout is and why.

Neal Henderson on a trainer bike Fast Talk Podcast

Whenever we speak with a guest of Fast Talk—coach, athlete, or scientist—we always ask them their favorite workout. In this episode, we share the favorite workouts of Cameron Cogburn, Joe Friel, Jim Rutberg, Neal Henderson, Payson McElveen, Amos Brumble, and Petr Vakoc

You’ll hear each guest discuss the specifics of the workout itself. You’ll also gain a sense of the guest’s philosophy—based on how he or she describes the workout—and the “style” that they bring to the execution and prescription. 

As a bonus, Trevor, Coach Ryan Kohler, and Chris Case also share their favorite workouts.  

Get ready to take notes. Let’s make you fast! 

Episode Transcript

Chris Case 00:12
Hey, everyone, welcome to Fast Talk your source for the science of cycling performance. Got a special episode in store for you today, based on something Trevor still does for VelonNews magazine, which is to write the workout of the month. We often will have time with our guests after we’ve recorded the main part of the show and we often chat with them about what their favorite workout is, it’s turned into a regular thing. And we thought we would share a lot of these workouts with you today.

Chris Case 00:43
There’s such a variety of workouts to be had out there; you’ve got climbers that love their climbing workouts, you’ve got sprinters that love their sprinting workouts, you’ve got people that love a workout, not because it’s about the numbers, but because something they’ve always done and they’ve got almost a historical record of something they’ve been able to perform year after year after year. It’s a another sort of metric in that way. And then you’ve just got people that love to do something because it feels good or feels right, not because it actually hits the right energy systems or has this great scientific basis.

Trevor Connor 01:20
The other interesting thing here, the truth of the reason why I want to do these interviews is I just didn’t want the articles always be Trevor’s workouts, Trevor’s workouts, Trevor’s workouts. And part of the reason for that is, well, a) I’m going to run out of ideas eventually, but you find that coaches and even athletes start to get a style. I certainly, like if you look at any of the workouts that I give my athletes, there’s always a certain way it’s written up, a certain way it’s done. So it’s really interesting and kind of fun to hear other people’s styles, other people’s ways of doing workouts, that might not necessarily be my way. And I think it’s very additive. So as we were listening to these, of course, I think it was your idea to do an episode on these because, yeah, there, you’re gonna hear a bunch of workouts, you can go and try. But you’re also going to hear some of the ways these athletes and coaches think and the way they think about their particular workout. So that I think is as informative as the workout itself.

Chris Case 02:21
Yeah, we’ve got a collection of some domestic pros, international pros, mountain bikers, coaches…but yeah, it speaks to that point about a bit of philosophy is brought into each of these interesting workouts.

Trevor Connor 02:36
And so one thing I found fun listening to all these in order, is you saw some people who are very precise, and very into that, will you do this many minutes at this wattage, and then you do this many minutes at this wattage. So Neal Henderson had a bit of that approach. He was very –

Chris Case 02:55
As you would expect from a scientist like him.

Trevor Connor 02:57
As you would expect as somebady who designs, these things that destroy people and sufferfest. But other- what was surprising to me is the number of people who, when you ask them the prescription it was: “Well, sometimes I do four, sometimes I do eight, sometimes I do 12, it depends on how I feel.” And you go, “What’s your intensity?” And it was it was actually also surprising how rarely we got, “I do it at this wattage,” or “I do at this percent of x.” It was I just go as hard as I can. We even had one where he’s like I do it all by speed.

Chris Case 03:29
Mm hmm. Right.

Trevor Connor 03:32
What I got out of this, particularly looking at some of the the people who gave these workouts is just a lesson of don’t, again, don’t get too caught up in trying to be overly complex and overly detailed. What I heard a lot of is, workouts are hard. I need an element that’s fun, that I enjoy so that I can go out week after week, do this workout and feel some satisfaction for doing this workout without totally destroying myself, so-

Chris Case 04:05
There’s that need for a sense of satisfaction and completion after the fact. But it also speaks to some of this vagueness that they use when they deliver it, it speaks to the “you have to go by feeling” too. You can’t just follow the numbers that are written down on the piece of tape sitting there on your stem. If you’re not feeling it, you’re not feeling it and you cut it shorter you do it more you do less. So it speaks to that as well.

Trevor Connor 04:29
Yeah. And also just looking at the purpose of the workout. So one of the first people that we’re going to talk to is Cameron Cogburn, or the first person we’re going to hear from, and I love the fact that he’s describing a workout for doing long hill climb races. And at one point in the middle of it he goes, we asked him the length, he goes “well, it depends. If I do in an hour hill climb this, if I’m doing – so there’s that race over in Asia that

Chris Case 04:56
Taiwan KOM Challenge

Trevor Connor 04:58
Thank you. That’s like what, a three hour race, something insanely long.

Chris Case 05:02
Yeah, if you’re at the front – 60 mile climb, basically.

Trevor Connor 05:07
So he’s like workouts completely different if I’m targeting that. So he actually alters the workout based on what’s the race that he’s trying to build towards.

Cameron Cogburn’s favorite climbing workout

Chris Case 05:17
We’ll start with Cameron Cogburn, who’s on a recent episode, he is a former pro, now a PhD student here is his favorite workout on climbing.

Cameron Cogburn 05:29
For a big climb, and this, you know, one year I did do that Taiwan KOM climb, which goes from sea level to 12,000 feet, and then this is how I trained for it and this is what I’d recommend for these very long climbs where you have significant changes in elevation. And that is simply to mimic having less oxygen availability, as you go up. In the session, in the interval especially, to progressively make it harder, as you know, as the duration goes on. So first, you might start off at a target power or intensity level and because you’re not climbing up thousands of feet, I mean assuming you’re on kind of a more or less flat training loop, in lieu of not having that, just make the session increasingly and progressively harder and that will mimic the effect of having less and less oxygen as you get higher and higher. And obviously, it’s not a perfect one-to-one physiological map between the two, but I found it to be very useful and that’s definitely what I would recommend.

Trevor Connor 06:45
So are you doing a time trial or are there actual intervals of a particular length here?

Cameron Cogburn 06:50
So for Mount Washington, which is like, you know, slightly less than an hour effort for me, I would do three by 20s, sea level threshold is 400 watts, and I do 390 at the race, and the first one, I might do a 380, second one a 390, the final one at 400, or whatever I can manage. So for the Taiwan KOM one, I would do a session where I would ride for an hour, I think, maybe it was more like 90 minutes. But I started off right at that top of zone two lower end of zone three. So high for me, again, I guess threshold around 400 is a high 290 or so and I’d progressively make it harder. So I basically just go through the no man land, you know, the tempo zone. I’m similar to you guys, I mostly do either very hard or very easy training, but for this length of race, I knew I’d be doing these types of power outputs. So you have to train it, again, the specificity principle, so I would do like an hour starting at like 300, maybe ending at like 340-350, then I would take a little bit of a break. And then I would do more kind of like, because the Taiwan KOM was mostly like a 3% gradient, and then at like 10,000 feet for the last 2000 feet, it was just like a wall to mimic that after having this fatigue in the legs. So after that first progressive hour, I would then hit like another climb more at kind of threshold and up and just try to keep the gas on and finish on a high note. So I would probably start mixing this in two cycles out. So maybe eight weeks before, this is starting to get in to kind of this specific prep. And then really in those three or four weeks before the big session of the hour long and then or hour plus and then something afterwards, I might only do that I think I did that like two or three times that’s a big session but specific prep really the eight weeks before and then the four weeks before you’re really trying to get the demands of the the race in your training without tanking yourself. So I think that’s key. And like with Mount Washington, one of the, you think that the climb is just a ramp but it’s not. It’s actually got all these undulations in it and so again, kind of breaking down the problem of the climb that’s kind of where these over unders, you know, come become useful. So maybe three minutes kind of right at 95% or 90% threshold and then a minute or two minutes above threshold and so yeah, that’s, you know, getting back to kind of breaking the problem down and then making a plan and then applying it.

Joe Friel and Jim Rutberg’s favorite workouts

Chris Case 09:55
Alright, let’s hear now from Joe Friel and Jim Rutberg. The pair behind the new book Ride Inside and Joe Friel obviously, the author of the The Cyclist’s Training Bible. They have their own set of favorite workouts. Trevor, what are we going to hear from Joe and Jim?

Trevor Connor 10:15
This is a great workout. And what I do like about Joe’s description of it is what we talked about at the very beginning of this episode which is, it’s a hard workout, get a lot of quality work, but you see that he’s not being overly precise about it. It’s find a hill of approximate length, it’s flexible and adjustable. Jim, we just got a really good on the trainer workout. And interestingly this isn’t a winter workout, this is actually more than in season workout.

Joe Friel 10:50
I just did mine today, actually. My favorite workout is hill repeats. I like to do them relatively long, you know, anywhere from I’ll say, six, seven minutes to 18-20 minutes at about, little below 90% of FTP, or even 100% of FTP on a relatively steep hill, like a 6,7,8 percent grade. And I find that to be enjoyable because I like the focus it requires; you’re trying to maintain a given effort, given power output, a given heart rate, whatever you’re using to regulate those intervals and then the nice thing about doing it indoors is you can make the recovery relatively short, which is the way it should be; it should be more like, the recovery should be perhaps one fourth as long as the preceding work interval. And that you can’t do outdoors, when you’re outdoors, you can’t get back down the hill that fast. So consequently indoors is a great place to do that workout. So that’s my favorite workout. The only other workout is the one I’ll do tomorrow, which is my other favorite workout, is just to ride really easy; Smell the roses and have a great time. That one I like to do on the road because I can enjoy the weather and ride with my wife and have a conversation and so forth, which is difficult doing when we only have one trainer indoors.

Trevor Connor 12:28
Fair enough. So going back to the hill repeats, how many would you do? And I’m assuming that depends on the the length of the climb?

Joe Friel 12:37
No, well, it depends on, yeah, it depends on how long it takes you to find the hill. Typically anywhere from about 20 to 40 minutes total Cclimbing time in the workout. And that’s a good workout. When you’re done with that your legs are tired. So it’s a good session.

Trevor Connor 12:57
And why would you do that workout? What are the benefits of it?

Joe Friel 13:01
Primary benefit is it improves lactate threshold, anaerobic threshold, if you want to think of in terms of power, improves FTP. And it’s also kind of one of those things that it’s it’s not so hard that it really hurts, but it’s hard enough that you’re on the verge of hurting the entire time. So there’s a little bit of suffering that goes on, it’s not nearly the suffering that you have in a race situation, and so I personally just like that effort. I find it very rewarding when I get done with that session knowing I’ve put in 20, 30, 40 minutes of relatively high intensity up around FTP. It’s just a good feeling.

Trevor Connor 13:44
Good. And final question about the workout is looking at the long term training plan, is there a particular time of year where you would use these intervals or can they be used at any point?

Joe Friel 13:58
They can be used at any point, what I would change is two things: very early in the season, I would reduce the intensity to maybe something like 15 watts below threshold. So it’s more like a like a three zone based on power, three zone effort in the base period, really base spread. And we reduce the number of intervals. So we’re talking about around 20 minutes or even slightly less, maybe as few as 15 minutes for workout. And that’s a pretty good workout for just maintaining upper intensity fitness FTP. Then as the season progresses, we move into the light base terrain into the build during the workouts will become more intense and gradually it also become longer in terms of total number of high intensity intervals you’re doing.

Trevor Connor 14:53
Okay. I love that. As Chris can tell you that’s my favorite workout too.

Jim Rutberg 15:01
Especially because we’re talking about indoor cycling, there’s a workout I really like to do that leverages the features of a smart trainer. So VO2 workout of two sets of three minute intervals, three minutes on three minutes off, but the first set, well one of the two sets using ergometer mode and the other using level mode. And depending on willpower or desire, you can do one or the other first. So either say I’m gonna go do the first set of three minute intervals using level mode, and just go as hard as I can for each of those three minute intervals. And then on the second one, determine a) using ergometry mode and say that you’re going to set your power output to, usually I base it off of what the performance was like during the first one during the first set, let’s see kind of where those power outputs were and notch it down just a little bit for the second set, and then continue on with three minute intervals at whatever that goal power output is.

Trevor Connor 16:22
So how many would you do in a set?

Jim Rutberg 16:26
Well, I mean, obviously depends on the athlete. For me, I can only manage about four in a set, so three by four min intervals, and then a recovery period and then a second set of three by four. But, you know, a more advanced athlete might be able to add some additional intervals.

Trevor Connor 16:53
And second question for use the same questions I asked Joe, why would you do this particular workout? What are the benefits?

Jim Rutberg 17:01
Power of the VO2max. So increasing that aerobic capacity, improve the high end and it brings everything else up underneath it.

Trevor Connor 17:18
Then final question is is there a time of year or a particular point in the season that you would recommend doing these and time of the year that you wouldn’t?

Jim Rutberg 17:28
For the competitor, you know, it’s the kind of work I think from a normal periodization plan that you do closer to your event. It’s more of a specialization in terms of, from a bike racers standpoint. But it’s also the kind of workout that is, takes a, you can do any time of year just because it’s, every once in a while you just need to do something that’s hard. So there’s, it can be used kind of as the fun, fun being relative, you know, just a standalone session that is difficult because you need a difficult session to focus or whatever else. But if it’s being used in blocks, in other words, you’re gonna do it twice a week or or something for three or four weeks in a row, then it would be more towards the specialization portion of the season.

Neal Henderson’s pyramid workout

Chris Case 18:30
All right, let’s now hear from Neal Henderson, the director of sports science from Wahoo fitness and a man who has created really demanding workouts for a living for years now. Also a scientist so we expect difficulty, we expect precision out of him. What does he got in store for us?

Trevor Connor 18:48
So Neal has given us a pyramid workout. And so this goes back to we were talking about every coach and a lot of athletes have their own style to work out. Apparently, in an episode a while ago, I said I didn’t like pyramids.

Chris Case 19:04
I remember that.

Trevor Connor 19:05
Yeah. Okay. And I got called out. I got an email saying “Well, why don’t you like pyramids? Neal Henderson, who is obviously an excellent coach, like pyramids.” And that was my response, I’m like, I don’t really, my personal reason is because some pyramids cross too many energy systems, which actually Neia is careful about, so I did say that, but it’s really the main reason is my coaching style, I’m just not in love with pyramids. Neal is very effective with them, he loves giving them to his athletes so this isn’t a right or wrong. This just goes back to the the style of the particular coach and I do think he has a really good one here.

Neal Henderson 19:48
I have a few favorites again, it’s like my you know, ice cream flavors. You know I love a lot of them. I love them all and love some a little more than others. Other than the blender from from the sufferfest, there’s another one that I like to do, it’s called Pyramid of Power followed by a medio effort. And so the pyramid of power that I do starts with a five second pretty much near max sprint, followed by 50 seconds, 55 seconds of recovery very easy. The pyramid goes, then the efforts get five seconds longer, and the recoveries get five seconds shorter. So the next effort you go into is a 10 second kind of controlled sprint, 50 seconds recovery, then a 15 second effort 45 seconds recovery, 20 second effort, which target on that is usually around your like one minute max power for those 20 seconds, 40 seconds recovery, 35 seconds on 25 off, or sorry, 25 on 35 off, 30 on 30 off, and then you continue to progress all the way up to the point where you do a one minute effort, that’s the top of the pyramid, you take a one minute recovery, and then you do everything coming back down 55 on five off, and that that one minute. And those 55 second efforts are right around threshold, that’s kind of the anchor there. Again, we bring it back down 55/5, 50/10 all the way back down to a five second sprint to end that takes about 22 minutes. We recover for 10 minutes and then hold a 20 minute effort at around 90% of FTP. That pyramid of power, followed by that kind of sub threshold effort is pretty much my favorite.

Trevor Connor 21:31
Every time I think my workouts are mean, you’re just like, “no, let me show you.”

Neal Henderson 21:37
Next level. But again, with purpose, with purpose! So I do again, have target power on those. So it’s a very much a twist on a 2×20.

Trevor Connor 21:49
Right. So now what would be the benefits of this workout?

Neal Henderson 21:54
On that long effort that 22 minute, kind of with a micro intervals, on and off, we’re really running through the entire gearbox, I would say in terms of the power output with those variations in recovery, that we have high lactate flux, we have recruitment, because you’re accelerating in each of those efforts, especially those shorter 5, 10, 15 seconds and so really, we kind of run the gamut on that. You’re going to have typically a normalized power, that’s going to be an excessive threshold for those 22 minutes, even though the average power is a little bit below, but you are really kind of tapping across all those different energy pathways. And then you get into that steady state effort after those efforts. And so you learn how to manage and control a steady state effort. And there’s a mental side of that. So the first one because like it’s going pretty quick, you know, those minutes go by very quickly and the on, off, then the 20 minutes steady state you do after that it’s like you got to be comfortable with your own thoughts and managing that effort then. So it has a psychological component, as well.

Trevor Connor 23:03
Fantastic. And what time of year would you do this and what would be your frequency?

Neal Henderson 23:09
On something like this, it’s not going to be right away, somebody would want to be building up. This would be kind of in a pre-competitive phase. So after a foundation phase, we would go into building this, you know, prior to racing, or a little tune up in between blocks of racing and wouldn’t do this more than once a week. Pretty intense. In the sufferfest software, there’s part of this workout in there. It’s called the Shovel because you can dig yourself a deep hole with it. And it’s kind of just those pyramids going up and down. It’s four of those pyramids, but split in half or two of those sorry, one up and one down and one down and one up on the one that we use there.

Payson McElveen’s favorite intensity workout for mountain bikers

Chris Case 23:52
Next up, let’s hear from Payson McElveen, pro mountain biker two time marathon national mountain bike champion. But he’s got a workout that involves one of these things called a road bike, Trevor. So why is Payson doing a workout on a road bike when he’s a mountain biker?

Trevor Connor 24:08
A lot of mountain bikers will do their intense- the majority of their intensity workout on the road. It’s just hard to get the consistency and the quality that you often need when you’re on a mountain bike trail having to deal with rocks having to deal with corners. So better if you’re doing some sort of structured workout, get out on the road, do it there and do your skills work on the trail.

Payson McElveen 24:34
For someone that still loves bike riding and the training component at this point in my career as much as I did when I was like a junior, that’s a pretty tough question to answer. I mean, I just really love to ride and I really love to ride in the mountains. And I really love the, there’s few things to me that feel more gratifying than feeling really fit and climbing on a road bike at speed. And just doing it over and over and over and feeling like you have the depth of fitness where you’re just kind of like unstoppable. So around this time of year after loads and loads of aerobic miles out in Malibu Canyons here, that’s sometimes where that starts to happen, it can be really hard to hold back from doing like a six hour day, with just tempo slash sweet spot on every climb. So the climbs out here, y’all have maybe riden out here, are, generally speaking, at least 15 minutes long, and some are 40 minutes long. I just love going out and settling in to what feels good that day, whether that’s more tempo, sometimes it’s closer to sweet spot, and just ripping up climbs and recovering as best you can on the descents and just doing it over and over and over and kind of quote unquote, plumbing, the depths of what the aerobic, you know, aerobic endurance tank has to offer. It’s sort of like a good disguise for just a soul ride, honestly. Like when when a non-pro goes out and just hangers for a long time and it just feels really good to go kind of hard. And they’re in the zone, and they just keep going on too hard for a long time. That’s basically what we’re doing. So it’s not really a workout, quote, unquote. But it’s really hard to beat those days. And I love doing those days in the mountains of Colorado. During the summer months, yeah. Obviously, a hell of a lot more reward on the way down.

Trevor Connor 26:29
So just a couple of questions about it on the flats in between the climbs, what sort of pace are you going? Is that where, are you still trying to sweet spot? Are you keeping it easy until the next climb?

Payson McElveen 26:41
It depends. But what’s interesting about the terrain out here is that doesn’t really –

Trevor Connor 26:45
Fair enoughn

Payson McElveen 26:46
Believe it or not – Yeah, when I’m staying in Venice, or Santa Monica here, you have about 20 to 30 minutes of kind of transfer over to the canyons, we call them. And then it’s literally like half hour up, 10 minutes down, 45 minutes up, 10 minutes down. And then on the way back, you’ve got your 20 minute transfer again, but it’s pretty much just on. I mean, in regards to elevation, you know, per 10 miles, it’s pretty typical to get nine to 10,000 feet of climbing and 60 miles. The other workout that I often really enjoy are one minute, I guess VO2/AC type efforts like higher end VO2 with just a minute between, again on a climb.

Payson McElveen 27:40
I love the, I don’t really know how to put it but there’s something about and we’ll kind of leave it open ended to say we have a 20 or 30 minute climb and you’re not exactly sure how many one minute efforts that’s going to add up to. And you’re also not sure whether you’re going to have the gas in the tank to keep doing those to the top of the climb. And it kind of becomes this, I mean, y’all know the voices that you get in your head -it’s fun to try to rise to the occasion and have this finish line that almost is is receding to an extent, if that makes sense? So rather than going in knowing that I have 10 one minute efforts, it’s like well, you have as many one minute efforts as it takes. And there’s something that I find really motivating by going really hard for that minute and then only having a minute to recover and you’re trying to recover while you’re still climbing. So that’s a really fun workout where usually I get in a pretty positive emotional state. And like the the emotion kind of drives you to a little bit a higher quality workout.

Trevor Connor 28:50
And so the one minute efforts, each one is all out? Or are you trying to be consistent with them? Are you targeting a particular heart rate or power?

Payson McElveen 29:00
Yeah, try to try to be consistent. When we did it, we did it yesterday to finish a ride that had a pretty big tempo, sweetspot component before so sort of what we did in the last hour. And it was basically, I was just trying to do 500 or more for the minute. And in that case, I just had 10 of them, so I sort of knew going in. But generally speaking, yeah, it’s almost like a rather than a zone, it’s like a minimum. So as long as in average over 500 then we keep doing them and then if it dips below that for average power then usually we’ll end.

Trevor Connor 29:47
And what time of year do you do this workout? Is it all year round? It sounds like this is kind of a lead into the season if you’re doing it now.

Payson McElveen 29:57
Yeah, so day before yesterday was kind of the First time that I’ve had structured anything. And I mean, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. Because we’ll do, we’ll do some inside if the weather’s bad back in Colorado, kind of take advantage of that lab setting. But yeah, by and large, it was sort of a, just a little bit of a shock to the system on purpose to make sure that I hadn’t gone completely aerobic and dormant in regards to those above threshold zones. So yeah, like I said, we did a big, big aerobic sub threshold component, and then finished it off with a handful of those kind of blasters, almost more of like an activation type thing. And then as we get a little bit closer to the race season, well, that’s not even true, because the season is so long that you can’t really afford to be doing too much sharp stuff, even before the first races of the year. But that’s something that I’ll often use to kind of, I hate the phrase peak because you can’t afford to peak when you’re a pro mountain biker off road racer, because there’s so many events, but it’s something that we use to kind of sharpen up with.

Amos Brumble’s pace to speed workout

Chris Case 31:16
Next up, let’s hear from Amos Brumble. Now, Amos is a coach and former pro from Rhode Island. He’s actually someone I know, personally, but he’s coming on to Fast Talk in an upcoming q&a episode. So look for that. But he’s got one of these really interesting workouts, Trevor, that doesn’t involve a lot of metrics, besides some old school things like speed.

Trevor Connor 31:40
I love that because we’ve had these discussions of pace by power, pace by heart rate, here’s a guy come in and go, yeah, I pace by speed. Which, so I remember a while ago, I did a workout based on speed. And one of my teammates is like, “why would you ever do that when you have a power meter?” And my response kind of off the cuff was, “there has never been a race in history that wasn’t won by the person who had the highest average speed.” So it’s actually not a useless metric. In many ways speed is the most important metric in any bike race. And, you know, when you’re targeting physiological systems, great to use heart rate, great to use power, they’re going to help keep you at the right intensity, but I think there is a value to every once in a while saying, I need to go out and learn how to be fast, because there are slight differences between riding for power versus riding for speed.

Amos Brumble 32:38
My favorite workout actually takes place nearby, I have a small loop that was in a neighborhood that was never developed, basically, the developer ran out of money, the loop is, its pavement, very similar ninigret, about the same kind of width, there’s a slight grade on it. And basically, I have a defined start, where I will accelerate to a specific speed and then essentially, like, float it to like another point. And I really love the workout, you know, so it’s a maximum acceleration from a low speed, say, maybe 12 miles an hour, to about 26. And I do it in the shortest distance that I can. And then I hold that 26, like for another, like, probably 150-200 meters. And you know, and then I just do it repeatedly, basically, until I’m exhausted. And then I just go home. So you know, the whole workout probably is 45 minutes. And then you know, I’m done. But I’ve always found that that workout makes it so that if you do competitive road cycling, that you’re able to move around in the field more effectively, because you can make little short accelerations to move within the group. And I, you know, I just really enjoy the workout.

Trevor Connor 34:06
So what’s your recovery between each effort? How long is that?

Amos Brumble 34:10
Recovery is a minute and a half. So I’ve kind of done the workout enough times to know that the loop itself winds have taken me two minutes, it’s one kilometer around. And the effort in terms of like, how it’s broken up is the acceleration part is somewhere between five and eight seconds. And then, you know, the next 25 to 22 seconds is, you know, just holding the speed. So I actually do it entirely based on speed. And it’s actually in terms of the fixed gear thing. I only use one gear, it’s a 39:14.

Trevor Connor 34:45
So it’s good to say yeah, we’ve talked to you about power and heart rate, but now you’re using a metric for an interval that we haven’t even talked about. But-

Amos Brumble 34:54
Yeah, you asked for my favorite workout.

Trevor Connor 34:58
That’s fun based on speed. So you’re saying –

Amos Brumble 35:00
Yeah, it’s good really based on speed,

Trevor Connor 35:02
The efoort total last about 30 seconds? And then you’re recovering? And how many will you usually get through?

Amos Brumble 35:11
And so the day but I would say somewhere between eight and maybe 14. Depends on how everything’s going – with a 14, I’m crawling home.

Trevor Connor 35:20
Fair enough. And what time of year would you do this?

Amos Brumble 35:24
You know, a lot of times I’ll do it whenever. When I was actively competing on the road, I mean, it was a regular workout for me on like a Tuesday. I would do it all season long. I would do it in the offseason, all year. It’s, like I said, was one of my favorite workouts if I would just include it every week.

Petr Vakoc’s big gear workout

Chris Case 35:44
Our final workout comes from Petr Vakoc, you’ve heard him on the program before he is a professional rider with Alpecin–Fenix. He loves his big gear work. What does he have in store for us today, Trevor?

Trevor Connor 35:57
This is just kind of a frightening workout. I just can’t get past him going. I do these at 550 watts, pretty hard.

Chris Case 36:07
Pretty hard. Not all out. But pretty hard.

Trevor Connor 36:10
Not that I pass out and puke all over the floor. It’s just pretty hard.

Chris Case 36:15
And 12 of them a large number of them.

Trevor Connor 36:18
A large number. So I’m just, my suggestion here is listen to this and then adjust to human terms.

Chris Case 36:25
Yes, very good.

Petr Vakoc 36:29
It’s like it’s different now at the moment when we have to train inside, not outside. So I can give you my favorite now on the on the indoor trainer.

Trevor Connor 36:43
Sure. Yeah.

Petr Vakoc 36:46
Like during the algo session, I will do 12 times 30 seconds on low gear on the 60 RPM with like, what, for me would be maybe, I don’t know 5000-550 watts, like pretty hard, not all out, but really hard. And it’s like to recreate the certain types of the five, yeah, of the like the fast twitch fibers, I would say you, you should be able to integrate with that with like high tension, low gear. And this is something that it’s, really makes makes the training fun and go really fast. I will do this 12 times, 30 seconds and ninety seconds off. And yeah, like if I do this, then this session is, is going really fast. And it’s something that it hurts a bit but not too much. And you have a good feeling afterwards. And I think it’s it’s pretty beneficial for the strength and for training those type of fibers. So, so that’s my favorite.

Trevor Connor 38:09
So it’s just a good strength workout. A good fast twitch muscle fiber workout.

Petr Vakoc 38:14
Yeah, and it makes really the time flies when you do this on the ergometers. So that’s good.

Trevor Connor 38:20
Now do you do it all seated? Or do you stand up at all?

Petr Vakoc 38:23
I would try to do it mainly seated. So it’s not necessary to do it purely seated, but I am to do it seated and maybe just if I’m getting too tired or you know, I do a little bit of like, from off the seat as well to have variety but I would do the majority seated.

Trevor Connor 38:48
Okay, and how many sets would you do in a workout?

Petr Vakoc 38:54
I will do just one set.

Trevor Connor 38:56
Okay. And the second question is how many times a week are you doing that right now? Just once or?

Petr Vakoc 39:05
Yeah, now I do it one to twice a week. I would say three times per two weeks.

Trevor Connor 39:13

Trevor Connor, Coach Ryan Kohler, and Chris Case’s favorite workouts on the bike

Chris Case 39:17
Okay, Trevor, it’s your turn. What is your favorite workout? And why?

Trevor Connor 39:23
Yes, I’m still struggling because Joe stole my favorite workout – I love hill repeats, love hill repeats. My other favorite workout, which is a completely different direction, but somewhat in line with with Amos, and you’re probably gonna go “wait a minute, this doesn’t even sound like a workout” but it’s that five-six hour ride where I actually do target an average speed.

Chris Case 39:50
Why would you do that? Why wouldn’t you target power on something like that? Something big like that?

Trevor Connor 39:55
Yeah, I will certainly look at my average power afterwards. But the reason on the ride I target average speed is: I am a breakaway rider. And it goes back to what I said earlier, which is at the end of the day, it’s not about power, it is about how fast can you go. When you got a field chasing you down, they’re not going, ‘Oh, you know, he’s going this power, so therefore we can’t catch him.” The issue is they’re trying to go faster than you and you have to eke out every little bit of speed. And you learn when you go out and do one of these rides, and you target an average speed where are the places you can get speed, and where are the places you can recover a little bit; which if you’re just looking at power, you’re not going to notice those moments. So it’s that, when you hit that little climb, pushing over the climb, and getting back up to speed quickly, that from a power perspective doesn’t make a ton of sense. It’s making you’re, getting a little bit of rest on a downhill. But going hard enough that you don’t lose too much speed. It’s just all these little things that you learn only by doing that could actually have a big impact on your average speed that you can’t learn using just, looking at the wattage on your computer.

Chris Case 41:08
So when you’re doing this ride the entire time, are you imagining a pack of wolves just trying to devour you from behind, just chasing you down and that’s what keep motivates you to keep pushing harder and keeping that average speed up. I’m not joking. Don’t give me that look.

Trevor Connor 41:27
I don’t know. Is this a nightmare that you had recently?

Chris Case 41:30
No, it’s not.

Trevor Connor 41:33
Being chased by wolves, but the bike won’t seem to move forward.

Chris Case 41:36
And I’m naked the whole time in a public square somewhere in a city.

Trevor Connor 41:42
Giving a speech while riding your bike.

Chris Case 41:46
All of my fears

Trevor Connor 41:47
And the bully who beat you up in fifth grade is there.

Chris Case 41:50
No, no bully’s ever beat me up. Now, that was you.

Trevor Connor 41:54
I have never actually pictured wolves, but I do, I have a screen on my garment that shows a virtual person you can race. And I have them set at the average speed that I want for that ride. And I do try to race them and see where I can take time out of them where I lose time to them.

Chris Case 42:16
So you’ve you’ve gamified the ride a little bit in the way.

Trevor Connor 42:20
Yeah, it is all game.

Chris Case 42:23
And how, when are you doing this? What time of the year are you doing?

Trevor Connor 42:30
Yeah, that’s a good question. Because I would definitely not do that in the winter. This is a hard workout so this is something I’m going to do during the season as I’m really trying to refine my form for the races. As a matter of fact, when I lived up in Fort Collins, I had a route that I would do every spring that I would, I had an average speed I targeted for that, that I knew I wasn’t ready to race until I could hit that average speed.

Chris Case 42:59
All right, Ryan Kohler, Head Coach, Ryan Kohler, what is your favorite workout?

Trevor Connor 43:05
I’ve got a springtime routine that I love to do, it’s a number of hours. But basically, I’ll drop the kids off at school around eight, and then take off on the bike from there and head into the various canyons around Boulder, where I’ll just pretty much put in as many miles as possible and climb as much as I can, until I roll back to pick them up at two. So yeah, during that time, it’s the focus is on just climbing consistently and not digging too deep on those climbs to the point where I can be very repeatable and survive the entire day. And then I’ll also focus on nutrition, where you know, when I’m climbing, I’ve got my bottles and I’ll pretty much just drink from those to make sure I have stuff coming in. And then as soon as I get to the top of a climb and start descending, I’ll just take out the solid foods in my pack and start pounding those and getting ready for the next one.

Chris Case 44:01
Are you targeting a specific power output, wattage on these climbs? Or is it more a feeling that you’re going on?

Trevor Connor 44:09
Definitely more of a feeling. Yeah, I do have power and heart rate showing and I’ll use that to help gauge and just know, you know, if I’m feeling really good, and I see the power is up, that’s great. But I’ll also, I’ll pay attention primarily to the feelings of my legs, make sure that they’re not, you know, they’re not just excessively burning or heavy or anything like that. I’ll try to think about it as as like, Okay, I’m doing this one and an effort that’s gonna allow me to feel good when I go over to the next climbe or canyon.

Chris Case 44:37
And you said, this is a springtime ritual for you. Why do you do it during that time of year and what do you get out of this?

Trevor Connor 44:46
I mean, I think one is the weather. I just like to you know, starting to get outside in the nicer weather, it’s just a great way to spend a day. And then with some events coming up, you know, around springtime or early summer for me I feel like it’s a good time where I can get some a good training load and I’ll usually do it over about three or four weeks and kind of march-april timeframe and do a build right there and then I come out of it feeling pretty good and ready for some more.

Trevor Connor 45:12
So let’s turn this around; Chris, ahat is your favorite getting chased by wolves workout?

Chris Case 45:21
Well, you know, back in the day, when I legitimately trained to race bikes, my, ironically, given what you said about Neia Henderson’s effort, or workout, my one of my go to one of my favorite workouts to do was a pyramid. And it was a very basic build 1,2,3,4, 5 minutes, then down four, three, two, one. Whether that made physiological sense for me as a racer, don’t really know, wasn’t really thinking about that.

Chris Case 45:58
Why did I do it? I did it because I liked it. I think I’ve performed well in it so it gave me confidence, which I think is one of the components of having a favorite workout. You need to be able to do it well, so that you feel like you’re hitting that target, whatever that target is. I also feel like the 1,2,3,4 and five minute interval times each have their own challenges, both physical and mental. And so it, while maybe a criticism is it hits too many energy systems in one workout, I don’t really know, but to me that was one of its advantages is that within a very short amount of time, you could be challenging yourself across a range of these efforts. And again, both from a physical and mental point of view.

Chris Case 47:00
So that was my go to, one of my go twos. I would do it, you know, maybe once a week for a couple of weeks, leading up to some target races, some bigger races. I wouldn’t do this all that often. It definitely wasn’t something I did, except right before race season or right in the early stages of race season. And it was all about sort of wrapping your head around, what does that add up to, you know, 15 to 20 minutes really I guess of total work, but some super hard intense work that you just need to stomach and get through.

Trevor Connor 47:49
What was your recovery like between the intervals? Was it the same or?

Chris Case 47:53
Yeah, it was one minute hard one minute recovery two minutes hard two minutes recovery, three minutes hard three minutes recovery. Again, super simple, maybe even too simple. I don’t really know I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of science then this was back when I just went, I mean I still go primarily by feel and I’m not training in this way really anymore, but it it was just a logical. Let’s do it this way. Let’s keep it really simple. Go out there, smash it, be done with it and feel good about it.

Trevor Connor 48:28

Chris Case 48:33
That was another episode of Fast Talk. Email us at fasttalk@fasttalklabs.com or record a voice memo on your phone and send it our way. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. For Cameron Cogburn, Joe Friel, Jim Ruthberg, Neal Henderson, Payson McElveen, Amos Brumble, Petr Vakoc, Coach Trevor Connor, Coach Ryan Kohler, I’m Chris Case. Thanks for listening.